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Hi-Fi Plus Magazine --  Hi-Fi+

July 2024


Tidal Drops MQA And Sony 360 Reality Audio
Congratulations to the many winners of our contests!
Editorial By Alan Sircom


Hi-Fi+ July 2024


  As we went to press this month, streaming giant Tidal announced that it was officially dropping all its MQA and 360 Audio recordings as from the 24th July this year. These recordings will be replaced with FLAC files (for stereo) and Dolby Atmos files (for surround). While there are still some hold-outs, this announcement has been touted as being the end of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) as a going concern for music replay.



Or is it? Recently, Lenbrook (the parent company of NAD, BluSound, and PSB) acquired MQA in late 2023. It has now joined forces with HD Tracks to provide its own MQA (and PCM) streaming service. Less than six days after the Lenbrook/HD Tracks press release, Tidal announced that it was withdrawing its support for MQA. While Tidal and HD Tracks have very different business models, I can see this as a potential lifeline for the beleaguered MQA format. HD Tracks has a strong following among audiophiles especially in America and the association might help keep MQA in the enthusiast's gaze in a way Tidal's more mainstream approach cannot.



However, the format has a mountain to climb in 2024 and beyond. In testing a few DACs recently, I felt a subtle shift in my own thinking about MQA's place in the audio world. It wasn't long ago that if a DAC didn't have that little glowing MQA light, it wouldn't sell... even if the listener had no intention of streaming or downloading MQA files. Now, the reverse is almost the case, with an MQA digital pathway dismissed as being an afterthought or worse, a sign of 'Yesterday's Digital'. Time will tell what the future holds for MQA in an audiophile context.


Hi-Fi+ July 2024


Multiple congratulations are in order! Ian Evans wins an AudioQuest Niagara 1200 power conditioner with a 2m NRG-Y3 power cord, while Peter Weston, Antony Toner, Nick Moorby, Simon Polak and David Isles all receive an AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt as runners up. Meanwhile Sean Hunt picks up the Audiodesksysteme PRO Vinyl Cleaner Pro, while James Hanks receives a 25-day loan of PRO Vinyl Cleaner and Robert Dodds receives a voucher to have 25 LPs cleaned using Audiodesksysteme's record cleaning system. Also, Edward Maken won the excellent GIK Acoustics SlatFusor acoustic panels. Last, but by no means least, Elizabeth Maynard in Arizona, USA won the stunning Meze Empyrean II headphones. Congratulations to all!



Errata: In last issue's Meet Your Maker feature at Shunyata Research, we incorrectly named the company's new cable line. The new product line is called Gamma, and not Venom as printed in the original feature. Our apologies to all for any confusion this may have caused.



Alan Sircom, Editor hi-fi+




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