Roon Decoding MQA Listening Impressions

(Anders Vinberg) #21

Yes, it’s been a long time since I chose what music to listen to based on the technology.


Are these designations supposed to tell us something about the source material? How does one see these designations in Roon?


@AndersVinberg I am using Roon to feed endpoint to headphones so DSP degrades quality in my system. I can appreciate DSP is much more useful in your case as room correction makes a huge difference and probably overcomes other shortfalls.

(Anders Vinberg) #24

Yes, room correction is the key.
But I don’t agree about the other shortfalls, I think that depends on how it is done. As I have said before, when I did PEQ with REW the effect was completely bad, convolution with Acourate is completely good.

You are right it is less of an issue with headphones. But my Audeze LCD-3 have some frequency spectrum issues, they were delivered with a measured graph and I tried correcting it with PEQ without much success, but Audeze delivered convolution filters which I now use with no ill effects (and very minor positive effects).

(Winter Wolf) #25

My favorite is “Big Shoe” of the Side by Side album. MQA really shines here.

( Glen Rasmussen) #26

Interesting observation, I did a db check with Iphone app, and a stand alone db meter from my dialed in listening position, for a few songs, with average, and peak, and there was little difference. I listen with a 5.1 system set to All Stereo, and the MQA tracks do increase the soundstage, almost like someone had turned up the rear channel gain. I listen to a lot of Jazz, and I have noticed that fullness. My front channel Klipshorns, and their efficiency modifies the increase in dynamic range that seem apparent with MQA. That could account for your subjective evaluation.

( Glen Rasmussen) #27

As I have posted on a number of forums, MQA is at it forte with older Analogue tracks, and early digital tracks. Of the ~ 2500 Albums that have been recorded in full 24/96 or above, I can flip a coin, that said, the MQA version is not sonically inferior maybe just a bit different, like you have observed, I am split on which sounds better.

(albert dattolo) #28

Love we have mqa partial unfold there seems to be a few versions of mqa and they appear to playback at various bit rates. I have not done any
In depth AB yet but I have done with desktop app both have virtues. Not sure of the EQ sound in mqa roon and I don’t use any dsp. But perhaps it’s tuened on again lol. As roon loves turning this on.
A big thanks for continued inprovemts.
Next ISO playback please.

(David Hamby) #29

Is the MQA made directly from the CD media master or is it a complete remix and remaster? If the latter, there is opportunity to re-equalize each track changing filtering, compression, and limiting and to make different artistic judgements about how the instrument and vocal tracks should be combined for the record. Without knowing the workflow, it becomes difficult to know if MQA and not MQA are being compared or mix A and mix B are being compared.

(Larry Post) #30

Van Morrison Moondance 192k MQA sounds pretty fantastic. I suspect it’s a cleaner master as the vocals are somewhat recessed in a good way and better match the overall soundstage, less forward.

(Martin Webster) #31

I’d agree, the recording is outstanding, but I thought so before 1.5 was released and I don’t have an MQA-capable DAC. Certainly, the best release I’ve heard. So for me, the mastering is probably more important than the bit rate delivered through rendering and the elusive final render stage.

Indeed, the fact that rendering is withheld from software suggests that this is simply a marketing ploy.

(Steve Schaffer) #32

More than mileage will vary. We’re all blind Indians at different ends of the elephant. Worse still, provenance is unknown. MQA seems warranted for steaming, at best. At worst, a new way to undermine artist’s intent, along with everyone in the chain of delivery to our systems.

I’ll stick with trying to find the original sources, unprocessed and unfiltered as I can. And I’ll live with what I hear, warts and all.


I’ve been suspicious and critical of MQA thus far. Mainly the business practices of MQA and the very poor coverage by the mainstream audio publications.

However, I’ve just played John Prine’s eponymous first album on Tidal, Just first unfold via Roon (to 96K). It’s easily the best I’ve ever heard this classic album. It’s a lovely relaxed sound. Full bass, no harshness and great separation of the instruments.

I also tried Nick Drake’s “Five Leaves Left”. Didn’t like the MQA version. Strange sounding acoustic guitars. I preferred the Redbook.

(Ian D) #34

I would like to have a better understanding for those reporting sonic differences between MQA content vs others on non MQA capable equipment. If roon is unfolding and sending that content to the non MQA DAC, what are some examples of the difference in sonic quality and what music was used in the comparison. I would like to utilize the same source material for my comparison.

(Andrew) #35

I started this thread with exactly that - MQA vs. non-MQA tracks on a non-MQA DAC. Let me give you another good example: Diana Krall. There are plenty of 16/44 vs. MQA recordings (all good, but especially her earlier albums with McBride are better), and it is reasonable to assume that many of these pairs are from the same master.

“My Love Is” from “Love Scenes”. Listen to the initial interplay of finger snap and bass. Through my system and to my ears, MQA sounds slightly more natural with liquidity around the tone and less harshness - all consistent with my other samples. I even have 24/96 DVD-A files for this album and I like the MQA better.

(Martin Webster) #36

That’s comparing apples and pears. If you’re going to make a judgement with your non-MQA DAC play the same recording through Roon with and without the first unfold. Any difference?

Certainly the Krall TIDAL Master sounds different than the 16/44 release. But why wouldn’t it?

So here’s what I’ve setup:

  • Chord 2Qute - USB, Enable MQA Core Decode=OFF
  • Chord 2Qute - S/PDIF, Enable MQA Core Decode=ON
  • Group Zones

Now I switch between the two and listen to the same recording with and without MQA … and I conclude that there’s no discernible difference. And yes, this release does sound better than the 16/44.

(Andrew) #37

Good point. I just did that, and while may not be conclusive, the MQA unfolding provides a bit of positive effect in the same direction overall. I agree that the difference is not as big as the comparison with 16/44.

(Martin Webster) #38

Also, the quality of DAC and transport needs to be considered. So, I guess we should swap Enable MQA Core Decode between the two inputs.

Nonetheless, I’m satisfied I made the right decision when I bought the 2Qute; I see no benefit buying an MQA-capable DAC.

(John Eaton) #39

Hey philr, thanks for the heads up on these three albums in MQA. Crime of the Century and Who’s Next are two of my all time fav’s. I have the original LP’s, the CD’s and Crime of the Century on a Blu-ray in both Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master. I thought I had done a pretty good job of going through the Meridian MQA list but at 10,000 + MQA listings its a big job.

I just played all of Crime of the Century and the first cut off Who’s next at un-neighborly levels and enjoyed every minute.

As for “Little Stevie Wonder” (born in my old home town of Saginaw), he is pure genius!

I think Tidal, Roon, and MQA is the greatest thing to happen for music lovers in my lifetime.

My library of Hi-Res music has gone from hundreds to infinity.


Glad you are enjoying them. I agree the combination of MQA, Tidal and Roon is fantastic and one one the best combinations for music lovers ever.

I find the sound quality iof MQA files clearly better than CD. Sometimes if there are massive differences with for example John Lennons Imagine that was down to a poor master for my original CD and the Tidal CD was closer to the MQA. The delta with conventional hires downloads is less but on the comparisons I have made i still prefer MQA.

I have the lps of all of these albums mentioned in our post and for the first time with MQA I don’t keep wondering if the old vinyl would sound better.

I don’t have large library of conventional hires files given the high cost but now at no additional cost over my Tidal Hi-Fi subscription I have over 300 hires equivalent or better albums in my library. Being open to MQA (gullible as I have been accused here on this very forum] I have saved thousands. I’m not naive this situation may not last but at least for now I will keep enjoying it time and time again.