Striking news: Canadian Lenbrook – which incorporates brands as NAD and Bluesound – takes over bankrupt MQA.
Lenbrook has become the owner of the previously moribund MQA. Striking news, because it should be no secret that there is actually little to no MQA content available anymore. For sure not after the “big engine” behind the format, Tidal, is busy switching to FLAC. Lenbrook, however, sees the purchase as a way to bring the codec to the entire industry. At the same time, MQA has become quite controversial in recent years, in fact since its introduction. First, it turned out not to be lossless as promised by its creator. Added to that, it was (is) a closed, license-based model. In other words, manufacturers have to pay for it to be “allowed” to use it. In the end, it is simply a data-saving codec. But thanks to broadband Internet available everywhere, that’s an argument that nowadays hardly matters
Far more interesting to Lenbrook will be the headphone codec SCL-6. But even there you can seriously question whether the market is waiting for yet another new Bluetooth codec. We’re guessing that MQA will serve a niche market, as in fact it always has. The problem with this, is that any audiophile with some basic knowledge of compression would prefer to opt for the open FLAC, which, after all, offers lossless bit-by-bit storage of the source. MQA doesn’t, plus there is often extra care taken in a studio to make an MQA track more pleasing to the ear. Last annoying side effect of MQA: you have to use MQA-capable hardware, pure and simple decoding in software alone does not work
Whether it is really wise to invest in MQA content we dare to doubt. Chances are tracks in this format won’t be playable in the future if the codec is (again) quietly dropped. Go for FLAC if you’re spending your money on downloads, it’s 100% future-proof and as mentioned above truly lossless. What more could a person want?