Jump to content
IGNORED

MQA DAC for our current setup


Recommended Posts

Hey everyone,

 

we currently have a Marantz SR7005 receiver, to which we have our speakers connected to. The Marantz does not support MQA format, so our question was, whether we could use an external DAC which supports MQA, who gets the signal from a MacBook, and then connect that DAC to our Marantz, who then again sends it to our speakers. Would that allows us to stream songs in MQA Quality to our speakers? If not, how could we stream it? And do you guys have any recommendations for a good MQA Dac?

 

Thank you in advance for your answers.

Link to comment

Yes. But what price range do you want to spend for the DAC? And are you committed to Tidal MQA or did you just want a new DAC to get better sound?

Because from a ease of use perspective, it may be better to just buy a streamer+DAC instead of just a DAC and then you don’t have to keep the laptop hooked up to the DAC all the time. You can control the streamer with your phone/tablet/laptop.

Do you have an Ethernet jack near your Marantz SR7005?

Link to comment

Any signal, digital or analog you run into the Marantz receiver from a DAC, Streamer or Turntable, will still go through Marantz's internal DAC.  So if you hook up a MQA DAC and send the signal via analog (say to the CD or Phone input) it will then get converted back to digital, go through whatever up sampling, eq effects or surround processing you have set, then go back to analog.

 

Does this matter? It's up to you.  You can turn off all the eq and surround modes.  You could use Pure Direct mode and see what happens.  But your still using the internal DAC which will destroy that pure MQA signal your wanting to hear.  Nothing wrong with trying.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

Link to comment
27 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

Any signal, digital or analog you run into the Marantz receiver from a DAC, Streamer or Turntable, will still go through Marantz's internal DAC. 

 

You can turn off all the eq and surround modes.  You could use Pure Direct mode and see what happens.  But your still using the internal DAC which will destroy that pure MQA signal your wanting to hear.

I don’t think that’s true. If you disable Audyssey or just go into Pure Direct mode, I think Marantz bypasses the internal ADC & DAC and just feed the signal to the analog preamplifier directly. I have friends with higher-end Marantz processors and in Pure Direct analog mode, the preamplifier section is quite transparent so I highly doubt the internal DAC is in use.

But you make a very good point. If @Jeypi plans on or needs to use Audyssey for music playback, then you’re using Marantz’s internal ADC & DAC so playing MQA through an external DAC would not give you as much (or little or no) gain. 

Link to comment
14 minutes ago, ecwl said:

I don’t think that’s true. If you disable Audyssey or just go into Pure Direct mode, I think Marantz bypasses the internal ADC & DAC and just feed the signal to the analog preamplifier directly. I have friends with higher-end Marantz processors and in Pure Direct analog mode, the preamplifier section is quite transparent so I highly doubt the internal DAC is in use.

But you make a very good point. If @Jeypi plans on or needs to use Audyssey for music playback, then you’re using Marantz’s internal ADC & DAC so playing MQA through an external DAC would not give you as much (or little or no) gain. 

It's been awhile since I had my 7005.  For reference sake, I used my PS Audio DSD senior DAC which is MQA certified and played it through my 7005 and and it sounded fine.  But played direct to my amps sounded a ton better.  You could use the 7.1 inputs and not use the CD or Phone inputs and get a more direct sound.  This would be the only way to avoid bass management or turn off your subs if you have them.  All your subs have to go through processing, unless your using REL's with the high pass feature.

 

Here's an excerpt from AVS forum. circa 2008 about the Marantz 7005 

 

As far as I know, all D&M receivers and pre/pros do this and it is considered normal. Direct/Pure Direct mode does indeed insure that there is nothing in the signal path. There is no processing or bass management of any kind. All that the LFE + Main setting does is send a "copy" of the signal to the subwoofer. The subwoofer is sent a signal which is crossed over at the frequency you had previously set in your speaker setup menu. If you change this setting to LFE then the signal is NOT copied to the subwoofer. In either case, there is no change in the signal that your main speakers are receiving. They will continue to receive a full range, unprocessed signal.


If you're trying to use Direct mode to get a fully unprocessed signal for high quality stereo listening, please remember that all inputs on modern receivers and pre/pros are re-digitized, including hdmi and all of the analog (RCA + XLR) inputs. If you have an expensive DAC or analog rig you should keep this in mind. The only exception are the 7.1 multi-channel RCA inputs. These are left in the analog domain and are only effected by the volume control. I would use these for an external DAC or vinyl playback
 

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, ecwl said:

Yes. But what price range do you want to spend for the DAC? And are you committed to Tidal MQA or did you just want a new DAC to get better sound?

Because from a ease of use perspective, it may be better to just buy a streamer+DAC instead of just a DAC and then you don’t have to keep the laptop hooked up to the DAC all the time. You can control the streamer with your phone/tablet/laptop.

Do you have an Ethernet jack near your Marantz SR7005?

We're currently using Spotify as default for streaming, but we always felt like using that streaming service was definitely not using the full potential of our speakers (nubert nuline 5.1 system). So now we just want to test, whether an upgrade to Tidal with a new DAC is worth the additional cost. 

 

We were also considering getting a streamer+DAC, as convenience is a big factor for the family members who don't care as much about sound quality, as my dad and I do. Our maximum price is 1000€. We were looking at the iFi Neo iDSD, which you can get for ~750€ and also seems to be able to support streaming. But any recommendations are more than welcome. Due to lockdown, we can't go to any store to test them out, so we'll probably just order a DAC, and send it back if we don't like it. We also have an Ethernet Jack near our Marantz.

Link to comment
55 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

It's been awhile since I had my 7005.  For reference sake, I used my PS Audio DSD senior DAC which is MQA certified and played it through my 7005 and and it sounded fine.  But played direct to my amps sounded a ton better.  You could use the 7.1 inputs and not use the CD or Phone inputs and get a more direct sound.  This would be the only way to avoid bass management or turn off your subs if you have them.  All your subs have to go through processing, unless your using REL's with the high pass feature.

 

Here's an excerpt from AVS forum. circa 2008 about the Marantz 7005 

 

As far as I know, all D&M receivers and pre/pros do this and it is considered normal. Direct/Pure Direct mode does indeed insure that there is nothing in the signal path. There is no processing or bass management of any kind. All that the LFE + Main setting does is send a "copy" of the signal to the subwoofer. The subwoofer is sent a signal which is crossed over at the frequency you had previously set in your speaker setup menu. If you change this setting to LFE then the signal is NOT copied to the subwoofer. In either case, there is no change in the signal that your main speakers are receiving. They will continue to receive a full range, unprocessed signal.


If you're trying to use Direct mode to get a fully unprocessed signal for high quality stereo listening, please remember that all inputs on modern receivers and pre/pros are re-digitized, including hdmi and all of the analog (RCA + XLR) inputs. If you have an expensive DAC or analog rig you should keep this in mind. The only exception are the 7.1 multi-channel RCA inputs. These are left in the analog domain and are only effected by the volume control. I would use these for an external DAC or vinyl playback
 

Thank you for your help! I wouldn't mind the sub to be turned off during music playback, as we only use it for movies. Most DACs only have a left and right output, right? Wouldn't that mean, that if I connect them to the 7.1 multi-channel RCA input, that only my left and right front speaker would provide playback?

Link to comment
29 minutes ago, Jeypi said:

We're currently using Spotify as default for streaming, but we always felt like using that streaming service was definitely not using the full potential of our speakers (nubert nuline 5.1 system). So now we just want to test, whether an upgrade to Tidal with a new DAC is worth the additional cost. 

 

We were also considering getting a streamer+DAC, as convenience is a big factor for the family members who don't care as much about sound quality, as my dad and I do. Our maximum price is 1000€. We were looking at the iFi Neo iDSD, which you can get for ~750€ and also seems to be able to support streaming. But any recommendations are more than welcome. Due to lockdown, we can't go to any store to test them out, so we'll probably just order a DAC, and send it back if we don't like it. We also have an Ethernet Jack near our Marantz.

Sorry to keep asking questions but how are you getting Spotify from your MacBook into the Marantz SR7005 right now? Are you using the headphone jack into the Marantz stereo input? Are you using headphone jack into Marantz optical input? Or are you using Airplay into Marantz? I suspect AirPlay should get you the best sound.

 

My suggestion is actually to get Tidal HiFi for a free trial first to see if you hear a big difference first before making up your mind on whether you want to also get a new DAC or DAC+streamer. Even without MQA, Tidal HiFi tracks are lossless whereas Spotify is lossy so there is a sonic difference but it comes down to whether you care to pay the extra $10/month. If you’re not hearing a huge difference between lossless non-MQA Tidal vs Spotify, I doubt you’ll hear a huge difference between MQA vs non-MQA lossless. But you might still get upgraded sound with a DAC upgrade though.

 

Btw, I think of iFi Neo iDSD more as a DAC than a streamer because you still need to hook up a computer to it (or send computer audio via bluetooth to it). I usually recommend most people streamers that can directly download the music online and the only function your phone/tablet/laptop is to tell the streamer what to play. Once you sent the instructions on the playlist, you can turn off your phone, tablet, laptop and the music would still playing. Whereas with iFi Neo iDSD, if the computer is off, the music stops playing. So I’d think of the iFi Neo iDSD as a DAC where you’d have to directly hook up the MacBook via USB into the iFi to get optimal sound.

 

For MQA streamers in your price range, I think I can only think of Bluesound Node 2i. Not sure how much of a DAC upgrade it is compared to your Marantz internal DAC (other than it being able to do MQA). There is probably some sonic improvements. Just don’t know how much.

 

For MQA DACs, where you need to hook up your laptop to the DAC then DAC to Marantz, there is Topping D90 MQA, AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt. Or of course, the iFi Neo iDSD.

 

And I agree that you should not spend $4000 on the PS Audio DSD Jr DAC because the analog preamplifier section of the Marantz probably would not show off the more expensive DAC’s capabilities. I think your maximum budget of 1000 euro is appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
2 minutes ago, ecwl said:

Sorry to keep asking questions but how are you getting Spotify from your MacBook into the Marantz SR7005 right now? Are you using the headphone jack into the Marantz stereo input? Are you using headphone jack into Marantz optical input? Or are you using Airplay into Marantz? I suspect AirPlay should get you the best sound.

 

My suggestion is actually to get Tidal HiFi for a free trial first to see if you hear a big difference first before making up your mind on whether you want to also get a new DAC or DAC+streamer. Even without MQA, Tidal HiFi tracks are lossless whereas Spotify is lossy so there is a sonic difference but it comes down to whether you care to pay the extra $10/month. If you’re not hearing a huge difference between lossless non-MQA Tidal vs Spotify, I doubt you’ll hear a huge difference between MQA vs non-MQA lossless. But you might still get upgraded sound with a DAC upgrade though.

 

Btw, I think of iFi Neo iDSD more as a DAC than a streamer because you still need to hook up a computer to it (or send computer audio via bluetooth to it). I usually recommend most people streamers that can directly download the music online and the only function your phone/tablet/laptop is to tell the streamer what to play. Once you sent the instructions on the playlist, you can turn off your phone, tablet, laptop and the music would still playing. Whereas with iFi Neo iDSD, if the computer is off, the music stops playing. So I’d think of the iFi Neo iDSD as a DAC where you’d have to directly hook up the MacBook via USB into the iFi to get optimal sound.

 

For MQA streamers in your price range, I think I can only think of Bluesound Node 2i. Not sure how much of a DAC upgrade it is compared to your Marantz internal DAC (other than it being able to do MQA). There is probably some sonic improvements. Just don’t know how much.

 

For MQA DACs, where you need to hook up your laptop to the DAC then DAC to Marantz, there is Topping D90 MQA, AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt. Or of course, the iFi Neo iDSD.

 

And I agree that you should not spend $4000 on the PS Audio DSD Jr DAC because the analog preamplifier section of the Marantz probably would not show off the more expensive DAC’s capabilities. I think your maximum budget of 1000 euro is appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for all the help! We currently play Spotify either through our Apple TV or through our MacBook by connecting it to our receiver through HDMI. Tidal on Apple TV doesn't support MQA (or Hifi, as far as I know), so we connected the MacBook to compare Spotify and Tidal with Hifi Sound. We ensured that we don't have a placebo effect by not knowing which streaming service we were using right now and all of us could tell a significant difference between Spotify and Tidal. Airplay to our Apple TV doesn't sound as good as directly streaming it from the Apple TV, for either Tidal and Spotify. Airplay into Marantz isn't very stable, which is why we don't use it.

 

And thanks for pointing out, that Neo iDSD is not a streamer. The Tidal Connect website was a bit misleading and made me think, that all ifi products support it (which of course is not the case).

 

I will definitely check out the Node 2i, thank you for your help!

 

 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Jeypi said:

Thank you for your help! I wouldn't mind the sub to be turned off during music playback, as we only use it for movies. Most DACs only have a left and right output, right? Wouldn't that mean, that if I connect them to the 7.1 multi-channel RCA input, that only my left and right front speaker would provide playback?

Concerning the L/R connection that's probably true.  Now, you may find as many have that MQA is just meh, some is good and some is bad, so going through your Marantz may or may not matter to you.  You can start real cheap with an Audioquest Dragonfly.  Find one used.  Then use Tidal and Qobuz free trials to compare the sound quality.  If you like one or the other go with it.  If you find MQA is just fine but nothing spectacular, then I'd suggest looking into KEF LS50 wireless speakers that can stream audio to your speakers from your phone/tablet or ethernet connection (highly recommend ethernet).  Once again, you can find these speakers used since a new model came out.  These may still be above your price point though.  I have my 2 channel setup in the same area as my home theatre.  Each are completely separate from one another other.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Jeypi said:

We currently play Spotify either through our Apple TV or through our MacBook by connecting it to our receiver through HDMI. Tidal on Apple TV doesn't support MQA (or Hifi, as far as I know), so we connected the MacBook to compare Spotify and Tidal with Hifi Sound. We ensured that we don't have a placebo effect by not knowing which streaming service we were using right now and all of us could tell a significant difference between Spotify and Tidal. Airplay to our Apple TV doesn't sound as good as directly streaming it from the Apple TV, for either Tidal and Spotify. Airplay into Marantz isn't very stable, which is why we don't use it.

 

And thanks for pointing out, that Neo iDSD is not a streamer. The Tidal Connect website was a bit misleading and made me think, that all ifi products support it (which of course is not the case).

Yeah... Only iDSD Aurora supports Tidal Connect because it can function as an independent streamer

 

So when you play off Apple TV, the 44.1kHz music actually gets converted to 48kHz first. You’re not actually getting bit-perfect playback off the Apple TV+Marantz.

 

When you have the MacBook connected via HDMI, it’ll only do bit-perfect 44.1kHz playback if your MacBook is set to 44.1kHz playback via HDMI. Although I think the Tidal OS X app might have a function to change the sample rate automatically so you don’t have to do anything for HDMI. I don’t know about Spotify.

 

The reason why Marantz Airplay is unstable is probably because you’re first streaming from Tidal to your MacBook Wi-Fi and then the MacBook has to send the music signal back via Wi-Fi back to your router to send it via the Ethernet cable into Marantz. That’s sending the music twice via Wi-Fi. Whereas if you’re playing straight off Apple TV, the music is directly streamed from the internet into the Apple TV so it’s not being sent around back and forth on your wifi network. That said, even if you never plan to never use AirPlay, it’s showing a sign that your Wi-Fi is not as robust as it should be so it may be time to upgrade your Wi-Fi to a better Wi-Fi mesh network routers.

 

Anyway, based on my guesses of your preferences, I think Node 2i is going to work best for you. You can either use the Node 2i’s DAC to get MQA full decode or you can just have Node 2i do a MQA core decode and then send the decoded 88.2kHz/96kHz digital signal to the Marantz digital inputs (coax/optical) and use the Marantz DAC for playback. It’s hard to know which would sound better. 

Link to comment
35 minutes ago, ecwl said:

Yeah... Only iDSD Aurora supports Tidal Connect because it can function as an independent streamer

 

So when you play off Apple TV, the 44.1kHz music actually gets converted to 48kHz first. You’re not actually getting bit-perfect playback off the Apple TV+Marantz.

 

When you have the MacBook connected via HDMI, it’ll only do bit-perfect 44.1kHz playback if your MacBook is set to 44.1kHz playback via HDMI. Although I think the Tidal OS X app might have a function to change the sample rate automatically so you don’t have to do anything for HDMI. I don’t know about Spotify.

 

The reason why Marantz Airplay is unstable is probably because you’re first streaming from Tidal to your MacBook Wi-Fi and then the MacBook has to send the music signal back via Wi-Fi back to your router to send it via the Ethernet cable into Marantz. That’s sending the music twice via Wi-Fi. Whereas if you’re playing straight off Apple TV, the music is directly streamed from the internet into the Apple TV so it’s not being sent around back and forth on your wifi network. That said, even if you never plan to never use AirPlay, it’s showing a sign that your Wi-Fi is not as robust as it should be so it may be time to upgrade your Wi-Fi to a better Wi-Fi mesh network routers.

 

Anyway, based on my guesses of your preferences, I think Node 2i is going to work best for you. You can either use the Node 2i’s DAC to get MQA full decode or you can just have Node 2i do a MQA core decode and then send the decoded 88.2kHz/96kHz digital signal to the Marantz digital inputs (coax/optical) and use the Marantz DAC for playback. It’s hard to know which would sound better. 

I just checked on my MacBook and I was actually able to switch between 44.1 and 48 kHz playback. 

 

I think the problem with AirPlay comes from the Marantz. Our network is pretty good, we have a pretty strong router and every other stream to any other device apart from the Marantz works perfectly fine. But we don't really mind, as streaming from the Apple TV is better than AirPlay (as far as my understanding of AirPlay goes).

 

Thank you for the recommendation! We'll order a Node 2i and try it over the 7.1 input that @ShawnC mentioned in his comment. Then we'll compare it to the core decode that you mentioned. 

Link to comment
4 hours ago, Jeypi said:

We were looking at the iFi Neo iDSD, which you can get for ~750€ 

 

I bought my Neo iDSD here: projekt-akustik. As already said it is not a streamer. If you rather are looking for a streamer I would watch the Matrix Audio mini-i pro 3. The hope is it still gets the Roon certification and/or they make the mini ready for Tidal connect.

Euphony (NUC7DNKE: Roon or Stylus) --> Euphony EP (NUC7CJYH: Roon Bridge or NAA or StylusEP) --> Matrix Audio X-SPDIF 2 --> Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro (MQA) (I2S) -->

Euphony (NUC7DNKE: Roon) --> WS 2019 Core (i7-8700: HQPlayer, JPLAY Femto, Roon Bridge, MinorityClean) / Matrix Audio Element H --> Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro (MQA) (USB) --> B & M Prime 6

Synology DS 112+ (LMS) --> pi3B+/HifiBerry Digi + Pro (PiCorePlayer) --> Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro (MQA) (SPDIF) -->  

bedroom: pi3/DigiOne (RoPieee) --> S.M.S.L M500 --> KRK Rokit 5 or AKG 712 Pro

Link to comment
9 hours ago, Jeypi said:

We were looking at the iFi Neo iDSD, which you can get for ~750€ and also seems to be able to support streaming

I have that iFi device in my system at the moment and it supports streaming only via Bluetooth. No WiFi,no ethernet. I stream Roon via RPI4 as an endpoint to it. Airplay and Spotify would be possible as well via LMS

- AFAIK, Tidal connect was announced just 2 month ago, which means a less limited choice of devices will be available during the coming year. Right now the Bluesound device seems the way to go for the tidal cast

- the Matrix device doesn't support DNLAl/UPnP, IMHO a no-go in the streaming world

 

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...