My DAC / Headphone setup DragonFly MQA


I have a very simple setup. Have ROON installed in my MacMini M1. I have a Dragonfly Red DAC on a USB port and AKG K371 headphones connected to the DAC.
I am aware there are more complex better solutions, but this is what I have and can afford atm.

I have a couple of questions regarding my setup.
When I listen directly on TIDAL I get a very decent sound quality. The DAC gets a green light on HiFi streams and Magenta on Masters. All ok.
When I listen on ROON, the sound quality is a little bit inferior. I tried different DSP setups: Using an Audeze preset gave good results on some music, but it was inconsistent. I followed someone’s suggestion and downloaded a Convolution filter for AKG371 but the sound quality dropped horribly, almost like listening underwater.
So I deactivated all Filters.
On ROON the MQA files light the Dragonfly Red instead of Magenta (The device setup is the default: Exclusive mode, MQA Renderer Only, Volume Control: Device).

Any suggestions on how to fix my current setup? I don’t mean suggestions like buying a better DAC or Headphones (I have a ton of notes on that), but on how to setup my current audio gear to extract the maximum quality possible.


Do you have Roon MQA core decoding turned on in Device Setup under Show Advanced?

The option “Enable MQA core decoder” (is this what you mean?) is on.

Hi @Ricardo_Garcia_Maino,

Yes, that’s what Jim wanted you to check.

Can you take a screenshot of Roon’s Signal Path when playing a MQA file to the Dragonfly.

This will enable us to see what’s happening and advise.

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A Roon Core update a few builds back set it off by default, if I remember rightly.

Set up properly, the Audioquest colours are as advertised.

I’ll plug mine and do a screenshot :sunglasses:

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Yep, …

  • Roon 1.8 Build 987 Changed the default behavior for Roon’s MQA decoder
  • Roon 1.8 Build 1021 Resolved an issue where MQA Core Decoder setting will auto-disable on app restart under certain conditions

Though @Ricardo_Garcia_Maino, has confirmed it is enabled, so shouldn’t be the issue, and the rest of setting that were mentioned seem ok. Hopefully we’ll know more once he posts a signal path shot.

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I got it (eventually) this shows MQA as Purple …

So it’s the Red as “Decoder and Renderer” and “Enable MQA core” to NO

Now this passes the encoded MQA signal to the DAC for it to do the work …

Advanced Settings

I assume this is right :roll_eyes: I always struggle as well !!


I believe the Dragonfly Red can not decode MQA, see this post below.

Thus the zone properties in Roon should be set to “MQA Renderer Only” (which is how the OP has it).

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I rarely use the Red these days …

Just checked the manual, you are quite correct, in that case I can’t get the Red to show up Purple (MQA) plugged into my NUC/ROCK with the Enable Core Decoder switched on. All you get is up to 96 k , Magenta is 96k

ie the limit for the DAC. Allowing the signal through with the core off it does

Now I am confused

Is that what @Ricardo_Garcia_Maino is getting

  1. Post a signal path screenshot.
  2. Try volume 100 - see if it turns purple
  3. If 2 succeeds, try this:
    Dragonfly Cobalt only recognizing MQA at full volume and low max volume output - #23 by noris

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Here is my DragonFly Cobalt plugged into RPi4.

Hi Peter
Here are the screenshots

This text will be hidden

About the suggestions: Yes, it turned purple at volume 100. I tried your suggestion fix and that did help. This is the path afterwards:

Should I leave al the filters empty or try some parametric EQ, Convolution preset etc?


Yes, I got the purple too this way.


If you got a working configuration, I don’t suggest you change it.

I edited the title so that other DragonFly users can find this solution.

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