Roon, TIDAL and MQA

Very interesting. Personally, I have a hard time with this and that anything was done other than run the existing cd version through the MQA codec. I find it hard to believe the best master of an album recorded in 1974 is 16/44.1… but I understand it, if they just want to rush to market MQA albums, but personally I’m not falling for the upsampled cd to hi-res which is what the labels were guilty of in the early days of hi-res.

That’s a great thing. As it’s such a fantastic album.

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Expect to find MQA files in 24bit for the most part, but I expect to find a few 16 bit ones as well. I don’t believe MQA has a native 24 bit depth. I think other bit depth options are possible.

Ah, and Chris confirms it as does this article:

I find one MQA album in a 16/44 container, The BNB “Ein song fra det utsungne stunder” on the 2L label.

Originally released in 2005.

4 posts were split to a new topic: Sooloos referenced in the TidalTrackCopyright section of an album

On another note, I just loaded Jo Harman’s new Album ‘People We Become’ which is due for official release on Feb 10th. We saw her last night on a pre release gig at The New Crawdaddy blues club in Billericay Essex UK.
The album is on Tidal but unavailable until release except the Bonus track which is not on the CD. (I have a voucher to download it)
I was able to merge this Tidal track with the original album in Roon and it now says CD+1 on the cover.
That is cool.

I have read many articles about MQA since last year. Finally I am quite confused. I use the following chain Tidal -> Roon (RAAT) -> AURALiC Aries (AES) -> Avantgarde Acoustic Zero 1 (24/192 non-MQA DAC + amps in a horn speaker)

Since AURALiC gave up supporting software MQA decoding about a year ago (it was ready but not allowed by Meridian) and my Zeros will most probably not support MQA in future, software decoded MQA by roon would be my only option for now.

What I have understood ist that roon supports MQA from Tidal. But is this more than just bypassing the stream and let the DAC do the job? Do I have any advantages listening to Tidal MQA albums vs. the redbook version?

The Tidal Desktop App currently decodes MQA (Check settings) to 24/96 with a generic DAC profile. So you would get some of the MQA benefits.
Roon just passes the un decoded MQA stream which should still be better than CD quality.
We are told that Roon will decode MQA in a similar manner to Tidal in a future update.
Roon 1.3 is just around the corner as well. But we don’t know of this will enable MQA decoding from the outset.

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Imho, not at all. In fact, when I listen to undecoded MQA it sounds decidedly worse to me. But, in all things audio, you should listen for yourself before deciding if MQA is for you or not.

Currenlty, all Roon will do with MQA is pass it on bit perfect to an MQA DAC so the MQA DAC can do its job. Assuming Roon will get the same decode as Tidal, Roon would be able to decode step 1 which is to 24/96 or the actual audio resolution which ever is lower. You will still need an MQA DAC to get the full resolution decode as well as the time deblurring aspects.

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In my (admittedly minimal,)MQA listening so far, I can’t detect any difference between rebook and MQA - even hardware decoded with the Explorer 2. OK, it’s not my normal setup but from all the hype Meridian were putting out I expected quite a bit more. I’ll keep playing since I have the Explorer now anyway, but so far it’s become a non-event for me.

Whatever others are hearing I’m certainly not - but then I hear very little in terms of high-def music, DSD upsampling etc so my ears might not be the best to trust.

Per rugbys comment, I’ve read various technical articles so far if people measuring undecoded MQA vs redbook, and unlessthe measurements are wrong or not measuring the right things, there seems sound evidence to suggest MQA is technically inferior to Redbook.

Don’t worry, so is everyone else. I’m starting to think it might be designed that way deliberately.

Non of that is my experience. un decoded MQA sounds great on the music I’ve listened to. Technically it is designed to be equal or better than CD. This is the backwards compatible nature and I don’t think Bob Stuart and his team would countenance a lowering of quality. That’s what MP3 is for.

It may sound different, you may not like it, you may be used to the digital artefacts but that doesn’t mean it is technically worse.
I was at a live gig tonight in a very small venue watching The Wild Ponies and Amythist Kigh. The sound of the Drums (An Early Yamaha Kit) (Eve Selis’s Drummer Larry used it when he was over too) hit me as I explained to my friend. That’s the sound of MQA. It’s just more ‘Real’ to my mind.

Thoughts, Chris

I’m not convinced this is correct. I think some of them measure things that are not relevant.

Wrt the information packaged below the noise floor: people talk about being able to measure noise (and it shows up beautifully in the diagrams!) at the 20 bit level, out of 24 bits total. But this is irrelevant: the background noise in the studio (ambient background sound), and in the studio electronics and mikes, and in your own room, is much worse than 20 bits. And I recently read a review of a power amp that was lauded for its extremely low noise, and it was reported as 21 bits below maximum power; but since you probably don’t normally run at 300 W output in your room, more likely 30 W average (or 3), the amp noise is much worse than 20 bits below the signal. So that is measurable but irrelevant.

And some people object to MQA slicing off the upper triangle, but Stuart is obviously right about this being irrelevant: if your content has maximum level signals at 48 kHz, your tweeters will not be happy during their short life.

Now, this is not an endorsement of MQA. I’m not terribly impressed by the audible improvements of MQA in my own comparisons – I fear my ears are 16 bit. But I am still distressed by the statements about MQA not measuring well, based on correct and meticulous measurements of irrelevant data.

(In all fairness, when I cannot hear any difference between regular 24/96 content and Tidal-streamed MQA content, that is a kind of endorsement – no other streaming source of regular 24/96.)


I’ve tested MQA a bit on an explorer 2.

I’ve notice that so far all tracks has the blue light. No green so far.
Some are 96, and some are 192. (Or 82 or 18…,what ever it is). And some is just 41/48 ! (With a blue light).

But I’ve also have got pure hires 192, cause the three lights are all white. No MQA. This make me think that Tidal may also will offer hires without MQA, hence why they call it master.

But I can be wrong.
I have not tested this via Roon, but that should tell me the correct bit rate for that album. (Have to add the master to a playlist in order to play Roon)
I have to look one more time for that album. Is there any other way to verifying that I’m actually getting 24/192 uncoded from Tidal.

An other ting is that quite many tracks/albums are 96, so the Tidal MQA will do.
How big that generic MQA profile differs from a dedicated DAC profile may not be so huge.
Has anyone done such tests ?


You are correct. The non MQAs have all white lights. I found the same result with known hi-res flac albums in my own collection. Most of the MQA Masters I added to my Tidal favorites were 24/96, some 24/48. The Cars, Candy-O is 24/192, MQA. Give that one a whirl.

That first light is mode. If it’s not MQA (Green) or MQA studio (Blue), the light will be white. The two additional lights are specific to resolution. Second light is 88.2/96, Third light is 176.4/192.

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Here is an hi res album with no MQA. Look for Converge. There is two albums available. 3 white lights.
Or Ornette Coleman (better music)

Actually all albums listed after Converge is non MQA. !!!

It does not show up as more than 24 bit in Roon with 44,1 or 48. Strange.

Now I’m confused, cause suddenly no albums get the blue light anymore. Must be an error in my system.

Restarted app. Now all get the blue light. Also those albums i mentioned. So it is an errror somewhere. Hopfully locally :grinning:

What I did was playing a lot of albums for a few seconds, so in the end either Tidal or my Explorer2 got confused.

Sorry for misleading people to believe that Tidal was sending out uncoded hi res files.

Can someone verify what they get when playing artist PJ. I’m only getting one white light on the 3 first tracks. No 4 is blue.

PJ is all blue for me. One album and an EP.

I can only see one album named “Rare”

What DAC are u using?

I tested again, and same result here. Blue light from track 4 on my explorer 2. With latest firmware.

I’m using the Meridian Explorer2 since a few weeks ago.

You have the album Rare and EP walk around pools.

Getting single blue light.