Tidal "Streaming Quality" setting is broken

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

Windows 10/modern desktop (i7, 16GB ram, etc.)/1.7 build 710

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Wired and Wifi ethernet

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Occasional USB, but most of my endpoints are wired/wifi spdif/AES endpoints (separate or in DAC)

Description Of Issue

Settings > Services > Tidal > “Edit” > “Streaming Qualilty”. Four choices: normal, high, HiFi, Master (aka MQA). If you select ‘normal’ or ‘high’, Roon does indeed stream the AAC (128 or 320 respectively). If you select 'Master, Roon does indeed stream the MQA file/format (assuming there is one) as expected. However, if you select ‘HiFi’, Roon streams the MQA file/format instead of the “lossless CD quality” as it should. This is confirmed in Roon by looking at the “Signal Path”, or outside of Roon via an endpoint/DAC that indicates an MQA stream.

Why?

Are these 16 bit 44.1 kHz MQA streams? Tidal HiFi allows any and all 16 bit 44.1 kHz – MQA included. This has been covered extensively in another thread.

AJ

To answer your question yes and no, but it should not matter. This behavior occurs no matter the alleged bit rate setting of the MQA file. As you are aware, MQA takes the original PCM bit rate file - 16/44.1, 24/44.1, 24/48, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176, 24/192 - process it through its proprietary black box codec, and then claims for marketing purposes to “unfold” at the same bit rate. Whatever you think about the technical vericity of this claim, the Tidal “HiFi” setting exists to avoid MQA (aka “Master”) altogether and only stream real PCM - the original non-lossy “CD quality” flac file.

Why is Roon streaming the MQA (no matter the alleged MQA bit rate) instead of the CD quality (16/44.1) PCM flac file when streaming quality is set to “HiFi” by the end user?

For many of the 16 bit 44.1 kHz MQA albums, those versions are all that remain. Because the MQA versions are “backward compatible,” the non MQA versions have been removed – regardless of subscription tier or quality setting. In those instances, this is not a Roon issue. It is a Warner Music Group and/or Tidal issue. Again, discussed within the aforementioned thread.

AJ

2 Likes

You are correct. I searched out some albums that had 24/48 and 24/96 MQA versions, and where Tidal still retained the real 16/44 PCM version. With Roon set to “HiFi” streaming quality, it did indeed play the 16/44 PCM.

This comes back to the old discussion of why Roon is privileging the MQA Tidal Album over and above the equivalent Qobuz version - MQA “24/48” or 24/96" shows in album listings/searches instead of the Qobuz real PCM 24/48 or 24/96 version. Is this a feature request now Roon? How do we get Roon to privilege real HiRes over MQA? In other words, why do I have to drill down several layers (clicking on “Versions”, scrolling down to Quobuz or any other non-MQA version of album, clicking on it, and finally clicking play) to avoid lossy formats?