I am pretty sure you need an MQA device to finish the unfolding of the MQA titles on Tidal. With a Mac you can get 96/24 kHZ res, but with MQA certified device (streamer or dac) you can get 192/24 kHZ res. Of course there are many, many people that do not like MQA and say that the sound is not great, losing bits, not lossless and other things. But that is another can of worms.
Feel free to correct me, as I have not listened to MQA on a mac. I am sure it sounds great!
The Bluesound Node 2 (which is what I think you refer to) would probably not be as good as a computer/MQA certified DAC combo.
I only use the BSound for multiroom streaming and output to a higher quality DAC.
If I recall correctly, the Tidal MQA decode is only a partial decode of the MQA signal. To get the full MQA you need to use a DAC with MQA decoding.
That being said, I concur with 2psyop regarding MQA sound quality. It does sound different, sometimes better, but I can't say it is worth the expense, and I wonder if it may just be another tech gizmo like Dolby-enhancing some features while destroying others.
I have a Node 2 and really like it. But I have to say it fits my budget. I cannot afford to buy a $3000 streamer and $2500 DAC. Also I wanted to get away from using my computer to play music. For me, it was not designed to be a music player, like the Node 2 is. I can access all my older Itunes ripped music files on a NAS, play streamed music, enjoy Tidal MQA ....all by using my Ipad as a controller for $500. It has already proved worth the investment. I have ran it out to a Benchmark DAC and a Schiit DAC. To my ears, MQA played with the internal BS Node 2 dac sounded best.
Thanks for your responses!
@gdnrbob -- you are correct, I was talking about the Bluesound Node 2, not Bluenote. And yes, I can only get 24/96 from Tidal MQA's desktop app; the reason I'm looking at the Node 2 and other MQA DACs is so I can get 24/192 from Tidal.
@2psyop -- I'm in a similar situation; spending $5K so I can get closer to vinyl quality from my CD collection does not make sense to me. From your response, it sounds like the advantages of Node 2 are:
1) it enables full unfolding of MQA files;
2) it can be remotely controlled from your iPad (nice feature), and
3) it frees up your computer for other uses.
Currently, my only DAC is the one built into my Cambridge CXU, which isn't very good. I was hoping to get a better, standalone DAC with my next audio purchase, and it seemed like the Node 2 would just give me a second low quality DAC with the ability to stream, which I already have with my computer. Nevertheless, your endorsement of MQA through the Node 2's DAC, over Benchmark and Schitt, caught my interest. Were you running the Node 2's converted (analog) output into those DACs, or were you running Tidal's Redbook, non-MQA signal to them?
For any others reading this who think I'm wasting my time with MQA, I have this question. Tidal's Master subscription gives you two options: standard 16/44.1 Redbook streaming or 24/192 MQA. I'm not aware of any other way to stream high res files, and I generally prefer the sound of Tidal/MQA to Redbook. Since there is no other competitive hi-res streaming source, why wouldn't I take advantage of MQA?
MQA is not really high resolution. In fact, there are good indications that it is inferior or at least not better than cd red book. Look at the relevant threads.
@willemj thanks, but you did not answer my question. In the online streaming world, what other choice is there? If your answer is just Redbook, I disagree. I have done many comparisons, and MQA wins (or at least ties) every time.
I do believe Redbook CD quality is the best there is when you are streaming from the internet. I am not convinced MQA is an improvement (see the relevant threads, and the work done by Benchmark and Archimago). At some time in the future we may see real higher resolutions such as 24/48 or even 24/96 rather than the fake MQA, but I am not convinced these will sound better than Red Book (but I remain open for good research).
I have listened to the Bluesound Node DAC and compared it directly with the Ayre Codex when I was at Audioconnection. The Bluesound DAC was good, but throught the Codex, it was way better. Mind you, this was with non MQA music, but I can't see how it would make a difference.
Since there is no other competitive hi-res streaming source, why wouldn't I take advantage of MQA?
My biggest concern with MQA is that you will be beholden to them as long as they are in business (like Dolby). And, with high resolution streaming still in its' infancy, I expect things are going to change quickly. So, why jump on a bandwagon now?
The debate over MQA is a big can of worms. Some think it sounds great for what it was intended for....a streaming option. Some think you lose bits and it does not sound good. Still others think it was invented by Darth Vader and will kill all music via the Death Star.
I am not sure (except I don’t think the last option is valid). The Node 2 (internal DAC) should not be compared to the Ayre codex. Because the Ayre is 4x the price of the Node 2. One should expect it to sound much better. And lastly, when I sent a signal out to my Schiit Bifrost Uber and also the Benchmark DAC 1 they will were getting the Redbook res. In those cases, the Bluesound sounded as good or better. With MQA master files, the Node 2 sounded better on about 80% of the albums compared to redbook. Once again, IMHO.
Thanks @2psyop -- I agree the Ayre is a false comparison, given its price. I'm also going along with you on that Death Star thing. It sounds like everyone who is finding fault with MQA is either comparing it to a DAC I can't afford, or they haven't actually listened to MQA for a fair comparison. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford an Ayre, or a Yggy, or an e32, or whatever -- but until that day comes, $500 for a Bluenote sounds pretty good.
What I was trying to say is that the Bluesound DAC, while being good for the price, could be improved upon with an external DAC.
Whether MQA sounds better through the Bluesound, I cannot say.
If it does, then it seems MQA is doing something that cannot be replicated by a DAC '
4x the price of the Node', If that is so, I would be circumspect of MQA decoding.
Thanks Bob, I suspect you’re right — that the Bluenote’s digital output of a Redbook file may sound better through an Ayre DAC (or equivalent) than an MQA version of the same file from the Bluenote. However, until I can afford to spend $2000 on a DAC, the Bluenote maybe a good intermediate step. Thanks again for your advice!