Audio Quest MQA Update

Thanks Rene - roll on 1.4 !!

I just updated my Red, is there a way to see if it does MQA? Any other color or something when it “renders” MQA?

Use the Tidal desktop app (or Audirvana Plus 3.x, if you happen to have it). Officially, the LED on the DragonFly (Red or Black) will show as purple when the DF is rendering MQA. To my eyes, the LED is light magenta when the DF is outputting 96 and darker magenta when rendering MQA. A+ will give you a nice positive indication that MQA rendering is happening, at the top right of the main window.

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Not yet, but I expect Roon to add some sort of MQA support some day.

Explorer2 is a MQA Full Decoder. To use Tidal desktop app with it Exclusive Mode should be ON and Passthrough should be ON.

DragonFly Red/Black is a MQA Renderer - to get full benefits of MQA you will have to use Tidal desktop app with Exclusive Mode ON and Passthrough OFF or Audirvana Plus 3 at this moment, and not anything else (including current build of Roon). DragonFly lights are explained here:

Everyone please read this:

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This may be off-topic, and if so I apologize. I updated my Dragonfly Red to the latest MQA enabled version, and it’s not acting like it should on my Windows 10 PC. When I plug it into the usb port, the LED turns red, and when I start a music app (either Roon, Tidal, or JRiver MC22, it immediately turns magenta. The LED stays magenta no matter what bitrate/type music file I play. On my iMac, it reacts normally, turning green for lowfi files, and magenta for hifi files. Is there a setting in Windows sound devices that I need to change to have the Dragonfly LED act correctly? I do have Exclusive Mode on in my Tidal app, but that made no difference.

I have upgraded the Dragonfly Red firmware to support MQA. When I select a Tidal Master the highest resolution that I get is 48kHz 24 bit. When I select the same album track with Tidal’s desktop app, I get the full resolution.

Is there a setting that I need to change in Roon to get the full resolution ?

I am running a Mac with Sierra 10.12.5

No, nothing you can do. Roon doesn’t have a software decoder yet.

If I switch the Roon settings for the Dragonfly (Black in my case) to “exclusive” in the playback section I do get the correct Dragonfly color codes for different resolutions, including the purple that I get for MQA using the Tidal desktop application. Is there still something lacking when I play “master” titles through Roon in this way?

@Tom_Hicks @Tatifan: I’ve moved your post into this topic. The answers to your questions are above and basically come down to this:

Thank you very much. This is not exactly a Roon question, but if you could help me understand this I would appreciate it. I guess my confusion extends to the Tidal desktop app in one more regard. With the Dragonfly I do have the “exclusive mode” checked, but I’m not sure on the 3rd option, which is “passthrough MQA”. Should this also be checked?

No – with the Dragonflies, passthrough should be disabled. They need a first stage (in your case, the Tidal desktop app) to do the first MQA unfold (up to 96/24) to be able to perform further MQA rendering by themselves.

They cannot handle a ‘full’ MQA unfold, which is exactly what needs to happen when passthrough is enabled.

Thanks! I think some of the (correct) descriptions I had read on the setup got sabotaged by my mistaking the MQA indicator color, which is deeper than Magenta (96 khz), which some describe as purple, with the 48 khz blue, which the checked “passthrough” option produces. Being somewhat colorblind doesn’t help!

For me there is some seriously wrong advertising here. Saying something is a renderer is understood everywhere as the full product that does the functions it is advertised for, like a Meridian E2, not something that needs another program to start the process first. It might be a good DAC (Yes?), but doing MQA it isn’t and shouldn’t be advertised as such. Snake oil merchants…


MQA Ltd. certifies different types of products performing different aspects of MQA. Explorer 2 is a MQA Full Decoder. Dragonfly Red/Black is a MQA Renderer. Please read the links I posted above.

I think I made myself pretty clear; for all (but salesmen?) a renderer is a solution that does what is says on the box. Not half because some snake oil merchant has in his sales literature suddenly given the word a different meaning and some other kit now needs to pre-cook the signal for the equipment to work as advertised. Its this kind of word acrobatics that get people switched off on new technology.

my .02

Cheers, Rene

New technology is indeed not easy to explain. If people are unhappy with how that feature is utilized in a $99 device, I can’t imagine what happens if we were talking about the MSRP $19995 Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference Series 2 MQA Renderer instead.

To enable MQA decoding using a MQA Renderer, we need a device or software that performs the MQA Core decoding. This includes Tidal desktop app, Audirvana, or Lumin S1 / A1 / T1 / D1 (selectable Full / Core decoding - released) / U1 (beta firmware). In the future I expect Roon to be able to do that as well.

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Even if Roon can do the first decoding up to 88.2/96k one still need a DAC with built-in ‘Renderer’ to achieve a full decoding, this complicates the whole process. Users are advised to jump straight to MQA DAC, this gives the best sound quality and ease of setup. The good thing, users don’t have to wait for Roon to implement the first decode, they can enjoy full decoding straight away!

For those of us who have a “renderer” buying something else isn’t really an option. The option is to wait and see if Roon can come to an agreement with MQA for the first unfold. Patience isn’t a virtue of the typical Roon supporter…!

MQA renderig in DACs and digital room correction is not compatible as far as I can see, so if you want room correction (which typically gives a much bigger improvement than MQA) the software unfold is important since that should be compatible with room correction and give a SQ improvement.

The chain would be something like this: music data -> software unfold -> room correction DSP -> DAC (no MQA) -> amp

An very advanced feature would be if DSP in Roon also applied to the “hidden” MQA data and modified that accordingly, so that the DAC could do MQA rendering on room corrected amplitudes. While possible in theory (maybe?), it might be very hard to implement since the DSP would need to fully unpack and repack MQA data…

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