Versions - hifi vs hi res

Hi all. Searching hard for a topic covering this but finding my situation to be the opposite of what i read from most. First my setup. Im running roon core on a windows 10, 8 core ryzen pc. Tidal hi fi. Output is a rpi with allo boss dac with shanit linear supply, all on ethernet. Obviously not mqa enabled.
The issue. I listened to the “primary/default” version of albums for the first few months oblivious to anything else. After playing around in the forums for a bit i started experimenting with other versions. The first thing that jumped out at me was the loudness of cd quality, 44/16 in comparison to hi res. Sometimes as much as 5 db gain. That threw me for a loop as i had expected quite the opposite. I expected hi res versions to have significant gain over hifi. The conundrum im facing is: am i mistaking gain for quality? Is hi res offering less oomph but giving more range, detail and space? Or should i care at all? Im not a gear head, i just love music and i hate getting wrapped up over versions instead of just listening. But i also hate leaving performance on the table. A recommendation or reality check would be welcome. Thanks all

How about some screen shots of your signal path, both 44/16 and hires

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Does your Dac support MQA?

Negative, it doesn’t :frowning:

I was interested to see if you had any DSP options turned on, also do you only have Tidal or also Qobuz, different people have different thoughts on Tidal vs Qobuz and MQA vs CD or hi res.

When viewing an album and its tracks, there is a Versions selection option, you should try that out and see what sounds best and save the best sounding version.

One of the key differences is the mastering process, some labels may introduce a remastered hi res version just to sell more product, thus the usage of Versions to hear for yourself.

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Yes. Look up “The loudness wars”. You will find a lot of information of how albums in the 90’s and early 2000’s were mastered to be louder and louder. This was at the cost of dynamic range and would cause digital clipping.

You could say that as a lot of music is remastered for Hi-Res. It is the mastering process which determines dynamic range and a lot of new masterings are correcting the mistakes of “The loudness wars” and improving dynamic range a bit in some cases. While dynamic range is not everything when it comes to music quality, you generally want some dynamic range in music. This is more important in some genres than others, as too much dynamic range can have you reaching for the volume knob at each soft and loud part of a song if they are too far apart. But too compressed with little dynamic range causes everything to be at a similar volume, which is not good either. But you have to remember it is the mastering that is important. If you take a loud master and release it in Hi-Res, it is not going to sound any better than it did at CD quality. It is still going to be too loud and compressed sounding.

The increased sample rate beyond 44.1 kHz may give more detail if the master was done at a higher sample rate, as less information is being lost with higher sampling rates. If not, then you are not going to gain much but a lot of people do like the results of upsampling. You just have to hear for yourself.

I do, but only to a certain point. Overall, the mastering is more important than CD vs Hi-Res Quality. There is more involved than just bit depth and sample rate, but if the original master had a higher bit depth and sample rate than CD, and was mastered well, Hi-Res can sound a bit better in my opinion. But you should compare different versions of the same album at different qualities to see if you can hear a difference. If you can, then there ya go. If you can’t, then it doesn’t matter what anyone tells you :laughing:


Then you should have No MQA Support and Enable MQA Core Decoder YES in you DACs Audio settings.

But without an MQA Dac you are only getting 1 of the 2 unfolds, thus some people prefer to choose non MQA hi res files since your only getting half of the MQA experience, but will get 100% of the non MQA file

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Roon core decoder is only doing the 1st unfold. The 2nd unfold is in the DAC.

Great information. I love that roon gives you the choice but i also feel like im at a burger restaurant with 50 different burgers. I stare at the menu too long than wonder if i picked the right one lol. First world problems right. But i agree with you,i tend to find the hi res versions have more detail and separation. What threw me was listening to Mingus’ The Black Saint and was really digging the 48/24 but for giggles i threw on the 44/16 and was floored by the volume shift. Started second guessing and low and behold, this post

Default for my dac is renderer only, i could discern no difference between no mqa support and the default setting. :thinking:

One day ill try with an mqa dac, want to see what all the fuss is about. But i bet you still have the “issue” of which version sounds best. I think if your using tidal with roon that is just something we have to play around with

you got an Allo Boss, without MQA support. In this case the setting for your DAC must be

  • Core Decoder on
  • No MQA support

According to roon its 96/24 regardless, just with renderer only, the mqa info is still present but no audible difference. Have you seen differently? I tried every configuration, signal path was always the same, sounded same too

Sad, we are again in a discussion about MQA. But Tidal HiRes is MQA.

MQA splits the file in three parts.

  • A: 0 - 44.1
  • B: 44.1 - 88.2
  • C: 88.2 - 176.4


  • A: 0 - 48
  • B: 48 - 96
  • C: 96 - 192

B and C are stored compressed below the noise floor of A. In the inaudible range.

Core Decoder in Roon fits together A and B.

If you set “No MQA support” in Roon, it drops C and sends the finished A and B to the DAC.

If you set “Renderer only” in Roon, it sends A and B with the compressed C to the DAC. Your DAC removes the unneeded parts from AB and puts AB and C together.

In your case without a MQA DAC your DAC receives garbage, which it processes just as normal music.


Yeah, I know what you mean. Lol, that seems to be the perpetual state of a lot of audiophiles :laughing: . Definitely first world problems, but the anxiety is still there. It is almost like a rite of passage to get to the point where you can just enjoy the music. :upside_down_face:

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Made the change.

Any experience with qobuz?