UHD Audio Set To Take Off In OZ As Pioneer & Onkyo Deliver New Players
Ultra-high definition portable music players are set to be in demand in the second half of 2016 with both Pioneer and Onkyo taking on the premium priced Askin + Kern and Sony brands.
Sub $1,000 MQA-format music playback systems from Onkyo and Pioneer are set to hit Australian retail stores later this year, with several streaming services set to deliver new high res content for the players. Also tipped to release a portable high res audio player is Bluesound.
Yesterday it was revealed by the Australian Recording Industry Association’s (ARIA) that the overall music industry grew 5 percent in value in 2015 to A$333.8 million. Its first growth, since 2012.
According to ARIA, digital accounted for 62 percent of the market. Income from subscription services, such as Tidal, Apple Music, doubled in 2015, growing to A$46 million from A$23 million in 2014.
Pioneer is adding MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) playback to its currently available XDP-100R via an update available Tuesday.
Onkyo today released overseas its DP-X1 portable, which will also get the MQA update on Tuesday. The Pioneer player has been available since CES.
The two portables become the world’s first MQA-enabled high-resolution audio portable digital audio players (DAPs).
The Wi-Fi-equipped portables will also stream MQA files from the Cloud when MQA is adopted by music-streaming sites.
Tidal is expected to offer MQA streaming. “We continue to work very closely with Tidal, and there should be some very exciting announcements shortly,” said Alex Seeberg, marketing manager of MQA inventor MQA Ltd.
Both models already stream Tidal’s CD-quality service as well as Spotify.
MQA playback is also available in select Meridian home-audio products and a portable USB DAC.
Both players decode WAV, FLAC, ALAC and AIFF files, including 384-kHz/24bit WAV and FLAC files. They also decode 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz and 11.2MHz DSD files; download high-res songs via Wi-Fi from OnkyoMusic.com; and feature AptX over Bluetooth. They also run on Android and feature 4.7-inch capacitive touchscreens, 32GB storage, and two memory-card slots accepting 200GB memory cards.
How MQA Works
MQA delivers higher performance in smaller files compared with other types of high-res files because the nominal streaming rate of a two-channel MQA file is 1Mbps vs 9.6Mbps for an uncompressed two-channel 192kHz/24-bit digital file and 18.5Mbps for a 384/24 file, MQA Ltd. has said. A three-minute MQA download takes up only 30MB of storage space on a hard drive or in flash memory compared with 150MB for a three-minute 192/24 FLAC file. The ratio is different at other sampling rates.
MQA files are much more efficient than other high-res formats because other formats use half their data rates to replicate inaudible frequencies above 20kHz. Although those frequencies can’t be heard, they are nonetheless important because they contain information on the arrival time of audible sounds, contributing to the realism of what you do hear, MQA says. Timing details are said to be critical to how listeners identify and locate sounds.
MQA captures that timing information, “folds” it without loss into the audible range to produce a smaller file, and delivers timing resolution up to 10ms, or 10 time better than that of 192/24 files, MQA Ltd. explained.
MQA-encoded music, which takes PCM form, can be placed inside any lossless-audio file “container” such as FLAC, ALAC or WAV. An MQA decoder can be built into hardware, or it can take the form of an app for a smartphone or PC.