R/2R DAC w/MQA support - suggestions or ideas

I’m looking to add an R/2R DAC to my stereo listening setup which is currently as follows:

Innuos Zenith MK3 running as Roon Core
Hegel 590 Amp (USB)
Paradigm Persona 3F speakers

Note: also have a Node2i going into the optical input on the Hegel for multi room setup with a few other Nodes and an Anthem MRX 1120 for Dolby Atmos but these and the game consoles are irrelevant to the question.

I’ve been reading good reviews for Schitt, Denafrips, Musician Pegasus (all of which will probably improve SQ over the built in H590 DAC) but I’m concerned about potential compatibility issues and also curious to know how MQA would be handled given that none of the supports MQA oob.

Most DACs I found that support MQA are Delta Sigma (e.g. dCS, Moon, BelCanto, Soekris) and come bundled as streamers or bridges which I don’t want to add to the mix.

I’m still a newb on this and just looking for ideas, suggestions, guidance, gotchas or experiences you folks can provide.

Thanks,
Luis

Metrum Sonnet (which I own and like) is an R/2R DAC that offers an MQA option (which I don’t have).

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I believe any manufacturer who wants to integrate MQA decoding into their DACs need to submit schematics as well as the hardware to MQA Ltd for testing. Especially when it come to discrete R2R circuits are proprietary designs when compared to off shelves delta sigma IC chips.

I don’t see the point of doing MQA decoding on a DAC as Roon is capable of doing it.

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dCS is FPGA, not delta sigma. And they do MQA. At a price, obviously

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I looooove my Denafrips Ares II. No more dac shopping for me. Sure if I had lots of money I’d move up the line, but I don’t, so I’m done.

Having had four Schiit products and given every one of them had an issue, it’s not a brand I’ll try again.

Don’t worry about MQA.

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Exactly but FPGA is a programmable chip not discrete R2R circuitry like in Denafrips and Holo Spring Audio. These are all hardware proprietaries can be easily copied. Manufacturers normally don’t disclose schematics.

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Thanks so much for the replies so far, this is very informative.

Interestingly the one @Fernando_Pereira mentioned, which I believe is the Sonnet Morpheus (right?) does provide a certified MQA adapter with Full decoding capability.

But I’m also curious as to the comment re: Roon decodes MQA and not to worry about it. I know Roon takes care of MQA core decoding and that might be enough, but I was wondering if a DAC with MQA Full decoder (e.g. Sonnet) will provide better SQ and noticeable experience.

@solo_plane, I was also thinking about the Denafrips Ares or the Terminator as well but wasn’t sure how Tidal Masters streaming would be affected, it doesn’t sound like it would be an issue but just wanted to make sure. BTW, I was also reading that the Musicians Pegasus is an Ares OEM which sells for half the price.

If anybody has listened to one of the DACs mentioned in this thread I’d love to hear your experience/opinions.

Roon can only do the first unfold, as is the case with any software. You still need the second unfold for complete decoding, and that must be done by hardware.

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You might want to take a closer look at the architecture of the dCS… It looks to me like a FPGA + lots of R2R components… Lots of streamers and DACs use FPGSs + a lot of other logic components… That does not necessarily make them a FPGA only DAC… A FPGA is just a sea of gates waiting for someone to make use of them… Could become a CPU, GPU, Glue Logic and/or your favorite FFT engine… And in some cases could become all of that and more…

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dCS dacs are ring dacs, not r2r ladder dacs.

I know it is called a Ring DAC… And I never said it was a R2R DAC… And I did say you might want to take a closer look at the architecture… So, that being said…

“All incoming data is oversampled and digitally filtered by the Control Board’s FPGA processing engine that is configured by software written by dCS. This data is ultimately re-encoded and noise-shaped into Ring DACTM format, which operates synchronously with the incoming data at 5-bits and about 3Ms/S. This data- in Ring DACTM format- is then passed from the Control Board to the Analog (Ring DACTM) Board where it is mapped onto an array of 48 latches (current sources) and precision resistors which are at the heart of the Ring DACTM topology.”

A sh_t load of resisters none the less…

Not sure why people fixate on R2R TBH. If your budget stretches to it, a Lumin X1 is your endgame with Hegel amplification - yes it is a streaming DAC (with MQA) but I can’t see why that’s a problem - Lumin hardware are rock solid Roon endpoints. The X1 easily competes with the very best. If you don’t want to spend that much, T2 gets you most of the way there for a third of the price - I have a T2/H390 combination and it is phenomenal.

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Hardware submission is of course essential, otherwise it cannot be profiled for doing MQA rendering. MQA Ltd. also requires a device to go through a series of audio and functional tests to certify it, in the same way that Roon certification involves testing submitted hardware.

Schematics - no, we were not required to submit schematics.

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I don’t “fixate” on R2R, my speaker systems use Linn Katalyst delta-sigma DACs, but for my headphone systems (both solid-state and tubes), R2R DACs have yielded the best results (currently: Sonnet Morpheus, Schiit Yggdrasil, Holo Spring 2 KTE).

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Sure - headphones and speakers are entirely different situations.

You don’t mention what your budget is, but I highly recommend the MSB Premier DAC, with the Premier Power supply. A truly fine DAC that does it all!

Absolutely agree. I’ve an Airies II and it is a great bit of kit. And forget about mqa. Just enjoy the music

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Thanks I read about it and also the DCS DACs but they’re a bit beyond what I want to spend on a DAC.

I’m leaning towards either the Sonnet or the Denafrips.

My Hegel H590 has a full MQA decoder and you can tell the difference when it’s playing MQA and frankly I didn’t care for MQA before but I’ve been warming up to it. Some MQA tracks still sound a bit too bright for my taste but then I find others that I do enjoy.

MQA support is not a deal breaker but more of a nice to have option at this point.

Thanks… Lumin, dCS and MSB all sound like really good alternatives but they’re a bit more than what I want to spend on a DAC at this point

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