MQA Roon Support

Hi guys… Any updates on MQA support in Roon - ie software decoding to PCM?


It’s the post above yours.

A post was merged into an existing topic: MQA Music - What’s Availability and Listening Experiences

Bob Stuart has responded to the CA Q&A and the following seemed particularly relevant to Roon/MQA:

Q43. Soft decoding:
Will software decoding be allowed (and when)?
Will software decoding get the complete benefit that will be possible with hardware MQA DACs? If not what will the differences be?
Will a MQA decode software module be available for integration into third party music players that run on generic PCs and Macs?

We already have software decoders for a number of hardware, portable and mobile platforms. In these three cases the decoder has the benefit of precise knowledge of the DAC and associated hardware.
See A42, there is no inherent quality difference between MQA decoders unless they are operating in designated power-saving modes. However, it is inevitable that a properly designed hardware product, incorporating the decoder and DAC will give the better result. The performance level that MQA enables, allows hardware makers an even better environment on which to stretch their skills. For the audiophile, this should be very exciting.
We do anticipate a program to enable such applications, but the requirement for tight DAC coupling and the obligation to match the previewed audio (in the studio) means that several combinations and options are still being explored with both DAC makers and creators of software players. We will make announcements in due course.

Q44. Digital out decoder:
To the extent that hardware decoding is necessary or desired and that many DAC manufacturers
might not be able to incorporate hardware mods, could an MQA decoder in a box feeding into a DAC be a potential solution for consumers?
If someone already has a an expensive DAC, of which they are very fond, and this DAC doesn’t natively support MQA, will it be possible for some manufacturer to supply a stand-alone box “MQA un-packer” with USB and/or S/PDIF output to make existing DACs MQA compatible?
Will software decoding into a “standard” high res bit stream that a generic DAC can use be allowed?
Which type of connections will be possible USB, SPDIF AES etc.?
Will SPDIF streamer interface be allowed, or only , in order to achieve a two way
communication. Meaning you would require a as a minimum in order to have your old DAC benefit from SW decoded MQA, or a streamer like Auralic.


  • e. To get the best result, decoders with digital output require to know how to render for the specific connected DAC, or else to ensure that any alternative degraded representation is in line with the studio preview options (see Q21). This is true for either full decodes or split decodes (see A65).

We are working with our partners on programs for both product types and will announce roll-out in the coming months.

See Brian’s comments above about Roon’s capacity to identify DACs.

Bob’s responses indicate discussions are continuing. We know what the Roon devs are hoping to achieve. All we can do at this stage is wish them every success.

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I went along to a Bluesound/NAD/ MQA DEMO and there seemed a reticence to do A vs B with the same tracks, certainly it wasn’t set up to facilitate that and Ivan ( from Cloney Auidio) couldn’t do it.

The chap from bluesound could to a certain degree, and Sultans of Swing 16 bit through Tidal was certainly bettered substantially by MQA. I regularly stream with Tidal so know what to expect with this vs hi-Res or 16 bit local. There was something extra going on here.

I went a sceptic, left, if not quite a believer, certainly more open to this being on my Hifi map.

I do hope Roon will make this easy for me!



Interesting post from Brian in another thread on this topic:

Any news?

I’m conscious of the recent news from Bluesound, i.e. that they’ve got their Android box able to decode MQA and output a fully decoded version via SPDIF to an external DAC. I appreciate that the box won’t know what DAC is on the output (though maybe you could manually configure that). However, by implication, this suggests that software decoding is here and agreed.

So how do we stand with Roon? I’m hoping/kind of expecting that it will include MQA decoding (particularly so as I’ve just bought a lifetime license).
Any news/potential timescales?

A quick bump to my question above.
Any news ref software decoding of MQA in Roon?

I’m confident that we’ll hear something about this in an impossible-to-miss fashion as soon as both of these are true:

(a) the question is resolved between Roon and MQA Ltd, and
(b) the Roon folk are legally allowed to comment on any such resolution

I too very much look forward to hearing both about software MQA decoding by Roon and about when the Tidal MQA switch will get flipped, but I don’t expect asking again to get me that information any sooner.

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I believe @Jeffrey_Moore is correct.

When they are able to tell us something, both Roon and MQA will want to ensure that everyone knows about it.

That is certainly good news. I expect that the point of contention for adding software unfolding support will be license fees since Roon’s target demo in large part are the very people that would (in MQA’s perfect world) demand MQA support from high-end DAC manufacturers and as a result, driving significant licensing/ royalty revenues from hardware manufacturers.

Hopefully MQA doesn’t somehow artificially / arbitrarily limit the quality of software unfolding to something between folded CD-quality MQA (with added noise, allegedly) and the full unfolding process to 24-bit / 96 KHz.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the MQA decoding in th Bluesound streamers is done through the build in DAC and not through software. I think this is one of the first firmware updates for MQA which is available as far as I know.

So this is coming from a more reliable source than just me, here’s a link:

Specifically, this statement:
“In this scenario, the MQA software within the Node 2 will unpack any hi-res content and send the entire, unfolded file to the external D/A converter over S/PDIF. How much hi-res unfolding takes place will depend on the maximum sample rate handling of the Node 2’s coaxial and Toslink outputs.”

Assuming that link is correct, it’s basically saying that:

  • The device will decode MQA in software
  • It will output the post decoded file out by either it’s own analogue outputs, or by SPDIF
    The implications being that this suggests that software decoding of MQA is an agreed and accepted methodology, hence the relevance of my query to Roon.

I get if Roon are not yet allowed to comment, but surely I’m at least allowed to politely ask if there’s been any prorgress?

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Of course you’re allowed to ask. But MQA negotiations are subject to non-disclose agreements that mean the only people responding will be fellow users who have no information. All we’re saying is that no one knows except the people who can’t talk and when they can talk, they’ll announce something.

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As Danny said earlier in this thread.

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Yup, but how much and what, I can’t speak about publicly.

“post decoded” can mean many things with MQA… think about it more like a progressive scan jpeg. You can decode only half the file, and not get the full resolution photo. It that article, it was not stated what was being sent on the SPDIF. However, it does state that it would be less than the full audio (“No number 2 for you”). It doesn’t state what else might be missing.

Does any progress other than a release really matter? :wink:

How MQA will be implemented of course :flushed: But yeah, there is only so much you guys can communicate.

That being said, I’d hate to think that I could listen to unfolded “Hi-Res” Tidal content on my phone and tablet, but would be required to buy a new DAC to do the same on my home rig via Roon.

> An MQA decoder can be built into hardware, or it can take the form of an app for a smartphone or PC.

Brian has confirmed Roon will Support first unfolding of MQA:

The CES announcement by MQA is an indication that negotiations have finished and a business arrangement is in place. Implementation will follow.

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That’s GREAT news. Thanks