Please test this Tidal MQA track

Hi everybody,

This track plays with ugly pitch variations on both of my endpoints. All other versions of this track that I have are playing fine.

Wondering where this comes from, if it’s in my environment only, or if there’s something wrong with this track and/or decoding in Roon.

Thanks for trying!

Hi @NOA,

I’ve just listened to the entire track (same Tidal version). No problems here.


Thanks @HWZ ! Please could others try this as well, mentioning it is obvious to me but maybe not VERY obvious for everybody.

It’s just with the MQA version, not the normal version!

Can you be more specific? What are you hearing, where in the track, and with which instrument(s)? I’ve just listened to it and it sounded superb through my Meridian DSP8000SE. The bowed double-bass at the beginning and end is terrific.

Hi @joel,

Thanks for catching up! It sounds like somebody is turning the pitch/tune knob in a studio continuously +/- 10% or so. It is obvious with the piano, but it’s also with the bass. Also at the end of the intro there is a triangle that varies, while on all other track versions everything stays rock solid in pitch/tune.

I think I might know what you mean, @NOA. The piano sounds slightly out of tune, especially in the “intro”. This is less obvious in the other versions. This could have something to do with the master. I get the same kind of “honky tonk piano” sound when listening to my 24bit/96 kHz download. However, there are definitely no pitch variations like you describe them - not in any of the versions I compared (the two Tidal versions available and my 16/44 and 24/96 downloads).

I will try to record what I’m hearing and post links, stay tuned…

1 Like

Does it sound the same if you use the tidal player outside of roon?

1 Like

Good hint, never use Tidal app but will try…

I’ve just compared the intro section of the MQA and the CD version (with the same cover).

My observation is that the MQA is more revealing in a number of ways. The bowed bass is much much more realistic, deep, and cohesive (and more pleasurable to listen to). That triangle hit at the end of the intro section sounds clearer in the CD version, but with the MQA version, additional harmonics are present (correctly I think) which aren’t audible in the CD version.

No idea if these are from different masters, but I prefer the MQA (and that’s not just because I – personally – believe in what MQA is trying to achieve). My suspicion is that the extra audible information has some interesting consequences psycho-acoustically.

The piano timbre is a bit weird (dulled/rounded) in both versions; not sure how that was recorded.

Joel I think I know what you mean, but I do not believe that this is the correct interpretation of what is happening. Could you try other tracks of this album? You will see that there is more going in the direction of what you have described but staying in correct tune. Adding more harmonics is different to ugly pitch variations.

I’m on an iPad so have no mqa but one of the 2 tracks shown on a search (the first one) sounds a little wowish to my untrained ears…I’m in a hotel in Bangkok now so not in ideal conditions but might go find my mobile core and spin it up…

I’ll give the whole album a listen when I have a moment!


Just a thought, but I wonder what the perception would be if the harmonics are not resolvable?

The MQA version of this track plays on my iPad and I can here the difference there as well, first obvious pitch drop at around 5 sec and next around 12 seconds and continuing in variation during the whole track.

I have 6 versions of this track in total, from flac to DSD where the 4 non-Tidal versions show a different cover. Differences is sound quality with DSD being the best.

The normal Tidal version is fine, so to my ears only the Tidal MQA version is somehow broken. Also the other tracks of this album MQA version sounds better and more detailed as to what @joel has described.


I hear this and it sounds natural to me, as the bow reduces pressure at the end of the stroke.

BTW, thanks for creating this topic; it’s fascinating!

1 Like

Who knows, but I have been a musician for over 40 years, made records and have a somewhat sensitive hearing. I might be wrong but I think I can distinguish between added harmonics and wrong pitch.

I was more referring to the piano here!

Unfortunately my Tidal player does not find the MQA version when I try to play it on my iPad. I have no Tidal player hooked up to one of my stereo chains so to speak.