MQair: a new technology from MQA

Nearly 8 years after the introduction of MQA, Bob Stuart is embarking on a new mission to solve the problem of wireless hi-res audio transmission.

Although Bluetooth has become the standard for wireless headphones, most people aren’t aware the Bluetooth Audio protocol cannot currently support the full resolution wireless transfer of lossless or hi-res music. Essentially the Bluetooth pipe is too skinny to fit all the data through. Just enough data does get through to be able to hear the music thanks to a fancy algorithm that uses psychoacoustics to discard data unlikely to be noticed.

With MQA’s latest initiative called MQair, it seems the company has figured out a way to dynamically transfer MQA or PCM audio wirelessly all the way up to 384kHz/24-bit. Very little music exists at such a high sampling rate, but in theory things seem very promising.

There are no MQair compatible wireless headphones (or speakers) on the market so it may be a while before MQair enabled products ship. We were told MQair can be implemented in software on a wide range of chips. That sounds like it could mean firmware updates on existing products could bring MQair to market faster. However, information is very limited at this time.


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“SCL6” sounds suspiciously like an MQA adaptation of MPEG-4 Scalable Lossless Coding. I doubt the world really needs yet another proprietary technology. Once again, MQA seems to be a solution looking for a problem :thinking:

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Two :smile:

In the announcement, Japan Audio Society (JAS) confirmed that both the new SCL6 (MQA) and LC3plus (Fraunhofer IIS) codecs will receive this new level of certification, created specifically for wireless audio, and expanding the existing Hi-Res Audio certification.

Fraunhofer were actually co-developers of the MPEG-4 SLS ISO standard, on which LC3plus is based.

So, unlike MQA/MQair, LC3plus is built on open standards. I don’t know what the licensing terms are like, but I doubt that it’s as “for profit” as the private equity owned MQA/MQair :wink:

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I believe Bob Stuart knows what he is doing when it comes to music.

Whether MQair becomes a success is another matter, but I wouldn’t rule out whether it works without having listened to it first. Its greatest difficulty is likely to be, as Anupc says, the fact it won’t be free.

It is anyway not free:

LC3plus’s dedicated high-resolution audio mode provides a high-quality transmission link of 24 bit and 96 kHz audio data, which performs excellently with regards to Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) and Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise (THD+N). This makes it the ideal codec to bring high-transparency audio streaming to high-resolution wireless accessories such as headsets or loudspeakers. LC3plus is the only open-standard audio codec for high-resolution wireless headsets and high-quality gaming headsets. Fraunhofer IIS can provide support with the implementation of LC3plus in devices based on the Bluetooth A2DP profile.

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Thanks for that link Erno. Interesting to read the following;

The LC3 specification has been adopted by Bluetooth SIG and LC3 has been selected as the new codec for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio. In parallel, integration work into the legacy Hands-Free Profile has started.

LC3plus has been standardized by ETSI as TS 103 634

Typically, in order to get standardised by the likes of ETSI, the licensing framework must be very loose, ie. cheap.

Even ISO standards have licensing costs, and are typically super cheap. For example, the MPEG-4 SLS codec cost $0.098 per decoder <— that’s right, about 10¢ per end-point device shipped! Conversely, if I’m not mistaken, MQA codec license per end-point is $50! :man_facepalming:t2:

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It looks like MQA is just trying to fight the competition.

This, of course, means MQA’s new tech has competition: Sony’s LDAC and Savitech’s LHDC were certified in 2019, while the Fraunhofer Institute’s LC3plus gained its approval today alongside MQA’s SCL6.

“With MQair we can improve the listening experience for many listeners and extend the MQA ecosystem to wireless devices,” said founder and CTO Bob Stuart.

I wonder if Bob has support, promised or otherwise, from any of the Bluetooth ecosystem suppliers :thinking: Without that, MQair is as good as dead-on-arrival.

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Hope springs eternal.



While I can’t fault them for trying, I have to wonder what the hell they’re thinking; First with MLP when DVD-Audio was D-O-A. Then with MQA for Audiophiles Systems. And now a Consumer space which cares even less about sound quality?? :man_shrugging:t2:

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All one big honeypot to them.

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MQA = The new 2022 MP3 codec with still lossy compression codec / container vs WAV / DSD

Maybe the greater mass of users can find this as a cool thing and create a hype

But just if …