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7digital announces high quality audio strategy with new Meridian MQA format

7digital logoBritish streaming music platform 7digital announced a technology partnership with Meridian Auto, and is the launch partner of Meridian’s MQA high-res audio format. MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated, and delivers high fidelity audio in a streamable file size.

We spoke to 7digital CEO Simon Cole, who emphasized the importance of high-res streaming, as opposed to downloading.

“We believe that high quality audio will be an important part of the future. There’s been a lot of focus on downloading high quality files and sideloading them onto a special player, like the Pono Music player. We have always believed that that would be an interim technology. In the end, technologies will emerge which allow streaming of high quality files. It’s quite clear that consumption of music will be streamed.”

The partnership has been in place for a year, with a co-development aspect.

“We thought high quality streaming was very important to achieve. We began working with Meridian about a year ago, on this technology that they invented. We’re really pleased to be part of that. MQA was launched a couple of weeks ago; last week we announced we would be upgrading our platform and would be the first to supply it to our customers.

How about the sound?

“The sound is staggering, even through a pair of Apple earbuds.”

Meridian’s MQA is based on the existing FLAC file, and uses MQA technology to encode it differently. It is an unrestriced format, but existing music players will need a special decoder attached to them. Meridian will make the decoder available for download. Simon Cole told us that the 7digital platform will update the streaming players for its customers to make them MQA-enabled. Beta versions are in testing as of today, and Cole told us that the update is slated for completion in Q2.

Brad Hill

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