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Lenbrook announces MQA music streaming service

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Lenbrook announces MQA music streaming service

That’s Really Remarkable News: Lenbrook Promises To Launch Its Own MQA Music Streaming Service. Is Anyone Waiting for This, though…?

Plagued by ambiguities, MQA ultimately went bankrupt. The interest and awareness of the compression technique among the general public were negligible. In fact, it was only used on a large scale by Tidal, but that adventure has also ended. When Lenbrook acquired MQA, no one knew what could be salvaged from the PR-failed technology. Yet, the new owner apparently sees potential in it, as evidenced by their announcement to launch an MQA music streaming service.

Are There Any Advantages?

On paper, MQA’s capabilities sound promising. It offers a promised ‘studio quality’ and there is the significant bandwidth savings that the file format provides. This is achieved through heavy compression, which the creator claims is lossless. This claim quickly led to heated debates and was ultimately proven to be untrue. An even bigger issue is that it is a closed file format. Not everyone can implement and use it freely. The IT world has learned its lessons about closed and proprietary file formats over the past decades. If a manufacturer goes bankrupt and there is no acquisition, all information about the structure of a file format quickly disappears. In the case of a streaming service, this is naturally a less significant reason. However, the closed nature leads to another problem.

Royalties

Manufacturers must pay royalties to use MQA in their equipment. For a file format that is virtually unknown to the general public, this is a rather pointless action. The manufacturers that offer MQA on their equipment are often active in the slightly higher price segment. A few euros less on the final sale price doesn’t make much of a difference there. But the crucial question is: who is waiting for yet another new file format? There are already more than enough to choose from, both truly lossless and lossy. Each of these formats has long proven itself and is known to far more people.

FLAC is the Future

The problem remains that MQA is once again marketed as ‘studio quality’. Naturally, there is no bit difference or should be no bit difference between MQA and, for example, a PCM file or FLAC. The latter is even a completely lossless compression format, while MQA indeed applies a form of – albeit very mild – lossy compression. Additionally, experience has shown that MQA tracks are often mastered to sound as ‘good as possible’. The file format’s ‘difficult’ reputation is naturally not easily erased, if ever. The open, transparent and established FLAC file format is much better suited for true lossless streaming.

In Short

Unless Lenbrook presents a very special and unique offering in terms of content and/or extremely competitive pricing, streaming in MQA purely for MQA’s sake makes little sense. The vast majority of potential listeners will have little interest in purchasing certified MQA equipment to be able to listen in the intended higher quality. Especially not in this case, where the masses are unfamiliar with the term MQA, and those in the know are aware that it is somewhat controversial. This adventure could end up costing Lenbrook a lot of money.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Ronald tries to make wrong statements right by repeating them, as if ASR would be a scientific source. Just destroying possible positive messages by repeating old lies is not „cutting through“, its just bad manners. As IT expert you should try to gather some real informative facts and then maybe judge. If you would be interested whats going on. And as far as we know NOTHING has been revealed, except some titles of things to come. But Ronalds machete is already „cutting through“ . Does not help Alpha Audios otherwise great reputation.

  2. You say that “Ronald cuts through the marketing bullshit like no other.” Huh? This negative take on Lenbrook’s press release just leaves a bad taste, without any insight into technologies or the industry itself at this point. Too bad.

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