Roon Nucleus+ and MQA limitations over HDMI

Hi there.

I’ve got a Denon x6500h. It seems like the only real way I can connect my Roon Nucleus+ to the Denon is via HDMI. When playing MQA files, the highest output I can get over HDMI is 96khz.

If I leave the MQA Capabilities for render/decoder to “on” in the settings, I’ll get a signal path that LOOKS like it’s lossless but when I check the Denon AVR app the signal it’s receiving is actually only 48khz (so apparently disregarding the MQA version of the audio).

If I turn off the MQA Capabilities for render/decoder and turn on the Nucleus’s MQA Core Decoder, I’ll get a signal path that uses the MQA Core Decoder which seems to tap out at 96khz - then my upsampling kicks in and gets it to 192khz. The Denon AVR confirms it’s receiving 192khz - which also confirms my Denon can receive a 192khz signal from the Nucleus.

So my question that I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere to is: Can the MQA Core Decoder in the Nucleus/Roon Software only process up to 96khz for HDMI or am I doing something wrong?

And if that it’s limit, does anyone have a suggestion for an decent DAC to put between the Nucleus and the Denon that can achieve the desired 192khz and then pass that to the Denon via HDMI (or some other optical output that the Denon would support)?

I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I unsubscribed from Tidal last year, so haven’t listened to any MQA music in a while, but if memory serves, Roon can do only the first MQA unfold to 88.2 or 96 KHz. This is a software/licensing limitation and has nothing to do with HDMI.

I’m not aware of any receiver that has built in MQA decoding or rendering.

Good luck!

KB: Roon x MQA

Note: The rendering step always happens in the DAC and therefor results in an analogue signal.

I have the Denon 8500H with HDMI from my NUC/Rock. As far as I know the Denon does not decode MQA.

@jager HDMI is a digital connection, and as such can only be enabled for a first unfold. So your second example where Roon unfolds to twice the original stream sampling rate, then upsamples before passing the signal on is the best you can hope for using your existing hardware.

Thanks everyone!
Appreciate your feedback - glad to hear I’m not doing anything wrong.

So it sounds like I need to add a DAC between the Nucleus and my Denon to get to the 192khz MQA quality. I’m a bit of a newbie so trying to get a sense of what that hardware would look like.
Could someone point me to a few examples as I can’t really find what I’m looking for.
I feel like this means I need a DAC that either supports RAAT or has an HDMI or USB input that I can connect to the Nucleus - and then the DAC needs to support 192khz MQAs and output the unfolded signal to either HDMI or optical which the Denon could accept. Or maybe it can also have unbalanced RCA out from the DAC to the Denon?
Anyway if you’re aware of some decent DACs that can do this (ideally <$3k) let me know the brand/model if you would as it’s really hard to pick apart if a DAC can support this use case by their specs so just want to see a few that would work so I can get a sense of what to look for.

Does the Denon have analogue inputs?

Sure! it has unbalanced RCA analogue inputs for any source so should be all good there.

I’m holding out for the exaSound e38 MK II bundle with Teddy Pardo power supply and their Roon Ready Sigma Streamer. The Bundle is 4900.00 and that is why I don’t have it already.

My Denon 8500H has the 7.1 analog inputs that I have connected to an OPPO UDP-205 for SACD’s. The e38 MKII is an 8 channel DAC with 7.1 analog outputs and several others.

The DAC is Roon Tested only and needs the Sigma Streamer to be a Roon Ready player. With that setup it is my understanding that Roon will play all hi-res files formats including DSD and MQA.

That is the only one I’ve really looked at so far because it has the 7.1 analog connections.

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