I recently caught up with Mike Jbara, CEO of MQA to talk about how MQA is upping the ante for better streaming sound quality, soothing our souls, and keeping us entertained during these challenging times. Part 1.
Maureen Jenson: Just as a reminder for our readers, please give us a quick recap on what MQA is all about?
Mike Jbara: Maureen, thanks for reaching out and checking in on us. As you say, these are indeed challenging times and it’s good for us to be talking about what’s next for many reasons.
MQA is an audio technology, imagined and designed by Bob Stuart (co-founder of Meridian Audio) and developed in collaboration with audio engineers and artists with a simple goal: provide the listener with the same audio quality as the artist achieved when originally performing or recording their music. Until now, higher quality audio was constrained by some fundamental flaws in how audio was represented digitally, as well as the associated size of traditional higher resolution files. MQA has solved these issues and is backward compatible so that everyone can experience improved audio with the devices and equipment they own today.
While we are still a young company, we are fortunate to have great streaming partners such as TIDAL, nugs in North America, as well as Alibaba/Xiami in China. We have over 200 different consumer products in the market capable of providing the full MQA experience. Some of our earliest and most active partners are also familiar brands and products in the CI community.
MJ: Mike, I was intrigued to learn about your recent live-stream activities and video developments. Please tell us about these new advancements. Also, for those readers who may be not be aware, please talk about your Live technology as well.
Mike Jbara: Keeping Bob’s original goal in mind – to enable the fan to hear the original performance or recording – MQA was designed to capture live performances as well as studio recordings.
Pictured here: UK rising star and award-winning progressive jazz tuba player and composer, Theon Cross. For the first time, you can experience this performance in HD video with MQA sound on the MQA web site.
The recent British Music Embassy (BME) sessions, in which we participated, grew out of an event we had originally planned to produce during SXSW in Austin this year. The result has been a weekly release schedule (in HD video with MQA sound) of live sets from emerging UK artists who had been due to appear at SXSW. We were fortunate to be working with creative partners and flexible artists.
We announced our real-time audio streaming tools back in March of 2018 when we live-streamed a performance from London into the house where we were staying in Austin during SXSW. The reaction from OTT providers and traditional broadcasters was immediate, and MQA fits perfectly within existing video delivery methods.
Therefore, we traveled parallel paths of supporting audio lives-streams, while working with new partners who were looking to upgrade their audio offering within video programming such as concerts, sporting and other lifestyle events. They quickly saw that MQA’s audio improvement, combined with ease of integration into an app, meant they could move much more quickly than if they waited for broadcast standards to catch up with the increasing consumer demand for an improved viewing experience.
Stay tuned next week when Mike discusses MQA being applicable to a wide range of sound applications and home entertainment during the time of social distancing. Part two here.