The Future of MQA: Impact and Questions Surrounding Its Necessity

The news that Lenbrook, the Canadian conglomerate owning NAD, PSB, and Bluesound, now also owns MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) has raised quite a stir in the high-fidelity audio realm. MQA has always been a subject of fascination, but now that it is under the umbrella of a significant player in the audio industry, it begs the question: Does MQA still have relevance in today's world of gigabit internet and nearly limitless storage solutions?

The Background on MQA

MQA aims to deliver studio-quality audio in a file small enough to stream. For a while, it appeared as a golden ticket for those with limited internet bandwidth or data caps. However, as more people gain access to high-speed, unlimited internet, the need for smaller file sizes diminishes. Moreover, with the advent of other lossless audio formats like FLAC and WAV that don't require additional licensing fees, the benefits of MQA are increasingly called into question.

The Perceived Value

One common sentiment is that MQA's primary goal is to gather as many licensing dollars as possible without necessarily offering something of concrete value. While this might appear cynical, it captures the essence of many conversations surrounding MQA. Why invest in a technology that doesn't significantly outperform its rivals?

More Than Just Licensing Schemes?

In defense of the acquisition, some argue that Lenbrook’s primary motive is to protect its other business interests. As one of the largest licensees of MQA, purchasing the company could be a strategic move to prevent competitors from gaining control and potentially leveraging the technology against them. However, this perspective doesn't necessarily justify the continued use of MQA over alternative formats that offer similar or better quality without the added costs.

The Importance of Interoperability

One of the defining features of high-fidelity audio equipment and software is interoperability. Most components can connect via RCA cables, and audio files can be converted into a variety of formats. With the proliferation of non-proprietary, user-serviceable technologies, there seems little room left for proprietary solutions like MQA. High-quality audio is already accessible in various formats without the need for additional licenses or specialized equipment.

Questionable Quality?

Another point of contention is the actual audio quality delivered by MQA. Some experts argue that MQA degrades sound quality, making it even less appealing than "snake oil" solutions that merely do nothing. Given the vast range of alternatives that capture the full audio spectrum without compromise, MQA's role becomes increasingly limited.


The acquisition of MQA by Lenbrook has added fuel to an already fiery discussion. While some see the buyout as a business strategy, others view it as an attempt to further a technology that has little benefit in today's high-speed, data-rich environment. It remains to be seen whether MQA will find a more substantial role in the evolving landscape of high-fidelity audio, but for now, the consensus leans toward skepticism.

So, does MQA still matter in today's high-fidelity audio ecosystem? Given the current state of technology and the trends in consumer behavior, the answer seems increasingly to be a resounding "no."

FLACRCA CablesConsumer BehaviorFuture of MQALenbrook AcquisitionPerceived Value



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