Adding An MQA Endpoint

One day in and I can see what all the fuss is about. Amazing piece of software. I’m running my core on a MacBook Pro and it’s working fine through a variety of standalone endpoints.

I find myself wondering though about adding an endpoint that can fully decode MQA. If I do it’ll feed a Denon AVR4400H which hooks up to a pair of Q Acoustics floor standers.

Is it worth it? Is the consensus this will improve the sound? I’m 55 so my ears are not the best but age has done nothing to the urge to tinker.

What device to use? My research so far suggests the entry level device is a Bluesound Node 2i but I’ve seen elsewhere this can have issues.

Some people think they love MQA, some people hate and distrust it.

Personally, I refuse to use it. DSD or 192K, etc. should be enough for anyone. There’s a lot of controversy as to whether MQA actually improves SQ.

See these two excellent, albeit somewhat technical articles. -

Roon will be doing the initial MQA decode for you anyway, so you’re more than half way there without spending any more. I’m afraid you won’t be able to mention it without someone jumping in to tell you how evil and awful it is. Don’t worry about the endless circular arguments about it. Just enjoy it (or not) :slight_smile:


I just have a couple of comments.

I think your opening statement would have appeared more balanced and carried more weight if it had read:

“Some people love MQA, some people hate and distrust it”

without the inclusion of the word ‘think’

The articles included in the post to which you provide a link would carry more weight if the author hadn’t headed his/her thread with the deliberately misleading title “I am definitely not paying extra for glorified MP3s”.

There are legitimate arguments to be made both in favour of or against the alleged merits of MQA. However, it does the debate very little service to choose a deliberately misleading and provocative title. Whatever one thinks about MQA files, they are certainly not just “glorified MP3s”. Further, contrary to what the author of the post suggests, it does not (at least currently) cost extra to access MQA Master files in the Tidal streaming service.

In respect of the article by Linn, I have pointed out in the other thread that Linn has revised its opinion of formats (i.e. DSD) in the recent past and who knows may do so again in respect of their opinion of MQA if MQA gains a wider audience.

To the original poster - don’t pay much attention to those anti-MQA zealots on one side or those who lavish gushing praise on the merits of MQA on the other. The truth lies somewhere in between, and the only way to decide whether you find MQA to be a positive or negative experience is to listen for yourself and make up your own mind. I personally find it for the most part to be a positive experience.

Another country heard from.:neutral_face:

I often hear people say something like I’m such and such and age, I don’t need a good system’, but I think that’s the very reason you do need a good system. The frequency loss we all experience is not going to stop you enjoy great music. MQA sounds wonderful to me and at 60 I managed to get some Meridian DSPSE speakers as a treat for reaching this age. I am loveing music and sound more and more. MQA sounds glorious to me here, so natural, so much space and clarity. In the end, you have to listen and decide for yourself. Trust your own ears and enjoy the music whatever.
Hans has interesting things to say about hearing damage. Check out his video blogs.

I’m in my sixties and can still hear somewhere over 16 Khz. For now anyway. Getting tinnitus from time to time now though.

Back to the original question, putting aside opinions about MQA, what’s the best cost effective MQA endpoint? I’m curious myself. If Roon is doing the first unfold in the software, a Dragonfly Red would pull off the rendering stage wouldn’t it? So is a USB endpoint (pi with a
Hat) and the Dragonfly a possible route, with a 3.5mm to Single-ended RCA cable making the connection to the Denon?

Everyone hears differently…let your ears be the judge. there are some cheaper full MQA decoding options around. I don’t use any of them nor do I keep an eye out for them so can’t say what’s going to be right for your budget or setup.

As its being half done for you in most roon endpoints you can try turning it off or comparing those albums that have non MQA options available and listen to what you might different between the 2 as it stands now.


You don’t need a Hat if you want to use a Dragonfly Red with a Pi. I’m using a Pi 3 B+ with a Dragonfly Red connected to one of the Pi’s USB ports and then on to a Denon receiver with a 3.5mm single ended RCA cable. The Pi connects to my network using WiFi which can help since the USB ports and Ethernet connection on the Pi share resources. Also note the Pi 3 B+ has better WiFi than the Pi 3.

The latest Pi is the 3 A+, I don’t know much about it but it does not have an Ethernet port, only has 2 USB ports and has 512 MB of RAM compared to the 1 GB the Pi 3 B+ has.

I’ve setup three Pi 3B+ systems using the RoPieee O/S which is dedicated for use as a Roon endpoint and always started with a wired Ethernet connection and then switched to WiFi. I’m not sure if it’s possible to start with a WiFi connection since it might be impossible to select the WiFi network to use or to enter its password.



A Meridian Explorer 2 (now discontinued) makes a great MQA endpoint. You should be able to find a pre owned one cheap enough. They finished selling new for £100.00

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There are others, like the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2, sells for about $400. However, with Roon doing the first unfold, I found that the quality of the DAC makes the most difference to the sound with MQA.


None at all. :slight_smile:

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

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Sorry to all- this headline for this post was split by a Moderator from another post of mine and taken somewhat out of context. I was expressing my opinion. It has no relation to the articles attached. Just thought I’d clarify.

I completely agree that the quality of the DAC is the most important component in respect of sound quality whether or not you want to listen to MQA or standard hi-res files.

Of course it depends on your budget, but I would personally prefer to listen to say the Chord Hugo or Chord Mojo DACs (which don’t support MQA) via Roon rather than a similarly or lower priced DAC just because it can do the final MQA unfold.

Most of your listening will probably be done using standard CD quality rips, and so the performance of a DAC with these files should be your priority. If you like a DAC that happens to be MQA enabled then so much the better.