Roon 1.5: MQA questions


What are the differences between MQA capabilities?:

  • Render and decode
  • Decode only
  • Render only

And the relation to MQA Core enabled?



The default settings should generally be used.

MQA Core Decoder should always be enabled, unless you know what you are doing.

The MQA Capabilities should generally be set corresponding to the DAC hardware you have.

Copying @andybob summary - this is what happens when no DSP is performed:
No MQA Support - Roon Decodes, no Rendering info preserved
Decoder & Renderer - Roon passes through, Rendering info preserved
Decoder Only - Roon passes through, no Rendering info preserved
Renderer Only - Roon Decodes, Rendering info preserved.

Also read:

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Does Roon uses considerable CPU processing to do the MQA first unfold?

I do notice spikes in CPU usage, when MQA file is playing, it hovers around 80%, sometimes spiking above 100%. There are some occasionally stutter when playing MQA file, especially at the beginning of the song. But most of the time, it’s OK.

I have a fairly old iMac for the Roon Server (iMac 21” Late 2009 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo). Guess pretty old and underpowered for things like MQA unfolding. It has been serving me well for non-MQA playback.

Well there you go. You are using hardware below the minimum recommended by Roon. Just because it worked in the past is no guarantee it will work now or in the future. The current minimum recommended is

Intel Core i3, Ivy Bridge+ (I suspect i5 or i7 would be better for MQA unfolding)
SSD boot drive
1440 x 900 Resolution

or of course you could just turn off MQA unfolding in Roon altogether and continue as you have pre 1.5.

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Where are you seeing these minimum recommendations?

I have an iMac purchased new last year. To my knowledge it has no SSD. It works fine with Roon 1.5.

This is from Roon’s recommendations here.

And there is more discussion here.

However this is not the minimum just their recommendations you may be ok with something less but maybe not. A lot depends on your library size. Smaller libraries will likely be fine on something less, larger libraries will probably not be.

How does MQA work with the AURALiC Altair?

It is not a certified MQA decoder, although it has its own proprietary means of handling MQA files. It’s best to set its MQA Capabilities to No MQA Support.

@support I think the iOS requirement in the page needs to be changed to iOS 11.

Can I ask a basic MQA question? Do I need an MQA DAC (like the Explorer 2) to get the full resolution of an MQA file? If I’m just streaming the file from Tidal on my macbook to my headphones, what resolution is the file streaming at?

Tidal desktop and Roon do a first unfold. That’s 88 or 96/24. It’s all in the Roon signal path.
The explorer 2 will do a full unfold up to its limit.

Best to refer to it as first stage decode and unfold to 88/96 although there are 44k MQA files, second stage as rendering.

I’m not sure that’s completely true Chris.

From @joel on another thread (Explorer 2 DAC Blue Light Gone):

@Geoff_Mirelowitz There is a known issue with the Explorer2 and it needs a (yet to be released) firmware update to correctly render the decoded MQA output from Roon.

You are only seeing 96k, because this is how decoded, but renderable, MQA content is transferred to MQA DACs. Once the new firmware is released by Meridian, the Explorer2 will further unfold/up-sample the MQA content to the DAC’s capabilities.

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Hi, could someone explain which setting in roon I should use for an ifi nano back label dac/amp. re. MQA. I believe the nano relies on the core device performing the first unfold whereas it performs the final unfold.

Set MQA Capabilities to “Renderer Only” for iFi.

Thanks Peter,
Do you know if that setting affects the sound quality of playing other file types, flacs 24/192/96, 16/44 etc as I would often play consecutive tracks of differing file types

It only takes effect when MQA files are played. It leaves everything else as it was before so it has no impact.

Henry is right, but I’d like to add that it seems that some models of iFi MQA firmware removes PCM768 and DSD512 from the previous non-MQA firmware. For those models users have a choice of getting either MQA rendering or DSD512, but not both.

Thanks Peter. I only have a dozen or so dsd albums but 1000 or so 24 bit albums so lack of dsd 512 and above not an issue for me

thanks Henry