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AudioFiles: The Controversy Over MQA

A new technology promises the best sound ever—but gets a skeptical reaction

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Imagine if someone told you they’d met the best tenor saxophone player who ever lived—better than Hawk, better than Sonny, better even than Trane. Imagine they showed you glowing testimonials from famous musicians raving about the new player’s skills. But when you went to hear this supposedly miraculous artist, he would play only solo versions of original tunes from behind a curtain.

This is much like the situation audiophiles find themselves in with the introduction of MQA, or Master Quality Authenticated. MQA is the name both of the technology and of the company that’s licensing it. MQA claims to deliver the best sound ever available—better than vinyl, better than CD, better even than high-resolution audio. Yet despite the fact that it was announced in 2014, many audiophiles and journalists still aren’t sure what to think of the technology.

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