MQA’s bankruptcy and Tidal’s switch to Hi-Res FLAC cast doubt on the future of high-resolution audio streaming.
In a Reddit Q&A last April 10, 2023, Tidal CEO, Jesse Dorogusker, revealed that the streaming platform will soon be supporting FLAC in their Hi-Res format for HiFi Plus subscribers, days after MQA files for Appointment of Administrator, which is equivalent to bankruptcy in the US.
MQA Files for Bankruptcy Protection
MQA officially appointed its administrators on April 3, 2023, following the company’s announcement that its major investor is already “seeking an exit.”
In a public statement, MQA says, “Following the recent positive reception to MQA’s latest technology (SCL6), there has been increased international interest in buying MQA Ltd. At the same time, MQA’s main financial backer is seeking an exit.
In order to be in the best position to pursue market opportunities and expedite this process, the company has undergone a restructuring initiative, which includes entering into administration and is comparable to Chapter 11 in the US.”
The London-based company has filed the necessary documents to UK’s High Court of Justice, which is equivalent to the United States Courts, where companies file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In MQA’s case, it was mentioned that it is undergoing a “restructuring initiative,” hence, the filing for bankruptcy security. This happened after Richemont’s (now Reinet Investment) representative and MQA’s main financial backer, Anthony Edward Rupert, resigned from his seat a month ago.
Tidal’s Latest Announcement in Possible Relation to MQA
Tidal, which is considered one of MQA’s biggest streaming service distributors, stirred some discussions among the audiophile community as well.
In a Reddit post done through his AMA or “Ask Me Anything” session, Tidal CEO Jesse Dorogusker announced that Tidal will soon be supporting Hi-Res FLAC for HiFi Plus subscribers aside from MQA.
When asked why Tidal originally chose MQA instead of FLAC or other formats in the first place, Dorogusker states that “TIDAL added MQA when others were streaming low-bitrate AAC (and some still do). It was a balance of quality and bandwidth.”
But he added that, “Cell networks are better now. Hi-res FLAC files will be big, but we think the infra is ready, even on mobile.”
This comes with the hint that users will be able to select their chosen format and quality depending on their bandwidth, preferences, and storage capacity.
Feedback From the Community: What to Expect
Tidal’s CEO Jesse Dorogusker’s post alone had attracted varying reactions and queries from audiences, just nearly two weeks after it was made.
User Evshrug sees Tidal’s move in a positive light, and thinks that it is about time for the company to distance itself from MQA.
Another user, HD64180, meanwhile, hopes Tidal’s switch to FLAC will mean having the traditional FLAC as it is, instead of just deriving it from “unfolding” the MQA files.
Another Reddit post from a couple of days ago has also generated more reactions from consumers, both for MQA and Tidal’s announcements.
Most of the comments favored Tidal’s possible move to halt its MQA codec.
User plazman30 said, “good riddance to bad snake oil.”
However, there are also objective comments that provide suggestions instead.
While user itzykan agrees that MQA was “probably snake oil,” he wishes that there would be more interest in producing new file formats in the industry.
There are still a lot of uncertainties regarding the MQA and Tidal’s latest revelations. Whether or not the series of announcements coincide with each other remains a question for many.
But for others, Tidal won’t just simply drop MQA from its service, and MQA still has the chance to revitalize its system through the SCL6.