The primary hands-on assessment of MQA’s ground-breaking new hi-res audio streaming codec has been printed, and it’s not prone to make nice studying for the folks behind rival codecs at Qualcomm and Sony.
Beforehand launched final yr below the MQair title, SCL6 goals to ship greater high quality audio recordsdata when streaming to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth units, with sound that may scale from Bluetooth transmission as much as big-bandwidth lossless recordsdata, and dropping much less element in any respect ranges.
Performing as a ‘bridge’ between the decision of the file you are streaming and the way a lot of it will possibly really make it to your ears, SCL6 is suitable with any file sort, be it PCM, MQA, FLAC or WAV audio codecs as much as 384kHz, and in a position to ship them over Bluetooth, Extremely-Wideband (UWB) and Wi-Fi streaming connections.
All-digital audio recordsdata lose data by compression after they’re packaged and despatched by way of wi-fi. MQA nevertheless, claims the packing and unpacking algorithm which SCL6 relies round manages to protect extra data from the unique sign than its two rivals; Qualcomm’s aptX HD and Sony’s LDAC.
Arguably the important thing characteristic of the tech is that its adaptable, which means it will possibly scale its information charge from 20Mbps (thought-about lossless for wi-fi audio) all the way in which right down to 200kbps (lossy) relying on the standard of the wi-fi connection between units.
In observe which means if the connection between units will get weaker, SCL6 is ready to dial down the info charge after which later decide it again up in actual time ought to the connection get stronger.
In a demo at MQA’s HQ, What HiFi? ‘s Andy Madden went fingers on (opens in new tab)with the brand new format, and seems to have been massively impressed with what he heard.
In a single demo of a full-res 24-bit/96kHz MQA file performed facet by facet with the identical monitor in SCL6 operating at 660kbps, on a speaker setup particularly designed to focus on any excessive element adjustments, the distinction within the wi-fi model is described as being “nearly inaudible”.
In the meantime, an additional check demonstrating the scalability of the SCL6 codec, with a monitor beginning at a lossless bit charge earlier than being dropped right down to 300-500kbps equally impressed, prompting Andy to remark “the sense of refinement and the rhythm of the monitor appear to come back by comparatively unscathed”.
Evaluation: SCL6 seems to be set to be a real gamechanger for wi-fi audio
This primary hands-only serves to strengthen our pleasure in seeing the primary wave of SCL6-supporting units hit the cabinets.
Whereas we’re at all times sceptical of any wi-fi sound expertise being described as lossless, we sense the codec’s seemingly excellent preservation of audio information will probably be a compromise most audiophiles can be greater than in a position to reside with.
However there stays the query of adoption – the advantages are clear, however there is a extreme lack of knowledge about what units would possibly help it, or what music providers. With wi-fi codecs, it takes three to tango: your wi-fi speaker or wi-fi headphones; your telephone or no matter is sending audio to your listening gadget; and the music supply.
Can MQA get one of the best music streaming providers on board? Or the makers of one of the best wi-fi earbuds? Even the upper high quality Bluetooth LE Audio customary, that is actually a part of the most recent Bluetooth spec, has had sluggish adoption, with no phrase of help coming from Apple in any respect to date.
So whereas we we’re extraordinarily excited for the potential of the SCL6 expertise, there’s an enormous hurdle to clear but.
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