MQair new from MQA

I’ve been following John Darko’s reviews on recent high level Bluetooth headsets - Focal, Mark Levinson etc - and I think he is quite right…wireless is the future. Once tried, going back to wired is a hassle.

The sound of the Mark Levinson No.5909 is really quite impressive from a phone using LDAC. I’ve no idea what happens when you play Tidal MQA tracks or Qobuz HiRes tracks to the headphones or what resolution is achieved. But it did seem like the tech behind MQA might allow for higher resolution replay, if it is possible to support the unfolding (how much battery would that use?). So this detail seems very encouraging:

It also claims to offer low latency and high efficiency – which could result in longer battery life – in compatible wireless devices (similar to Bluetooth 5/LE).

So this sounds like a really exciting development, and for those that don’t like MQA, the mention of bit perfect PCM must be reassuring?

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This seems like the perfect application for MQA and is actually addressing a problem that hasn’t been solved (yet), high quality wireless audio.

Qualcomm is bringing out their own codec, Apple will no doubt be releasing one at some point. Will be interesting to see how they all compare.

Even more promising is:

“Currently, no headphones or speakers on the market are compatible with MQair. Still, the good news is the technology can be implemented via a firmware update and doesn’t rely on hardware to decode the data. It’s possible that makers of current wireless headphones or speakers could license the MQair technology and provide it to their customers via a firmware update.”

Source: MQA Says It’s Cracked The Streaming Of Hi-Res Audio Over Bluetooth

Qualcomm is supposedly requiring support on the chipset level and on the headsets themselves, this is a major advantage if true.

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That would be a great workaround. But I would still love to see, in time, full hardware decoding as an option, in the headphone.

No doubt that will follow as an option, given MQA’s current approach.

The headline is wrong, it’s not Tidal. It’s an announcement of a new tech from MQA

I’m certainly curious and if it delivers better quality audio with improved battery life for PCM I’m in. I’ll be calling it SCL6 though :joy:


I wonder how many who swore that they will never use MQA will now use MQA. I guess you hear improvements when it’s convenient to.

I still won’t use it. At the end of the day, MQA is only as good as hi-res, i.e. useless.

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TBF this is a Bluetooth codec that promises benefits for PCM audio, so no MQA required. But I’m sort of guilty as charged, I prefer to think of it as open minded :wink:

But there’s room for improvement in Bluetooth audio, no?


I really hope so. How much music is now heard via Bluetooth?

But EDR supports data rates as high as 2.1Mbps, which can accommodate uncompressed red book at 1.4Mbps, right? Using lossless compression can make it more reliable. We don’t need MQA for Bluetooth.

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But there’s no audio codec for BT that can do this reliably as things stand. I’m not hoping for MQA for BT, just better/reliable SQ from an improved codec. I’m just not fussy as to where it comes from.

You may be right, but since any or no lossless codec can do, we don’t need MQA in particular. The only reason to use MQA would be to squeeze hi-res into red book, so it’s solely about hi-res.

I actually think this is the only place where MQA makes all the sense in the world.

When you have unlimited bandwidth (for all practical purposes) MQA makes no sense.

In Bluetooth you are extremely limited and that is where clever compression shines.

The highest available codec at the moment is LDAC and it can’t even do CD quality. If this codec can even just manage that, combine it with MQA and it will be much more stable too.

High data rate Bluetooth codecs frequently drop the transmission rates, MQA can actually reduce that drastically.

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I don’t think you got my point. I couldn’t care less about hi-res, hence I couldn’t care less about MQA in general. I only care about a codec that can pass lossless red book through Bluetooth, which is already plenty possible.

That’s the thing, that isn’t possible at the moment. As I mentioned there is only one codec that tries and it tops out BELOW CD quality (990). It frequently drops that max rate much lower (660), typically half the rate of CD quality.

So if you only care about CD quality then a codec that can reliably transmit CD quality has a lot of value.

This has literally nothing to do with high Res.

And that is a Bluetooth physical layer issue, not a codec issue. Bluetooth just does not have bandwidth and robustness for high bitrate audio, as evidenced from your statements above. How is MQair going to solve that Bluetooth issue?


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But I hope you agree that, in the name of quality, that codec should be lossless. MQA is not. If current codecs top at 990kps, which is about 70% of red book bandwidth, then FLAC would do just fine. I always seem to get better compression using FLAC when I rip CDs.