I know Roon does the 1st unfold, but is it good enough?


I have stopped my Tidal sub, and started Qobuz because my Linn DS does not support Tidal MQA, I know Roon do the 1st unfold, but is it good enough?

I guess this could be the beginning of the end for “pure PCM” in Tidal

The issue with the first unfold is it doesn’t sound as good if don’t follow thru with a minimum phase filter. And MQA dac will chose I believe 1 of 32 slightly different min phase filters.

The other issue is the unfolded MQA is slightly different than the hires counterpart. So depends on what dac or filters you’re applying after. I found with using HQPlayer or Chord dac don’t sound as good with MQA unfolded as true hires.

(Steven Goff) #3

The notion that the music will not sound as good without using a minimum phase filter like those employed by MQA is controversial at best.

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(Henry) #4

I thought he said those filters helped MQA sound at its best. Not that they had the same impact on all music. In other words, the full unfold or go with high res.
To answer the question, technically no first unfold is half the job. But after that it is personal choice if you choose to make that a personal differentiator between streaming providers.


You do really need a full MQA chain or your not getting the full thing and defeats the whole purpose for it. Whether you like it or not is another thing but the final stage alters it quite a lot from my experience and it’s here that it can sound better but not always.

(Chris ) #6

What do you mean by good enough? I expect we have to apply our ears and brains and decide for ourselves.
I would say, it is what it is and a full unfold will deliver more.

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Good enough here meaning delivering music fully as designed by MQA.

(Chris ) #8

Well, no then although they say the results off all stages are as they expect and better than CD, but full MQA is what it is.
Then you have to consider your playback system and it’s capabilities. I’m sure it can be messed up there with poor amps, speakers etc.
Also MQA on a Bluesound Pulse 2 will probably not sound as good as on some Meridian DSP 8000 SE’s, there is a difference in scale…
The blurring will be gone in both cases though.

(danny2) #9

The second unfold isn’t really an unfold. There’s no actual content left to unfold after the first unfold. The second unfold is upsampling to the original sample rate of the master MQA used and filtering with the MQA filters.
You can upsample in Roon and pick a minimum phase filter. Whether you can hear any difference between that and the upsampling in an MQA DAC with similar filters is a matter of debate.
IMO, as far as SQ it’s probably the last thing you should be worrying about.

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(Chris ) #10

This is expert information I hope? MQA would agree?

(danny2) #11

MQA have publicly acknowledged that the max resolution of an unfolded MQA file is 17/96. It can also be less, depending on the source master. This happens in the first unfold. You can’t magically create bits that aren’t there. Read how MQA works. The rest is upsampling. No argument from MQA about this.

(Chris ) #12

The thing is, you get lost in the digital and forget to listen to the analog.
You don’t know the full MQA process and make assumptions based on your understanding to cobble together an explanation that fits your paradigm.

I would much sooner judge with my ears and listen to technical explanations from people with pier reviewed research and development.

(Garion@Home) #13

What is the difference between the MQA 1. unfold and the full-unfold? As already mentioned it is in the filters and other corrections that are controlled via the metadata to correct the characteristics of the recording ADC and provide a complete, authenticated path from recording to playback. This is NOT about a 100% bit-perfect restoration of a recording. It’s about perfect playback in the time domain and avoiding artifacts caused by the ADC on the one hand and by the reconstruction filters at a cutoff frequency of 20 kHz (CD) on the other. The articafts are around 3.5 kHz and are clearly audible. A resolution of 96kHz shifts the artifacts at least beyond of 12kHz. A 192 kHz resolution shift it into the range beyond 20 kHz. Of course, this also applies to HiRes recordings, e.g. from Qobuz! Only in the direct comparison full-unfold MQA still sound better, at least for me, like the HiRes recordings in the same resolution. The 1st unfold just doesn’t deliver these corrections. But get a Qobuz trial subscription and compare it directly and with the MQA first unfold and the CD quality. If MQA sounds better than a CD, you’ve already won. If Qobuz sounds better, then think about a change or maybe you’ll get a small MQA DAC, e.g. the Dragonfly Red or Cobalt and just try a full unfold yourself.
Hope that helps a little bit

(danny2) #14

I get it Chris: YOU’VE swallowed all sorts of MQA BS, and when provided with FACTS, you “attack the messenger” - because the facts don’t fit your false preconceived notion about MQA.

What I’ve written about MQA isn’t my opinion, it’s based on MQA’s own papers and interviews with Bob Stuart confirming what I wrote, among others.
Instead of more BS attacking me, let’s see you disprove the content I wrote.
And quoting cute marketing phrases about “blurring” doesn’t count.

All I wrote was that the so called second unfold is a form of filtering/upsampling and MAY not sound superior to non MQA upsampling that can be done without an MQA DAC. The first part of that statement is a fact, the second part is just a suggestion that the user posing the question about MQA try similar upsampling and see what he thinks.
Why does that disturb you so much? Were you unaware the “second unfold” is upsampling to the target rate of the original master? Hard for you to deal with the truth?


This is an excellent explanation in layman’s term.