Will Roon ever be supporting MQA? [Answered - Now Live Roon 1.5]

This question has been raised before in this forum, and I can see that there has also been some information from Roon, which I consider to be more intentional than actual actions

But time is runnning and I want to hear when Roon has planned to actual release a version supporting the unfolding of MQA streams.

Kim Kruse

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You’re probably familiar with the answers given on other occasions when the question has been recently raised. They are to the effect that MQA support is currently under active development. No time frame has been announced. This is partly because maintaining and updating timeframe information becomes a huge resource sink, but also because the nature of iterative testing means no one knows. If we were taking bets, I’d be picking mid year.

MQA is a big deal. It will be launched at a suitably prestigious event with the eyes of the world on them having given all of the partners the time to make the required adjustments. I don’t see this as Roon being slow or tardy. It is them being thorough and getting this right in all areas, not just code.

So let me understand this:

If (hypothetically) Roon incorporates MQA as the first unfold on the software, then does it matter whether the DAC we use is MQA compatible or not?

Roon will only do the first unfold (presumably, that is what has been stated by Roon). Any subsequent unfolds and filtering will require an MQA DAC. Whether this matters will depend on what you want from MQA encoded music.

Thanks. So, if already have a DAC that is MQA compatible (let’s say PS Audio Directstream, Cary DMS-500, Mytek Brooklyn, etc. etc.), then Roon doing the MQA first unfold is a mute point?

So what’s the point? I know Roon sends the MQA files to DAC in bit-perfect mode, and an MQA compatible DAC can unfold them.

If you don’t have an MQA DAC then I guess you get some benefit. If you do, then there is no point.

So basically what you are saying to get the FULL benefit of MQA, one would need both:

1 - Software doing the MQA unfold, and
2 - DAC doing another MQA unfold


This does not make sense to me.

I stream / streamed to Lumin T1, Cary DMS-500, PS Audio Direcstream w/ Bridge II MQA files from Tidal Hi-Fi via Roon, and all of these DACs (they are all MQA certified) display MQA info / logo, etc.

Just read here: http://www.mqa.co.uk/customer/how-it-works

No, I’m not saying that. First unfold gives partial benefit for those without an MQA DAC.
If you have an MQA DAC it does all the unfolding/filtering etc (called Rendering in MQA speak).

I presume that Roon users with Tidal but no MQA DAC are most interested in the first unfold aspect.

Gotcha! So indeed, whether Roon implements MQA or not would not matter to anyone who owns any of the aforementioned (and more) MQA DACs

Well it might matter depending upon how Roon implement the unfold. If you are a Roon DSP user, you cannot use MQA; but Roon may implement things differently to ensure you can? We need to wait and see.

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I’m assuming first unfold will allow MQA DAC owners to use DSP features such as convolution, volume levelling, etc.

Not if you want the full MQA experience with a MQA renderer.

Yet another nail in the MQA coffin then.

First part of decoding of MQA is more important because that is where all the vital information is unpacked. MQA core always operate at 88.2/96kHz at 17 bit perceptual resolution. This can be done easily by software like Audirvana, Tidal desktop and soon, Roon.

The second part is called ‘rendering’, it functions to restore sampling rate to match the original recording sample rate. This will only happens if the sampling rate is greater than the MQA core at 88.2/96kHz. For example, 176.4/192kHz and 352.8/384kHz. On top of this ‘de-blurring’ filters is applied to further optimise the impulse response. This one must be tied to a known DAC chip. This is strictly a hardware implementation.

Roon will allow DSP up-sampling after the decoding MQA core at 88.2/96kHz to whatever higher set by the users (Audirvana also does that). The only thing is lacking is the ‘de-blurring’ filters at the DAC side. If Roon can find a way to incorporate… there’s probably 32 of them to match different type of DACs out there!

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Please don’t support it. It’s not good for consumers.


So many nails, and yet so many sightings of MQA alive and well! :wink:


It “makes sense” from a business perspective. MQA’s original concept (let’s call it MQA 1.0) locked all it’s alleged benefits in an “end to end” hardware only solution. However, they figured out that there was no way to get enough market penetration, so in MQA 1.1 Tidal was allowed to perform a software “unfold”, and a multitiered MQA product was born.

Also it should be noted that those who have reversed engineered MQA say that its claim of giving the consumer higher resolution than 96 is dubious - it’s all upsampling after the first unfold.

I use MSB Analogue DAC with MQA USB module and stream MQA via Tidal in Roon - it’s fantastic. I think you want hardware based MQA to get full benefit. Voices in MQA 192+ are simply stunning.

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