Lenbrook MQA Acquisition: Lenbrook’s purchase of MQA, a leading hi-res audio technology company, is a significant development for the audio industry. Is it a new era for hi-res audio?
The reports of MQA’s death, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated. Lenbrook Corp., a Canadian enterprise specializing in brand development, technology, and distribution in the audio and communication sectors (the company behind NAD, Bluesound, and PSB Speakers), has acquired MQA, a UK-based industry leader in high-resolution audio encoding. This acquisition brings significant patents and reintroduces two prominent hi-res audio codecs for further development – MQA and SCL6.
In the press release accompanying the sale, Lenbrook’s CEO, Gordon Simmonds, says this acquisition aligns with Lenbrook’s vision of nurturing and investing in technologies that promote consumer choice and advanced sound quality. He also stated that by acquiring MQA, Lenbrook aims to ensure that the technologies developed by MQA scientists and engineers are not limited to a single brand or company but continue to benefit the entire industry. This seems to mean they intend to continue licensing the tech to other manufacturers.
In addition, Lenbrook’s Chief Technology Officer, Greg Stidsen, highlighted the significance of MQA’s patents and research on digital audio quality. He stated that with over 120 licensees and several content partnerships, the acquisition ensures business and technical developments will move forward seamlessly.
Lenbrook’s established stability and capitalization are well-positioned to support the growth of MQA’s technologies, including the BluOS high-res content platform. Andy Dowell, previously Head of Licensing for MQA, will continue to lead business development efforts.
Fittingly, Dowell made one of the most significant statements regarding the acquisition/merger: “As one of MQA’s most significant licensees and also the owner of the award-winning BluOS high-res content platform, Lenbrook is well positioned to build on what was started,” reflects Dowell. “Its BluOS platform work has proven that the Lenbrook team understands it takes a certain amount of neutrality to be a licensor, but it can also take a customer view when it comes to the wants and needs from a product development standpoint.”
That said, with music streaming giant TIDAL (the most popular distributor of hi-res MQA content) seemingly pulling back on their support for the format, it remains to be seen how many manufacturers outside of Lenbrook will continue to include MQA decoding in their product offerings. Now that the popular audiophile-oriented streaming service no longer requires an MQA-compatible DAC to extract the highest bitrates from its streams (you can now stream hi-res FLAC), will many consumers/companies still see the value in MQA?
On the flip side, SCL6, the wireless codec developed to transmit hi-res MQA audio via Bluetooth, is on the horizon. We haven’t heard it here, but it seems promising since it has peak data rates supporting full hi-res streaming. This is something that codecs like LDAC and aptX Adaptive can’t do. If Lenbrook can create demand for that technology, this could provide new life to MQA, which also has sound profiles pulled directly from the masters. That adds cachet.
We have enjoyed MQA here at Hifitrends and are excited to see what this acquisition means for the format. Lenbrook has always found creative and valuable ways to develop and market audio tech, so we feel we will see some extraordinary things come out of the Lenbrook MQA union.
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