Roon Ready MQA DAC recommendations

I agree with you @rrwwss52!

Considering DAC in this age, is equivalent to LP Player Pin/Cartridge, I dont mind havining two DACs/DAC Roll (love writing “DAC roll” similar to “Tube roll” :smile: ) . Schiit Mimby will get upgraded to Gumby. I wanted to test the multi-bit claim by Schiit and now i m convinced.

For MQA, depending on how good or practical it becomes, Dont mind new/used MQA DACs (budgeted ones :wink: ).

1 Like

Project-S2 Manual says that ESS9038Q2M is used.

The ESS9038PRO chip is different and comes in 2 versions - 2 and 8 channel. I’m not sure but I think that some of the more expensive DACs using the PRO chip use the one with 8 channels and parallel 4 for stereo.

Whether this makes any difference to sound quality I’ve no idea! Oppo Sonica uses PRO chip - shame that, unlike their BDP products, it won’t talk directly to Roon.

yes i think W4S uses the 8 channel (no idea). Hence the cost.

either way i m set with multi-bit r2r designs.

I have two DACs as well. The Gumby (with a tube buffer in the signal chain) and one for MQA tracks (Meridian Prime Headphone amp/DAC). The MQA tracks I listen to are from Tidal. The Gumby gets most of the work. Just ordered an Schiit Eitr to upgrade to Gen 5 USB. Could have done the straight Gen 5 upgrade on the Gumby, but wanted the flexibilty to move the Eitr around to other components.



You prefer it only for redbook? What about hi res and . . . God forbid, lossy. :slight_smile:

It sticks in my head that there have been negatives about Eitr, on this forum.

1 Like

Yes, I’ve been tracking that, and was originally considering the Gumby Gen 5 upgrade. Decided to go the EITR route since it allows for connection to other products such as my AVR. Appreciate the info.

I want to know, whether all MQA capable DACs fully “unfolds” MQA encoded signal in the same highest quality way? The cheapest one and the most expensive Meridian? Can anyone from MQA corroborate this?
If not - I don’t understand something…

The Explorer2 is primarily bound by its environment. So it takes what power it is given and it is connected using sub optimal 3.5mm jacks. This goes for the other similar USB bus powered devices. If a device like that is limited further to squeeze it artificially into a price:performance bracket that keeps it in its place is not anything we would know up front. But you wouldn’t want it stepping on the toes of anything that costs a bit more!

1 Like

Different certified MQA devices do not necessarily render in the exact same way, but all of them passed the specific performance criteria set by MQA Ltd. To put it simply, the certification process made sure certified MQA devices sound the best they possibly could when playing MQA music.

That is not to say that all MQA devices sound the same, they don’t. A $200 device is never going to sound the same as a $20000 device.

1 Like

Probably I was misunderstood - I’m taking MQA full unfolding process as a standalone separate “blackbox” (don’t bother now what is in the input and outpoot of that “blackbox”). Now I want to know only this: is this " blackbox" in every MQA DAC the same highest quality, or is different, depend on price…

If I will know this - I can deal with everything else…

My understanding is that an MQA certified DAC should be doing the same unfolding as any other at the analogue outputs (where the ultimate sound quality will then vary obviously). Somewhat bizarrely I think, given the association of MQA with Meridian, it’s Meridian DSP Loudspeaker owners who have the most limited options as they don’t have the analogue route available…

1 Like

No. The E2 for instance has a resolution ceiling of 192/24. That means the highest PCM resolutions can’t be achieved.

So the difference is in the second stage rendering then, subject to the max sampling rate of the DAC? There are still two stages being completed, i.e first unfold then rendering? If so, I guess that being able to go to a higher sample rate doesn’t automatically mean that the sound coming out of the analogue inputs is better, depending on the quality of the analogue output stage (and perhaps other things)?

It is still doing everything it should and the information will all be there. It just won’t be rendered at the full original resolution but a lower one in keeping with the DAC. On the surface that is the only difference looking at the process minus the environmental considerations.

The E2 ceiling of 192/24 is not a big limitation given that there are not many MQA files out there with a higher resolution than this.

See the charts here.

1 Like

But is it as good? I don’t know…

If every DAC was as good as any other at the analogue outputs, we would only ever need to buy the cheapest that had the required functionality. Oh, and looked good of course :grinning:

All New IFI Nano Black Label around 250 best budged device MQA and ROON

Not quite - It is an MQA renderer, so requires a first unfold to be done prior to the signal being fed to it. For now this means no Roon+MQA for this device.