How To Play Non MQA Version?

Hi Guys, please leave all MQA controversy out of this one. I have a serious technical question.

Question: How can I play the non MQA version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity from Tidal through Roon?

I’ve set Roon’s Tidal settings to HiFi rather than Master. When I browse for the album, I only see MQA versions. Playing the 16/44.1 version that says MQA is definitely MQA as expected.

In the Tidal app for macOS I can play the MQA version but it will stream the appropriate non MQA version if my settings are HiFi rather than Master. The GUI only shows Master, but it sends standard CD quality due to my settings.

Thus, it seems like the version is still available on Tidal, but Roon isn’t making it available.

I think it’s being looked at.

Hello @ComputerAudiophile,

Looking at this copy of Space Oddity on Tidal, it appears to be a 16/44.1 MQA release.

For 16/44.1 MQA content, toggling between “HiFi” and “Master” in Tidal will not result in a different file being pulled from Tidal’s servers. The Tidal streaming quality setting does not take “MQA” into account, it only controls the maximum bit-depth/sample rate of the files it will pull from Tidal’s servers.

From what I can deduce from playing with the Tidal app, selecting “HiFi” and playing 16/44.1 MQA content disables the built-in MQA Core Decoder, resulting in the 16/44.1 MQA file being passed directly to the DAC.

Selecting “Master” and playing 16/44.1kHz MQA content will result in the audio being processed by the MQA Core Decoder, resulting in a 24/88.2kHz audio stream sent to the DAC.


Great information @John Thank you very much.

Perhaps the non MQA versions of Space Oddity have been removed from Tidal. I’m going to do the same testing you’ve done to see if I can match your results, which I’m sure I will.

I’ve just looked and I have 5 Tidal versions of the album. All of them are MQA.

Deary me.

Well, this is an awfully troubling development here. It would appear as though many of the original CD masters, which were once present on Tidal’s servers, have now been supplanted by an inferior sonic stew variant.

Hooray for customer choice. How long until WMG decides these are the only files which they elect to push to all streaming services?


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