Co-founder of Meridian Audio, Bob Stuart, awarded prestigious Prince Philip Medal

Bob Stuart, Creator of MQA and Co-founder of Meridian Audio, has been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal for ‘his exceptional contribution to audio engineering which has changed the way we listen to music and experience films’. Mr Stuart 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.

In accepting his award, he reflects: “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 Mr Stuart 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 – a project of huge scope. The resulting technology takes a revolutionary approach, 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, Mr Stuart launched MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) in December 2014. MQA captures every element and nuance of sound and is particularly faithful in reproducing the micro-dynamic and temporal details which preserve spatial information and ensure a more realistic and enjoyable result for the listener.

Supported by highly respected record producers and mastering engineers, MQA’s technology has been adopted by artists and record labels. Sony Music, Warner Music, Universal Music and Merlin (on behalf of independent labels) are all licensed partners.

Bob Stuart studied electronic engineering and acoustics at the University of Birmingham and operations research at Imperial College, London. In 1972, while working at Cambridgeshire start-up Lecson Audio, he met industrial designer, Allen Boothroyd. The duo’s debut design, the Lecson AC1/AP1, won the Design Council Award – the first of a record three Design Council Awards for the pair, and marked the start of a 40-year partnership.

In 1977, Mr Stuart co-founded Meridian Audio and served as CTO until early 2015. In 2014, he founded MQA Ltd where he is currently Chairman and CTO.

In the 1990s, he led the team that pioneered lossless compression for audio and introduced it to the industry. In 2000, Meridian’s MLP lossless encoding was adopted as the standard for DVD-Audio and subsequently in 2005 for Blu-ray, when it was acquired by Dolby Laboratories. Innovations in product design included the world’s first consumer digital and DSP loudspeakers and audiophile CD players.

Mr Stuart and Meridian Audio were also behind the sound systems for the McLaren P1 supercar, for many models of Jaguar Land Rover as well as a collaboration with Ferrari, the F80 all-in-one digital audio system.

Mr Stuart is also a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and has served on technical committees in the USA, Japan and UK.