Roon Decoding MQA Listening Impressions

(Andrew) #1

Tidal has plenty of the same masters in redbook and MQA, so I can quickly do the A/B test. My overall impression so far:

  • MQA tracks sound louder.
  • When level-matched, MQA tends to add more “volume” around the tone, e.g. saxophone sounds like it’s blowing a bit more air out. As a result, the tonal color becomes richer and the sound stage opens up a bit more, creating a bit more natural ambience. These are the main traits that I consider improvements.

Any thoughts? Do others agree/disagree with my comments?

MQA first unfold in Roon? MQA? [Delivered in 1.5]
Roon 1.5 Feedback Thread

Well said, I like the fact I have a choice, preference is a personal thing, in general I enjoy the MQA versions certainly I find nothing bad about them just different.
The entire Roon team are to be congratulated for the 1.5 release. YMMV

(Robin Carmack) #3

Where MQA shines, in my opinion, is with older recordings. I love classic jazz and much prefer the MQA versions that I have heard to this point.

(Larry Post) #4

I agree completely with your observations/descriptions. Well said.

(Andrew) #5

Great! Has anyone compared MQA tracks with and without rendering using MQA DACs? I am getting serious about getting one.


I agree with this:

and with this:

Really enjoying the MQA decoding in Roon. I was worried it wasn’t going to be good because I find the DSP feature saps some of the music’s “energy”. The MQA decoding sounds great!

(simon arnold) #7

I don’t agree with the volume being louder, quite the opposite from the albums I tried. Overall not found the MQA to sound better either. Most have not been engaging as the 44.1 version of the same thing. One exception so far was REM Automatic for The People. Will keep listening but not seeing what the fuss is about. Listened on both my systems to.

(Andrew) #8

Let me add one example that fits my description above. Listen to “Village Blues” on “Coltrane Jazz”. It’s a great recording overall, but on 16/44 the sax and cymbals sound a bit tizzy - good but nothing extraordinary. On MQA, Trane jumps out of the speaker and plays in front of me on stage with realistic tones and licks. Hard to believe it’s a recording from 1960. Of course, it’s still system-dependent so YMMV.

(Robin Carmack) #9

I would put this in bold text. There are so many variables with any music: equipment, the room the equipment is in, etc. I LOVE the MQA of 2L Nordic Sound and I also own the hi res. Somebody else may agree or disagree. I have some high res selections that I prefer over the MQA. I have 2 dacs: an S2 and a Mytek Liberty. I prefer the Mytek over the S2 for MQA play back in my room with the equipment I have by a large margin. This whole deal is subjective and in my setup this 1.5 release is the best Roon yet for me. I have no complaints and see nothing I would change. I think it only gets better but that is just me :wink:

(bevan court) #10

I have to say that I’m finding that Roon doing the decoding and the Project S2 doing just rendering is much better over the S2 doing both. I find the soundstage has more depth and height than before. If you think about it, using my NUC i5 to do the decode rather than the xmos chip in the DAC make sense, it has more processing power. I did try listening with Roon just doing the decode. I feel it’s better than doing the pass through and the S2 doing everything, but not as good as the S2 rendering.

Lumin D1 and Roon 1.5
(Robin Carmack) #11

I agree on the S2. I also prefer User Mode with DC enabled especially upsampling to DSD. Very nice sound


Check out these classics in MQA. Really enjoying them.


You using an MQA DAC or just Roon for the unfold?


If this was directed at me the answer is just Roon for the first unfold. Too soon to upgrade my DAC for full MQA unfolding and rendering.

(Terry Smith) #15

Glad its not just me who thinks DSP “ saps the energy “ of the music ! I also think MQA is sounding great and i think surpasses ripped CD WAV

(Jeremy Jones) #16

Now that we’ve all got MQA, I’m trying to make up my mind as to whether or not I prefer the same recordings streamed from Tidal in MQA or good old fashioned red book. There’s been far too much theoretical lecturing for my liking. I’m much more interested in how it sounds on my equipment.

The only decision I’ve reached is that this analysis could take a while, before the dust settles and I really feel sure about MQA technology. It seems to be a case by case situation - no clear-cut winner. Some MQA recordings come across as filtered, with an apparent loss of texture compared with the lossless file. Others can seem cleaned up and ‘de-blurred’.

I’d be interested to read other people’s impressions.

(Chris ) #17

I want to listen to the music I want to listen to in any particular moment and so that’s what I do, but given the choice so far, MQA is sounding great for me.
It’s going to be a matter of patience but I look forward to the day when much more MQA is available.

(danny2) #18

Some of both. Not all the MQA sounds better to me, even when I think it is from the same master. Some of them are remasters and have issues such as volume wars remastering, which isn’t my cup of tea.

(Henry) #19

MQA still provides plenty of opportunities for engineers to bugger things up, so it has to be case by case. Also there are different levels of MQA. I see Master, Studio and unauthenticated levels, the latter with a different colour light. And I am seeing the latter more and more frequently so for me that has no value other than the benefit of seeing higher sample rates going into my DAC.

(Anders Vinberg) #20


I think doing DSP well is difficult.
I was dissatisfied after my first attempts with REW.
With Acourate, I find it excellent, wouldn’t live without it.