MQA Returns With a New Hi-Res Bluetooth Codec Named AIRIA Plus Two Other Techs

Lenbrook reveals MQA Labs with three new audio techs.
Lenbrook reveals MQA Labs with three new audio techs.

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Will AIRIA, FOQUS, and QRONO change what we think about MQA?

MQA rises from the grave one year after going into administration with three new technologies. Lenbrook Media Group, the company that bought MQA after it went bankrupt, has breathed new life into the company’s assets by establishing “MQA Labs.”

Along this is the introduction of three new audio enhancement technologies: AIRIA, FOQUS, and QRONO. Each of these offerings aims to enhance different aspects of the audio chain, from recording and distribution to playback.

“The digitization of an analog signal introduces a range of imperfections to the resulting audio file. One of the most common and critical is something often referred to as time smearing. Or, when the resolution of two sounds is reduced because their timing is incorrectly reproduced within the digital file.” says Greg Stidsen, Chief Technology Officer at Lenbrook.

“MQA Labs’ team are experts in time-domain audio improvements. They have invented many of the techniques to avoid or eliminate such audio defects.”

MQA Labs AIRIA’s Features

MQA AIRIA logo. (From: MQALabs)
MQA AIRIA logo. (From: MQALabs)

AIRIA stands for “Adaptive Intelligent Resolution for Immersive Audio.”

This new Bluetooth codec is designed to deliver high-resolution audio over wireless connections. Basically, it adjusts its bitrate on the fly to ensure the best possible sound quality, no matter the strength of your connection.

With this, you can enjoy lossless quality at 20Mbps whenever your Bluetooth is strong (i.e. if you’re near your device with close to zero interference). And, smoothly transition to up to a highly compressed 200kbps stream when you wander further away without any dropouts.

But what sets AIRIA apart from other codecs like Qualcomm’s aptX HD and Sony’s LDAC is its ability to preserve more of the original signal’s information. This means you’ll be able to hear your favorite tracks in stunning detail, just as the artist intended.

But AIRIA isn’t just a game-changer for personal listening.

Successful pilots have shown that it has the potential to change how music streaming services work. So, it should offer huge operational savings and improved reliability for a smoother listening experience.

What About FOQUS and QRONO?

While AIRIA is undoubtedly the star of the show, MQA Labs hasn’t forgotten about how important the recording and playback processes are.

Enter FOQUS and QRONO, two new technologies made to tackle the challenges that come with audio conversion.

MQA FOQUS logo. (From: MQALabs)
MQA FOQUS logo. (From: MQALabs)

FOQUS is set to change the game in analog-to-digital conversion. This is made to address issues like time smearing that can rob digital recordings of their clarity and detail.

Time smearing occurs when the timing of different sounds within a digital file is not accurately reproduced.

By focusing on this critical part of audio conversion, FOQUS has the potential to greatly improve the quality of digital recordings.

MQA QRONO logo. (From: MQALabs)
MQA QRONO logo. (From: MQALabs)

On the playback side, QRONO promises to make the digital-to-analog conversion process better.

When a digital audio file is converted back into an analog signal for playback, various factors can influence the final sound quality. QRONO uses unique audio processing techniques to minimize these issues to make sure the listener hears the music as the artist intended.

In short, FOQUS is likely to be more relevant in professional recording studios and production environments. QRONO, on the other hand, could prove invaluable in consumer-grade audio devices like smartphones, laptops, and dedicated music players.

When Can We Expect This?

The wait for these revolutionary technologies won’t be too long. In fact, LMG has announced that it will be licensing AIRIA, FOQUS, and QRONO to several unnamed manufacturers in 2025. And, compatible products are expected to hit the market by the end of that year.

Specific partnerships have not been disclosed. But, it’s a safe bet that Lenbrook’s own brands – NAD, Bluesound, and PSB – will be among the first to use these technologies in their products.

FOQUS, QRONO, and AIRIA are standalone technologies that do not rely on the original MQA codec or MQA-encoded files. This allows for a more flexible implementation, as manufacturers can add these techs to their products without necessarily supporting the MQA format.

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