A set of very specific questions

I apologize if this is not the right way to get a clear answer to my questions. Honestly I find your Support page overwhelming and my efforts to navigate it have failed. I gave up a few months ago but because I remain very interested in purchasing Roon, I am going to try again.

First my system(s):

In our entertainment room I have an iMac running OS 10.12.6. From that device I stream Tidal (including MQA master files). The iMac is connected to a LH Labs Geek Pulse DAC via a USB cable. The DAC is in turn connected to a Marantz SR6011 receiver.

This room is also where our home wi-fi system is based and where our modem/router/Apple Airport Extreme set-up is located. The iMac has an ethernet wired connection to the Apple Airport and our wireless system works well throughout our small house.

With this setup I am able to play MQA files from Tidal and the quality is excellent. However as I understand it I am only getting one of the two MQA “unfolds,” the one provided by the Tidal software. My other hardware is not equipped to provide the second unfold.

In our living room we have a what I consider a better two-channel stereo system. That consists of a Bel Canto 2.5 DAC that connects to a McIntosh MA6500 receiver and a set of Sonus Faber Concerto speakers with a REL subwoofer. In that room I stream Tidal through an iPad connected to the Bel Canto DAC via an Apple Lightning Camera connector and a USB cable. This also results in excellent sound in that room BUT…it does not allow for MQA playback because access to Master/MQA files is not available through my iPad.

I believe I understand I could install Roon on my iMac in the entertainment room. This would give me Roon’s benefits in that room, although I am not sure if it would change the quality of my Tidal MQA/Master playback in that room. My understanding is it would not. If there is an easy addition of some relatively inexpensive equipment that would get me the second MQA unfold on those Tidal Master files, I would be interested. But that improvement is not essential to my purchasing Roon.

What I hope for most is a way to also use Roon in my living room. The iPad streaming Tidal in the living room has the most up to date Mac OS software and our wi-fi network works well in that room. So is that iPad, once connected to a system using Room, capable of offering me MQA/Master files via Tidal in that room?

If not, what additional hardware would I need to consider purchasing so that Roon would work in both rooms AND so that I can stream Tidal’s MQA/Master files in both rooms?

Is there a way that the MQA/Master files could be sent wirelessly from the iMac in the entertainment room to the system in the living room? If so would that require another piece of hardware? Is there any degradation of MQA/Master sound quality on Tidal as a result of a wireless rather than wired connection?

Enormous thanks to anyone who can help me understand how this all works!


II will take a first stab at your question. Most importantly, as I understand, Roon does not currently do any MQA unfolding, first or second version. So, I do not think you are listening to MQA in either room. At this point, you need a hardware device — a DAC — equipped to handle MQA to get MQA from Tidal — and then you will have both unfolds at once. The Meridian Explorer 2 is by far and away the least expensive MQA DAC currently available, to my knowledge. I have it in my entertainment center.

With an MQA DAC at any endpoint in your house, such as your living room, you will get MQA through Roon, wired or wireless. Conversely, your Bel Canto DAC while lovely (I have Bel Canto products as well) does not do MQA, no matter what room you put it on or how it is connected, wireless or wired.

I have a Geek Pulse DAC as well and while it streams DSD 128 using DSD over PCM DoP, it will not do MQA, no matter where in my home I put it.

I am surprised that you don’t see the Masters tab in your iPad. Mine is too old for Roon, but the Masters tab for MQA in Tidal through Roon shows up on my iPhone 7 Plus. But, playing a Masters Tidal track without MQA means you are really getting 24/48.

Hope that clarifies. Others, correct me if I have misstated. JCR

Jeffrey is correct, save that he hasn’t taken into account that the Tidal desktop program running on the iMac does first unfolding of MQA whereas the iPad Tidal app does not.

As yet the details of Roon’s implementation of MQA have not been announced.

Jeffrey thank you for offering to help. Let me try to correct the misunderstandings:

  1. “Roon does not currently do any MQA unfolding, first or second version.”

This is from an MQA press release today at CES:

So perhaps it is not operational today, but very soon. It remains unclear to me if the Room software will do more than the first “unfold.” My understanding is one still needs a DAC that can do the second “unfold.” Does anyone know for a certainty?

To be clear I am NOT using Roon at all yet in either room. But it appears I could in the near future use Roon to play MQA files from Tidal.

  1. “I do not think you are listening to MQA in either room.”

I am absolutely hearing MQA in the entertainment room from the iMac. On the iMac Today application some files are identified as “Master” and they show “master” when they play, rather than “Hi-Fi” (which is what shows when a non-MQA Tidal file plays in that room. Furthermore both the iMac Tidal AND the Geek Pulse are showing either 88.2 or 96 hKz when a Tidal master file is playing. The improvement in audio quality is unmistakeable.

Tidal support has confirmed I am getting the first unfold from Tidal’s software but that my Geek Pulse is NOT compatible for the second unfold.

  1. “I am surprised that you don’t see the Masters tab in your iPad.”

I am running OS 11.2.1 on an iPad I bought last year. No sign of any file listed as Master or MQA there. None on my iPhone which just updated its OS today.

Thanks again!

Can anyone else help?

Only Roonlabs can answer this and until Roon are ready to release MQA decoding support we will have to wait.

Carl thank you. But in all honesty that is a secondary question for me. I will be happy if Roon only performs the first unfold, because I cannot get that from Tidal on an iPad at this point.

But is there any chance you could review my original questions and advise me what I need to do to get started?

I would put a Roon Ready MQA DAC into the 2nd system. If it is already network capable then Roon will see it; otherwise feed it with a rPi USB or similar over your network and get the full MQA performance.

rPi and a Project S2 is ~£350 / $500… absolute bargain.

If you want to spend more money then check out the thread on this forum about MQA DACs.

We can’t answer your questions Geoff because no details of the Roon implementation have been announced.

Thanks Nick. Does that mean there is no way for me to use Roon in BOTH rooms at this time, without a new DAC in the living room? Because aside from MQA issues, the Bel Canto is a fine DAC.

Thank you also. Could we just forget my questions about MQA for now. Can someone review my OTHER questions about using Roon in my two different room setups? How would I set up Roon for the two rooms with the equipment I have, independent of ANY MQA functionality?

Is there any way to get my questions addressed by someone who actually represents Roon and is paid to help potential customers understand whether they should buy the software? Or is the ONLY support, community support?

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Sure. That’s very simple. In theory you can run a Roon Core on your iMac with a direct connection to the DAC as is in the entertainment room. Since 1.4 you can also use the iPad as an Output in the living room, with existing connection to the Bel Canto DAC.

In practice the standard of the experience will depend upon the speed of the Core, having the Core on an SSD is a big factor, and the WiFi reception into your living room.

You can download the Roon software and try it out for a 14 day trial. The Roon Knowledge Base will help you come to grips with it. And of course, this Forum.

Roon has Support staff who regularly solve issues in this Support section. They have the coloured Roon logos next to their names. They will see this thread and may add to it. Questions about suitability or use are usually more swiftly answered by the Community.

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Unlike the TIDAL app, Roon has no difference in audio streaming capabilities between iPad and Mac. You’ll be able to access the same content at the same quality through both without buying extra hardware. And yes, Roon can ship the audio over your wireless network to the iPad. We do not degrade the quality during wireless transmission, or anything like that.

That means that today (with Roon doing no MQA decoding yet), both will play the MQA content without unfolding, and in the future, when the recently announced MQA support is released to the public, Roon will be able to perform the first unfold, both when playing through the iPad and when playing through the Mac.


If you ignore the MQA angle then just feed your Bel Canto DAC with USB from an rPi across your network from your existing Mac running Roon.

$50 … job done.

Andy thanks. I had thought there was a 60-day free offer but I guess I was wrong.

I’ll think over the suggestion you made. But here’s the problem. As I understand what you and others have said, Roon has NOT confirmed what it plans to do about MQA. So It may make more sense for me to wait until Roon confirms when it will offer MQA compatibility, so I can try everything out during the one free trial period I can get.

Honestly I had hope there was some way to establish contact with a Roon rep who is paid to help customers. But if that is not possible, I very much appreciate your help.


Brian thank you. That’s what I needed to know. So all that’s left for me is this:

When I start my 14-day free trial, as I run into problems or questions can I contact Roon directly again? How? If not, if the only method is community support, do I start a new topic or continue this one.

Thanks to all!

No problem. If you need further support aside from discussing these questions, start a new topic in this section. Our support staff monitors the #support section constantly.

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I think there are extended trials associated with some hardware partners.

One more follow up question.

I want to originate the Master/MQA files from my iMac desktop. Because they are not offered in any way I can see on my iPad. So can you just explain what the basic setup is for me to stream from the iMac to the iPad and into the Bel Canto DAC in the living room?

Thanks again!