StreamingTidal MQA with Roon [undecoded] to an MQA DAC

Continuing the discussion from MQA Tidal to launch MQA Hi-Res audio streaming in 2016:

EDIT (7-Jan). Fixed the DAC settings in Windows Tidal… See details in the posts below

I tried the new Masters using the Windows desktop, but could not get my Meridian Explorer2 to light up. So I tagged the new MQA albums in Tidal, switched to Roon, resynced to Tidal. Now I get the three LEDs to light up on the DAC, and play MQA.

Van Morrison’s Moondance: the LED lights show Blue/White/White. Other albums show just Blue/White

Listening for a while before commenting on SQ improvements.

Some reports say that Tidal has the MQA decoder built into its PC desktop player.

Is there no option in the Windows Tidal app to enable MQA pass through? There is in the OSX version of the app.

It’s version 2.1.1

Where is the MQA pass through option in OSX Tidal desktop? Can’t find that …

It’s per audio output device. Click the gear beside your output device.

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I’m attempting to ply Tidal MQA files via Roon just through the system output of my MacBook which is the Mac’s built in speakers and I get the music and a loud rapid clicking noise. Do I have something set wrong? If I just use the Tidal desktop app then every plays just fine.

It’s in the same place on Windows as well.

Right, not so intuitive, thanks Dr Tone. So to get Passthrough MQA you “Disable software decoding of MQA.” Any idea what software decoding gives you?

I’m getting the Tidal Master-MQA files to playback as 24/48 (as they should), but each time a track switches to another one, Roon “chokes” for about a minute till it manages to play the track back, So clearly this isn’t working as it should.

Is that not an obvious answer? Software decoding gives you decoded MQA.

Software decoding for MQA has been a controversial issue. Tidal appears to be the only permitted software decoder currently. All else is restricted to hardware decoding in MQA capable DACs.


Audirvana has announced it will implement software decoding in 3.0. Chris Connacher has announced on his forum that Roon is getting it though it’s been pretty quiet over here in that regard.

That is good news and a wise decision on the part of MQA. Upstream software decoding allows for software volume control, digital room correction, etc. Hardware decoding in the DAC precludes any prior processing. Without software decoding, MQA is DOA.



Agree 100%. I wonder if the record labels forced Meridian’s hand on this? I have to assume there is licensing to implement the software decoder, it would have been silly for them not to allow it.

Hi AJ, not obvious to me, I don’t think Tidal desktop is fully unpacking the MQA, based on other threads I think it is probably giving 48/24, and if you have a MQA (hardware) decoder you can get higher sample rates.

No, I’ve seen the following already.

Emmy Lou Harris - Wrecking Ball is being decoded 24/88.2
Zak Brown - Uncaged is being decoded 24/96

Haven’t seen higher than 24/96 yet though.

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I found four versions of the Moondance album on Tidal and the last one is MQA.
Love this album.

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Is the OSX Tidal desktop app decoding MQA in software?

I don’t think so, just delivering it to a decoder. This is why so many DACs are receiving software updates.
The unfolded MQA files should still sound equal or better than CD though.

The ironic/poetic part is that Meridian of all companies should appreciate the importance of upstream MQA software decoding. Meridian produces digital loudspeakers – digital crossovers and DACs inside the speakers. Well, undecoded MQA cannot be passed through a digital crossover, then decoded downstream at the DAC. The digital crossover would obliterate the MQA encoding. So, to enable MQA decoding on its own digital speakers, Meridian has to implement upstream software decoding.


DrTone, when you say you are “seeing” sample rates over 48, what are you looking at?

I guess this isn’t really a Roon question, I am futzing with Tidal desktop on a MacBook now, but I am running Roon at home :slight_smile:

So the Tidal app is showing me “Master”, but it’s really only folded (i.e. <16/44.1) MQA that is being played? Is there a way to switch back to standard 16/44.1 lossless that doesn’t include the MQA overhead?

@WiWavelength - So does that mean decoded MQA is being sent via Roon to my DAC? (my config is: Roon–>HQP–>µR–>non-MQA DAC)