Tidal and MQA

I am a computer novice who could use some help. I have been streaming Tidal via their desktop app to get the MQA Masters music. It sounds really good and according to cnet the Tidal software only does 1 unfold of the 3 needed to get the full MQA effect. I stream to a Cary 200t dac via usb. The incoming and outgoing signal never changes from 44.1. The music to my ears sounds much better but I expected to see 24/96 at the least. Any thoughts??

I think some of the recordings themselves are very good, some terrible. I have listened to Tidal re-masters but without the MQA and they do sound very good.

I think you should judge value by your ears, not by the number of mathematical operations done to it before you hear it. :)


+1 erik.
OP, remember that not all recordings are mastered properly, so even if they get an MQA badge, they will still sound less than they should.

The MQA decoding situation is still pretty confusing.  I have read a little about it and I'm not sure what level of decoding you get through different software and hardware combinations.  If your DAC is telling you 44.1, I'd say that's what you're listening to. 

MQA says that there is some benefit realized when files are remastered (or whatever the correct term is) for MQA, so maybe that is the improvement you are hearing. 

I'm not sure the level of MQA support. I've read Tidal users getting 96/24 but not sure exactly the app.

Some work may need to be done to ensure you aren't outputting via the Windows mixer. Usually to get higher / bit perfect output from Windows you have to do something to make it exclusive, or use a special driver.


Thanks all I stumbled into figuring this out. I was listening to remastered non MQA at 44.1 and it sounded very good. Then I was able to figure out the settings quagmire and was able to turn on the Tidal MQA software. My DAC started showing 88.1 and 96k and believe me on most material it sounded very good. With an MQA DAC and realizing those last 2 unfolds could be pretty impressive


Anytime I have heard Tidal, it sounded noticeably "compressed" when compared to taking a hi-res (24-96k or 24-192k) WAV/FLAC right from a HD into a decent DAC.
Hey @audiofreak32

How old is your DAC?

I ask because a number of modern DACs handle Redbook a lot better than they used to.  Schiit, Mytek, etc.

I simply don't have this problem at all.


My DAC is about 2 years old I think... Eastern Electric tube DAC, last/latest version.  I would never stream Tidal (or stream anything for that matter), on my system, but the multiple times I have heard Tidal playing on various systems, the sound was disappointing.  The majority of these systems were many times more expensive than my rig.
just Tagging in as I’m curious about this TIDAL business too.

I’m irritated Tidal won’t work on XP OS.
Is it supported on Apple? IOS? Apple TV?

I hate my Win 7 PC. Worst box I’ve ever had for general use.

Setup is everything IMO. As was said, a switch here or a box ticked there and violin! Its all better. Cables do make a diff as well.

Its nice to be able to listen to a really upscale stereo now and then but I gotta keep my expectations in check. The rap sheet for factors affecting sound is very long. And, everything in someone else’ rig was tuned by their ears to their preffs…. And on their budget. Dirty power lines can really affect the sound tremendously.

So can oxidized terminations…. Connectors…. IEC prongs. Etc.

I have started some tentative steps with tidal - I just wanted to see the music that it had that is available. I was astonished that it had some great rare groove music that is hard to get hold of on vinyl so it has me hooked. That said at present I have a CD player that takes PCM up to 384 KHZ - it is not MQA enabled. I have a MacBook Pro and some have recommended Amarra although I understand Audinirvana plus is the more stable platform.
HAs anyone tried first fold MQA enabled music software on a MacBook Pro with tidal? If so is it any good?
I have a desktop PC and run Tidal through a Mytek Brooklyn DAC/Amp (which is MQA enabled), WireWorld Nano-Silver USB, Moon Audio Black balanced headphone cables, to a pair of HiFiman Ananda headphones.  I’m extremely happy with the sound, the difference between well recorded MQA material and standard hi-fi (CD quality) of the same material is clearly audible, even to my 62 year old ears.  Power is supplied through a Furman power conditioner and output to the PC and Mytek via upgraded high quality power cables, too.

I am looking forward to trying Qobuz when the beta version becomes available to those of us not deemed worthy for their initial roll-out.
So you're saying the MQA was better than 44.1? Interesting - so are you saying this applies to streamed music? did you do a back to back with your actual CD player?

I am still baffled how it is that digital replay can be so different - I had thought bits were bits - but hey I only have a 'bit-piece' knowledge - sorry for the pun