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Caskeid wireless audio to support MQA studio quality streaming

Tom Morgan
4 Jan 2015
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Pure, Onyko and Meridian first in line for high quality wireless streaming with MQA

Imagination Technologies has used the CES 2015 show in Las Vegas to confirm that it will be adding support for the MQA streaming audio standard to its Caskeid wireless protocol, bringing studio-quality streaming music to compatible multiroom and wireless speakers for the first time.

Announced at the beginning of December, MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated and doesn't rely on very high sample rates to record and deliver its studio-quality recordings. Unlike Sony's High Resolution Audio format, which uses 24-bit/192KHz recordings with huge file sizes, MQA takes the data that would otherwise be stripped by a traditional MP3 encode and fold it in on itself, occupying the frequency spectrum otherwise inaudible to human ears. Devices that can't play the full high quality stream will only play the basic quality track, but compatible devices will play the track in its full quality. The resulting files are much smaller, and can be streamed as well as downloaded.

According to Imagination, Caskeid's sub-20 microsecond synchronisation technology is "uniquely capable of delivering MQA’s intended studio quality audio in a wireless multiroom or multi-channel environment", synching perfectly between speakers and streaming the full quality track wirelessly over Wi-Fi - a feat that apparently wouldn't be possible over other protocols like Bluetooth or wireless mesh networking.

Caskeid technology is already being used in the Pure Jongo multiroom wireless speaker range, and has been picked up by Onkyo, Meridian Audio and other Hi-Fi brands for their own wireless audio systems. However, it's currently unclear if the technology is backwards compatible, so there's no word on whether existing Pure Jongo owners could simply update their device firmware to add MQA support, or if they will have to upgrade to newer speakers instead. 

"MQA is the result of years of work in a bid to elevate sound quality whilst ensuring convenience for the customer," Bob Stuart, creator of MQA and co-founder of parent company Meridian Audio, said in a statement. "The news that Imagination’s Caskeid wireless audio platform, which is the only wireless multiroom synchronisation technology out there that truly offers a platform for high quality audio, is to support MQA is very exciting as this will enable us and others to achieve the best audio reproduction in the wireless sphere whilst retaining the purity of the original source material."

Steaming audio service 7Digital is already onboard to deliver MQA-encapsulated tracks to Caskeid-enabled speakers, while MQA's creators Meridian Audio will be working to expand coverage to other streaming audio services throughout 2015.

We were blown away by the quality during our short demo at the official MQA launch event, but will be taking another listen during CES this week to see if the currently limited library of MQA-encapsulated tracks has grown in time for launch.