Playing MQA - is it doing what it should do?

I have a Tidal-subscription that I use with Roon on a Auralic Aries Mini, connected to my Wonderfull KEF LS50 Wireless via USB. It sounds and works wonderfully.

But when I play MQA-files from Tidals Masters-selection, I can’t decode what Roon is doing. Is it unwrapping, and playing the files in its full potential.

Look at this picture: Is it playing 44.1 kHz or 352.8 kHz?

Roon doesn’t unfold MQA files at the moment. It is reporting to you what the file is - an MQA coded file that can be unfolded to 352.8 kHz by an MQA DAC.

If you are running the latest Auralic firmware then you may be able to use Auralic’s MQA file solution. I don’t know if Roon can report that.

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I don’t think Roon will show that it is playing MQA - but the DAC should. You will probably need to turn off zone settings like volume levelling, and turn off DSP settings - basically pass the clean signal to the DAC. Otherwise it probably won’t play MQA. The only visual cue you get on Roon is that instead of showing an enhanced signal, it shows lossless.

I often wonder if MQA is doing what it should do… I listened to Justin Bieber and it still sounded ****.

Decoding MQA files from Roon is not working with Aries. MQA from Tidal ,HDD or NAS played through the Lightning app is working.

So… Why is it all purple balls, when its not bit perfect?

The purple is showing it is a lossless file. There are some questions about if the signal path shows enough detail. It shows more than anything else I’ve seen :slight_smile:

If you use Aries Mini as endpoint, Roon will take over all the necessary processing. If you use Aries Mini as standalone streamer with the Lightning DS software together with the latest firmware 5.x, yes you can Auralic own proprietary decoding. I can confirm coz I’ve tried out.

If Auralic will to enable its own proprietary decoding together with Roon when using as endpoint that will be great. One good example is Lumin music streamers.

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Your signal path is bitperfect, and playing back 24/44.1 in your example, since there’s nothing in your path that decodes/renders MQA. So in your case, things are working as expected.

My new DAC, Pro-ject Pre Box S2 digital, handles it all in hardware, and then you can see on the DAC that it plays MQA, including the unfolded sample rate. I only use MQA when listening to headphones though, since it can’t be combined with room correction.

Needles to say, this works in Roon as well, as long as I don’t have any DSP on (volume correction works though if I recall correctly).

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How does your Signal path picture look Magnus?

So… Why is it all purple balls, when its not bit perfect?

Because it is bit-perfect–the file format is lossless and the bits in the file are being transmitted to the speakers without modification.

If Roon were un-folding, you would see a blue light (“Enhanced”) to reflect the DSP.

It would not be accurate to refer to the output of a data-lossy codecs like MQA as bit-perfect. I don’t mean that in a negative way–the MQA encoder is careful to throw away only sonically irrelevant information, but it does lose information in a way that data-lossless codecs like FLAC do not.

Also with MQA, there is not one authoritative “bit-perfect” stream. A software decoder only goes to 2x (96kHz max). The decoder in a DAC will target whatever sample rate the DAC designer + MQA decideded was optimal. Probably something higher in most cases. Again, this isn’t a strictly lossless/bit-perfect process–it’s an optimization task. So “Enhanced” is most appropriate.

At this time, Roon does not unfold MQA. We also can’t receive information from the DAC to know if the DAC is unfolding MQA. So the signal path reflects the information that we do have–that the process of getting bits from file->dac is bit-perfect.

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Same as yours, no indication that Roon actually does any MQA (which is doesn’t since Roon just sends bit-perfect audio to the DAC who does all the MQA stuff). As I mentioned, the DAC displays a blue MQA symbol and the unfolded sample rate (typically 96 or 192 khz).

I wish MQA could be combined with room correction (it will partially be possible once Roon does the first unfold, but still). Seems even volume leveling turns off MQA capability.

Very good point and it takes a while for us to understand that. Even though it does lose information this doesn’t necessarily translated to degraded SQ. The same thing also apply here, a good designed sample rate converter can still sound very good indeed!

I guess he was listening to MQA, and was grateful for the sonically irrelevant information being thrown away :smiley:

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I’m referring to SRC. Roon uses SRC, a form of DSP that does wonders for PCM and DSD. You can’t say they don’t sound good? After all they are not bit perfect representation of the original data right?

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Sorry - it was a joke, referring to dogs hearing beyond our audible range.


I think this logo belong to ‘RCA Victor’? I also saw this in HMV. I would like to get a poster of this and put up in my HiFi listening room. By the way I’ve a Jack Russell Terrier in my avatar.

Cracking little DAC and fantastic value for money the PBDS2. Have you looked inside. Lovely design to the PCB. Killer little product that I think Pro-Ject aren’t pushing hard enough.

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What do you mean by “Roon does not unfold MQA” ? Is the sound quality better streaming MQA direct from Tidal as oppose to Roon ?

Some DACs need software to do the first unfold and if you have one of those than Roon can’t be used to play MQA (I think Roon is working on this though). If you have a DAC that does all unfolds in hardware, then you can get MQA from Roon by simply disabling DSP and volume leveling, and the DAC will do the rest.