Streaming MQA

Audiolab 6000A Amplifier

mayukh80

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I have recently registered with Tidal Master option.

I am streaming the Tidal master files from my macbook pro thru "Auris Blume HD" streamer which runs on Bluetooth 5.0 (aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, aptX and AAC decoders. Audiophile grade 384kHz / 32bit DAC). But i doubt the files are down sampled to 24 bit/ 44kHz by the macbook before being transmitted via bluetooth. I have attached a graphical chart of Auris along with the signal processing for better clarity.

I believe I need to get an MQA supported DAC, hook it with either the laptop or the ipad ( having Tidal app) through optical cable so let the DAC decode the MQA files before feeding to the amp.

Please share your thoughts and inputs.
 

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mannukiddo

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BT doesn't do such hi-res codecs, even the best one LDAC is lossy codec. So you cant do much better than what you are getting currently.

Yes for MQA you need a proper MQA renderer decoder for full decoding of MQA files.
 

mayukh80

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BT doesn't do such hi-res codecs, even the best one LDAC is lossy codec. So you cant do much better than what you are getting currently.

Yes for MQA you need a proper MQA renderer decoder for full decoding of MQA files.
Thanks for sharing your inputs.
so if I understand you correctly, i need to hook up either my ipad or mac thru USB ?
 

KiranPS

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MQA is a lossy codec, BT is also lossy so you will end up with two levels digital processing. Decompression for MQA and Compression/Decompression for BT. FLAC/WAV over USB/SPDIF or over Wifi would be the most accurate AFAIK.
 

mayukh80

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MQA is a lossy codec, BT is also lossy so you will end up with two levels digital processing. Decompression for MQA and Compression/Decompression for BT. FLAC/WAV over USB/SPDIF or over Wifi would be the most accurate AFAIK.
good to hear something new.
I am not aware which service provider provides options to listen in FLAC.
in case I opt to stream from an iPad using USB connection, is there any option to control the streamer remotely from an iphone for example.
 

Nippy

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good to hear something new.
I am not aware which service provider provides options to listen in FLAC.
in case I opt to stream from an iPad using USB connection, is there any option to control the streamer remotely from an iphone for example.
You can go for Qobuz and not worry about MQA decoding. To get full advantage of MQA both the two unfolds are required and thus need for an MQA enabled DAC. Qobuz on the other had does not need dedicated dac as it uses FLAC as the media file. W.r.t. streamer see if you can get hold of a streamer which has Airplay enabled in it, this way you would get things streamlined easily.
 

shyamv

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FLAC is just a lossless compression format for audio. Think of it as an audio container. Tidal, Deezer and Amazon HD deliver FLAC ranging from 16-bit 44.1KHz to 24-bit 192KHz. Only difference being that Tidal, for formats upwards of 16/44.1, uses MQA which is a slightly lossy proprietary compression. MQA is just another form of DRM where a FLAC is folded or encapsulated and needs either proprietary software or hardware DAC to unfold in 1 or 2 stages. With very little loss of audio quality, MQA can deliver the same resolution FLAC file at 1/4th the size of a regular FLAC file. Any loss is purely limited to inaudible frequencies.

Since you have Tidal Master subscription, you have a few options.

1) Connect your phone or computer with Tidal App over USB to any USB-DAC you have. Tidal app will do first level unfolding and you shall get 88.2 KHz file typically. You can also use a paid version (₹300) of UAPP app if you have an Android phone as this willl bypass Android USB implementation with a bit-perfect USB pass-thru for hires audio.

2) If you want to get the maximum out of Tidal, you would need a MQA-compatible DAC which can do level 2 and 3 unfolding of MQA files to get full 192 KHz quality.

3) You can use Tidal app and stream to Auris BT but MQA 1st level unfolded files shall be re-coded as AptX HD 24-bit/48KHz files. So it won't make much sense to use BT for hires masters audio but it's ok for regular 16-bit/44.1 KHz files on Tidal Hifi.

4) Alternatively, you can switch to Qobuz, buy any network streamer and/or DAC that supports minimum 24/192 resolution, connect via USB or UPnP and play Qobuz hires files.

5) If you have get a network streamer with UPnP, you can use BubbleUpnp app on your iPhone as a 'remote control' to play Qobuz or Tidal files on the streamer.

Bottom-line is that doing hires audio from any streaming service over BT is not recommended. You would need a streamer/DAC for this purpose.
 

mayukh80

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FLAC is just a lossless compression format for audio. Think of it as an audio container. Tidal, Deezer and Amazon HD deliver FLAC ranging from 16-bit 44.1KHz to 24-bit 192KHz. Only difference being that Tidal, for formats upwards of 16/44.1, uses MQA which is a slightly lossy proprietary compression. MQA is just another form of DRM where a FLAC is folded or encapsulated and needs either proprietary software or hardware DAC to unfold in 1 or 2 stages. With very little loss of audio quality, MQA can deliver the same resolution FLAC file at 1/4th the size of a regular FLAC file. Any loss is purely limited to inaudible frequencies.

Since you have Tidal Master subscription, you have a few options.

1) Connect your phone or computer with Tidal App over USB to any USB-DAC you have. Tidal app will do first level unfolding and you shall get 88.2 KHz file typically. You can also use a paid version (₹300) of UAPP app if you have an Android phone as this willl bypass Android USB implementation with a bit-perfect USB pass-thru for hires audio.

2) If you want to get the maximum out of Tidal, you would need a MQA-compatible DAC which can do level 2 and 3 unfolding of MQA files to get full 192 KHz quality.

3) You can use Tidal app and stream to Auris BT but MQA 1st level unfolded files shall be re-coded as AptX HD 24-bit/48KHz files. So it won't make much sense to use BT for hires masters audio but it's ok for regular 16-bit/44.1 KHz files on Tidal Hifi.

4) Alternatively, you can switch to Qobuz, buy any network streamer and/or DAC that supports minimum 24/192 resolution, connect via USB or UPnP and play Qobuz hires files.

5) If you have get a network streamer with UPnP, you can use BubbleUpnp app on your iPhone as a 'remote control' to play Qobuz or Tidal files on the streamer.

Bottom-line is that doing hires audio from any streaming service over BT is not recommended. You would need a streamer/DAC for this purpose.
thats one helluva input !! take a bow man !!

I am utterly confused with everything right now. selling the BT is on the priority.

Now comes the hardest part -

1. Shall i get a streamer which would make life easy considering remote options. In that case subscription to Qobuz seems more logical
2. Getting an MQA DAC, building play list and keep oneself fit with constant mobility between my couch and the ipad :)

Suggest a streamer within 70-80K range . I would prefer to use Qobuz then.
 

shyamv

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thats one helluva input !! take a bow man !!

I am utterly confused with everything right now. selling the BT is on the priority.

Now comes the hardest part -

1. Shall i get a streamer which would make life easy considering remote options. In that case subscription to Qobuz seems more logical
2. Getting an MQA DAC, building play list and keep oneself fit with constant mobility between my couch and the ipad :)

Suggest a streamer within 70-80K range . I would prefer to use Qobuz then.

Yes. I would recommend what I said in Point#4 above. Don't get too hung up about MQA. Get a 1-month trial subscription to Qobuz, play around with it and see if you like it.

As far as a streamer is concerned, I would recommend Blusound Node 2i at your budget. It supports Tidal MQA, Qobuz, Spotify so you have a choice of streaming services. This has a great app, good DAC and can partner well with your CA amp and ELAC speakers. I think this retails for 55-60K right now.

If you are ok with DIY and comfortable with mucking around with HW+SW, then an Allo USBridge Signature Player HW + Moode Audio SW for 25-26K. I would rate this higher in terms of audio quality over Node 2i.
 

mayukh80

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Yes. I would recommend what I said in Point#4 above. Don't get too hung up about MQA. Get a 1-month trial subscription to Qobuz, play around with it and see if you like it.

As far as a streamer is concerned, I would recommend Blusound Node 2i at your budget. It supports Tidal MQA, Qobuz, Spotify so you have a choice of streaming services. This has a great app, good DAC and can partner well with your CA amp and ELAC speakers. I think this retails for 55-60K right now.

If you are ok with DIY and comfortable with mucking around with HW+SW, then an Allo USBridge Signature Player HW + Moode Audio SW for 25-26K. I would rate this higher in terms of audio quality over Node 2i.
how is your experience with Audiolab 6000N ? I read some good reviews except for the preset integration.
Last point, Qobuz is not available in India. So do I need to download from US app store?
 

shyamv

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how is your experience with Audiolab 6000N ? I read some good reviews except for the preset integration.
Last point, Qobuz is not available in India. So do I need to download from US app store?
I have tried both AudioLab 6000N and Node 2i. AL6000N has a more neutral-sounding, slightly-analytical but resolving DAC. However PlayFi app sucks big time and AL6000N does not have USB-A so you cannot connect USB storage devices. Node 2i has a warmer sound but not as detailed as AL6000N..but it might match your system better. App is also more user-friendly and supports USB storage devices.

You can get Qobuz the same way as Tidal. Use a VPN service to sign up and download APK from any mirror site. You can buy a plan yourself or sign-up with someone selling a family plan slot.
 

mayukh80

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I have tried both AudioLab 6000N and Node 2i. AL6000N has a more neutral-sounding, slightly-analytical but resolving DAC. However PlayFi app sucks big time and AL6000N does not have USB-A so you cannot connect USB storage devices. Node 2i has a warmer sound but not as detailed as AL6000N..but it might match your system better. App is also more user-friendly and supports USB storage devices.

You can get Qobuz the same way as Tidal. Use a VPN service to sign up and download APK from any mirror site. You can buy a plan yourself or sign-up with someone selling a family plan slot.
How would Paradigm PW link 2 would fit here. Read that with its ARC, its quite a stunner.
 

shyamv

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How would Paradigm PW link 2 would fit here. Read that with its ARC, its quite a stunner.
Paradigm PW Link has only optical inputs and optical outputs. No USB or Coax inputs. Optical can do max 96 KHz and is very noise-prone. Also the previous version of this streamer has been trashed by ASR for its low output voltage, high noise floor and distortion. I don't know how much of these measurements are audible but in general I don't believe optical is an ideal transport for hires audio.
 

mayukh80

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Paradigm PW Link has only optical inputs and optical outputs. No USB or Coax inputs. Optical can do max 96 KHz and is very noise-prone. Also the previous version of this streamer has been trashed by ASR for its low output voltage, high noise floor and distortion. I don't know how much of these measurements are audible but in general I don't believe optical is an ideal transport for hires audio.
Thanks for sharing your profound knowledge.
One of my friend has got me confused more. Says to get Yamaha RN-803 which is a good amp with everything inbuilt, junk my CA740A and get Qobuz.
All these at 58-60k against Bluesound Node 2i.

what is your opinion!
 

shyamv

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I haven't heard the Yammy but it seems to be well reviewed. Your friend's suggestion make sense as long as you are ok with taking the route of an all-in-one as opposed to seperates. DAC in an integrated amp might not be as good as the one in a dedicated DAC/streamer which sells for the same price. Also Yamaha might sound different from your CA740A which is a little detailed and analytical like other CA amps. It all depends on whether you want convenience or future upgradeability.
 

mayukh80

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I haven't heard the Yammy but it seems to be well reviewed. Your friend's suggestion make sense as long as you are ok with taking the route of an all-in-one as opposed to seperates. DAC in an integrated amp might not be as good as the one in a dedicated DAC/streamer which sells for the same price. Also Yamaha might sound different from your CA740A which is a little detailed and analytical like other CA amps. It all depends on whether you want convenience or future upgradeability.
thanks once again for your inputs. I do admit that the reviews of Yamaha RN803 is pretty good across all forums.
I have a huge collection of CD's with me. The earlier player died in 2019 and before I could make up mind, the pandemic struk. So, in future I would like to add a CDT ( may be audiolab/ CXN) to the chain. Keeping this in mind, RN803 makes some sense since it has an inbuilt DAC having decent performance considering the price range.

As on date, all these options/ thoughts i making me nut and have decided to shelf off the buying for the time being.
 

PCA

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Hi Mayukh,

Forgive me if this is going to confuse you further.

But how about going in for an inexpensive MQA enabled DAP, like the new Hiby R2 for USD 99? It is WIFI enabled; fully decodes MQA; and (if I am not mistaken) if you download the HibyLink app on your smartphone, you can use your smartphone as a remote for the DAP. Use a good 3.5 mm to RCA cable and you are good to go :)

FYI - I play Tidal MQA through my Activo CT10 DAP connected to my amplifier through a 3.5 mm to RCA cable. The only issue is face is that I don't have a way to remotely control the DAP and have to walk up to the system and use the tiny, inconvenient screen of the DAP, every time I have to change the music.
 

mayukh80

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Hi Mayukh,

Forgive me if this is going to confuse you further.

But how about going in for an inexpensive MQA enabled DAP, like the new Hiby R2 for USD 99? It is WIFI enabled; fully decodes MQA; and (if I am not mistaken) if you download the HibyLink app on your smartphone, you can use your smartphone as a remote for the DAP. Use a good 3.5 mm to RCA cable and you are good to go :)

FYI - I play Tidal MQA through my Activo CT10 DAP connected to my amplifier through a 3.5 mm to RCA cable. The only issue is face is that I don't have a way to remotely control the DAP and have to walk up to the system and use the tiny, inconvenient screen of the DAP, every time I have to change the music.
This field of hobby never ever fails to amaze me. So many products and so many options.
Thanks a ton mate for this new option.

Will definitely check out
 
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