MQA - updated thoughts please

I thought the latest version of the Linn firmware added Roon Ready support, so that your Linn streamer can act as a Roon Endpoint.

My ability to play MQA Master with 1st unfold, is a function of Roon Core release 1.5 and not anything supported on the Naim player.

cdboy posted:

Thanks all. Do those that have heard a full MQA capable DAC think Naim should consider the technology? Or are we happy streaming HiDef files (our own files or from online sources) without having to fold/unfold MQA? Is there a benefit or otherwise to Naim to consider MQA?


Well Naim are very fond of the Texas Instruments PCM 1704K DAC, and I believe they use it the ND555 as well  which is PCM fed. Therefore if MQA floats your boat then use a software DSP decoder - they can do the first level of processing (what MQA calls 'unfolding') and you can then feed your processed PCM into your DAC such as your NDS/NDX/ND555 etc.. simple really. All a so called MQA DAC is is a device with this DSP preprocessing built into the packaged product and through - I suspect a commercial licensing model rather than anything technical - enable such devices to expand the DSP processing further (ie unfold further to 4x etc)

But there is more to MQA than just upsampling.

Tale a look at

The DAC certificate also introduces DAC profiles which enable further DSP for that hardware.

“At the other end of the chain, MQA meets the end user and his/her DAC, inside which the MQA code (software) sits on an XMOS chip. Its job is not only to unfold (decode) the hi-res according to the sample rate limits of the DAC chip but also to optimise the DAC chip’s sound quality by applying a pre-emptive corrective filter to the digital signal prior to conversion to analogue (rendering). This the main reason why the MQA code must sit within I2S reach of the DAC chip – i.e inside the DAC box – and why its effectiveness would be diluted/nullified if placed in an upstream streamer.”


Also listen to Bob Stewart;

Simes-pep - i know in theory MQA has more to it than compressed high definition, but the effect of DSP profiling (or more accurately in my opinion DAC reconstruction filtering) will only actually truly benefit if the original ADC filter at the recording studio matches that profile. Remastering MQA that has already gone through an ADC filter profile - ie its its already in a digital domain - won't really cut it - all it will do is got some extent lock you into to an MQA interpretation of the sound.

I was discussing with Rob Watts recently - and he suggested to which I agreed - it is a big limiting factor in the industry right now - as there are only a relatively small number of studio ADC devices used world wide - although he said he had a few projects in that regard but kept it close.  We did discuss MQA in passing and concluded its kind of missing the point in this regard because of the lack of encapsulating the end to end chain.

But as I say I believe MQA remastering is missing the point as its a bit like capturing some dead piece of nature in amber, for the real benefit one would need to get  the filter reconstruction mapping matched right across the audio chain, not just repurposing to produce a specific master.

Also remember, not unlike the RIAA preamp compensation for phono, MQA requires a filter to compensate for frequency errors in the 'unfolding' reconstruction process and this can be used to slightly boost and enhance the sound to make more aesthetically pleasing - a bit like a hitec tone control .. nothing wrong with this - but if this is your preference there are probably more effective ways of achieving this.

Thanks to those who shared their thoughts on MQA. I also think the amount of replies (relatively small) tells me that Naim folk are not watching this MQA debate all that much, if at all. Interesting times, given the push from the inventors and the record companies. 

Personally I prefer ownership to streaming and tend to own the files in the resolution I want. Or I play vinyl ... Thanks again.

Well, I am a watcher, as well as Naim owner that is added the Roon capability for MQA 1st unfold for either locally stored files or those streamed from Tidal.
I have a number of MQA files stored in my library, as noted in this thread or my other, re the ability to unfold and stream as a UPnP stream to my NDS, preserving the Network player functionality and not just as a S/PDIF feed DAC.
Ultimately I prefer to own too, and Tidal is for exploration as well as when away from home via the iOS App and Win Desktop App.


I have been watching the MQA debate for some time and am generally just struck by the ill nature of the participants.

I did find the Archimgo article on CA illuminating:

My thought had been to listen to it and judge for myself in due course. This position was changed for me by a couple of thoughts. I was explaining to one of my daughters how organisations have longer horizons and memories than individuals, as an example I used Sunday Trading. Many workers were pleased to supplement their income by working Sundays, this quickly evaporated as new workers had this written into the employment contracts. This made me consider MQA, and the current 'free' 9624 on Tidal. Is it so far fetched to see this throttled over time? Additionally I HATE moving from open to closed formats.

For me the simple fact is that I am getting great sound quality for 16/44.1 and so have no wish to move.


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