Dac advise to listen to mqa

Volumio Information

Volumio Version: 2.853
Hardware: rpi 4, digi one digital
DAC: marantz pm6006

I’m looking for a solution to listen to mqa tracks. Now my digi one is coax connected to the marantz. Great sound, but no solution to listen to mqa.

If I would use the USB port on the rpi, to connect a dragonfly for example. I’m not using the digi one hat for better quality, right? What would be a good solution. To use the rpi to listen to mqa?

Kind regards,

I think any mqa capable dac can do… Probably ify and smsl are the cheapest. I am not sure is worth the expenses and you would be able to tell the difference so always, try it out if possible!
I find it a looking for troubles trying to play a propietary format in an open source solution ecosystem


I’m using SMSL M500, it can render MQA ( until 192 kHz). It is around 300 €.
It has separate volume for head-phone and for line out. You can adjust the “master” volume on the unit from volumio, without to loose MQA decoding functionality … so nice device. My audio equipmet after DAC are - let me say “around low-middle class” - DENON PMC-700, and WHARFEDALE Diamond 8.4 and DENON AH-D2000 ( headphone), so generally I cannot hear really big difference between MQA and normal TIDAL CD quality, maybe when I use a headphone …
So, if you can try, before buy …

Thank you the smsl looks very interesting. But I’ve read mqa only works with usb, so on the rpi I can only use the dirty side, and the digione hat is unused when I would connect a usb dac. Or isn’t this true?

I have a Dragonfly Red that’s playing MQAs streamed from Tidal. It’s connected directly to the RPi and playing through a set of powered monitors. In this use I can’t say if MQA is worth it as its mainly for background music. But when the Red is used with Tidal directly from my iPad powering my headphone collection I am very happy with the sound. I won’t go as far as picking one side in the MQA vs CD quality streaming debate however. I’m generally not listening that closely.

As mentioned above the USB output of the RPi is not that clean. And when listening to headphones connected directly to the Red on the RPis USB I can clearly hear that the sound isn’t as clean as I would like it to be. So I think a direct attached USB MQA DAC is maybe not the best solution for you.

There maybe be options to clean the USB signal up though. I just saw this video about a USB conditioning device. https://youtu.be/GinGMqTHvD4

Perhaps that something to look at? But then again the cost and messiness of the system grows.

Thank you for the reply.

In the end I’ve changes to qobuz in stead of Tidal, so I’ve high res audio without the hassle of MQA. Sounds great! Later I’ll update my DAC to a normal one. And hopefully the Qobuz connect function is getting supported in Volumio.

A unit that does give excellent USB audio output is the Asus Tinkerboard S (used as the basis for Volumio’s own Primo player). It looks very like a Pi board.
I have one of these along with an Oehlbach Masterclock XXL. This is a USB reclocking device that reduces jitter and improves signal synchronisation.
This combination produces stunning sound quality and I now prefer USB to SPDIF coax connections.

Currently I have a rpi4 and topping e30 dac.
Do you think that this device will improve the sound quality? I have heard that rpi has a decent clock. It is worth t he money?

uhm guys there is a cheaper way…

I was using an RPi with Allo Digione Signature HAT (coax output) Replaced that with a Tinkerboard S (USB) which sounded better (at 1/3 the price).

Putting the Oehlbach reclocker in improved the audio still further. I ran an AQ Dragonfly Red directly from the reclocker and this worker very well, then got a Topping D30 which has a fuller sound.