USB Audio Player Pro, the popular music playback app from eXtream software, now supports MQA decoding, but you will have to pay a little extra for the option.
The upgrade comes in the form of an in-app purchase which costs $3.99. Once purchased, it unlocks the ability for UAPP to function as an MQA core decoder, which means the software will perform what is known in MQA parlance as “a first unfold”.
Basically what this means is that MQA encoded music, whether it is a local file on your phone, or streamed from a Tidal account via the app, should playback in better than CD-Quality, due to the MQA decoder’s ability to convert or unfold the file (which usually comes in 16/44.1kHZ or 16/48kHz FLAC “wrapper”) from a 44.1/48kHz sampling rate to a 88.2/96kHz rate.
However, if you connect a DAC with MQA “Rendering” (like the iFi Nano BL we just reviewed) capability to your phone via USB, then that device can take the MQA Core signal passed on from UAPP and perform what is called a “second unfold”, which means that you can playback the file at even higher rates than the 88.2/96kHz, if the file has the additional bandwith encoded.
USB Audio Player Pro started out as an app which allowed audiophiles to bypass the limitations of the Android operating system which doesn’t natively support Hi-Res playback, namely files with bit depths higher than 16bit and sampling rates higher than 48kHz. Before UAPP, even if the software on your phone could play a Hi-Res file, the output would be downsampled to what the OS could support. UAPP was able to bypass the sound system of your phone and pass the digital output of Hi-Res files bit-perfect out of the USB port to an external USB jack.
Since it’s original release, UAPP has been refined with the addition of many features, one being the option of Tidal playback through the app. If you have a Tidal subscription, many find that playing it from UAPP sounds better than playback thru the Tidal Android app. Since Tidal streams MQA files via its Tidal Masters program, I feel like MQA decoding was the next logical upgrade. Bravo to eXtream for following through with yet another enhancement that makes this app seem like it is a must-have for Audiophiles who use their phone as a Digital Audio Player.
Here’s is a summary of the MQA upgrade from the developer:
Version 5 now includes a MQA Core Decoder (in-app purchase required). MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is an award-winning British technology that delivers the sound of the original master recording. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and is small enough to stream or download, while also being backward compatible. The Tidal streaming service supported by USB Audio Player PRO features many tracks in MQA and offers a great opportunity to experience MQA.
The MQA decoder will unfold the MQA stream from 44.1/48kHz to 88.2/96 kHz and can also be combined with certain USB DACs that feature an MQA renderer (e.g. AudioQuest DragonFly / iFi DACs) for further unfolding to even higher sample rates.
Please visit http://mqa.co.uk for more information about MQA and https://www.extreamsd.com/index.php/mqa to read more about MQA inside the app.