Play a track in FLAC 48/24, MQA 96, and only receive 44/16 in signal path

Roon Core Machine

Nucleus.

Networking Gear & Setup Details

Connected Audio Devices

Schiit Yggdrasil USB DAC.

Number of Tracks in Library

Description of Issue

When I play a TIDAL track, that has an indicated format of FLAC 48/24, MQA 96, and I look at the signal path, I see 44/16.

Thank you.

What Tidal level are you on?
Paid streaming plan I mean.

Also, check this setting…

Very good point, AR. I was only subscribed to HiFi, and I see I need HiFi Plus for MQA. But, I decided to stick w/ HiFi, as my DAC does not support MQA, and supports PCM to 24/192. So, no need for HiFi Plus. Thank you for your response.

Thank you for your post, Jim. I checked this setting on my account, and it was indeed set to “Master”. But, I decided to not pursue MQA, as my DAC does not support MQA, and supports PCM to 24/192. Thank you for your response.

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In that case, you’ll get 16/44.1 which is CD quality from Tidal. Roon can decode MQA from 44.1 to 88.2 and 48 to 96 without an MQA DAC.

Qobuz might be a better fit for you if it’s available where you live. You’ll also get 24/96 and 24/192.

You will still get MQA 44.1 16bit files from Tidal on the Hifi plan, you just don’t get anything encoded over 16bit, there is an awful lot of these to, there is no escaping MQA totally on Tidal so ensure you get the benefit and turn on Roons MQA decoder.

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Or move to Qoboz, like I did :grinning:

OK, within device setup, I’ve chosen my max sample and bit rates as 192/24, enabled MQA decoder and played a TIDAL track of the format FLAC 14/44.1, MQA 352.8. In my signal path I see these numbers as my source, I see the MQA authentication, and then under MQA decoder I see “to 88.2kHz 24bit”. I also confirm that my DAC is receiving 88kHz from the Nucleus. Why is the Nucleus not sending a higher sample rate? My DAC would accept 176kHz, and that is within my set max sample rate.

Because the MQA decoding (the first unfold) is always to x2 sample rate (88k2 or 96K), this is even if the the Original Frequence Rate (OFR) is higher.

The second stage, MQA rendering (upsampling) is then performed within a MQA capable DAC, and is dependent on the capabilities of hardware within the DAC itself.

Thank you, sincerely, Carl for your response. Would you be so kind as to use actual numbers, using the settings I’ve stated for my DAC and the format of the track I chose, so that I can better comprehend exactly what you are laying down? At this time, taking your “x2 sample rate” I’m thinking the 88 that’s reaching my DAC x2 = 176, which is within my DAC capability. So can you please use math (a formula) showing the original file, and the numbers that show why 88 is all that can be sent to my DAC? This will help me for all future music that I play. Thank you.

No, MQA decoding is always x2 of the files sample rate (44k.1/48k) not x2 of the OFR rate.

Example Illustration of Tidal Master MQA decoding:

  • FLAC 44/24, MQA 88 → MQB 88/24 (OFR 88) → DAC
  • FLAC 48/24, MQA 96 → MQB 96/24 (OFR 96) → DAC
  • FLAC 44/24, MQA 176 → MQB 88/24 (OFR 172) → DAC
  • FLAC 44/24, MQA 192 → MQB 88/24 (OFR 192) → DAC

This x2 rate (44k1/88k) MQB signal is then sent to the DAC.

If the DAC supports MQA rendering it can then, using the signaling information within the MQA stream to identify and render (upsample).

Note, the MQA rendering process (2nd unfold) is DAC specific which is why it occurs with the DAC and not Roon.

Then, using my example we have

FLAC 44/14, MQA 352 → MQB 88/14 (OFR 352) → DAC

And, my DAC showed it was receiving 88kHz sample rate, on this particular track.

So the MQA information is irrelevant, because my DAC doesn’t support MQA? The only information that matters is the FLAC data? What about songs on TIDAL that have a format of MQA only? I’m sure they exist?

FYI, my DAC = Schiit Yggdrasil.

Correct, after MQA decoding by Roon your non-MQA DAC will view the stream as a x2 rate PCM signal.

See above.

Thank you for your responses. I know comprehend music that is formatted in both FLAC and MQA.

I’m comprehending that music formatted in MQA-only is a “no-go” for me, and cannot be played on my system. At least via my DAC. I’ll have to test MQA from Roon via HDM straight into my preamp. That may work. Do I have this right?

MQA can be played on your system …

Roon performs the MQA decode, this gets you a x2 sample rate signal that your non-MQA DAC will play quite happily.

Of course you not going to get the very best MQA can offer without an MQA DAC to perform the MQA rendering but it will play just fine.

I recommend switching on the Roon Core MQA Decoder in the Device Setup for the Zone on Roon and try it, then and form you own option. Like, lothe or plain indifferent at least you will have tried it.

When playing tracks do take time to look at the Roon Signal Path, it will show you what is happening to audio signal. This should aid your understanding.

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