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How it Works

MP3 files deliver just 10% of the original studio recording. MQA reveals everydetail of the original recording.

Explore different levels of 'unfold'

See how MQA ‘unfolds’ to deliver the best possible listening experince.

MQA Core Decoder

This unfolds the MQA file once to deliver even higher than CD-quality. It is included in some products with digital outputs such as Pioneer and Onkyo players, as well as streaming services and desktop and mobile apps such as TIDAL. Media players like Audirvana and Roon have also implemented the core decoder.

The first unfold recovers all the direct music-related information. Output is 88.2kHz or 96kHz.

MQA Renderer

These products feature an MQA renderer which, when paired with a core decoder, can complete the final unfold and deliver a fully decoded MQA experience. Renderers can be great portable products such as USB DACs and headphones. For example the Zorloo Ztella, AudioQuest DragonFly, a range of iFi products or the ROG Delta S headset, can connect to an MQA Core signal and complete the unfolding of the MQA file.

MQA Full Decoder

Products with a full MQA Decoder unfold the file to deliver the highest possible sound quality. At this level of playback you are hearing what the artists created in the studio – with precise file and platform-specific DAC compensation and management. Partners include Bluesound, Brinkmann, dCS, Meridian, Mytek, NAD, LUMIN, Onkyo, Pioneer, TEAC and Technics.

View the Techinical Detail

MQA’s award-winning technology is the result of more than 40 years work by the founder, Bob Stuart. To get the full technical detail, visit his blog, Bob Talks.

Sustainable Tech

Learn about how we’re making studio quality sound more environmentally efficient.


MP3 files deliver just 10% of the orginal studio recording. MQA reveals every detail of the ordinal recording.

TIDAL has partnered with MQA to create TIDAL Masters. With a TIDAL HiFi Plus subscription you can listen to Masters through the desktop or mobile apps. MQA also has an international network of playback partners with MQA-enabled products, ranging from headsets to speakers, and automotive to radio. Additionally, we support our record label and music service partners to ensure master recordings are encoded and delivered to a growing number of services.

Yes you can listen to TIDAL Masters – and stream live concert recordings on – using an Android or iOS mobile app. The app software contains the MQA core decoder and performs the first unfold of an MQA file. Pair this with a portable renderer device for the full MQA experience.

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