In a surprising turn of events, Essential today announced that it’s adding MQA audio to the Essential Phone, as well as entering into a new partnership with Tidal.
Short for Master Quality Authenticated, MQA is a lossless audio format that promises to deliver higher than CD-quality audio, delivering music at a resolution of 96 kHz / 24 bit. There’s more information on the codec and some of its bigger picture goals on the MQA website.
Once users download the latest Essential Phone Android Oreo build, OPM1.18014.234, which also includes Android’s June security patch and Bluetooth stability fixes, they’ll need a source of MQA-encoded tracks to listen to high-quality tracks. This is where the new partnership with Tidal comes into the picture. Tidal has a library of more than 50,000 MQA-encoded tracks.
Crank up your audio experience with the Audio Adapter HD, dropping this summer. It simply clicks to your Essential Phone to deliver full MQA rendering and an audiophile-grade amp that powers high impedance headphones. Oh yeah, and it brings back the 3.5mm audio jack. pic.twitter.com/G045ZYf4Sh
— Essential (@essential) June 7, 2018
In honour of the update, Essential is partnering with the service to give both new and existing Essential Phone users three free months of Tidal streaming. To take advantage of the offer, you’ll need to sign up for Essential’s email newsletter. The company will then send you a Tidal promo code, which you can then redeem on Tidal website.
If this announcement wasn’t strange enough, given the alleged state of affairs at Essential, the company is also teasing a new modular accessory called the Audio Adapter HD that will add a high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC and 3.5mm headphone jack to the Essential Phone. The company plans to release the Audio Adapter HD later this summer. There’s no pricing information yet.