Ottava Releases First MQA-Encoded CD. Yes, CD.

The Japanese music label Ottava today released the first MQA-encoded CD, A. Piazzolla by Strings and Oboe—recorded by Unamas Piazzolla Septet.

The recording is also available for download at

Since launching in the early 1980s, the CD format has undergone a number of sound quality improvements, but these have depended largely on the manufacturing process, rather than an improvement in the quality of music itself, MQA said in a press release.

After attending a JAS (Japan Audio Society) seminar on MQA technology presented by MQA founder Bob Stuart late last year, Ottava CEO Mick Sawaguchi and Synthax Japan’s managing director, Seiji Murai, realized that MQA could enable not only 48/24 coding but also 44.1/16 coding. “We were both excited by the prospect that CD, combined with MQA technology, could herald a new era of hi-res audio,” Sawaguchi said.

Sawaguchi compared a test MQA CD with a normal CD of the same recording, played back on a Meridian amplifier and loudspeaker system. “Listening to the MQA CD was a great moment in my life, as it no longer sounded like music from a CD,” he said.

MQA, short for Master Quality Authenticated, is the brainchild of Bob Stuart. The technology delivers “master quality audio” in a file small enough to stream or download. MQA CD works in exactly the same way as the MQA digital file. MQA-encoded music in resolutions up to 24-bit/96-kHz is available on the music streaming service Tidal as well as on several music-download services.


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