Hi-Res CD (2018 – )

Universal Music Japan released the Hi-Res CD in 2018, combining two different formats on one single-layer disc. The first is MQA (Mastering Quality Authenticated) and requires MQA compatible hardware or software to play. The second is UHQCD, a high-quality Compact Disc format that is compatible with all Compact Disc players and is already available as a separate format.

At launch in June 2018, there were 100 titles available on Hi-Res CD, along with several samplers covering rock, jazz, and classical that contain a separate standard Compact Disc for comparison.

Apart from the outer slipcase, the disc cases and artwork are very similar to the the standard CD release. However, the label side of the disc itself is plain green with discreet MQA-CD and UHQCD logos.

The MQA element of the audio is compressed, and requires an MQA decoder to decompress. This could be a Compact Disc player with a built-in decoder, or a Compact Disc player with a separate decoder. Alternatively, MQA can be played on a computer, though software decoding may not decompress it to its full resolution. MQA is used for streaming music, and is available through Tidal HiFi.

MQA compression ‘folds’ the high-frequency information existing outside the frequency range of human hearing into the lower frequencies.

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