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JohhnyP

How to get Tidal MQA on my HiFi

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Hi,

I am hoping for a little help. 
I am currently trialing Tidal and Qobuz. I am streaming through a Chronecast Audio via Toslink into a Cyrus 8 DAC. I can stream relatively hi-res with Qobuz, but only CD quality with Tidal. 
is there an inexpensive way of streaming Tidal MQA in my setup? 
I know I can use a Bluesound Node 2i but that is £500 and I’m not sure how good the sound quality would be compared to Qobuz through my Cyrus DAC. 
John 

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2 hours ago, HC515 said:

Try using a PC/laptop.

Thanks for the advice, but I don’t have/want a PC/laptop in my living room. 

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@JohhnyP   Turn the volume up higher (just kidding had to say it for the 'MQA is Vaporware' crowd) or get a mac mini used one like a late 2012 with el capitan(you can hardly see it)

Edited by bobbmd
correction

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I might be able to help somewhat, but I still have more questions than answers.

 

Some time ago I did an experiment with DragonFly Dac's using different sources.  I also want good sound in my living room.  My amp was very good, my speakers were very good.  I wanted to know what difference the streaming source had upon the sound quality.  I verified my experiment with my wife ( she has the good ears) and my boys. 

 

I had already experimented with the Dragonfly 1.2 vs Dragonfly Red.  The Red one was indeed better.  I then wanted to learn if the source mattered.  I had two laptops, an iPhone, and an iPad all streaming Tidal. At the time of the experiment, the Masters files could NOT be streamed via the app, so I confined my listening experiment to non Masters files.

 

The iPad and iPhone sounded about the same. The Laptops sounded better - maybe much better.  I think the laptops were both Dell mid-size units.

 

I subsequently purchased a micro laptop for streaming only.  It worked, but it was so profoundly slow that I just couldn't continue using the micro.  I suppose loading the windows operating system was a 2 minute wait, and any click of the mouse required 15-30 seconds of wait - especially for a new app to load.  Maybe the new micro laptops are faster.

 

I have seen some evolution with Tidal music.  The app can now stream masters quality.  But, it seems like a laptop will always be the most versatile source and the most future-proof.  And, for me, the laptop provided the best sound quality with the Dragonfly DACs.  I also didn't want a Laptop for music in my living room, but it works 

 

What are you using for Google Chromecast ?

 

My current set of questions.... I am trying to figure out what TV to purchase that will allow me to maybe use it as a Tidal digital audio source. And, the quality of the digital audio source probably matters.  Hmmmmm.  More research  .....

 

I must admit some bias.  I think a great recording can indeed sound terrific - even at CD quality bandwidth.  An ordinary CD from Chesky or Reference Recordings... wonderful !!  in my opinion.  I believe recording quality is more crucial than the number of bits and bytes.

 

Hopefully some of my comments are helpful.

 

 

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@David Ellis  And for  @JohhnyP i agree hadn’t thought of using AQDFred or even meridian explorer 2 as a DAC and Google home will connect with TIDAL and ROON but will not do MQA I don’t think—still don’t how you would listen headless without a screen of some type

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Hi, my iPhone would be the screen, and the CCA takes the stream directly from Tidal over WiFi. I just cannot find a reasonably priced streamer that decodes MQA. At the moment my CCA is just a streamer outputting via Toslink into my Cyrus 8 DAC. 

Edited by JohhnyP
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Depends what you mean by reasonable. The Pioneer N-30AE seems to be the cheapest MQA decoding streamer & can be found in the UK for less £300 new & about half that second hand on eBay, eg:

https://petertyson.co.uk/pioneer-n-30ae-network-player

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pioneer-N30AE/202839479328?hash=item2f3a2cd420:g:vvEAAOSwmFVd465l

 

The N-30AE is a few years old & MQA decoding support was added via a firmware update at the end of last year - so don't be put off by MQA decoding not being mentioned in the advertised specs:

Pioneer N-30AE firmware change history


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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2 minutes ago, Cebolla said:

Depends what you mean by reasonable. The Pioneer N-30AE seems to be the cheapest MQA decoding streamer & can be found in the UK for less £300 new & about half that second hand on eBay, eg:

https://petertyson.co.uk/pioneer-n-30ae-network-player

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pioneer-N30AE/202839479328?hash=item2f3a2cd420:g:vvEAAOSwmFVd465l

 

The N-30AE is a few years old & MQA decoding support was added via a firmware update at the end of last year - so don't be put off by MQA decoding not being mentioned in the advertised specs:

Pioneer N-30AE firmware change history

Cool, thank you, didn’t realise you could get one so cheap. I’ve made an offer. 

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Blimey that was quick!

 

BTW, thought it best to warn you all MQA decoding is performed by its internal DAC (so no decoding to the MQA Core signal aka 'first unfold' by its built-in audio file player) and there's no digital output anyway, just in case you were hoping to attach your Cyrus DAC to it. The better featured Pioneer models in the same series can be used with an external DAC, but again all MQA decoding is performed by the internal DAC so the MQA signal can only be passed through undecoded.


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Thanks for the warning. I do t know how good the DAC is in my Cyrus amp compared to that in the Pioneer streamer. The reason I am so interested is that Qobuz is a pain in the arse in that it is constantly disconnecting from the Chromecast and then losing connection to it when Tidal (and any other service) can still see it. 

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Well hopefully you should be able to compare the two DACs with exactly the same bog standard hi-res FLAC file tracks from Qobuz and make a judgement that way. Again it's not advertised, but the N-30AE should be able to be used as a UPnP/DLNA renderer like its N-50AE bigger brother, so Qobuz access is available via a Qobuz supporting UPnP/DLNA controller like the mconnect Player app (free Lite version available for testing) or the BubbleUPnP Android app (unlicensed version is free).

 

BTW, both mconnect Player & BubbleUPnP apps can also be used to control Chromecast devices and support TIDAL too, so worth trying with your Chromecast Audio!

 

However only mconnect Player can provide access to TIDAL's hi-res MQA tracks untouched but they are undecoded (so passthrough only at either 24bit/44.1kHz or 24bit/48KHz); BubbleUPnP does not support MQA, so the TIDAL online server delivers a doctored CD res 16 bit/44.1kHz version of them (suspected to be like MQA CD tracks).


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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On 12/2/2019 at 12:33 AM, HC515 said:

Try using a PC/laptop.

I'm trying to find the least expensive way for my brother to get Tidal to his audio system. It consists of an integrated amp, a Marantz CD/SACD player with a surprisingly good DAC that can be used externally, and speakers. 

 

He does have a fairly new Mac laptop. How exactly can he stream to his system using that? Thanks for any help. 

 

JC

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Using the Mac Laptop to source and Tidal will be extremely easy. Getting this digital stream to the DAC MIGHT be slightly precarious.

 

You will have to look at the inputs for the DAC to determine what inputs are available.  The perfectly easy input would be USB.  A simple USB cable is all that's necessary.  This would be easy and perfect !

 

Minor tangent regarding USB cables...  They are not all the same. Length does matter.  I have not ventured wildly into this foray of fancy USB cables, but did find that a 1' long generic USB cable sounded much better than a 3' long generic USB cable.  I am using this 1' long USB cable between my Dell Laptop and MiniDSP (also a DAC).

 

If the DAC has optical or coax digital inputs, you may have to purchase a USB to XXX converter.  There are some inexpensive converters on Amazon and these will get your brother started.  I believe there are qualitative differences among converters, but I have not evaluated this issue in my workshop or living room.

 

Hopefully this helps.

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I've been using a 10 ft generic USB cable without any issues streaming both Tidal and Amazon HD to an external DAC or the internal DAC.

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On 12/3/2019 at 7:04 PM, Cebolla said:

Depends what you mean by reasonable. The Pioneer N-30AE seems to be the cheapest MQA decoding streamer & can be found in the UK for less £300 new & about half that second hand on eBay, eg:

https://petertyson.co.uk/pioneer-n-30ae-network-player

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pioneer-N30AE/202839479328?hash=item2f3a2cd420:g:vvEAAOSwmFVd465l

 

The N-30AE is a few years old & MQA decoding support was added via a firmware update at the end of last year - so don't be put off by MQA decoding not being mentioned in the advertised specs:

Pioneer N-30AE firmware change history

I have decided to go for the N-30AE for its MQA facility. Would you happen to know if you can stream MQA to it via WiFi? I know that it is normally restricted to 96kHz over WiFi, but because MQA is a smaller file wondered if it could effect this over WiFi? I’ve asked the Pioneer technical helpline who said yes, but I wasn’t convinced that they were sure!

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Not really following what you are saying here. TIDAL's online server supplies its hi-res MQA Masters tracks in a FLAC file container at a resolution of either 24bit/44.1kHz or 24bit/48kHz, ie, they are at their normal undecoded/distribution resolution. So the sample rate of the tracks being received by the N-30AE directly from TIDAL's online server (via either its WiFi or its wired connection to the network), will always be less than 96kHz you're concerned about.

 

I just had a look at its instruction manual (p.18) and it actually says that streaming audio files with sample rates of 88.2 kHz or higher are not supported via its wireless network connection. Not sure if that's an actual restriction or more a recommendation, so perhaps Pioneer are just not guaranteeing dropout free playback when network streaming audio files with those higher sample rates via the N-30AE's WiFi connection.

 

What I'd be concerned about is the mention of the N-30AE not supporting gapless playback from what the manual calls 'remote playback', ie, when using UPnP/DLNA controllers, such as the BubbleUPnP Android app (the manual mentions the Windows 10 built-in UPnP/DLNA controller 'Cast to Device' function as an example). More worrying, perhaps, is that the manual also mentions FLAC (as well as DSD) files not supported using 'remote play' - which would imply not being able to use BubbleUPnP or mconnect Player with the N-30AE for streaming FLAC file tracks from Qobuz & TIDAL at all, never mind them not being able to be played gaplessly! Having said that, the latest firmware update mentions 'Improve playback stability for FLAC files', so it's possible that this no longer applies.


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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4 hours ago, JohhnyP said:

I have decided to go for the N-30AE for its MQA facility. Would you happen to know if you can stream MQA to it via WiFi? I know that it is normally restricted to 96kHz over WiFi, but because MQA is a smaller file wondered if it could effect this over WiFi? I’ve asked the Pioneer technical helpline who said yes, but I wasn’t convinced that they were sure!

 

Forgot to mention in the first part of my previous post that this could be an issue for the N-30AE WiFi streaming hi-res tracks from Qobuz's online server rather than the hi-res (MQA) 24bit/48kHz max tracks from TIDAL's online server, since the Qobuz online server provides true (so, containing lossless bog standard normal LPCM, ie, not lossy MQA encoded LPCM) hi-res FLAC tracks at up to 24bit/192kHz.


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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That should be OK, then. I really like the sound quality from Qobuz, but it kept disconnecting from the Chromecast Audio and was driving me mad! It should be here in a few days. I’m just a bit worried about the quality of the DAC as there is no digital out. 

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