MQA Stream into non MQA DAC


Would streaming MQA ( BS Node 2i) to a separate R2R non MQA Dac allow for unfolding MQA up to the highest resolution the non MQA DAC will allow, a partial unfolding if you will. I recall reading somewhere a partial unfolding would occur (not sure what that would be or sound like). Appreciate any insights from the experts. Thanks.
toneranger58
If I understand your question correctly, the streaming device (BlueSound Node 2i) would need to perform any unfolding before it sends the bitstream out to your non-MQA DAC.

If you send an MQA-bitstream directly to a non-MQA DAC, it will incorrectly consider the MQA data to be regular audio data.
https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/32094-sonore-signature-rendu-se/page/10/?tab=comments#comment-968827

The dude who wrote the following below is very knowledgeable and I look out for his commentary.

The MQA folks only allow what is called a "partial unfold" in software, and the "full unfold" can only happen if your DAC is MQA capable in its hardware.  In reality what this means is this:

 

1. The MQA process starts with a 24/96 source file.

 

2.  The so called "partial unfold" actually is a full unfold, as it results in a 24/96 file for playback.

 

3.  The so called "full unfold" (only available in a MQA capable DAC) results in a 24/192 file-but this is just an upsampling step using the MQA filter.  So depending on how you view upsampling, and the MQA filter itself, it may be of no sonic advantage, or it may even be detriment.  So, full unfold really means upsampling to 24/192 using the MQA specific filter: there is nothing about this upsampling step that makes it inherently better than the upsampling already incorporated in many DACs, and one has many choices for how and where they might apply an upsampling step.  MQA is just one, specific, type of upsampling: in practice it is just one possible choice, and not some kind of magical sonic enhancer.

 

So the partial unfold available in software gets you everything that was in the original file.

 

Personally, I have no love for MQA and believe it is a "solution" searching for a "problem".  Suffice it to say, that MQA holds no advantage for me, as I do not even like the sound of highly leaky, very slow rolloff filters as used in the MQA oversampling step.  But this is subjective, of course, some people might like it... but it is not anything special or magical, and very similar upsampling can be accomplished without all the expense and proprietary nature of incorporating MQA (in a DAC...)


Many thanks for responses. Learn something new every day. Interesting view that MQA is a solution searching for a problem. MQA filtering also concerns me as it alters the original source, which I would to avoid. 
As was noted below, only a partial unfold can be done unless you have a MQA DAC.  The Bluesound Node 2i is one such DAC, however once you pass it off to a DAC that doesn't support MQA I think you lose the full unfold.

However it works (or doesn't) at the end of the day, how does it sound?

I have two Bluesound Node 2 devices.  I run one through my Auralic Vega (no MQA) and the other through my Mytek Liberty (MQA enabled).  Being a better DAC, the Vega sounds better with MQA files even if all the MWA magic hasn't been done to them.  For my computer system, I use Tidal's desktop app which does a partial unfold and a MHDT Labs Orchid which is a R2R DAC (no MQA) and it also sounds better than the Bluesound/Mytek combination with MQA files.  I have used both the Orchid and the Liberty in that system and prefer the sound of the Orchid (not just with MQA) over the Liberty.  I also have a Sony  Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp (no MQA) that I have used in that system and when used as a DAC, it also sounds better than the Liberty.

I would worry more about the overall sound quality of the DAC than whether it does MQA or not.  Perhaps those with super high end systems and golden ears might prefer the sound of MQA, but I have not found that not having that last unfold seems to make a lot of difference.  A lot of the Tidal Master files do sound really good, but so do hi-res files on Qobuz.

 
Thanks big Greg, very interesting, I have a Schiit Yggdrasil, I’m thinking the BS Node 2i would work well with the Yggy for Tidal MQA streaming, I’m already paying for the hifi option.
I would worry more about the overall sound quality of the DAC than whether it does MQA or not. ...I have not found that not having that last unfold seems to make a lot of difference. A lot of the Tidal Master files do sound really good, but so do hi-res files on Qobuz.

+1 re @big_greg 's comment above.  Focus on the sound quality of the DAC and how it fits within your system and delivers on your musical preferences and goals.
I have an RME-ADI2 DAC which is non MQA. Don't miss MQA at all.
has anybody that is against MQA or does not believe in its efficacy actually heard Tidal MQA files through a right proper MQA DAC?
I was at a show in LA that did a head to head-to-head comparison with MQA and non-MQA. This system was using a T+A HV 3100 integrated + external T+A HV power supply. It was driving Wilson Alexa 2 (I think). The MQA dac was an expensive one which I do not recall. The system was driven by ROON + Tidal. The computer was setup and controlled by the guys from ROON. There were T+A guys, ROON guys, and maybe MQA guys in that nice hotel room.

During the shootout I heard some subtle difference in the MQA sound. I am not sure if it was better but there was something there. Now I ain’t no audiophile so this subtle difference had much lower importance to me than maybe someone else. The folks in the room seemed to like the MQA a little more. I found the difference in sound between MQA and non-MQA much less than what the improvements I hear on my mid-fi system when I switch from CD to SACD. On my mid-fi system I really cannot hear any difference between MQA and non-MQA.

I should add that my ears were a little fried during the MQA shootout because I had just come from another room that was small and was blasting away.
@yyzsantabarbara 
right on thanks