A website for MQA audio file formatting, www.mqa.co.uk, seen on 23 October 2018 stated "MQA reveals every detail of the original recording".
The complainant, who believed that quality was lost from an original audio file upon formatting, challenged whether the claim "MQA reveals every detail of the original recording" was misleading.
MQA Ltd said their technology was designed to recreate the sound heard in a studio. They said the process started in the studio where a distribution file was created and completed when a customer played it back on MQA playback equipment.
MQA said the claim that their technology "reveals every detail of the original recording" was a statement of how listeners would perceive listening to a file created using their system, it was not a technical description of the file itself. They said their technology did not change the essential nature of any sound and that no part of the established human audio range was omitted or concealed. Being a new technology, they included lots of information on their website about how it worked.
MQA provided a peer-reviewed publication which they said explained the approach taken by MQA, as well as an article by the Recording Industry Association of America, whose technical committee investigated the technology and approved it for the release of recordings described as high resolution. They said that the technology had been adopted into guidelines from Recording Academy for high resolution music production and provided a link to the guidelines on the Grammy website. They said major music labels had adopted the technology and provided statements from eight people they said were respected, such as music producers, engineers and recording artists.
The ASA noted that behind the claim “MQA reveals every detail of the original recording” was a loop of two videos of musicians recording music in a studio. We considered, in that context, that consumers would interpret the claim to mean that the technology was capable of replicating the sound that could be heard on a recording captured in a studio.
We understood that a raw audio file was larger at the point the recording had been captured than it was at the point it reached the listener through services such as online streaming, as the file was typically compressed to reduce its size in order to make it more accessible. We understood that resulted in data being lost from the original recording, and that the quality of the recording could diminish as a result.
We recognised, however, that MQA’s technology manipulated the original recording in order to reduce the file size yet still maintain its quality to the extent that there was no noticeable difference in sound. We understood that record labels had begun using the technology and we noted the statements provided from various people in the industry. We also noted from the Recording Academy’s Recommendations for Hi-Resolution Music Production that MQA was considered as ‘hi-resolution audio’ and that the function of hi-resolution audio was to provide the consumer with “a studio quality listening experience that reflected what artists, producers, tracking engineers, mix engineers and mastering engineers heard in the studio”. We considered, consequently, that the technology appeared to be capable of reproducing those aspects of the original recording which were perceptible to the listener. For that reason, we concluded that the claim was unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.