MQA - Does it work?

I believe it’s a lic€nsing matter…

it seems around 50 us$ per unit

Hello Havel!

Nice to see someone with the same setup as mine, that got it working :grinning:

I have RPi3, Digi+ Pro, TosLink cable to NAD D3045.
But I don’t get any MQA in the NAD’s display.

I’m using MyVolumio Virtuoso and have a Tidal HiFi Subscription, and I’m playing Masters tracks with the M-logo.
What else do I need to do?

Are you able to see the MQA confirmed in the Volumio app, in the “now playing” section of the app? (I’m not, but I’m not sure I’m supposed to see it there :sweat_smile:)

Thanks in Advance, Havel!

1 Like

Hello @musaziz,
Can I ask: What did you do to achieve this?

I have RPi3b, MyVolumio Virtuoso, Tidal Hifi, and I send the digital signal to my NAD D3045’s DAC (which is MQA compatible).

But I can’t get it to recognize it as an MQA signal.
No MQA using USB to the DAC and no MQA when sending the signal from I2S Digi+ Pro using TosLink to the DAC.

Are you able in any way to see it in Volumio, when an MQA signal is being sent?
(the NAD D3045 will show it in the display, when receiving an MQA signal, but I don’t see it in the display)

Hi, thank you for the info. I have installed it, it`s better now but I still get 1 second interruptions on MQA tracks randomly. Now I have the same SMSL SU-9 DAC as you with ALLO USBRIDGE SIG streamer.
When I connect the dac to PC and use Tidal app, everything is perfect but when I play from My Volumio, I get the interruptions, only on MQA tracks. On the DAC display, when the interruption occurs, the MQA logo changes to USB logo, then back to MQA in a second. Do you have such an issue? Thank you for your help.


For those using ALLO USbridge Signature that are having 1 second interruptions randomly on MQA tracks, the below might solve the issue. This will change the network interface driver. It worked for me:

  1. Enable SSH on ALLO by following this guide:
    sparky_linux_images/volumio_ssh_enable.pdf at master · sparkysbc/sparky_linux_images · GitHub
  2. Use Putty to connect to the IP of the ALLO - you can check the IP in Volumio network settings
  3. Enter user: volumio, password: volumio
  4. Enter: sudo wget
  5. Enter sudo sh
  6. Reboot the device
1 Like

Good morning,
is the any DAC below 350 € on the market which gives me FULL MQA decoding for Tidal with RPi4 and Volumio? Out of the box? Whithout any command line actions?
Thank you for opinions from users who own such devices!
Greetings from Düsseldorf/Germany.

I think ifi Zen v2 will do the full decoding of MQA.


I can confirm it does.(Zen V2, that is)

1 Like

Thank you…I’ve just ordered it!


For your Zen Dac v2, how to you have the DSD play back option set? DSD Direct or DSD over PCM? I have noticed that the V2 will sometimes stutter during MQA playback while it appears to switch between masters and hifi from Tidal via either Tidal Connect or directly through Volumio.

This behavior is not apparent while setup for DSD over PCM (DOP).

1 Like

I’m not familiar with DSD and don’t use it, but I just checked and the option is currently set to “Direct”

I can say that my experience with using Tidal Connect, I do not have any stuttering when switching between Masters and HiFi tracks.

On this url Can my DAC fully unfold MQA? | iFi audio ifi confirms that the zen dac could not unfold MQA. It’s only a MQA renderer, so on volumio MQA doesn’t work.

For the V2 I read it different:

Seems not:
Can my DAC fully unfold MQA? | iFi audio (

I found this out by testing a Nano iOne.

EDIT: it seems the iFi support site is not updated and now the newer ZEN DAC V2 does supports it.

Unfortunately MQA organisation doesn’t explain their own technology application on existing market gear correctly. For example iFi is on their website list like they are offering full decoders but only two of their most expensive DAC’s support now full decoding (first unfold + rendering).

It seems they are not tracking on device level, only on manufacturer level.

1 Like

Try this link

Scroll to the bottom black part of the page. It lists several models, stating if they can do full decoding or not.

I assume MQA site can be incomplete and/or wrong, but it seams to be a good starting point…

Yes that link indeed seems accurately mentioning:

  • full decoding: first unfold (device is including license 50 euro by MQA corp) + rendering
  • rendering for final unfold: rendering ONLY (no license for first unfold; this means that files will play for example 48khz 24 bit, but without the lossy MQA part added. I.m.h.o. sounds quite good anyway because the 24 bit holds most important lossless data).

About incorrect data on the MQA site, I was referring to their page:
Playback Devices | Unlock Studio-Quality Sound of MQA | MQA,
where it says “MQA-enabled Digital Audio Converters provide full decoding for the highest possible sound quality”.

It should say: DAC’s that can either:

  • render previously unfolded MQA;
  • or otherwise immediately unfold (decode) and render MQA.

Or better even split the category. At least on their generic device introduction page they should avoid the terminology “fully decode” in order to prevent any confusion. Because in the detailed device pages they use this term full decoding only for devices that have the “first unfold” license. This way it is appropriately distinguishing from “rendering only” devices.

Don’t you think?

The vagueness happens probably because of marketing reasons: no manufacturer wants to name their device: “MQA rendering ONLY”, as it seems like you are buying a not so great product.

Now you see some manufacters start to talk about:
last unfold, or 4x MQA/ 16 MQA (SMSL e.g.). While the MQA docs talk about “expand” once, twice or third time. Expand once is equal to first unfold. The “full decoding” devices can do a complete first, twice and third unfold. Then “renderer only” devices: most can do twice and third, but it seems some smaller devices can do only twice. I think this is what SMSL calls “4x MQA”.

I think it would have been better if MQA had prescribed conventional naming with clear definitions. And some examples of expected applications with an explanation. Like “some low powered smaller devices can still have a good level of sound using MQA twice unfold. The higher powered gear. Desktop DAC should be fully decoding only.” And say more about the fact that even without any MQA decoding it still sounds awesome, so people will be less hesitant to start using MQA enabled services like Tidal. It doesn’t hurt and you are not locked into MQA once you start using this service.

P.s. I
In fact with greater bandwidth now other hi-res (non-MQA) services (like Qobuz and Highresaudio) will also gain more market volume.

Then you also have this new UAT (and LDAC) bluetooth bandwidth, so you could stream high-res from your UAT/LDAC enabled phone or devices like Hiby. Hiby devices seem able to transport over UAT/LDAC Bluetooth with their own Hiby link (while using the Tidal app for first unfold) to Hiby link enabled DAC’s. What is not clear to me is if you still need the proprietary “connect” (Tidal connect e.g.) or is this obsolote in case of UAT?

Has anyone experience with these Hiby devices linked to Hiby link (over UAT) enabled gear (like SMSL US-9 or M500 e.g.)?
Another question: is this transport jitter free?
Does it keep the MQA data untouched for full unfold or does it send first unfolded to an MQA renderer? Or does the Hiby device fully unfold and then send lossy data over UAT?

Otherwise the Tidal app on mobile devices in Master mode can do a first unfold to an external “rendering only” USB/Lightning (for Android/Apple) connected DAC (for desktop models through USB B and for newer models A) for further full unfold. However it may introduce some jitter and/or noise problems depending on your mobile device outlet and DAC USB input quality? It is unclear to me if there is “jitter issues” when the first unfold is done on another device than the final unfold renderer. I could not find anything in the MQA documentation on this. I suspect there can be an issue.

If you want to send the music wirelessly by Volumio to a Raspberry or Odroid and connect the USB DAC to this device you will have wireless bitperfect MQA, is my understanding. (See also here:
MQA with authenticated DAC and RPi - MyVolumio / MyVolumio Help and Support - Volumio.) as long as you use a full decoder DAC (not just a MQA renderer). The first unfold is in this case done by the last device in the chain: the USB DAC. Next to convenience I understand this has also benefits of transport control (jitter free).

But then again: I wonder even when the transport is not controlled in the way an MQA full decode (and/or Roon) does for example, how much jitter will even possibly show up with UAT/LDAC? Bluetooth is not lossless, but because there is minimal compression needed and hardly bandwidth restrictions it may be comparable to full MQA for sound quality anyway (if it is not already because of some MQA transport control does actually apply on UAT?).

Roon (which I am using too now) includes both hi-res and MQA and has for both the advantage of transport control (RAAT), so jitter is (almost?) absent. It is technically unclear to me whether or not an MQA final unfold has the same transport control as Roon. Anyone here can explain?

I do not see much benefits from Roon anymore if MQA can do this transport control wirelessly (via Volumio Tidal Connect e.g.) or virtually or completely (if transport control existst) absent by UAT (over Hiby link or another direct Bluetooth link) within my own network. I am not considering now the other benefits like their great Roon app layout, radio and seemless integrated access to NAS stored files. I think Roon RAAT covers all transport challenges, but is way too expensive and unfortunately always needs a Core device somewhere in the home netwerk (on your NAS or Raspberry e.g.), which prevents the so much desired mobile benefits “on the road”.

P.s. II: sorry for the long read. I edited to try and make the questions I still have more clear. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Just curious.
What’s the fuzz for MQA? It’s nice for your phone when streaming on 4/5G when you have a limited dataplan as it needs less bandwidth. It’s compressed Hi_res audio, for which you need tp pay additional. Either for the streaming service or the MQA enabled gear your using.
I simply don’t get it.


het zou ingepakte studio kwaliteit moeten zijn, is zeker niet in alle gevallen zo.
it should be compressed studio quality, but this is not in all cases.