Prestigious Award Presented to MQA Creator
Bob Stuart, the creator of MQA and co-founder of Meridian Audio, has been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to audio engineering”. Furthermore, Bob is the first audio engineer to receive the award in its 20-year history.
Commissioned by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT, Senior Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Prince Philip Medal is awarded periodically to an engineer of any nationality who has made exceptional contributions to engineering through practice, management or education.
Bob follows previous recipients such as the inventor of the turbojet engine, Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle OM KBE CB FREng FRS; geothermal power innovator, Lucien Bronicki; and the electrical engineer who revolutionised fibre optics, Dr Charles Kao CBE FRS FREng.
In accepting this award, Bob Stuart told StereoNET:
Audio engineering sits at an intersection between analogue and digital engineering, music and the human listener. My passion to enable great sound recording and playback has required a multi-disciplinary approach, but that quest to preserve and share music performances is very satisfying and important. I am honoured and humbled to receive this award from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
In 2012 Bob decided to focus exclusively on developing technology that would be both better and more efficient at preserving realistic and natural sound when capturing, recording, distributing and playing back digital audio. No small task, then.
The resulting technology is underpinned by two decades of research and informed by recent insights from auditory science and signal processing. Following a couple of years working closely with the recording community, Bob launched MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) in December 2014. Bluesound added the technology in 2016 with the Tidal streaming service following a year later.
MQA promises to capture every element and nuance of sound and is then incredibly faithful in reproducing the micro-dynamic and temporal details which preserve spatial information and ensure a more realistic and enjoyable result for the listener.
The technology also has broader applications, as recently demonstrated in ground-breaking productions within the areas of broadcasting, live streaming and video-on-demand. Wherever audio lives, MQA proudly states that it can transform the listening experience.
Several high-profile industry professionals congratulated Bob on his achievement. Multi-Grammy Award-winning Mastering Engineer, Bob Ludwig, shared his thoughts:
Bob Stuart is a connoisseur of both engineering and music, and that is what sets him apart. He is like a mastering engineer – he knows what music is supposed to sound like, so he isn't blinded by theory or technology. If something does not sound right to his ear he will quickly reject it and explore a more musical way of accomplishing his goals. The invention of MQA improved the sound clarity that was blurred by digital components, and as a musician, I am so delighted for my ears to be the recipient of Bob's creation and to use it in my work.
Grammy-winning Producer and Engineer, Morten Lindberg added:
With the invention and development of MQA, Bob has provided audio engineers and music producers all over the world with a mindset and tools to work with digital audio in an holistic perspective. His interdisciplinary research combining neuroscience, psychology and advanced physics with audio engineering now make it possible for music production to maintain true analogue qualities in the digital domain. Bob is the kind of person who goes beyond the call of professional duty and 'becomes' his work.
George Massenburg, pre-eminent Producer, multi-Grammy Award winner, inventor and teacher, remarked:
For decades, research in modern digital audio has been confused by outdated foundational precepts, misled by chimerical goals or commercial pressure and hampered by ever-so-slowly evolving knowledge in the fields of science and hearing perception. Bob Stuart has risen above these challenges time and time again. Only the accomplished researcher whose heart and soul has been captivated by the sublime experience of superb, transparent music recording and reproduction could achieve so well what Bob has accomplished for so many years. Our job as producers is to connect an artist's vision and intent with listeners; the ability to share our work has been deeply compromised in the last 30 years, with a seemingly endless “lowering of the bar” of audio quality. Thus, I'm deeply impressed by the performance and technology of MQA —its faithful rendering of nuance, complexity, sound stage and detail, lifts the veil. Knowing that my work can again be heard by an enthusiastic audience gives me a reason to go back into the studio. I feel strongly that Bob's work in MQA will have a tremendous impact on the music industry.
Bob is a lifelong student, researcher and teacher and has published several important papers on audio engineering. He is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and has served on technical committees in the USA, Japan and UK.
The Prince Philip Medal is the latest award to recognise Bob's remarkable, and continuing, contributions to the world of audio engineering.