Horrible super-loud distortion when playing MQA tracks

Macbook Air running High Sierra, latest version of Audirvana, into PureAudio Lotus DAC5.

I think this started happening after I updated the Audirvana software yesterday. MQA tracks played well before. Everything still sounds great until I play an MQA file (from Tidal). Then, it’s hell for several seconds. I get an unbelievably loud burst of sound at what appears to be maximum volume, forcing me to lunge for the volume control.

I’ve restarted the Mac, quit and relaunched Audirvana, powercycled the DAC, still the same problem. Audirvana is now next to useless to me because I play mostly Tidal playlists and there is at least a smattering of MQA tracks in each one, which are like nasty little time bombs now. When listening to music, I live in constant nervousness that the deafening, possibly speaker-destroying burst of noise will return.

What do I do?

Try to disable replay gain if it’s enabled? Did it ever work? Is your DAC MQA capable?

I’ve experienced the same problem and I use Tidal too, but it doesn’t happen with every MQA track, just some. However, when it happens I lunge for the remote too. I don’t have an MQA DAC. I’m running the latest rev of Audirvana with High Sierra on a MacBook Pro. Right now, I can’t any one thing triggers it. It’s pretty random.

Hello @Fifinder,

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 button, Audirvana automatically copies all its content, all you have to do is paste it in response to this message

Gladly! Thanks!

Audirvana Mac Version 3.5.39 (3569)
macOS 10.13.6 with 8192MB RAM

SIGNAL PROCESSING:

Polarity Inversion:
	Globally: OFF
	Per track: ON
Effects plugins ACTIVE in offline mode
	AU plugin #0: Effect - Apple AUGraphicEQ ()
	AU plugin #1: Effect - Apple AUParametricEQ ()
	AU plugin #2: None
	AU plugin #3: None

UPSAMPLING:
SoX with device max frequency 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: ON

LIBRARY SETTINGS:
Sync list: 1 folders
AUTO: /Volumes/8TB (2016)/Network Music
iTunes/Music library synchronization: not synchronized
Library database path: /Users/rogiersmacbookair/Library/Application Support/Audirvana/AudirvanaPlusDatabaseV2.sqlite

ACTIVE STREAMING SERVICES
Qobuz: Connected as Qobuz Studio
TIDAL: Connected as HIFI

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

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

Max. memory for audio buffers: 5120MB

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

Preferred device:
Lotus DAC5
Model UID:Lotus DAC5:16D0:ECA1
UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:PureAudio:Lotus DAC5:14200000:1

Active Sample Rate: 384kHz
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 0x3b Lotus DAC5 Manufacturer:PureAudio
Model UID:Lotus DAC5:16D0:ECA1 UID:AppleUSBAudioEngine:PureAudio:Lotus DAC5:14200000:1

8 available sample rates up to 384000Hz
44100
48000
88200
96000
176400
192000
352800
384000
Audio buffer frame size : 116 to 4096 frames
Current I/O buffer frame size : 512
Volume Control
Physical: No
Virtual: No
MQA capability
Auto-detect MQA devices: Yes
Not a MQA device, user set to MQA Decoder
DSD capability: DSD via PCM 1.1
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 0x3c 2 channels starting at 1
24 virtual formats:
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 384kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 352.8kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 192kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 32 little endian Signed Float 176.4kHz
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 aligned low in 32bit 384kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 352.8kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 192kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 176.4kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 384kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 352.8kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 192kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 176.4kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

32 physical formats
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 384kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 352.8kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 192kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 176.4kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 44.1kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 384kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 352.8kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 192kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 176.4kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 384kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 352.8kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 192kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 176.4kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 24 little endian Signed Integer aligned low in 32bit 44.1kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 384kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 352.8kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 192kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 176.4kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 96kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 88.2kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 48kHz
2 ch Non-mixable linear PCM Interleaved 16 little endian Signed Integer 44.1kHz

Local devices found : 2
Device #0: ID 0x31 Built-in Output Manufacturer: Apple Inc. Model UID: AppleHDA:114 UID: AppleHDAEngineOutput:1B,0,1,1:0
Device #1: ID 0x3b Lotus DAC5 Manufacturer: PureAudio Model UID: Lotus DAC5:16D0:ECA1 UID: AppleUSBAudioEngine:PureAudio:Lotus DAC5:14200000:1

UPnP devices found : 1
Device #0: ID 0x0 LS50 Wireless home office UID: uuid:5f9ec1b3-ed59-1900-4530-84171500e143 Location: http://10.0.1.8:8080/description.xml

Can you deactivate your Audio Unit plugin and do a test?

Thank you Damien. I was full of hope but turning off the audio units plugins made no difference. Maybe the quality of the distortion was different — more of a horrible hiss? — but still startling and deafening.

I would try with no upsampling…

Thanks for the suggestion. Tried it. No dice. Still the same horrid distortion. :frowning:

Can you deactivate those two options?You can get it in the audio output settings

Also try to deactivate Auto detect MQA and set to Non MQA.

I turned off Exclusive Access and still get the distortion. As for Integer Mode, that option seems to be missing entirely. I don’t know why. See screenshot attached.

By the way, I switched to a different USB DAC earlier today for half an hour, to see if the distortion persists. It does. So it’s not the DAC. It’s either the computer, or it’s Audirvana. Given that I was able to stream MQA files just fine (via my current computer) until four or five days ago, my money’s on the software. Things seems to have gone haywire after I upgraded Audirvana to the latest version.

Thanks for any further help!

It’s set to MQA decoder. Set it to “Non MQA”.

Yup, that did it. Thanks bitracer!

@bitracer, @Damien3

I spoke too soon. It worked great yesterday. I haven’t changed a single thing but today the horrible distortion is back when I stream Tidal MQA files over USB. FML. It has to be an Audirvana issue considering that options in my Audirvana audio settings keep simply disappearing. That’s right. See the attached screenshot. Note that it says “MQA decoder,” but there is currently no option to change anything. It’s not just greyed out, it’s gone. I’ve noticed this before a few times.

Restarting the Mac doesn’t seem to help (doesn’t bring back the missing MQA decoder option), nor does relaunching Audirvana. But the feature/option comes and goes and I don’t know why. Help!

You can disable the Auto detect MQA capability.