Posted on 23rd June, 2018


EXOGAL, the relatively unknown DAC manufacturer based in Minnesota, USA, has taken a cheap shot at the emerging MQA music format overnight.

Via a widely distributed press release and promotion on its social media pages, the headline read “EXOGAL Abandons MQA Development”.

The release announces that EXOGAL Audio are ceasing development of MQA's inclusion within its products.

Jeff Haagenstad, CEO of EXOGAL said:

We have been evaluating MQA technology and watching the wider MQA ecosystem since early 2016. After much research on the fundamental technology and more importantly on the market demand for MQA, we have reached the decision to cease the pursuit of adding MQA to our products for several reasons.

The release goes on to outline that EXOGAL believes its products by themselves already exceed the performance of its products with the MQA capability included. And that regardless of “the breathless hype by the audio press,” actual consumer demand is just not there.

The release also suggests that “regardless of the announced support from record labels, a suitable base of playable content is not widely available”.

Finally, it outlines that “much like Wadia's technology before us, EXOGAL technology is already oriented in the time domain and does not suffer from the time-smearing effect which MQA is supposed to eliminate.”

Granted, EXOGAL may consider its only product, the Comet DAC which StereoNET reviewed back in 2016, that good, but why the need to announce to the world that “We will continue to watch the market evolve but for now, we are out of the MQA game.”?

It smells to me like there's more to the story, and that perhaps it's not even sound quality related. Some manufacturers have openly expressed concerns about MQA's licensing agreements along with MQA's criteria for certification.

StereoNET was asked by a reader recently what its official stance on MQA is. We don't align ourselves with any particular brand, format, codec or platform. Each of our editorial team forms their own opinions and preferences based on their own first-hand experiences.

I've heard some MQA demonstrations at various shows abroad, but without the ability to perform an A/B comparison on a familiar system (and room), it's not enough to draw a conclusion.

More recently, I did have the opportunity to directly compare Adele's Hello in both MQA and a CD rip FLAC file on Meridian DSP8000SE active speakers in my reference room. What I heard was a more engaging version of this particular track, and it exhibited more warmth and texture to her voice. The difference was quite profound, but in fairness, I'm unaware of the origin and source of the MQA version. I'm still on the fence but well and truly open to any new file format, codec or platform that promises any improvement, as should any reviewer or commentator be within our industry.

The release comes across to me as nothing more than a cheap shot at MQA and a controversial way of getting some free press. The irony is, they got it.


Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.

Get the latest.

Sign up to discover the best news and review from StereoNET in our FREE Newsletter.

Posted in: Hi-Fi Industry
Tags: exogal  mqa