MacBook Pro Topping E30, FLAC and MQA questions

Hi there!
I just signed up for Tidal HiFi, and installed the 30 days trial of Audirvana on my Mac.
My DAC is a Topping E30. So far, I’m really enjoying Audirvana, with the remote app, running on my Galaxy S20+.
I especially love exploring the MQA masters at Tidal.
Since the E30 isn’t capable of doing the whole MQA unfolding, I set Audirvana to use the DAC as the MQA renderer. Everything works and sounds pretty amazing.
But, FLAC files show as 16bit/ 44.1kHZ on the player, and as 32/88.2 on the DAC side. Why is that?
Plus, even if some Master albums are 24/192 on Tidal, my DAC still shows 24/96.
Is that the maximum if the app is doing the first unfolding process in the software?
Thx a lot in advance for your input!

Audirvana 3.5 integrates the MQA Core Decoder that performs the first unfolding (up to 88.2 or 96kHz) to benefit from the high resolution of the MQA audio files even without an MQA audio device. By MQA decision, the second unfolding (to 176.4 or 192kHz) can be performed only in a MQA renderer/decoder DAC.

Non MQA capable audio devices can benefit from the high resolution (doubled sample rate compared to the encoded file one) thanks to the MQA decoder integrated in Audirvana 3.
In this case, Audirvana brings, in addition to the general Sound Quality improvement, the decoding of the MQA file that would be played only at little above CD quality otherwise, losing all its high resolution benefits. Note that decoding the signal beyond twice the sampling rate of the encoded file (for the few rare recordings actually made above 96kHz) can only be done in a DAC MQA.

You then need to leave “Not MQA decoder” for your DAC in the Audio Settings, so that Audirvana performs the MQA decoding.

If you have a DAC that is “MQA decoder” then, you can select MQA decoder. That means that no audio processing done in Audirvana, as the DAC is doing all of the MQA decoding.
If you have a DAC that is “MQA renderer” then, you can select MQA renderer. That means MQA first unfolding done in Audirvana, and no other audio processing as the DAC is doing the other unfolding

The Blue color means that the file is “Studio authenticated”.
The Green color is for other MQA audio file.

Ok. So, with the E30 (not MQA ready), do I need to set the software to " MQA renderer" (DAC does the rendering, the last stage of the unfolding, if I understand correctly), or “not MQA decoder”?
And why are FLACs shown as 32bit/ 88.2kHz on the DAC side? Is there some upscaling going on?
Thanks again!

You need to set it as “not MQA”, it’s possible that your DAC do only support 32 bit, this is why you see 32/88 on your DAC side.

Hmmm. OK.
So, the MacBook and the software does all the unfolding, right?
The E30 supports 16, 24, 32 bit and sampling rates from 44.1 - 768kHz.

Correct, but it will do only the first “unfold”, to 88.2 or 96KHz respectively. It can’t do the full unfold, for that you need hardware support.

Ah, ok. I see.
So, 96kHz is the maximum I can achieve with this DAC.
Ok, then only thing I don’t get, is why 16 bit is upscaled to 24 bit (if I set max bit depth to 24), or 32 bit, when I stream 16 bit files.

This is a different story. What you see on the right is the max bit width your DAC supports.

So on the right side it’s not showing the actual bit rate in the DAC?
With HiFi FLACs it shows 32/44.1 and with MQA with 44.1 sampling rate it shows 24/ 88.2
Is that the way it’s meant to be? :wink:
Just want to be sure that everything is correct.

I would expect it to show 32/88.2 but it’s probably ok. Maybe that’s after you select to limit it to 24 bit.

I haven’t selected the limitation to 24 bit. With normal HiFi FLACs that are 16/44.1 it shows 32/44.1 on the DAC side…
I guess, I’m officially confused… :wink:

So, that’s the way it’s meant to be? And it’s the best way to operate the software with this DAC?
Just want to be sure before I finally buy the software.

Yep, you’re good like this.

@Michael_Schmitt I actually have a similar set-up with a Topping E30, what I’ve done is set it at the highest bitrate that works reliably, which is around the 32bit ~ 512. I believe I remember reading from Tidal that “Masters” can occassionally above the “typically 96 kHz / 24 bit” spec so I’ve kept Mac Audio MIDI set-up high with the topping e30 with good results.

Also, on E30, I’ve used Filter 4 on the Topping E30 and power it with some external Anker powerbank bricks, which I cycle through charging so I’m not out of power. I’ve heard the Topping is quite sensitive to power sources and have had good success.

Curious to hear about your set-up and how you’re enjoying it, best of luck!

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Hi there!
I haven’t changed anything in my Audio Midi setup since I’ve started using Audirvana.
To my understanding, it overrides all the settings and takes control over sampling rate, etc., it even deactivates the volume control of the Mac. All is good on this side.
I’ve bought the software, and I really enjoy using my Android phone with the remote app.
Still, I’m curious, why my DAC is doing upsampling with 44.1/16 files.
The E30`s display, and the remote app show 88.2/32 bit in this case.