What DACs actually do post-DSP MQA rendering today?

I’m thinking of a new DAC/headphone rig, and although I’m not particularly enamored of MQA, I’m curious about the state of the art. But I use DSP, so i want a DAC that does rendering of the already-unpacked stream. In practice, that seems rare: lots of systems say they will, but my Meridian doesn’t, not PS Audio (?)… Some never will: Chord, Vinnie Rossi…

What devices have you been successful with?

As it currently stands, my short list would not do MQA…

Did you consider the Booklyn dac+? Or are you researching a higher price class?

The Brooklyn is well regarded. Just wanted to be sure it handles the case of Roon-unfolding+DSP, with DAC rendering. Few reviewers discuss this case.

What dsp? I can try. I dont use it, other than some playing around with upsampling

With only headroom dsp, usb connected.


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For the main system I use it for room correction, consider it mandatory.

But in this case, for the headphones, I use the Audeze presets (convolution). They are perhaps less necessary. If the combination doesn’t work, and I had to choose between Audeze EQ and MQA rendering, I’m not sure which I would choose, neither is truly consequential.

That looks right. Great.

I use the brooklyn most often as the headphone amp with sennheiser HD650. Sounds great, very subjective of course.

EDIT: Activated audeze preset and that works as above too.

Check out “List of Roon compatible MQA renderers” from Peter Lie on May 8th. It’s in Audio Products / MQA category.

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Might be devices here too but not too sure who maintains it or how often


^^ This – and while the Brooklyn is probably a great DAC, I was not terribly impressed with the headphone section when I auditioned one a few months ago.

I’m going to go out on a limb as a fellow Meridian 8kSE owner and say that, instead of looking for a new DAC, you should be looking at Stax. IMO, my SR-009 earspeakers do not require EQ. They’re not cheap, but neither is a top notch DAC.

Yes, these all in one things…
I have a LHLabs Geek Pulse, and I have a similar concern.
I can run a Bryston headphone amp from the Meridian, and it sounds better, probably due to the amp, maybe the Meridian.

But I have decided against running headphones through the Meridian because of the switching hassle: the 818 has a ridiculous way of switching to headphone mode, a lot of buttonpresses on the Meridian remote, and you have to look at the display to verify what mode you are in, the buttonpress sequence requires that the 818 is in standby. Plus I have to disable room correction in Roon. And the the same sequence switching back. And if I forget to turn RC back on, the room is 10 dB too loud.

No, I want a separate channel.

Hmm. I have avoided auditioning Stax because of the cost. But you are right, cost perspectives shift over time. As do quality perspectives…

Don’t forget the Mytek Liberty; it’s DAC specs fall in between the two Brooklyns, and it has a headphone amp.

In the end I purchased a Prime, along with a USBridge and two SBooster LPSUs. Good DAC, brilliant amp.

Doesn’t tick all your boxes, but it does for me: it makes my Aeons sing like neither the S2 (with or without rHead) or the Brooklyn could. That – and MQA is splendid on it.

But as always – YMMV.

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Lots of considerations here.
A friend swears by the Hugo2 with Utopias.
Doesn’t do MQA.
Good form factor, could travel around the house with my iPad, on batteries.


MQA is still a new technology and paradigm. It’s a tough choice in today’s “now” world, but you could simply wait and see how things pan out, both with your Meridian kit and with others. I’ve been thinking about getting a Merging Hapi (multichannel ADC/DAC) for some time, but now I’m not sure it’s worth doing until there’s an MQA capable DAC card (which is bound to appear at some point now that ESS are going to be making MQA-capable DAC chips). This may take a couple of years. Patience grasshopper…