Advanced Television

WOWOW offers MQA hi-res audio

November 1, 2019

By Chris Forrester

Japanese broadcaster WOWOW has trialled a broadcast with MQA audio (Master Quality Authenticated) which is frequently used in streaming audio services. But this is said to be the first time it has been used in a TV broadcast.

WOWOW says UK-developed MQA closes the quality gap between TV video and audio. WOWOW used a pre-recorded live concert and then played back with MQA-encoded audio.

MQA founder Bob Stuart, commented, “With our partners at WOWOW we’ve been exploring the feasibility of delivering video with MQA audio and our experiments have succeeded.  We’re bringing the unique aspects of MQA – clarity, smaller file sizes and backward compatibility – to deliver the best quality audio alongside HD video. This development holds exciting possibilities for the international broadcasting sector.”

MQA technology uses a process it calls ‘music origami’ where a 192/24 file is ‘folded’ into a smaller file of 48-kHz / 24-bits, which is the standard of broadcast video.

The experience will be repeated at the upcoming InterBEE trade show in Tokyo on November 15th.

“This broadcast helped demonstrate how MQA technology can help close the gap between the quality of TV audio and video. Consumers are used to constant improvements delivering a better visual experience, but with the advent of music downloads audio quality actually got worse – MP3 files were easier to download and took up less storage space but they discard 90 per cent of the data from the original recording. This situation is improving – helped by the likes of TIDAL Masters/MQA and recently demonstrated by Amazon’s joining of the hi-res audio fray. Now MQA is taking its hi-res, studio quality, authenticated audio to the world of TV,” said WOWOW.

Hideo Irimajiri, senior expert, engineering division and project lead at WOWOW, added, “We’ve been conducting these trials with a view to integrating MQA into our services in the future, including on-demand and live broadcasting. It makes no sense that audio quality still lags behind, while video is achieving higher definition with 4k and 8k resolution display.  Due to transmission bandwidth limitations, the audio element has until now been problematic, however MQA’s technology – which achieves high-resolution transmission with normal 48k sampling audio – solves this problem. Most importantly, we have proven that great sound is essential to fully convey emotion.”

Categories: Articles, UHD