MQA going into administration

Same. I had both TIDAL and Qobuz simultaneously while I decided which catalog I preferred. When TIDAL embraced MQA that made the decision for me to go with Qobuz. The added benefit is Qobuz subsequently cut their subscription price in half.


Agreed, so being unwilling to change some part of their DAC hardware (which they are eventually forced to due to obsolescence) is another factor besides licensing fees I suspect. Look it’s understandable, I am just saying this has more to do with their business model than sound quality.

I am trolling because I dare to question the mantra?

I’m actually agnostic on the issue. I just don’t think it’s because a company is so benevolent they only have our best interests at heart.

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So long as it’s just software and handled in the streaming engine I suppose. Full MQA requires DAC hardware support and some companies are just not willing to go that far. Software should be determining hardware not the other way around.

The whole discussion reminds me of HDCD from 20-some years ago. It worked, but there was much resistance to the licensing fees and, ultimately, it was technologically superseded before it became ubiquitous. Nevertheless, I would still consider a good pre-loved cd-5XS with HDCD for my hundreds of encoded Grateful Dead cds.

The tech and the politics may be a little different but, from this music consumer’s perspective, the upshot seems more or less the same.

Just my $.03, etc., etc.

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Hi @davidhendon,

Correct. Based on TIDAL had adopted the tech, we investigated in detail on getting it into the Naim platform. Tech wise not a problem as all our products contain a high powered DSP, but we more held off for business reasons. Primarily:

  • the business model of MQA Ltd. made no financial sense. Their business would need to sell about 1.5million licences a year to break even, and about 4 million licences to make a worthy profit. Unless they get adoption from a major company like Apple, Samsung etc those numbers are unfeasible from selling licences to specialist hifi manufacturers.

  • the system was solving a problem that was no longer a problem due to internet advances. Others like Qobuz & then Apple were proving full fat lossless can be done without this tech.

  • It was going to cost Naim around £100K to implement MQA as a rolling update, plus add cost to each product due to licensing. We felt we could invest in better features at the time.

Otherwise no bitterness or the like from the Naim side. MQA were fundamental to encourage large labels to release 24bit material, which is great for all.

Best wishes

Steve Harris
Software Director
Naim Audio Ltd.


Indeed, I suspect it’s no coincidence that Qobuz began releasing 24 bit material at around the same time that MQAs started to appear on Tidal, so if nothing else we can thank them for giving their own competition a winning formula.


MQA unfortunately pursuing (latterly peddling) a ‘solution’ to a problem that no longer existed as advances in broadband/cloud and cost effectiveness of HDD and SSD increasingly made the offering redundant. Happy enough with a ‘full fat’ .wav hi-res file or a (compressed) FLAC file from Qobuz for a number of years now, has never really made me desire to seek out the MQA offering and Tidal.

IMHO writing was on the wall at least five years ago - their financials bear this out.


But that assumes a particular pricing model and who knows how much MQA would have charged high end manufacturers if the technology were widely adopted? They would have had significant monopoly power and the consequent lack of market discipline was another factor that made me nervous.


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Is that really true? I was already streaming plenty of 24-bit content before TIDAL added MQA.


Can’t be sold as a going concern as when I last looked the balance sheet had net liabilities of over £30m in the red! :thinking: Half of that was owed to trade creditors. The financial backers gave until Q1/23 and with no further borrowing opportunities the directors had no choice but to put the company into administration. This information is in the public domain if you know where to look (quite easy) or are qualified (in my case) to join the dots….

Reading the latest published financial statements the creditor dividend will be pennies in the pound. IIRC at the end of 2021 the organisation was in the red by over £30m with half of that being net current liabilities. The only real ‘asset’ was probably the software/brand but even that may be worthless in today’s market (NB: this last sentence is my personal opinion and from reading the latest filed financial report).

Availability of 24 bit on Qobuz increased steadily, and my impression was that it proliferated around the time that Tidal began to roll out MQA. Of course I have no stats to prove anything, but my impression was that the two things coincided, more or less.
Ultimately I couldn’t really care less as long as there is a good 24 bit provider out there, and Qobuz seem to fit the bill at the moment.

Sorry, but I really I don’t think that coincided. I signed up for Qobuz as soon as it was available in the U.S., and have had it since. One of the reasons I liked it was they had 24 bit audio. Not for a whole lot, but some, escpially newer releases. I’m not sure I would have kept it for $25/mon for as long as I did if it was just 16-bit. After that I was able to sign up for TIDAL at very low cost in a promotion (like $5 for three months) and I used the two in tandem for a while. I wanted to compare catalogs and take my time to decide which I preferred. I have Roon, so that made it all very seamless.

MQA came after that, because when it arrived I cancelled TIDAL and stayed with Qobuz. I just don’t see a correlation, much less causation between TIDAL adopting MQA and Qobuz embracing 24-bit.

I’m really pretty confident in my memory of it.

I’ve Qobuz since 4/21/19. I had TIDAL from 1/23/19 for several months with a month overlap with Qobuz, and again from 12/16/19 for the 3-month promo, so I already had Qobuz for 8 months, with 24-bit audio. I’m not sure when TIDAL added MQA, but they didn’t have it until after I started using it.

Edit: I’m looking at my Roon catalog and see that I was adding a bunch of 24-bit albums from Qobuz from when I first signed up March/2019 (I forgot I had a free month before I first paid for it 4/21/19).

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16 bit gives a possible 65,536 different levels, 24 bit gives nearer 16.7 million. The later will sound better at any sample rate, be it 44Khz, 48Khz, etc
DSD64, single rate equates to roughly 96Khz.

Last month I purchased a DAC that is capable of DSD512, if I had spent an extra £100 I could have got the SE version as opposed to the LE version, the latter supports MQA, I guess that what is already encoded in MQA will continue, just no new stuff? Who knows?

The sample rate of DSD512 is 22.579Mhz, 512 times that of a CD.

I think you are right whatever one may think of the technology. A big record company adopting MQA would mean placing their brand in the hands of MQA and the current situation does not invite that kind of trust.

There is also MLP from the same source that went nowhere (Meridian Lossless Packing, part of the DVD-A standard). The licensing/tool cost when we looked at it, for something very similar to FLAC, was very steep for a smaller specialist record company.

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Good riddance to bad rubbish is my view! MQA was always a parasite within the industry with no demonstrable benefit over full fat lossless (indeed quite the reverse). Customers were being asked to pay a premium for music that sounds worse than unmolested wav or flac. Manufacturers, artists and streaming services were being asked to pay a premium to deliver it.

This MQA nonsense has affected millions of music consumers including me. I have a Naim NDX legacy streamer and so cannot easily access Qobuz for 24/192. I subscribe to Tidal but due to my non-MQA compatible streamer am limited to 16/44. If MQA didn’t exist Tidal would have been forced by market forces to launch 24/192 streaming without MQA and I and millions of others could have been enjoying streaming hi-res for years…

May it rot alongside all those responsible for it - the Linn article is bang on!



There was discussion about Tidal MQA Masters on the old forum in the months before it was superseded by this one in early 2019.

It’s all kinda moot now. I picked Qobuz, and it’s about 2/3 the cost of TIDAL with MQA. Even if TIDAL abandons MGA and changes to 24-bit FLAC I’m still getting a better deal with Qobuz.


Sure, but if it had been around for longer, say at the start of mass mp3/aac streaming in the early 00’s I think it would have been more common and. 10 years ago it would have been more prevalent… because as you say in 2013 bandwidth for many was expensive / not practical. But yes my point its value was more for an earlier era. I do also remember when it first appeared on Tidal and discussed on this forum, many punters questioned the viability of its licensing model…to encode and fully decode.

What do you mean by tidal mis handling? In MQA I was far as I am aware there was no end to end certification key chain and signing validation to prevent ‘man in the middle’ decode and re code as far as I am aware… if somebody wanted to do that.