Warner Music Group enters deal with MQA to offer hi-res music downloads

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As with 4K and HDR in the video world, high-resolution audio is on the rise as well. While it is currently something that audiophiles pay more attention to than do most music listeners, that seems set to change, with even certain phones offering built-in hi-res playback.

Now Warner Music Group and MQA have announced that the two companies have signed a deal that will see the label offering music in the high-resolution MQA format. This makes Warner the first major label to do so, though some independent labels have already made their music available in the format.

“This collaboration is a giant step forward for MQA and music fans everywhere. We have been working tirelessly to ensure labels, studios, artists, services, and playback partners understand the potential of our technology and the responses have been overwhelming,” MQA creator Bob Stuart said in a statement. “MQA is about bringing the most authentic sound to music lovers all over the world and WMG is our first major partner to help drive this mission forward.”

MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated, and allows for much smaller file sizes than other hi-res formats like FLAC. MQA files are actually distributed as FLAC, AIFF, or WAV files, only about three times smaller. These files will play on standard devices just fine, but will deliver high-resolution audio on devices capable of playing them back.

We got a chance to experience MQA for ourselves earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, and found ourselves impressed with the sound quality. At the time, MQA said it was currently showing the technology to every major label, so while Warner Music Group might be the first to bite, the other majors could follow.

There is currently no word on when Warner will begin to offer music in MQA format, but if you’re the proud new owner of a hi-res audio player and looking for music, MQA format downloads are available from High Res Audio, Onkyo Music, e-Onkyo, 7digital, 2L, and Technics Tracks. MQA plans to expand to more download and streaming platforms in the coming months.