We are part of The Trust Project What is it?
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has announced that its definition of hi-res audio, and accompanying logo, will soon be applied to music streaming services.

Last year the RIAA introduced a logo and hi-res definition for digital download services, and now says it will be adopted for qualifying hi-res music streaming as well.

It will apply to music streaming services using new technologies that meet the quality standards set out in the original Hi-Res Music definition.

The official standard for high-resolution audio was agreed in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) and The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing.

High-resolution audio is being defined as: "Lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better-than-CD quality music sources."


More after the break

A number of data packing technologies are being developed that can support the streaming of hi-res audio in a more efficient, less bandwidth hungry manner, including MPEG 4 Audio SLS and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).

These and other approved technologies will allow licensed services to display the Hi-Res Music logo on their landing page or next to an individual album or track from 1st June.

Members of the RIAA include Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. Last week Warner announced it would adopt MQA.

MORE: Hi-res audio - everything you need to know


Gadgety's picture

MQA is DRM in new wrapping - no consumer benefits

MQA is welcomed by the digital content owners, RIAA, Warner, and Tidal. Equipment manufacturers can also benefit since consumers having to buy new DACs or preamplififers. Consumers already have FLAC which delivers compressed music and 100% of the original file. Tests carried out by savvy consumers show that MQA brings absolutely zero benefits in terms of audio quality over existing technology. None.


"I did some listening comparisons between the MQA encoded file and the 120/18 FLAC, both played out at 24.576 MHz DSD rate to iFi iDSD Micro DAC, Fostex HP-A8C headphone amp and Sennheiser HD-800 headphones. And I preferred the 120/18 FLAC..."

Another savvy consumer able to test MQA:

"As evidenced by the graph, the original recording contains nothing of value about 16kHz, only sigma-delta modulator noise. The MQA encoding has filtered this out and replaced it with ... something. Here the MQA version has lower noise level well into the (somewhat) audible band, so it's no surprise if it sounds better. However, it would probably sound better still if it was simply filtered with a cutoff at 16kHz. Also of interest is that the difference at lower frequencies seen in the first sample is pretty much absent here. From this I would say the claims that MQA preserves full CD quality even without a decoder are clearly bunk."

And a third:

"The example here basically shows a bunch of noise added to the ultrasonic frequencies even in places where there wasn’t any noise in the original 24/192 PCM file. Clearly the decoded MQA file is short of a true ”lossless” reconstruction!”

”Realizing that Meridian/MQA has provided essentially no technical details or objective results, if I am correct about what is going on as described above, I am personally not interested in MQA as a format I feel I would want. There’s no “magic” here and there are evident compromises when trying to be everything to everyone as MQA seems to be aiming for. It’s aimed at data compression, being “compatible” with regular DACs, able to deliver “high resolution”, and “better sounding” even with regular 16/44. I wish Meridian/MQA success in presumably the target niche (high-resolution streaming like TIDAL) even though I think there are better ways to do this (ie. simply stream 24/48, or something like FLAC compressed 18/96 as Miska and others have discussed).

I honestly hope no studio implements this as some kind of archival alternative nor does this supplant digital downloads where true 24-bits and high samplerate are already within the grasp of consumers…”