MQA Roon Support

This thread is for the discussion of Roon’s support of the MQA format, there are other MQA topics relating to:

MQA General Discussion
MQA Music What’s Availability and Listening Experiences
MQA Tidal to launch MQA Hi-Res audio streaming in 2016

References to papers, articles, reviews and personal experiences or opinions about Roon MQA support are welcome. Personal attacks on other people (whether other Roon users or industry figures) will be moderated. Try not to argue about who killed who’s brother …

Continuing the discussion from Existing licensees of your software:

Was hoping the spin-out would have included the privilege to add MQA to your product. Interesting to hear that it does not.

One would think that it would be beneficial for Meridian to create as large a footprint as quick as possible, as the key success factor will be adoption of the format.
Can imagine that they would like some exclusivity for a (very) short period for their own product line, but would expect that would quickly be outweighed by the need for adoption rate.

Is it a matter of timing (and of course market adoption of MQA) or would you see a Roon roadmap without MQA while there is market traction and ie Tidal is providing a service on it?

I posted this elsewhere, but ill repost it here:

MQA plays at CD quality if you don’t have a decoder. If you have a decoder, MQA can play better than CD Quality.

My understanding is that only 3 products support MQA decoders right now, at least that’s what I can deduce from Meridian’s MQA website. The same site states:

… revealing full quality with a hardware or software MQA decoder.

MQA is being licensed by leading hardware and software creators around the world.

We have had talks about being one of those licensees of the software MQA decoder, but we don’t have it yet. I hope we will have it before release, but that is up to Meridian.

I don’t feel right about speaking about privilege, so I’m going to leave that alone. I would love MQA support in Roon, and am eager to include it. As for a roadmap, it changes every few days based on new relationships and possibilities. Remember we are VERY EARLY in our life as a company!

Surely all that needs to be done for starters is to be able to stream bit-perfect from Tidal? (or is there more involved). That way, we can simply make use of existing hardware decoders and let them do their MQA stuff (Prime, Explorer2, 818v3, all of which have USB inputs).

MQA decoding for playback on the local DACs can wait (will be very cool for phones, for instance).

Of more interest to me in the medium-term is MQA-encoding/encapsulation for files >96k which are going to end up streamed to 96k-limited Meridian kit.

Bit perfect, we already do, so if you have MQA hardware, it’s all you need.

Software decoder gets you playing MQA at better than CD on non-Meridian or non-MQA hardware.


Ah, yes, forgotten that. Roon bit perfect out to a Meridian end point that does MQA decoding will work fine for MQA support.
It is for the gear that doesn’t have MQA decoding, but could benefit from the higher bitrate, timing, etc that it would be beneficial to have Roon software decoding.

I guess that would mean you’d have to select as a user whether you’d want Roon MQA decoding or do that later in the pipeline and ideally per device.
That way I could run Roon on a NUC, have that connected to my Pluto’s and do a software decode, while it streams non-decoded, bit perfect to my ID40 for my main set. Which would be the best of both worlds.

Just to clarify, the plan is that Roon will support the streaming of MQA from tidal and the decoding, such that we get 24/96 output to whatever end point we have?

I don’t think it’s that clear at all. Decoding (by Roon) makes no sense unless you are playing back on DACs in the same machine as the Roon app. Otherwise, decoding is pointless without a means of transferring the decoded MQA digitally (which is easier said than done, and which Meridian plans to achieve using MHR).

All Roon has to do for the moment is support bit perfect streaming from TIDAL to the endpoint. I thought that TIDAL streaming was going to be 96k, but that is to be confirmed. (Counter-intuitively, the 96k-only MQA files have lower bit-rates that the 1x sample-rate ones).

Sorry, I’m a bit confused.
If Roon can decode MQA into a 24/96 PCM stream, then it can push it out via say ethernet to my Meridian ID40 endpoint.
The implications being that I wouldn’t need to pay for MQA hardware decoding downstream.

To me that sounds like a bit of a good thing and would be a “killer” USP to justify the use of Roon.

Above and beyond my own interests, think about the amount of people who’d be able to output 24/96 decoded MQA via USB to their DACs. I’m sure they’d love it.

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Ah gotcha. I think this may be a moot request, because as I said, I think that TIDAL may be streaming everything as 96/24 MQA anyway (as it requires less bandwidth).

But if TIDAL does stream 48/24 MQA, then I agree that Roon decoding the MQA and streaming it out as 96/24 would be desirable.

We need to better understand what the MQA decoding and rendering tasks are in the Meridian kit. Up to 96/24 I see the above scenario working. Beyond that then we need to know how that will get encapsulated and handled to the 8x8 and/or DSPs. Same applies for Sooloos 2.2 also.

As I understand it a full-fat MQA decode can only be achieved in a hardware decoder, because the DAC has to be taken into consideration, and not in a casual way but rather intimately. So a Roon user wanting full-fat MQA decode would need to buy a Meridian endpoint of some kind (or one from another MQA-licenser when there are some). This would obviously sound great.

Software decoding is also possible but will not give you the full ADC/DAC matching that you get with a hardware decode.

Logically I see no reason why it can’t be done in software, just as long as there server has sufficient hardware (CPU capability). At the end of the day, it’s MQA is just application of clever logic. I would assume that a dedicated chip(s) might well be more efficient than using say an Intel i7 core processor, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be done, just as long as Roon pay for the rights to use the logic within the MQA solution.


I’ve been reading about MQA, but there’s one thing I don’t understand (please forgive my ignorance): can you re-encode existing material in MQA or will it work only with music recorded from now on, using this new format?



Have a read of this thread. Lots of MQA questions and answers on the Meridian user forum.


@sete – the M in MQA stands for Master. Meridian is working with labels to pull out all the master recordings and re-encode them using not only what’s state of the art today, but also in high resolution. In my opinion, this is the greatest achievement of MQA; the technology is icing on the cake.

@danny - MQA Ltd have now issued full public release specification decoding libraries to their partners. It is the base for the software which will be required to enable the decode of the official MQA content soon to be publicly released by vendors such as 2L, Hi-Res Audio and TIDAL. What about roon? When can we expect the MQA playback integration?

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As soon as we get the rollout of what you call a “full public release specification decoding libraries to their partners”, I’ll let you know :smile:

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Please update it soon . I already have some of 2l’s recordings ,MQA please.

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