Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt MQA setting?

Just downloaded a trial version of Audirvana and trying all the settings on a MacBook Pro with Catalina running. I have an Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC, which allegedly is fully MQA enabled. It seems that the settings cannot be changed while music is playing, and I have to go randomly back and forth between various screens with music off to be able to change the MQA settings. Is this normal?

What is the suggested setting for the Dragonfly Cobalt? Not MQA, rendered, decoder? This Is all very confusing. I understand sort of the Master Quality Authenticated idea as a high level audio file, and that it can be decoded in various places. But beyond that, I am pretty clueless.

Next is Native DSD streaming method. Which one is appropriate here? I mainly play FLAC files. I don’t quite understand what the relationship of FLAC DSD PCM and MQA is. Pretty much an alphabet soup.

I do not own the df cobalt anyway … you don’t need to go back and forth through the settings menu, set it and forget.
Audirvana should recognize the df cobalt, if not … your cobalt is a renderer according to this faq page https://www.audioquest.com/page/aq-dragonfly-series-faq.html
You can check if MQA is recognized as a blue led will light on on your df cobalt while playing MQA files, see here the user manual
https://www.audioquest.com/resource/1092/DragonFly-Cobalt-FlightManual-EN-07-19.pdf.
You have to be aware that df cobalt can do up to 24/96 then you cannot reach the full MQA resolution that is 24/192.
Your df cobalt cannot play DSD.
For your knowledge:
pcm is the format and flac is the container of that format, other containers are aiff, alac.
Dsd is a different format and can be played to a capable dsd dac
MQA is a flac container where the pcm format has been treated with MQA proprietary coding technology and needs an MQA compliant sw and/or dac to be decoded, if no compliant sw and/or dac is available the MQA file will be played as 16/44.1.
Here you can find informations about MQA
https://www.mqa.co.uk/
Here you can find an interesting reading about MQA
https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/ca-academy/A-Comprehensive-Q-A-With-MQA-s-Bob-Stuart/

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Thanks for this MOST helpful reply! So I set the software to MQA renderer for the DF cobalt and the DSD settings do not apply so I can ignore them. Great!
.
Thanks also for the info on the relationship of the acronyms.

  • So PCM and DSD are at the same level of file format.
  • Then PCM can either be packaged into FLAC (which I would call a file format, but cannot be because PCM/DSD is the file format???)
  • Thanks for the link. Quite in depth! A bit more than I can chew. So MQA is some overlay between PCM and FLAC that upon unpacking gives better audio quality with smaller files. OK.

Forgot, there does seem to be a bug in Audirvana with the MQA switching with the DF cobalt. When music is playing, I cannot change the MQA settings. There is a warning in the Speaker icon pull up at bottom that I need to stop the music. Once I press stop, no music playing, that message does not disappear, and the MQA settings remain locked. The only way to un-lock the MQA settings is to go to the last song of the album, play it, drag the song almost to the end, then let it finish playing and come to a “natural” stop. Then the MQA settings become unlocked.

Took me a while to figure that one out.

Dragonfly is MQA renderer.

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Here some more informations about PCM


and about DSD
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Thanks again for those links. You are obviously into this sort of thing.

Hello @NiceStrongArm,

We made an update of Audirvana for MacOS (3.5.34) that fix a bug with MQA device, can you update Audirvana and try to see if your DF Cobalt is correctly recognized when Auto-detect MQA device is enabled?

Hi Damien,

I am a brand new user, so installed the most current version two days ago. Just checked for updates, but was up to date with v. 3.5.34. So the Dragonfly Cobalt MQA problem is in the current version. One mistake I made, on my macbook I am still on OS 10.14 (Mojave), haven’t updated that one yet. The dedicated music server runs on OS 10.15 (Catalina) clean install of two days ago, on a Mac Pro late 2013 (aka: soup can). Was my old main computer, so use that one as dedicated music computer with Audirvana, VinylStudio and dbpowerbase on it.

Another thing that is weird is that I have to select output in MacOS preferences, before it becomes available as an option in the speaker pull-up in Audirvana. Defeats the purpose of having a Audirvana output selection to begin with, as I now have to switch audio out in two places. That particularly applies to Airplay locations and also to the Dragonfly.

Last but not least, it took me quite a while to figure out required naming conventions for files. The way I organize it, it is
Directory for Band, Directory name = Band name
Directory for Album, Directory name = Album name
Files.
I now realize that the files need to be named:
Band name - Album name - 01 Song name.flac
not just
01 Song name.flac

Otherwise Audirvana will not recognize the files at all.

I try to get a bit better understanding of the smart playlists. It would be good to have a real example in the help file. All a bit abstract right now. Also not sure whether one can use boolean operators. For instance, include all Genre = Classical, but exclude Period = Medieval, which leaves Renaissance and Baroque in.

Still getting the hang of it. There are a few other odd things, like a Soloist is automatically added to the Artists field, so there are lots of empty Artists icons in the Artist view. Having a mixture of classical and “pop” s.l. is rather messy, as in pop the main identifier is the band (not the composer), but in classical the main identifier is the composer (not the orchestra/performer). Not sure yet how to deal with that yet.

Okay, let’s start with this, can you send me a copy of the “Debug Info”? You can get it in Audirvana Settings>General>Debug Info

Note: By clicking on the Debug Info Audirvana button automatically copies all its content, all you have to do is paste it in response to this message

Here’s the Debug info. Note that this is with me having already manually configured the Dragonfly Cobalt. I also have a Dragonfly Red, plugged that in, and it was read correctly as MQA auto

Daniel

Audirvana Mac Version 3.5.34 (3564)
macOS 10.14.6 with 32768MB RAM

Registered to Daniel Geiger

SIGNAL PROCESSING:

Polarity Inversion:
	Globally: OFF
	Per track: ON
Effects plugins NOT ACTIVE

UPSAMPLING:
SoX with 2x upsampling
SoX filter parameters
Bandwidth at 0dB = 99.5
Filter max length = 30000
Anti-aliasing = 100
Phase = 66

AUDIO VOLUME:
Max allowed volume: 100
Replay Gain: None
SW volume control: OFF

LIBRARY SETTINGS:
Sync list: 1 folders
AUTO: /Volumes/Music Server DLG/Music
iTunes/Music library synchronization: not synchronized
Library database path: /Users/danielgeiger/Library/Application Support/Audirvana/AudirvanaPlusDatabaseV2.sqlite

ACTIVE STREAMING SERVICES

=================== AUDIO DEVICE ========================

CoreAudio audio path, buffer I/O frame size: 512

Max. memory for audio buffers: 29762MB

Local Audio Engine:
Exclusive access: Enabled
Integer mode: Enabled

Preferred device:
AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:21B4:0082
UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:AQDFRD0120005956:1

Active Sample Rate: 44.1kHz
Hog Mode is off

Bridge settings:
Sample rate limitation: none
Sample rate switching latency: none
Limit bitdepth to 24bit: OFF
Mute during sample rate change: OFF

Selected device:
Local audio device
ID 0xed AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0 Manufacturer:AudioQuest
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:21B4:0082 UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:AQDFRD0120005956:1

4 available sample rates up to 96000Hz
44100
48000
88200
96000
Audio buffer frame size : 14 to 4096 frames
Current I/O buffer frame size : 512
Volume Control
Physical: Yes
Virtual: Yes
MQA capability
Auto-detect MQA devices: Yes
MQA Renderer device
DSD capability: Unhandled
Device audio channels
Preferred stereo channels L:1 R:2
Channel bitmap: Ox3, layout:
Channel 0 mapped to 0
Channel 1 mapped to 1

Audio channels in use
Number of channels: 2
Use as stereo device only: No
Simple stereo device: Yes

1 output streams:
Number of active channels: 2, in 1 stream(s)
Channel #0 :Stream 0 channel 0
Channel #1 :Stream 0 channel 1

Stream ID 0xee 2 channels starting at 1
8 virtual formats:
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

8 physical formats
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

Local devices found : 5
Device #0: ID 0xe9 AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0 Manufacturer: AudioQuest Model UID: AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1
Device #1: ID 0xed AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0 Manufacturer: AudioQuest Model UID: AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:21B4:0082 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Red v1.0:AQDFRD0120005956:1
Device #2: ID 0x4b MacBook Pro Speakers Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: Speaker UID: BuiltInSpeakerDevice
Device #3: ID 0x57 Soundflower (2ch) Manufacturer: ma++ ingalls for Cycling '74 Model UID: com_cycling74_driver_SoundflowerDevice:Soundflower UID: SoundflowerEngine:0
Device #4: ID 0x62 Soundflower (64ch) Manufacturer: ma++ ingalls for Cycling '74 Model UID: com_cycling74_driver_SoundflowerDevice:Soundflower UID: SoundflowerEngine:1

UPnP devices found : 1
Device #0: ID 0x0 Charles UID: uuid:BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB Location: http://192.168.7.31:8091/XD/BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB.xml

I would need the debug info with DF Cobalt selected in Audirvana, can you provide it here?

here it is. I think …

Audirvana Mac Version 3.5.34 (3564)
macOS 10.14.6 with 32768MB RAM

Registered to Daniel Geiger

SIGNAL PROCESSING:

Polarity Inversion:
	Globally: OFF
	Per track: ON
Effects plugins NOT ACTIVE

UPSAMPLING:
SoX with 2x upsampling
SoX filter parameters
Bandwidth at 0dB = 99.5
Filter max length = 30000
Anti-aliasing = 100
Phase = 66

AUDIO VOLUME:
Max allowed volume: 100
Replay Gain: None
SW volume control: OFF

LIBRARY SETTINGS:
Sync list: 1 folders
AUTO: /Volumes/Music Server DLG/Music
iTunes/Music library synchronization: not synchronized
Library database path: /Users/danielgeiger/Library/Application Support/Audirvana/AudirvanaPlusDatabaseV2.sqlite

ACTIVE STREAMING SERVICES

=================== AUDIO DEVICE ========================

CoreAudio audio path, buffer I/O frame size: 512

Max. memory for audio buffers: 29762MB

Local Audio Engine:
Exclusive access: Enabled
Integer mode: Enabled

Preferred device:
AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085
UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1

Active Sample Rate: 48kHz
Hog Mode is off

Bridge settings:
Sample rate limitation: none
Sample rate switching latency: none
Limit bitdepth to 24bit: OFF
Mute during sample rate change: OFF

Selected device:
Local audio device
ID 0xe9 AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0 Manufacturer:AudioQuest
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085 UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1

4 available sample rates up to 96000Hz
44100
48000
88200
96000
Audio buffer frame size : 15 to 4096 frames
Current I/O buffer frame size : 512
Volume Control
Physical: Yes
Virtual: Yes
MQA capability
Auto-detect MQA devices: Yes
MQA Renderer device
DSD capability: Unhandled
Device audio channels
Preferred stereo channels L:1 R:2
Channel bitmap: Ox3, layout:
Channel 0 mapped to 0
Channel 1 mapped to 1

Audio channels in use
Number of channels: 2
Use as stereo device only: No
Simple stereo device: Yes

1 output streams:
Number of active channels: 2, in 1 stream(s)
Channel #0 :Stream 0 channel 0
Channel #1 :Stream 0 channel 1

Stream ID 0xea 2 channels starting at 1
8 virtual formats:
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

8 physical formats
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

Local devices found : 4
Device #0: ID 0xe9 AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0 Manufacturer: AudioQuest Model UID: AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1
Device #1: ID 0x4b MacBook Pro Speakers Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: Speaker UID: BuiltInSpeakerDevice
Device #2: ID 0x57 Soundflower (2ch) Manufacturer: ma++ ingalls for Cycling '74 Model UID: com_cycling74_driver_SoundflowerDevice:Soundflower UID: SoundflowerEngine:0
Device #3: ID 0x62 Soundflower (64ch) Manufacturer: ma++ ingalls for Cycling '74 Model UID: com_cycling74_driver_SoundflowerDevice:Soundflower UID: SoundflowerEngine:1

UPnP devices found : 1
Device #0: ID 0x0 Charles UID: uuid:BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB Location: http://192.168.7.31:8091/XD/BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB.xml

Okay, both your Red and Cobalt DF are automatically identified by Audirvana. When you listen to MQA file you should have the full unfolding of the tracks.

Hi Damien,

Re the Cobalt, it was NOT recognized by auto MQA in Audirvana when I plugged it in the very first time. I had to set that manually. Now that It has been set manually, Audirvana remembers the setting. The Dragonfly Red was auto MQA recognized the very first time I plugged it in.

So I did another test, on my actual music server, a Mac Pro 2013 soup can, with less then 1 week clean install (full disk re-format) with OS 10.15 Catalina and latest AV version .34 and that has never seen the Dragonfly Cobalt. Below is the debug info from that, and as you can see MQA autodetect is off.

Also put the Dragonfly Red in the soup can, and Auto detect MQA is OFF as well. When I manually turn it on, the the option below reads “Not MQA”. I can then manually set it to MQA rendered. So Audirvana does not know that Dragonfly Red or Cobalt are MQA capable, and does not know which flavor of MQA it can do. Everything has to be set manually the first time. Thereafter AV remembers.

Did another test, with first plugging in Cobalt, then starting AV. This time Autodetect MQA is ON and recognizes as MQA rendering. So it seems that sequence of connecting equipment and booting up software matters. Hope that gives you some clues.

Best wishes

Daniel

Audirvana Mac Version 3.5.34 (3564)
macOS 10.15.4 with 32768MB RAM

Registered to Daniel Geiger

SIGNAL PROCESSING:

Polarity Inversion:
	Globally: OFF
	Per track: ON
Effects plugins NOT ACTIVE

UPSAMPLING:
SoX with 2x upsampling
SoX filter parameters
Bandwidth at 0dB = 99.5
Filter max length = 30000
Anti-aliasing = 100
Phase = 66

AUDIO VOLUME:
Max allowed volume: 100
Replay Gain: None
SW volume control: OFF

LIBRARY SETTINGS:
Sync list: 1 folders
AUTO: /Volumes/Music Server DLG/Music
iTunes/Music library synchronization: not synchronized
Library database path: /Users/danielgeiger/Library/Application Support/Audirvana/AudirvanaPlusDatabaseV2.sqlite

ACTIVE STREAMING SERVICES

=================== AUDIO DEVICE ========================

CoreAudio audio path, buffer I/O frame size: 512

Max. memory for audio buffers: 29696MB

Local Audio Engine:
Exclusive access: Enabled
Integer mode: Enabled

Preferred device:
AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085
UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1

Active Sample Rate: 96kHz
Hog Mode is off

Bridge settings:
Sample rate limitation: none
Sample rate switching latency: none
Limit bitdepth to 24bit: OFF
Mute during sample rate change: OFF

Selected device:
Local audio device
ID 0x29 AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0 Manufacturer:AudioQuest
Model UID:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085 UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1

4 available sample rates up to 96000Hz
44100
48000
88200
96000
Audio buffer frame size : 29 to 4096 frames
Current I/O buffer frame size : 512
Volume Control
Physical: Yes
Virtual: Yes
MQA capability
Auto-detect MQA devices: No
Not a MQA device, user set to not MQA
DSD capability: Unhandled
Device audio channels
Preferred stereo channels L:1 R:2
Channel bitmap: Ox3, layout:
Channel 0 mapped to 0
Channel 1 mapped to 1

Audio channels in use
Number of channels: 2
Use as stereo device only: No
Simple stereo device: Yes

1 output streams:
Number of active channels: 2, in 1 stream(s)
Channel #0 :Stream 0 channel 0
Channel #1 :Stream 0 channel 1

Stream ID 0x2a 2 channels starting at 1
8 virtual formats:
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

8 physical formats
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

Local devices found : 5
Device #0: ID 0x3c Built-in Output Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: AppleHDA:120 UID: AppleHDAEngineOutput:1B,0,1,1:0
Device #1: ID 0x43 DisplayPort Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: AppleHDA:120 UID: AppleHDAEngineOutputDP:0,1,0,1,1:0:{1006-9226-153203B9}
Device #2: ID 0x34 Display Audio Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: Display Audio:05AC:1105 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:Apple Inc.:Display Audio:B9033215:2,1
Device #3: ID 0x29 AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0 Manufacturer: AudioQuest Model UID: AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:21B4:0085 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:AudioQuest:AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt v1.0:AQDFCB0100104715:1
Device #4: ID 0x2d Vincent Manufacturer: Shengya audio Model UID: Vincent:262A:9123 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:Shengya audio:Vincent:200000:2

UPnP devices found : 1
Device #0: ID 0x0 Charles UID: uuid:BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB Location: http://192.168.7.31:8091/XD/BO5EBO5E-F00D-F00D-FEED-7C010A9412FB.xml