Lenbrook's MQA Labs to Roll Out AIRIA, FOQUS, and QRONO by the End of 2025

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(June 7, 2024) As MQA hit the rocks, the Lenbrook Group stood at the ready waiting to snatch it up. Roughly one year ago, the self-anointed king of Hi-Res streaming found itself clinging to life, filing for the US equivalent of Chapter 11 and searching for a financial rescue line. That's when Lenbrook, owner of popular brands such as NAD, Bluesound, and PSB Speakers, bid to take over the company's intellectual property and key personnel.

Lenbrook wanted it all – the polarizing MQA codec, the all-new SCL6 streaming codec... everything.

While Lenbrook's financial investment in MQA surprised some, the company's CEO, Gordon Simmonds, says the creation of Lenbrook Media Group (LMG) and MQA Labs and today's technology announcements were part of a vision. “These developments confirm our instincts around this team and the value of the IP," explains Simmonds. "While the choice and accessibility of MQA content remain a priority for us, this was never about a single codec."

With MQA in hand, LMG wants to improve the entire audio chain—recording, distribution, and playback. Today's announcement of three new products gives us a better idea of what that means.

Two products are crafted to convert digital signals to analog and vice versa. One is called FOQUS (for analog to digital conversion), while the other is QRONO (digital to analog). According to Greg Stidsen, Chief Technology Officer at Lenbrook, both tackle issues that can arise in the time domain.

“The digitization of an analog signal introduces a range of imperfections to the resulting audio file. One of the most common and critical is something often referred to as time smearing - when the resolution of two sounds is reduced because their timing is incorrectly reproduced within the digital file,” explains Stidsen. “MQA Labs’ team are experts in time-domain audio improvements, having invented many of the techniques to avoid or eliminate such audio defects.”

The third product family is among the most anticipated of LMG’s future products. First launched and demoed by MQA under the technical name SCL6, AIRIA (as it's called by LMG and MQA Labs) is a new codec that seamlessly ensures the best resolution possible regardless of bandwidth availability. According to LMG, AIRIA has successfully completed pilots for use as a distribution codec—think streaming services—while also posing as a wireless transmission codec delivering Hi-Res audio with operational savings and reliability.

LMG says the industry's early response to these new products has been positive. All three are expected to debut in various licensee products before the end of 2025.


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Sonnie

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I'm surprised with all the controversy surrounding MQA that Lenbrook snagged it up, but they must have seen something positive about it.
 

JStewart

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I'm surprised with all the controversy surrounding MQA that Lenbrook snagged it up, but they must have seen something positive about it.

I don’t get it either. All of their aforementioned products don’t appear to solve real existing problems. Or am I totally missing something?
 

Mike-48

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Given the history of MQA (pressure tactics coupled with dubious technical claims and methods), my reaction to this announcement is a bad feeling in the gut. I surely respect Lenbrook and its BluOS. I hope they won't follow the MQA path.
 

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I hear ya Mike... I'm feeling the same way, unfortunately. It's very curious that Lenbrook took a leap and picked it up.

I also respect the folks there, which makes me think that they're going to salvage the best of what the technologies have to offer.
 

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I think the burden of proof of effectiveness will be on Lenbrook. It's a huge risk, in my opinion.
 

ddude003

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With MQA in hand, LMG wants to improve the entire audio chain—recording, distribution, and playback.
Sounds like a very big task with a lot of competition in each of these market sectors...
As long as they tout MQA I'm out...
 

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It looks to me that the big play here is the Airia codec. That’s probably what Lenbrook wanted to buy… it fits right in there with BluOS.
 

JStewart

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It looks to me that the big play here is the Airia codec. That’s probably what Lenbrook wanted to buy… it fits right in there with BluOS.
AIRIA (as it's called by LMG and MQA Labs) is a new codec that seamlessly ensures the best resolution possible regardless of bandwidth availability. According to LMG, AIRIA has successfully completed pilots for use as a distribution codec—think streaming services—while also posing as a wireless transmission codec delivering Hi-Res audio with operational savings and reliability.

Just wondering out loud here…. Is there really a lack of bandwidth? Will this codec be lossless. If not, they’ll have a hard time selling it to subcribers that are streaming CD quality and above. The rest is pretty low bandwidth by comparison anyway.

The less bandwidth argument was part of the sell of MQA and we know how that went.
 

AJ Soundfield

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This should be the Methadone to treat audiophile MQA withdrawal symptoms. MQAdone?
 

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Just wondering out loud here…. Is there really a lack of bandwidth? Will this codec be lossless. If not, they’ll have a hard time selling it to subcribers that are streaming CD quality and above. The rest is pretty low bandwidth by comparison anyway.

The less bandwidth argument was part of the sell of MQA and we know how that went.

I guess I was referring to its use as a transmission technology between a source and, say, wireless earbuds. If I'm reading the PR correctly, they're implying that it can throttle data intensiveness, thus saving power... making things like buds last longer between recharges?
 
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