I’ve been enjoying listening to MQA tracks on headphones with Roon DSP crossfeed applied. I’m currently listening directly from the headphone socket on an iMac (actually pretty good), but I’d like to move to an external DAC.
Will DSP and MQA work together with an external DAC? What do I need to look for, do I just need a DAC that supports MQA and is listed as Roon Ready? Specifically, is the Pro-ject S2 Digital Pre suitable?
The S2 is good and works well. That will give you full MQA as well as a headphone out (though I can’t comment on its quality). You can apply DSP to that in Roon and it will fully preserve the MQA information allowing the DAC to do what it does.
For MQA DSP in Roon, you need a MQA renderer or a MQA DAC that supports rendering operation from a MQA Core 88.2/96kHz signal. Some Full MQA DAC, especially early models, did not suppor that. Some required firmware upgrades.
That was a list I made before, but it is outdated, and there is a complication that certain firmwares for certain models have serious bugs: