Very good here. I have it up on my studio system. In Tidal desktop App (OSX), I choose my focusrite Saffire pro as the output device (I keep it at 24/96). You then need to hit the "settings" next to the device and choose "Let Tidal take over device". You will have Tidale decode MQA and output the higher bitrates to your dac or device. If Tidal is running, all other sounds on your computer will come out speakers (itunes, etc). But, when you quit Tidal, the OSX system goes back to normal settings you have set up in Audio/midi set up.
More info. A direct quote from MQA
"According to MQA’s website, while Tidal is one of the select streaming services with MQA playback, you will still need a device or software with an MQA decoder in order to hear the songs in their full master-quality glory. Those without such devices can still hear the MQA-processed songs at a higher quality than CD. At press time, 14 companies offer devices capable of playing back MQA converted files in their richest form, including Pioneer and Technics".
@ahendler It has been my assumption (perhaps mistaken) that the latest Tidal desktop app provides MQA decoding and sends the unfolded hi-res PCM stream to an outboard DAC.
The Tidal app offers options to allow "Passthrough MQA - Disable software decoding of MQA"
I'm seeing Tidal streams showing as 24/96 on my DAC that sound much better. That same album shows in Roon as a 24/48 file. Roon does not yet offer software decoding of MQA.
I'm hearing an improvement between the versions. For me, there is a major difference between the 16/44 version and the UNFOLDED, UN-DECODED 24/48 version. Maybe that's the filters in my DAC, though.
But I'm fairly confident that Tidal's desktop apps are doing the full MQA decoding/unfolding to MQA hi-res. Of course only on those albums identified on Tidal as MASTER.
Normally I listen to Tidal via an ethernet line into the Bridge II in a PS Audio PWDII. It's superior to running USB into the DAC, which sounds a little flat and uninvolving. Since Tidal MQA is through the desktop app only, I did listen last night via Macbook > USB > DAC.
Holy crapballs, we are on to something here! Is this the new sound of no pre-ringing? Transients and percussion were just more natural and pleasing; ambience and impression of the recording venue's room acoustic were more clearly present. Bass was somehow more plump and more taut at the same time -- and better pitch-defined.
I found that the most satisfying level was a 1-3 dB louder setting on the pre-amp. Not sure if that's because the mastering level is lower or if because the reduced digital hash makes a higher SPL more palatable.
This technology will become disruptive. Why? Your lifetime collection of redbook CD's will soon be smoked by streaming the MQA version of the same album.
Still buzzing this morning over what I heard last night. Wow.
You wrote: "Bass was somehow more plump and more taut at the same time -- and better pitch-defined."
I have the same experience. I heard bass strings being plucked and a distinct kick drum detail I had missed before. For some reason, I wasn't expecting the improvement to be in the lower frequencies but it's the first thing I noticed.
Glad to know it isn't just me. I hope others will post their impressions as well - good or bad.
I agree with dbtom2. The Tidal app is doing software decoding or can pass the MQA if you have a MQA DAC. I get 24/96 output with the software decoding. As I understand it, software decoding is the same as hardware decoding, but it would be good to confirm that they are exactly the same. I have not seen any definitive statement on that.
I tried software decoding on a several year old I3 laptop, so you do not need a lot of compute power to use the software decoding.
I counted 199 albums if I counted correctly. Beyonce and Jay Z are there, of course. Quite a bit of classical rock. Some classical, folk, a little country.. By no means comprehensive coverage, but a good start.
I think you are correct, that you need an MQA-compatible DAC to decode the MQA streaming from Tidal and enjoy the benefits of MQA.
I believe that a non-MQA-compatible DAC will decode the stream, as they are PCM (I think Tidal uses the FLAC file format), but that you won't enjoy the benefits of MQA, as a standard DAC would not do the "origami unfolding" to bring out the higher res content in the stream.
Perhaps someone can help me access these new Master recordings on Tidal. I am a Hifi member of Tidal and use Roon. These new Master recordings do not show up in my What’s New area under albums? I use Roon and a windows 10 computer/server. It is a dedicated music computer - music Vault Ultra ll from Sound Science. I have never had an issue with Roon and access all of Tidal flawlessly until this issue? Ideas? Love to play some of these recordings.
Grannyring, for the moment Tidal is only doing MQA through their desktop app. There may be a workaround in which you log into the desktop app, select a MQA album as a "favorite" and then find it in Roon under your favorites. Let us know if that works out.
EJR and ahendler, I _think_ that dbtom2 is right; even without a MQA-enabled DAC, through Tidal we are getting 1) the origami that allows hi-res transmission in a redbook-flac-sized container or file, 2) The pre-corrective filter applied by MQA using knowledge of the original ADC.
I just fired up my Windows10Pro machine and see that you can access the Master recordings only on the installed Tidal app. From what I've read, it's currently only available that way. I presume they will be getting to that content via a browser in the near future. Being an IT guy, I suspect that Roon makes the sort of calls to Tidal that would be required of the browser version of the Tidal app, so I'd be patient.
In the mean time you can access this content if you download and install the desktop app.
I called my local dealer and will be snagging an Explorer2 DAC, just to see what MQA has to offer, I figure $199 + the cost of the necessary cables is a small price to pay to see if all the buzz about MQA is worth it. I am very happy with my PS Audio DirectStream DAC, which now doesn't decode MQA. Not sure I'd ditch that excellent piece of equipment.
You guys have piqued my interest in Tidal, so I checked out their home page. Geez, out of all the artists they show on that page, the only one Ive ever heard of is JayZ, who I have no interest in, and I doubt I'd be interested in any of the others either.
Does Tidal offer classic rock, jazz, pop, and classical titles as well? If so, how is the selection?
I did MQA Win7 App download and USB DAC to Oppo HA-1. Showing 44k/24bit. I use to upsampling Tidal 44k/16bit to 192k/24bit which really doesn't sounds better than RBCD. The HA-1 display 192k/24bit. After retart my laptop, the Tidal glitch improved. The HA-1 now display 44k/24bit. Sound is better than RBCD. But it's not as good as my LL*HiFi Classicsonline at 96k/24bit and DSD64. I guess MQA is another lossy MP3 format for HiRes Music streaming and lincence fee purpose. Do we really need this format while my Wifi bandwith is full capable to support 192k/24 while my wireless carrier cap my music stream to 320kbps? I don't think so. But for Tidal HiFi user with no additional cost, why not?
How about those of us using the Bluesound Node2 for streaming Tidal? It supposedly supports MQA but It sounds like MQA is only through the desktop app so I guess the Node2 app will not be of any use. I have my Node2 feeding an outboard DAC which does not support MQA so it looks like I'll need to revert back to the internal DAC if I were to use MQA coded content. Too many moving parts.
kalali, I have a Node 2. I have the Tidal and BluOS apps on my desktop and my Android tablet. I stream to the Node 2 via WiFi. I check the Tidal app on my desktop to see what albums are MQA encoded. I can then select that album in the BluOS app on my desktop or on my tablet and it will usually play the MQA version but sometimes it selects the cd version. I guess they haven’t deleted all the cd versions of albums they have listed in MQA. I have the Node 2 plugged into my cd player’s DAC and it verifies that it’s getting a 96 khz stream. It looks like they’re rolling this out pretty fast, so I’d take advantage.
The Bluesound website has forums if you have problems.
grannyring, I suggest getting the Tidal app on your desktop, go to the homepage, in the Albums section there is a link above the album art called Masters, click on that to see what albums they’ve got in MQA and you should be able to select the album in Roon and play it. I’m not sure about that last part as I don’t have Roon.
Thanks all. I am a little lacking in computer knowledge so here goes my follow up question. I do have a desktop computer and assumed I was using the Tidal desktop app already with Roon.
Is Roon loading Tidal as a web based app and not desktop, thus my inability to see the new Master recordings? If I download the Tidal desktop app, then I assume I cannot use it in Roon? Am I thinking correctly? Sorry for my ignorance. My Music Vault computer came loaded with Roon and Tidal so I am not sure how they work together on my Windows 10 based Music Vault computer.
" There is a link on the left side of the homepage titled Genres just click on that and you will see all the different genres. "
Thanks. I just looked and there is no such link on the left side for me. Perhaps one has to sign up to be able to see that.
I don't see a search field either. I don't want to have to sign up in order to figure out what they offer.
Granny, on a computer you can use Tidal through a web browser (no MQA) or through the application (MQA.) You might be right that Roon is looking for the web app and hence no MQA. If you can USB your desktop or laptop into your DAC, then game on. This is all rolling out so fast, it's pretty exciting. (BTW, are you into vintage jewelry or a slow cyclist like me?)
There are a lot more MQA albums available than the ones under the Masters tab in "New." They just haven't yet made 'em easy to find. Search for all the albums by an artist you see under the Masters tab, and when you see duplicates of an album, then one of them is MQA and will play as Master rather than HIFI.
Those who haven't seen the catalog, I'd guess it's got 3/4 of the albums ever digitized. Classical is a little lighter, but for rock/pop/jazz/etc you have to get pretty esoteric to stump it.
To repeat: I don't have an MQA DAC, and the sound quality of MQA through Tidal is stunning.
" I guess MQA is another lossy MP3 format for HiRes Music streaming and lincence fee purpose. "
That is not correct. MQA is nothing like MP3. At 44 KHz it is every bit as good as your normal CD. Decoded, either in software and hardware, it becomes 88 KHz or 96 KHz hi rez. Compared to a full 88 or 96 KHz file it is "lossy" for the high sample rate parts, but in a very intelligent way. Think of it this way - it does 44 KHz lossless, then analyzes the high sample rate data and throws away all the zeros. It just keeps the actual content above 44 KHz. It them compresses that and reconstructs it for playback.
MP3 is not a far comparison.
dbtom, Are you using the Apple Tidal app? I can find Settings, the Streaming tab and it's set to HiFi/Master but no output device or gear icons. I'm using Windows on my desktop.
mtrot, you can sign up for 30 days free. I think they were running a 90 day promotion around Christmas I don't know if they still are. As cymbop says, they've got a lot of albums. Probably not everything you'd want to hear but enough to keep you busy for a long time.
tomcy6 - I am using the Tidal app on WIndows. When you click on Settings you should see the available DAC options under Streaming..You may only see the options gear if you DAC is capable of 88/96 KHz sampling. If it is 44/48 capable only, you can decode MQA. If you only have a default DAC and it is not 44/48 then maybe you would not see the output options.
For DAC’s that don’t decode MQA, a music track sounds much better via the standard HiFi version, not via the MQA master version.
@mtrot Tidal is free for 30 days. Just cancel if your not interested. The advantage of Tidal is that it offers true Redbook CD quality for $20/mo - starting after the free trial. The $10/mo subscription is MP3 - no different than Spotify or Pandora. The MQA Masters series is only for systems that have DAC’s that can decode MQA.
Thanks tomcy6 for your input. I think I've got it figured out. When streaming Tidal through Node2 wirelessly, the Node2 app does show the (MQA) markings for the content and my outboard DAC shows 96KHz instead of the usual 44KHz. I compared streaming Tidal between Node2 -> DAC and laptop USB -> DAC using the Tidal app and the USB -> DAC sounded slightly better but not enough difference to justify the inconvenience of having to deal with the cable and the poor Tidal user interface vs. the BlueOS app. All in all, this is good news assuming that the MQA encoded selection will grow over time.
Thanks all for this! I confess I can use some help. I have OSX, and, on this machine, use the Tidal App. I’ve also just downloaded the Mac version of Chrome (for which Tidal seems quick to point out that only Chrome reaches the HiFi capacity.) --So, in the two versions, in Settings/Streaming, the Tidal App now shows HiFi / Master -- which presumably tells me I have access. --SO...
1.) How do I find the MQA offerings? I can’t seem to find anything either under What’s New, or Search bar. I found Roberta Flack Killing Me Softly, which was advertised on that page, but in the lower right it only reflects HiFi -- or maybe it just doesn’t say.
2.) In the Chrome App, I can’t get it to duplicate the HiFi / Master -- it only shows HiFi.
3.) But here’s the real core of questions: My normal stream option to my stereo is through Oppo BD-105. (And it’s own Tidal-embedded app.) And it seems that this doesn’t support MQA. --In this app, the highest it shows, like Chrome, is "HiFi". Am I spinning my wheels even worrying about trying to achieve this, as it would otherwise not be doable?
4.) And if I can access it through the one OSX Tidal app, is it even worth attempting to stream this to AppleTV for playback over my stereo system? I’ve had people say that AppleTV is lossless, but I don’t believe that at all. Or perhaps, if I’m really motivated, plug my Macbook Pro into the Oppo via HDMI? So the computer app shows it (though, again, I can’t find the albums) if I can’t get it to stereo, it’s not usable to me -- my computer speakers are real low-line stuff.
Only the desktop apps are able to decode MQA. Use the app for Tidal. No MQA via Tidal from anything other than the desktop apps for now. Soon to change I am certain.
To find MQA Masters in Tidal: Under What’s New, scroll down to albums and select Masters on the right of the New, Recommended, Top 20 line.
Use the 105 as a DAC from the PC running the app.
You can Passthrough the undecoded unfolded MQA to your DAC (and Airplay, I presume) if you like. Even these versions sound better to my ears. But to hear MQA from your 105 let the Tidal app do the decoding and DO NOT passthrough MQA. (Passthrough is for those who have MQA enabled DACs.)
Allegedly, the MQA decoding done by a DAC is specific to that chip. So you get the best digital "de blurring" possible.
DAC level MQA relies on a minimum phase (i.e. apodizing) filter being used.
I say this while also having heard absolutely no benefit at all between high resolution and MQA files.
I have listened to MQA on Tidal. I seriously question its usefulness and believe it is another DRM scheme to create a standard for the music industry. There are already wonderful 24 bit containers for high resolution audio and DSD that is the current king. In this day of 10TB drives and 1gbps internet connections, there should not be any technical reasons to be able to stream lossless audio including DSD. In other words, I will not pay for MQA and am glad Tidal included it in their HiFi membership. BUT, I would gladly pay extra for lossless audio, especially DSD. Regardless, MQA gets converted into PCM before it goes into the Dac chip. Which are only able to take PCM and DSD. I dont understand the reasoning to pay a royalty for an audio codec, especially for a lossy one. I appreciate and stand by the hardware manufacurers that are not falling for it. Give me what I want and what I will pay for - lossless PCM, DSD, and vinyl. Thank you.
For example, the 2L record software decodes in the TIDAL player to 88.2kHz while a hardware DAC that supports MQA will decode the same stream at 352.8kHzThis kind of baffles me. Tidal is calling the service "Masters." From their website:
TIDAL is delivering master-quality audio recordings directly from the source to HiFi members — an audio experience exactly as the artist intended — in partnership with MQA.
Yet, to obtain a fully decoded version the listener still needs an MQA enabled DAC.
So this "Master" is really a sub"Master" to the "Master-Master?"
On the other hand, even without using an MQA DAC, I have noticed a distinct improvement to the sound quality both on the Tidal stream and using Roon, which isn't decoding MQA (yet) and merely delivers the 24 bit version in either 44 or 48kHz sampling.
So I'm happy-er. I don't have to purchase an MQA DAC to get SOME benefits. Yet baffled at this third alternative to enjoying the MQA experience.
@dbtom2 Thanks a ton for the help with this. I was able to find them -- which was satisfying. :) On the playback however, I was able to use the Mac Tidal app through AirPlay, AND through direct Thunderbolt-to-HDMI in, to the 105. But wow, quality in both cases was notably worse: like 60-70% of native 105 Tidal app in HiFi.
Ha! If nothing else, I'm happier now with my system as I just increased it by 40%. :)
Thanks again for the help.
I don't know the tech-architecture, but it would seem to me that perhaps the Macbook Pro simply doesn't have the horsepower to power this.
dbtom, I think you'll have to go to the MQA site and read up to really understand it, but basically MQA is a lossless format that allows hi-res files (96/24) to be streamed in a package the size of cd quality files and reconstructed by an MQA decoder without loss of quality. Apparently the artist or the record label (they wouldn't lie to us would they?) signs off that the coded/decoded file is Master Quality.
MQA says that you will get an improvement in sound quality without an MQA DAC, but more of an improvement with an MQA DAC. Time will tell, but so far my ears say there is an improvement.
" Yet, to obtain a fully decoded version the listener still needs an MQA enabled DAC. "
That is a significant discussion point. I have still not seen a real discussion of the difference between software decoding of MQA and the decoding and processing of a MQA DAC. Do you have any reference that discusses the difference? My understanding is that software and hardware decoding are the same, but, if not, what are the differences?