I need a signal path explanation with this MQA

No… try this explanation…

MQA streams are always decoded to x2 rate (88.2/24 or 96/24) this is the first unfold.

The decoded x2 rate stream (MQB) is then sent to the DAC for rendering.

If the DAC supports MQA it then uses the MQA signalling information within the stream to select the right MQA rendering method (often called the second unfold) .

This rendered signal is the sent to the DAC chips within the device.

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Unless it’s 44.1/88.2

Correct I should have said to x2 rate … post now adjusted.

Not sure about this.

Looks fine … it’s still MQA decoding to x2 rate.

Don’t confuse OrFS with the actual rate of the stream.

The OrFS refers to the sample rate of the master used to produce this MQA music. Your DAC is not downsampling it.

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Linking to this again… :slight_smile:


It’s still a little confusing to me. What are we actually hearing? I have a Dragonfly rated MQA 24/96 and a Meridian Prime rated MQA 24/192. I have Tidal that has 24/44.1, 24/48, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/192 and even 24/384.

The MQA 96kHz and 192kHz ratings are for individual tracks, not DAC. Your DragonFly is also capable of playing MQA 192kHz tracks, as with any certified MQA DAC.

You’re hearing music rendered in a way that optimizes for specific characteristics deemed important by MQA Ltd.

If you’re asking at what sample rate the rendering occurs, that’s DAC specific and not usually public.

I don’t know what any of that means. My MQA DAC’s are 96 and 192. Is that what I’m hearing unless the tracks are lower resolution?

Where do you see these?

In their written specifications. Are you saying all MQA DAC’s can play whatever resolution the track specifies and we can’t know what that is? That doesn’t seem right.

You cannot equate PCM rates to MQA master sample rates.

Even if the USB interface of DragonFly is limited to 96kHz, it is sufficient for playback of MQA 192kHz tracks and MQA 384kHz tracks, because those MQA rates refer to the masters used for production, not necessarily the DAC playback rate, and definitely not the interface requirement.


You can only know that MQA Ltd. certifies a DAC to play a track in the best possible manner.

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That implies that all MQA DAC’s are the same.

They are the same for the capability of playing MQA tracks, but the DAC specific filters are tuned for different hardware.

OK, thanks.

I’m about to ask the same. But after reading all the comments. This is what I understand. Correct me if I’m wrong. (Edit: I’m really wrong, read more below)

(1)Tidal source 44.1/48 khz (MQA - available) or whatever MQA capable
(2)Tidal decoding (First unfold from 44.1k/48k > 88.2k/96 )
(3)Tidal send (2) to Roon
(4)Roon send to DAC and tell DAC “ORFS(original frequency sampling rate)” so that DAC know what’s coming.
(5)After this is all DAC job is to do the ‘Renderer’ thing(2nd or 3rd unfold if capable 88.2/96++). Roon most likely cannot track what DAC is doing anymore since most DAC likely not report back to Roon.

  1. That’s MQA Core decoding. Calling it Tidal decoding is wrong because Tidal service is not decoding it for you, and not all Tidal music are MQA music.
  2. No. Tidal sent the raw MQA before any decoding. Roon decodes it in your setup.
  3. DAC does not need Roon to tell it the OrFS. And full MQA DAC do not have to rely on Roon for MQA Core decoding.
  4. MQA Rendering always occurs with hardware MQA Renderer and Full MQA DAC for MQA music, regardless of sample rate.
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Thanks for your explanation! :grinning: