What is ROON's role in MQA

ROON does not produce content so I don’t understand how MQA would be implamented in ROON.

I imagine they would implement the software decoder, which has nothing to do with being a content creator.

I’d have a dig through the other MQA topics, and I’m sure it will all become clear. Well, maybe not ‘clear’ as such, but as clear as it is for everyone else at this moment in time. :slight_smile:

The studios provide MQA-encoded content directly or indirectly to the likes of TIDAL. TIDAL streams encoded MQA. Any hardware or software implementation can decode the MQA, including TIDAL’s own app, Roon, or MQA-enabled DACs which have the encoded MQA passed to them bit-perfectly.

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Start with these if you still have questions.


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Thank you Joel. I just started using Roon and Tidal.
In your post you indicate that Roon can decode the MQA. Are you saying that the current version of Roon already decodes MQA or that a new version of Roon will be able to do that?
Assuming the latter, what is the time-frame when the new version of Roon that can decode MQA will be out?

Roon does not decode MQA yet, but it will (hopefully soon). However, we are not yet able to say exactly when.

I’ll say it again what purpose would it serve for ROON to “unfold” MQA content that has and will be done by content providers like Tidal not database manipulators like ROON. Roon does not provide content of any kind you either get it through streaming or from a hard drive or NAS How will ROON determin if a file is MQA “folded” or not, why would they care. Certainly files from your hard drive or NAS will not be MQA unless you begin to purchase such, and why would you do that if they are avaliable from Tidal.

someone call security… we got a situation here…


You seemed to be confused between Tidal as a streaming provider and the Tidal desktop app which can presently partially unfold MQA encoded files. Any software player can potentially unfold MQA. Tidal desktop and Audirvana can, Roon (which is so much more than a database manipulator) will in 1.3. You need to see Roon as a player in addition to its manipulation duties and in future it will be able to perform DSP also.

Maybe this will help:

Software Decoding when there is no MQA DAC
Tidal Servers --> Encoded MQA --> Tidal Desktop App (MQA decoding ON) --> Decoded Stream --> DAC
Tidal Servers --> Encoded MQA --> Roon App (MQA decoding ON) -------------> Decoded Stream --> DAC

Hardware Decoding when there is a MQA DAC:
Tidal Servers --> Encoded MQA --> Tidal Desktop App (MQA decoding OFF) --> Encoded MQA --> MQA DAC
Tidal Servers --> Encoded MQA --> Roon App (MQA decoding OFF) -------------> Encoded MQA --> MQA DAC

  • Roon does not yet have MQA decoding, the diagram is for illustration only.
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So when ROON does decoding then we will no longer need Tidal? Of course not, Tidal provides the files at this time MQA or other qualities 44.1 MP3 etc. ROON provides information and distribution. If Spotify decides to proviide higher qualiy files (MQA, etc.) we all hope that we can add that service to our “services” list in ROON. We all hope many file providers can be added to ROON in the future. If other “services” provide enhanced files like MQA all the better.

@Richard_Thorpe One addition to @Carl’s diagram:

In both cases, with or without MQA DAC, we have the option
Downloaded MQA file --> Roon…

And of course, in the future other services.

So Roon adds a lot of flexibility on content acquisition and library size.

MQA works fine in Roon. Roon passes the Tidal MQA masters signal through and as long as you don’t alter the signal with volume leveling, Etc. I have a Meridian Explorer 2 downstream from my Bryston BDP -1. Controlled via Roon. Works great.

You should no longer need the Tidal desk top app. Obviously you will still need a Tidal subscription. As for Spotify, regardless of the fact that they don’t want to integrate with Roon, talk of them streaming losslessly is rumour at the moment. You need to have a conversation with them on both counts.

Hi Richard, I think I understand your confusion.

MQA needs an MQA approved endpoint to reproduce the full content of the MQA file, at the moment this is generally considered to be the best quality solution as the endpoint has been certified by MQA and appropriate decoding happens with the end point in mind.

The downside to this is that not all endpoints will get MQA certified … so the full benefit of the MQA decoding cannot be extracted.

Roon knows what endpoints are being used in its system and with MQA’s help will be able to decode the full (or better than nothing) MQA to an endpoint that doesn’t have MQA certification. This is done through a software solution rather than hardware. It’s emulating the hardware solution.

Tidal currently uses a generic endpoint emulator to send partially decoded MQA data to non MQA endpoints.


I feel that this article will shed some more light on this discussion…

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The more interesting questions here may be:

  1. If I’m using Tidal through Roon, how will Roon, rather than Tidal, be the software that decodes MQA? Put a bit differently, what file format will tidal serve up to Roon if I select an MQA file?
  2. Is there any reason to believe that a Roon decoding of MQA, rather than a Tidal one, would produce a better sounding result?

Good point sdolwzalek and how will ROON identify what files are MQA files? for the end user

  1. The software you are running will be the software which manages the MQA process. If you choose an MQA file from Tidal through Roon, Tidal will deliver the data in whichever container they have the content in. Most likely FLAC. Where there are two versions, MQA and non-MQA, of an album you can still access both through Tidal at present.

  2. No, not at the moment at least.

The files have tags that can be used to identify tracks, I would assume that Roon are already hard at work to provide us with some great tools for identifying and managing these files!