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HDtracks to launch streaming service with FLAC and MQA formats

Lenbrook and HDtracks logo on a gradient background.
Lenbrook/HDtracks / Lenbrook/HDtracks

Tidal might be in the process of phasing out the MQA format from its music catalog, but fans of the technology are about to have a new option. Lenbrook, the Canadian company that acquired MQA in 2023, has announced a partnership with HDtracks — a hi-res music download company — to create a new subscription streaming service that will give its users a choice of streaming format: FLAC, the lossless codec that is favored by traditional audiophiles, and MQA, the somewhat controversial codec that requires dedicated hardware in order to hear music at its highest level of quality.

The companies haven’t said what the service will be called, when it will launch, how big its music catalog will be at launch, or how much it will charge for its subscriptions.

The partnership did say, however, that the unnamed service will be the first to use Lenbrook’s Airia codec (also known as SCL6), which was developed by MQA prior to the Lenbrook acquisition.

SCL6 was primarily envisioned as a way to deliver lossless audio in a scalable manner between devices like phones and headphones over wireless connections like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and UWB. It’s not yet clear how Airia will work when it is incorporated into a streaming service.

“As audiophiles ourselves, it’s an exciting prospect to bring a service to life for the millions of global audiophiles that care so passionately about the quality of the music they listen to,” said Lenbrook’s chief strategy officer, John Banks, in a press release

The partnership says the service will be available across platforms. “In addition to its own applications for mobile, the service will find its way into many of the world’s leading high-end audio ecosystems, apps, and brands that count on service providers for their content.” Presumably, this is a reference to systems like Sonos and Bluesound, which provide access to music services within their dedicated software platforms. Lenbrook owns Bluesound.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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