MQA Device Best Practices

is there an agreed upon set of best practices for various settings for devices that are capable of full hardware MQA decoding? for instance, should Core decoding be turned off, and Decoder & Renderer both enabled?

or Core decoding turned on, and Renderer Only selected?

It should always be enabled, unless you have a MQA device that does not work correctly when fed a MQA Core decoded signal (MQB).

If you use a MQA Renderer product (instead of a MQA Full Decoder product) such as Dragonfly, you have to use Renderer Only.

Normally the standard recommendation for MQA Full Decoder DAC is to use Decoder and Renderer. However, if you use Lumin products, I suggest Renderer Only, although Decoder and Renderer also works. This is done in the spirit of the Roon philosophy of moving as much processing to Roon Core, and keeping the endpoint as lightweight, as possible.

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In essence the same as what Peter said, but from a slightly different perspective. You have a lot of value tied up in what Roon can do. Conversion, levelling, convolution and DSP to name a few. Most can be done with MQA so in order to enjoy all of that with your MQA content as well as the regular content you need to set core decoding to on, and endpoint to renderer only. Caveats have been covered by Peter.

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My recommendation would be to configure “Decoder & Renderer” with the DAC if it has these capabilities. This let’s the DAC do the work for passthrough mqa audio.

If however Roon core does some crossfeed or other DSP stuff it automatically switches to “Renderer Only”. AFAIK

You only see the blue MQA dot in the display of the DAC with authenticated MQA streams using Decode & Render on the DAC. With “renderer only” you get the purple MQA dot with authenticated MQA Material. Please do not get confused with the roon color code in the signal path. I am talking about the MQA color codes displayed in the display of the MQA DAC

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I’m using a NAD M10, which has full MQA capabilities. If i set Roon to Core Decoding “On”, and the M10 to both decode/render, i assume Roon does the initial decoding. if i’m not using DSP, and the DAC has full hw capability, it seems i’d be better off letting the dac manage everything?

Without DSP and volume leveling in a single zone, then no. Please check the signal path.

I believe current firmware of BluOS prefers Decoder and Renderer due to this:

Peter, as I had posted before, the real issue is not that BluOS prefers to play in Decoder and Renderer, it is the fact that it will not play grouped with another endpoint like the Lumin T2 unless the T2 is also set on Decoder and Renderer. As you have discussed previously, Lumin plays better in Renderer only. The same goes for Dragonfly which won’t even decode MQA unless it is in Renderer only. I don’t understand where the conflict is here because it seems that this setting in end-points should have no bearing on whether they can stream music together in a group but obviously it does. I have talked to BluOS support a few times on this and they do not want to address it. When I group the Lumin and BluOS together, I have just give up and set both to Decoder and Renderer and it mostly works fine. It is not ideal, but I am hopeful as times goes on, some of these issues will be addressed.

Chris, I have found that there are issues with no DSP, Upscaling or Volume leveling enabled. Roon just will not work with Bluesound in Renderer only nor can Bluesound be grouped with any other Roon Ready endpoint if that endpoint is set to Renderer or Decoder only. If all endpoints are set to Decoder and Renderer, BluOS can be grouped with them and Roon will not lose control of the audio. I have tested this multiple times and it is a BluOS issue.

and here lies the issue with BluOS. It will not work in those settings. I totally agree with Peter. MQA decoding on and endpoint set to renderer only. This is the issue with BluOs, it won’t play in Renderer only.

added a Bel Canto e.One Stream today. I have not listened to it yet, but i have it running in while grouped to the M10 in another system. The M10 is set to Render/Decode, and Core Decoder is off. The Bel Canto is set to Decoder Only (the roon default), and Core Decoder is on.

Here’s what the signal paths look like: