Another MQA question

First: I don’t want to open another MQA pro and con thread. I’m only in here for playing…
After (more or less) wasting time I would like to get answer to following question.

Setup is:
-TIDAL subscription
-Audirvana (full version)
-Streamer based on RPi4 and Volumio software
-iFi ZEN DAC V2
-Accuphase integrated amp

Everything is running well. So my simple question:
DAC set in Audirvana “renderer” I get the magenta light.
DAC set in Audirvana “renderer and decoder” I get green or blue light.
If (!!!) I would believe in MQA what is the “target” to reach? Magenta or green/blue?
I asked this question very, very often and got a bunch of differing answers. So maybe anyone here can give me a final result…
Thanks in advance and greetings from Düsseldorf/Germany.

I’m not sure every DAC displays the same color lights. For instance, here is what AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt displays:

  • DragonFly Cobalt - Status/Sample rates supported (LED indicator color code): Standby (Red), 44.1kHz (Green), 48kHz (Blue), 88.2kHz (Yellow), 96kHz (Light Blue), MQA (Purple).

Both Audirvana and Roon can do the MQA decoding from 44.1 and 48 to 88.2 and 96. You can let them do that and have your DAC set up to render the MQA. Or, if you have a full MQA capable DAC, you can let the DAC do both decoding and rendering. I think it depends on the DAC which is the best way to do it. Do what sounds best to you and don’t worry about the colors.

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MQA is about the perfect delivery of the data. I hope it doesn’t matter which decoder you use. The end result should be the same.

It is possible that you will hear a difference between the colors. Go for what sounds best to you and enjoy the Music.

I would go for the decode on the DAC. There is an MQA license model where the software maker pays a fee to MQA Ltd per decode. It is not known to me whether this is also the case with Audirvana.

From the manual:

  1. Audio Format LED (kHz)
    The LED colour scheme indicates the audio format and sampling frequency received by ZEN DAC from the music source.
    LED Mode
    Yellow PCM 44.1/48kHz
    White PCM 88.2/96/176.4/192/352.8/384kHz Cyan DSD 64/128
    Red DSD 256
    Green MQA
    Blue MQA Studio
    Magenta Original Sample Rate*
    *MQB
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Thank you.
The ZEN DAC V2 is a “full” MQA decoder.
Manual says:

  • magenta = original sample rate MQB (whatever that means)
  • green = MQA
  • blue = MQA studio

To be honest (and that’s my way to handle this) it is only a philosophic question. My old ears will (hopefully) let me recognize good or bad production. They can not HEAR any difference above CD quality. But, as mentioned, I only want to play :yum:

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While writing…you were faster…

You need to set it as MQA Decoder, not renderer.

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Not necessarily. Some people prefer for Roon or Audirvana to do the decoding and their DAC to do the rendering. It’s a matter of choice. There is no “you need to do this” here. For instance, in Roon (and I know we’re not talking about Roon), you can still use DSP if you let Roon do the decoding.

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I agree with the majority here. There is no right or wrong way. Whatever sounds best is what I would go with. If there is no discernible difference, any of the above choices would be fine.

Not really, there is no benefit of doing the first unfold in software if the DAC is full MQA decoder. The unfolding in software is reserved for low processing power devices like dongle DACs.

Sorry, that is not necessarily true. It is in some cases, not all.

https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/roon-x-mqa

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Why would you want to do the MQA decoding in software if the DAC is full MQA decoder? It doesn’t make sense. You’re just putting additional processing burden on the computer when it can be done in hardware.

Not sure if it even works when sending unfolded stream to a MQA decoder. It can be verified by checking the MQA light on the DAC.

I see, in the case you want to apply some processing after the first unfold. This works only in Roon though.