Roon/Tidal new user-can someone explain MQA and the sampling rates I see?

Hi folks,

New to Roon and Tidal via Roon. I am loving life right now. So glad I work out of a home office 90% of the time so I can enjoy this… I have read many of the MQA folding/unfolding threads and I am so confused.

take Norah Jones Come Away With Me as an example. I have an HD Tracks hi-rez download at 192/24 on my local NAS. Playing through Roon, my Marantz HD-DAC1 via a SOtM SMS-200 lights up 192k, and sounds amazing

On Tidal, there are 3 versions of this album. One is the standard CD quality 44.1.

On the other two, when I play either of them, my DAC pops up at 48k. My audio tree in Roon reads,

“Tidal FLAC 48kHz 24-bit, 2ch, MQA 96hz”.

I had my wife run 5 blind tests on me switching between my local 192/24 and the Tidal MQA recording. It was not really close for me, playing them through my HD800’s. I could pick my 192/24 every time. The vocals are just so much more “pure” and right up front where they should be. I fully get that determining whether a local recording or a stream from Tidal sounds better involves many factors, but…

My question. Do I need an MQA-capable DAC to enjoy all that MQA can provide (in some cases) at the higher sampling rate? That’s where I am confused.

Thanks for any input you might have.


There is a lot of information and miss information on MQA but the idea is that the High res master is wrapped in a normal CD sized Flac wrapper and authenticated to be the original master. This means High res is easily streamable and those interested can get a DAC for the full resolution.
You need an MQA DAC to experience the full resolution of an MQA file.
Your comparison is not valid unless the file is unwrapped so it’s no surprise the high res file comes out best in this scenario. The fact that the folded MQA file comes close is interesting.

Roon are working on an MQA solution although we are not privy to the details at this time.

Just thoughts.

Hi Jeff. Waiting for delivery of an HD-DAC1. Regarding your post, couldn’t you use Roon to play the 192/24 file directly to the DAC; do you need to use the SOtM SMS-200?