ESS Technology announced that they will introduce versions of their SABRE® audio DACs that feature integrated MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) rendering, making it easier for audio hardware manufacturers looking to incorporate MQA into their designs.
MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as a standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms. The encoding process folds extra information into the signal that can be recovered later. The resulting signal sounds great on its own and improves with systems that unfold the extra data and take advantage of the full range and dynamics of the master file created in the studio.
This “unfolding” process takes place in two steps: the first unfold, called Core Decoding, can be done on most DSP systems, and system designers looking to implement this can take advantage of standard code. In fact, this process is already included in many existing PC software music applications such as Tidal, Roon, Amarra and Audirvana. Core Decoding is also available in dedicated portable devices such as Onkyo and Pioneer players as well as several smartphones.
The final step in the unfolding, called rendering, needs to be done in tight cooperation with the DAC. The quality of the rendering depends on the DAC output filters and this has typically involved hand tuning each design. But the agreement between ESS and MQA will make that a whole lot easier!
ESS will soon introduce SABRE Mobile DACs and Headphone Systems with integrated MQA rendering. Integrating the renderer as a hardware block coupled to the DAC achieves several advantages including ease-of-design, improved performance, and lower power.
Combining the MQA rendering with the DAC will eliminate all the manual tuning and software integration that is required when using a separate DSP and stand-alone DACs. The system designer will not need to worry about the implementation at all. Automatic rendering will allow the system to instantly detect a Core MQA stream and configure the custom filter settings to give the optimal-quality output. The combined hardware blocks allow for the solution to be implemented without a DSP, saving power as well as size and cost.