What is ROON's role in MQA

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!

The Tidal servers will stream up the same MQA bitstream to the users device. Decoding, when available, is performed locally … as required by either the application or the DAC.

The MQA Decoding Explained article discusses the 4 option available.

[quote=“sdolezalek, post:22, topic:18650”]
Put a bit differently, what file format will Tidal serve up to Roon if I select an MQA file?
[/quote]MQA delivered in a FLAC wrapper.

[quote=“sdolezalek, post:22, topic:18650”]
Is there any reason to believe that a Roon decoding of MQA, rather than a Tidal one, would produce a better sounding result?
[/quote]If both application use the same decoding algorithm (for a generic DAC) … which they should) then the output from the decoder will be the same. However, it may be that Roon which is DAC aware may be able to use DAC specific profile to further reduce time-smear.

That said the general consensus, is that a MQA aware DAC will be able to render the MQA stream more accurately.

We don’t know yet. The only thing that has been announced is that Roon will decode MQA. Everything else, including whether Roon decoding will be “first unfolding” as per the Tidal desktop app or a deeper unfolding like an MQA DAC, is speculation.

Since Roon will know what is an MQA file, I would expect that we will be able to Focus on MQA in Inspector in the same way that we can Focus on file formats at the moment. I think it also likely that MQA decoding will be mentioned in the Signal Path.

I concure with Andy’s musing… that seems the most likely way this will pan out.

Guess we will have to wait for Roon 3.1-ish to find out.

I think it’s important to say that this will be completely up to Tidal to provide this information to Roon…and they do not do so at the moment [not just applicable to MQA files from Tidal]…Roon only “knows” the format of a Track when it’s playing, and not before or after…so Roon will be dependent on Tidal providing this File Format information, so that we Roon users can use the Inspector to focus / filter on the MQA albums & tracks


Let me try to be even more specific with my question: Tidal will presumably serve up the exact same file to its own desktop application as it serves up to Roon. Per Ronnie’s comment above, what gets sent from the Tidal servers doesn’t change. In each case, the applicable desktop software (Roon or Tidal) will then “unpack” that file or forward it to an MQA DAC in “unpacked” format (although some have suggested that an initial unfolding occurs in software even with passthrough checked).

To the extent that the desktop software unpacking is purely Meridian code, the result should be the same. But, as Andy speculates above, it is theoretically possible that Roon could do a DAC-specific unfolding. I doubt that will be the case as it would require Meridian to give Roon the code needed for every DAC for which MQA is “fine-tuned.” I don’t see that as likely.

That leaves open the question of whether there is any other difference between what Roon will do in its Verrsion 3.1 desktop software from what Tidal currently does?

I thought I had already answered that question:

Sounds like this may not be in 1.3. In my view, that’s a good thing. Do 1.3 first, then follow it up with MQA decoding.

You did. I was giving credence to what some have referred to as Roon sounding better than Tidal when playing the same input file. ;-)) Now we have others saying that Tidal sounds meaningfully better over just the last couple of weeks (supposedly due to server upgrades necessitated by MQA)…

My guess is we have a few years yet of learning before we really understand what does and does not make a difference in how a supposedly bit-perfect version of a file sounds when run through two different software, USB, cable, etc. streams.

My answer was in the context of this topic re MQA.

Given the same input … the output of the MQA decoder should be the same.

Now how that data is transported to the DAC is quite variable given different application implementations and connection methods… but that’s a much wider discussion / debate and there are many existing topics on that.

I tend to stay out of them as they tend to degenerate into a bipolar argument.

Poor Richard, you are very confused. I’d spend more time reading and then come back for more pointed questions. It is a fuzzy concept at this point but the basics are on this site and others to understand the MQA process.

Be patient!

It may be a fuzzy concept to you but MQA has been around for quite some time and the process and “concept” is well understood. My questioning is more about how ROON will implement MQA since Tidal [desktop applications] already does the “unfolding”.

It’s quite simple.

The Tidal app has no role in Roon playback of Tidal content, MQA or not.

Roon today does not decode MQA, it can pass MQA content (file or Tidal stream) in bitperfect form to allow an MQA capable DAC to decode it.

In the future, Roon will decode MQA and send it to any DAC; we don’t know yet what form this will take, “generic only” like the Tidal app, or DAC aware, or partial to allow two step decode with a MQA DAC. We will know more in time.

Hopefully a final clarification on this:

The Tidal application and the Roon desktop application are completely independent … they do not depend upon or interact with each other. Thus what the Tidal application does / does not do is irrelevant to the Roon application.

Like having two TVs sharing the same antenna, same signal but independent pictures.

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I understand that ROON and Tidal are different in fact they do completly different things but if you want to stream then ROON needs Tidal desktop or otherwise. Tidal does not need ROON.

I’m struggling with your argument… are you speaking from a business perspective rather than a technical one?

Why does the Roon application need the Tidal desktop application?