Can Roon default to non-MQA version of Albums

I guess what I’m trying to ensure is that when I disable MQA, I don’t get the downsampled MQA version.
If I disable MQA, I want to get the native FLAC version that hasn’t been touched by MQA.

So I’m trying to work out what I’m actually getting in cases where there is only an MQA version visible


I’m just another user offering my opinion based on my understanding of how Roon works. My understanding is that a TIDAL user who does not want to stream Masters ( MQA ) can only select a lower quality streaming option for TIDAL and has no control of what happens after that. If HiFi streaming ( highest quality below Masters ) is selected one would hope that TIDAL would send a 44.1 kHz 16bit CD quality stream but if they don’t have that to send then their only options are to send something else or send nothing. In cases where they send something else the user gets whatever they send and currently has no settings to change to affect what that might be.

Please note that I’m assuming that since Roon added the ability for users to specify that they don’t want to stream Masters they don’t get Masters streams when Masters streaming is turned off so Roon is not getting a Masters stream and processing it before streaming it to the user’s endpoint. I could be wrong about this but I doubt it.

So, assuming that TIDAL is making the choice of what to stream instead of Masters content Roon and Roon’s users have no choice but to accept what TIDAL sends. Both might like to have more control but as I see it neither do. Both might also like to know more details about what is streamed but as I see it if TIDAL send a 44.1 kHz 16bit FLAC stream there is no way to know how TIDAL acquired / produced that stream. Hopefully they are sending the highest quality stream they have but I don’t see any way to ensure they are sending what you want.

Obviously my opinions are my own and may be way off base. Hopefully someone from Roon will provide an authoritative description of how things work.


This is pretty much on the money. Note that Roon will still display the highest quality available next to the album, because we don’t have that kind of granularity of metadata. Signal path will be correct though and show what is actually being streamed.

That would be one use case (and clearly we have customers who want to do this), but in general, being able to control the streaming bandwidth is the important consideration, for both TIDAL and Qobuz. You may need to restrict Qobuz to 24/96 or TIDAL to MP3 when in a hotel, for example.

@joel I still don’t know if I understand with regards to my specific question.
If the only version of an album is MQA and I have selected not to play MQA do I get a downsampled version of the MQA file or do I get the native flac file? If it is the native flac file, where is it sourced from?

You’ll have to ask TIDAL that. Roon just streams what TIDAL provides. It may, of course, depend on the album.


First, thanks for posting and confirming how streaming works when different quality levels are selected.

Second, thanks for pointing out that choosing a streaming level was first and foremost a choice to reduce bandwidth that came with the added bonus of allowing one to disable Masters (MQA) streaming if desired. I knew that but phrased my reply on the Masters (MQA) ramifications because that was what Trevor was interested in.


I believe you get the backward-compatible version that MQA has always touted as being there - presumably within the same container/package as the MQA bits that are being ignored.

“MQA is both backwards compatible and fully authenticated with clear MQA indicators for listeners.”

And from Wikipedia;

MQA-encoded content can be carried via any lossless file format such as FLAC or ALAC; hence, it can be played back on systems either with or without an MQA decoder. In the latter case, the resulting audio has easily identifiable high-frequency noise occupying 3 LSB bits, thus limiting playback on non-MQA devices effectively to 13bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than “normal” 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes.

Additional, more technical info from Benchmark:

MQA backwards compatibility refers to the ability to play it on existing equipment, so there is only one MQA version in a FLAC container. I would be very surprised if TIDAL is actively “nobbling” the MQA on replay in the same way that I doubt they are producing MP3/AAC on-the-fly. Far more likely that they have the alternate non-MQA FLACs on their servers and stream these to you if you request non-Masters.

I suppose without capturing and analyzing the significant bits it’s all speculation as to what Tidal is doing. I believe part of the confusion is Tidal use of MQA and FLAC. MQA is in a FLAC container. There are two parts in the MQA FLAC container, a 13-15bit FLAC file and the extra high res bits that are the MQA sauce. Fully decoded they are combined to make a 17bit file.

Not decoded, one only gets the 13-15bit FLAC. At least this is my read of the documents. No need for any substitution on Tidal’s part and why would they as there is no need to include the logic to swap for the normal FLAC file when the MQA FLAC can be played, albeit at reduced resolution.

Regardless, I appreciate the option to shape for bandwidth restricted uses.

Everything is combined in a conventional 16 or 24-bit 44.1/48k PCM file. That’s essentially why it is backwards compatible.

Agreed, but the non-decoded MQA bits are tossed and not part of the ultimate file that gets sent to the DAC, resulting in a file that is reduced in bit depth/higher noise floor. Or am I misinterpreting the MQA documents.

Seems best to either do the complete unfold or choose the non-MQA standard FLAC version. I only have the ability to let Roon do the first unfold.

I let my ears guide me. I don’t have any beef with the construct other than I don’t feel it works very well, for me, in my home, on my system.

Slight digression: I trialed Qobuz and found it to sound ever so slightly nicer than Tidal MQA (only first decode), though I couldn’t come to grips with the Qobuz implementation of EBU R128 at this point in time…so I didn’t continue with a subscription. I will reassess after 6 months or so.

Always the best bet.

Ok now I’m confused
“Hifi” selected

But signal path shows MQA

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So I still have this “issue”.

Hifi is selected as my streaming quality for Tidal, but Roon is still showing MQA in the signal path


Does that opeth album still trigger MQA as there isn’t an MQA version on Tidal in the UK.

Now, the Opeth album doesn’t seem to have an MQA option for me either.
But I’m still seeing MQA in the signal path for other albums

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Here it is happening with Agnes Obel’s album “myopia”

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And is the d10 showing 88 arriving?

Yes it does