New TIDAL tiers and MQA

Of course it is. I do it every day with a Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier. Sounds terrific.


I’m speaking about normal DACs.

@Chrislayeruk keeps saying you don’t pay extra for MQA and it’s free to all, etc., but you do pay if you buy a DAC that decodes and renders MQA, and Roon certainly does if you have the MQA core decode on, as per above.

I paid $499 for lifetime Roon, $449 for a used Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier, $100 for Tidal ($150 for Qobuz), and $1119 for a Roon Nucleus direct from Roon.

If you don’t like MQA, don’t subscribe to Tidal.


Evidently that wasn’t clear…

Glad we’ve got that sorted now :wink:

1 Like

TBC I was speaking about @Chrislayeruk’s DAC :wink:

Correct, Roon sets Roon ready Dacs appropriately and I don’t use the core decoding.

1 Like

You buy a DAC you want, and if you don’t want MQA, you don’t buy an MQA DAC, but the competition in price means you can buy at all price levels and any fee for MQA is not prohibitive in relation to the product you buy. It’s funny how some object to MQA making any money when every other company in the world does and some make so much more.


See it as a psychological exercise and it will be way easier to bear!!! (and even fun) :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yes - you can!

I do not use ROON MQA when I play music through my second system which has a Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC. The DAC informs me that I am getting a bit-perfect stream to my DAC which then plays MQA.

Anyone with scruples would object to MQA making money based on their entire business plan.


OK. We need to pause and level-set here because this thread is going way off the rails with incorrect information on the very basics of what PCM is and how delta-sigma DAC chips work. Please read the below… all of this is accurate and I’d be happy to link to anything you need me to in order to backup my statements.

The output of MQA processing is PCM. No DAC, I’m talking about the actual chip that does the digital (1s and 0s) to analog (voltage) conversion, understands MQA. And, even that statement is weird because “MQA” isn’t its own digital data stream. The digital data stream is and always is PCM. Delta-sigma DACs understand PCM and that’s what you are always feeding the DAC; PCM. You never feed the DAC “MQA”.

The MQA encoding is embedded in the PCM. It’s using some of the 16 or 24 bits of the PCM word to store this encoding. If you “unfold” the PCM, using the MQA bits as the instruction or guide, then you get a higher resolution PCM while also setting those “MQA bits” back to actual music instead of them set as an unfold instruction. The DAC chip isn’t doing this. You do this first unfold in software.

This is why MQA is backwards compatible with all DACs. The DAC just sees PCM. If you don’t unfold it is still PCM. What does the DAC do with those MQA instruction bits? The DAC converts them to noise.

What I do want you to take away from this… If you are using Tidal and you turn off MQA processing (ether core decode in Roon or your network streamer) then the “MQA encoded bits” are being converted to noise by the DAC. MQA acknowledges this. Their response to this is “you cannot hear it because it’s below the noise floor”.



The MQA ■■■■ is spreading fast!


Does it help to have a visual of what’s happening?

Look up steganography.

Look at the picture of the tree. There is a cat embedded in that image using 2 bits of each color in the original tree image. Embedding the cat very slightly reduces the resolution of the original tree image but unless I told you there was a cat in that image you’d never know. Without the original tree image you’d never detect the reduction in resolution (unless you were well educated in how digital images are stored and then maybe you’d detect something was “not right”, this is actually how virus scanners find viruses embedded in images but I digress)

This the exact same thing MQA encoding does. They are embedding a cat, using some of the bits of the PCM word, into the PCM. It slightly reduces the resolution of the PCM. If you know that the MQA is there and you have something that knows to look for the cat then…

yeah… something like that.

Personally I’m a dog person.
I know plenty of people who loves cats and we should not fault them for it.
Personally, I’d rather Tidal not send me a cat every time I play a song.


“rendering”. Again, the integrated circuit (think of it as a DAC with benefits) is doing all the unfold stuff and then sending the result to the actual digital to analog conversion part of the chip. It’s still all PCM.

Sure, I understand. Nonetheless, however the chip may be arranged internally, it is “the actual chip that does the digital (1s and 0s) to analog (voltage) conversion.” And, yes, it is fed PCM containing an MQA-encoded data stream. But the case was overstated a bit in the first post there.

And then there’s this:

Wouldn’t an MQA-aware DAC do the MQA processing anyway, given the raw MQA-encoded data in the PCM stream?

1 Like

Since Roon pays for every unfolding, I will assume that they have a tally of MQA use. There is therefore a dual reason to turn off Roon unfolding. 1 - Save Roon some money and 2 - Reduce the tally of MQA use. If it dips below some threshold, maybe Roon will decide it isn’t worth it and eliminate the MQA enabling.

This works for those of us who don’t care/dislike MQA and only have the occasional MQA track pass through our systems. Those who do care/like MQA can ignore this. :innocent:

1 Like

The only money I care to save are my money…

1 Like

You are forgetting plenty of people use MQA, and Roon is unique as far as I know to allow DSP to be applied whilst keeping MQA signal. This killed off a major objection to MQA when it was first released as people complained they could not do this.
So a person with a full MQA DAC may still choose to hone their sound with DSP and some want to deny them the ability to do so it seems.
That attitude is hardly helping Roon’s appeal as this may well be a killer feature for some people now or in the future…
Killing off the lifetime licence would also help Roon with a guaranteed income stream as much as is possible. But the balance there is up to Roon to decide. They know and understand the full picture…

My point exactly.