Tidal + MQA Starts Today

Tidal HiFi account owners can upgrade their account (for free) with the tick of that new "HiFi / Master" option in Tidal's settings menu and stream from "more than 30,000" MQA encoded tracks. Right now.

Details to follow.

COMMENTS
grawhi80's picture

Does this need an MQA-enabled DAC?

Nothing seems to suggest so that I've found so far, but details are a little thin on the ground.

jhwalker's picture

No. You have the option to either turn on MQA decoding in the player itself, or allow passthrough to an MQA-enabled DAC for direct decoding in the DAC.

PeterInVan's picture

Seems that this option is only available on the OSX Tidal app?

jhwalker's picture

On other sites, they're reporting it's in the current Windows desktop app, as well. May need to force an update.

PeterInVan's picture

Found it on Windows Tidal Settings...

If you have a MQA capable DAC, use the DAC settings to check all three boxes (Exclusive, Volume and Passthrough).

dadracer's picture

I have upgraded my Tidal desktop but cant find a way to do it on my iPhone so I'm guessing there will be an app update soon? Meantime how do I know what tracks are MQA on Tidal?

jhwalker's picture

Right, it's only available in the desktop apps. Not sure what (if any) provisions they'll make for MQA streaming on the mobile apps - how many actually hook up a DAC to their mobile devices? Obviously, we do! LOL

dadracer's picture

Sorry, should have tried harder. I found the listing on the Tidal web site. Going to try it out now even without an MQA flavour DAC and see how it sounds. I use my iPhone in conjunction with an Auralic streaming node (Mini) to run their Lightning DS and stream Tidal to my DAC/AMP?Headphone rig.

dmhenley's picture

It's appears Roon will stream Tidal MQA tracks... I wasn't clear on this, but currently listening (streaming) to Band of Horses Everything All the Time in 44/24bit.

Paul Williams UK's picture

Just had to update my TIDAL Windows App on the PC. Selected MQA Pass through in the settings for my Meridian Explorer 2 DAC. Looked under the MASTERS tab on What's New Albums section and bingo! Just played Joni Mitchell's BLUE album - MQA lights light up on the Explorer 2 - sounds pretty damn fine on initial impressions. Lots of fun listening ahead.

dadracer's picture

Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. So thanks for the new tricks! I think I will get an Explorer 2 to try it out. I have been using an ifi Audio iDSD till now. What is the input socket in the Explorer 2 please as I am seeing 2 different versions on photos? I am thinking I could use the iUSB to filter the signal from my laptop USB which is quite noisy and full of digital clutter.

Paul Williams UK's picture

Hi, the Explorer 2 I have has a single USB Mini Type B socket. I connect mine to a silent discless PC running Windows 10 Home, Tidal, JRiver and nothing else. I guess the iUSB would work fine as long as it doesn't alter the MQA bitstream. Good luck.

Itsaboutthemusic's picture

Listened to Rumours and Coltrane's Giant Steps so far. Sounds very nice.
Am I correct in understanding that checking the HiFi/Masters box in streaming settings is all that need be done? I'm showing a 44/24 stream in Roon, so it seems it's done, and the sound is good, but it almost seems too easy!

grantray's picture

Did the update and now my Line Magnetic 502ca DAC via XMOS USB is no longer showing up as an option for output :(((

grantray's picture

I just plugged in my newish Mac Air with no problems. And, wow. Listening to the Zep I delux edition in MQA is bonkers. This format is going to be really exciting as the catalog grows. The Tidal and MQA strategic partnership execs deserve a giant gold star for pulling this one off.

harry thind's picture

Cant find the option on the desk top. Only offers Normal/High/Hifi. I am in Hong Kong. Could this be a US only option.

harry thind's picture

Got it. The laptop app needed an upgrade.

MusicEar's picture

Looks like one need to set 'Speakers' to a DAC, when you move the cursor at the end, a setting logo appears, need to set to 'Use Exclusive Mode', then only my DAC will show '96kHz'

Neil K's picture

Listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue from Tidal Masters through BluOS on my Vault 2 connected to a Chord 2Qute, which is not MQA enabled but is showing the file playing at 96/24. Sounds great. Very quiet background.

Using work-around suggested on Bluesound users' forum of "favouriting" from Masters section of desktop app, then playing them from Tidal on BluOS app on iPad. Seems to work, though a kludge.

MilesFerg's picture

Could not believe when I got the email yesterday from Tidal about MQA! Saw that it was only available on desktop. I've never used the desktop app, so I downloaded, installed and followed instructions for 'Masters'. Unfortunately, what I didn't find was ability to send to Google Chromecast Audio, like I can from the web player or from my Android phone. I send the digital out from the Chromecast to a Firestone Audio Bravo re-clocker and then on to the good system. So for now, I'm stuck using the crummy laptop DAC. I wrote Tidal encouraging them to expand MQA to their other platforms. My re-clocker has usb input, so I may need to try to figure out how to output from the laptop usb. A pain though as this is the family's computer and I'll have to physically take it to the listening room. On the plus side, my laptop/Creative speakers have never sounded so good!

Fantastic start, but hope they continue to expand.

MilesFerg's picture

At the risk of sounding like a Staples commercial, plugged the usb from my laptop into the Firestone Audio Bravo. It went to work downloading drivers and when I opened Tidal, it was a listed device for Masters setting. Just click and play. A/B comparison (which is super easy) shows MQA tracks to be clearly better, and I don't even have an MQA enabled DAC (yet)!

Rusty's picture

Normally I listen to Tidal via an ethernet line into the Bridge II in a PS Audio PWDII. It's superior to running USB into the DAC, which sounds a little flat and uninvolving. Since Tidal MQA is through the desktop app only, I did listen last night via Macbook > USB > DAC.

Holy crapballs, we are on to something here! Is this the new sound of no pre-ringing? Transients and percussion were just more natural and pleasing; ambience and impression of the recording venue's room acoustic were more clearly present. Bass was somehow more plump and more taut at the same time -- and better pitch-defined.

I found that the most satisfying level was a 1-3 dB louder setting on the pre-amp. Not sure if that's because the mastering level is lower or if because the reduced digital hash makes a higher SPL more palatable.

This technology will become disruptive. Why? Your lifetime collection of redbook CD's will soon be smoked by streaming the MQA version of the same album.

Still buzzing this morning over what I heard last night. Wow.

MacFanatic's picture

I'm seeing more and more albums appearing under the Masters section of TIDAL each time I check. They all sound fantastic! Hopefully they'll make it easier to find all the MQA content...

oldominion's picture

to join the Tidal/Roon/MicroRendu (or endpoint of choice) scene, well, now would be a good time. I am stunned at how much better MQA sounds in my system. Streaming Tinariwen's 'Tisdas Sessions' now...and am rather excited.

ednaz's picture

Streaming via the Tidal app on my PC, passed to my Exasound e22. Showing as 44.1. Just did a back to back of Bowie's Young Americans, comparing Tidal to a CD rip, and it was meh. Then put Joni Mitchell's Blue on, to do A/B with a CD rip, and stopped doing the comparison after one song... and went back to the beginning to listen uninterrupted. Different enough for my wife to go to tears on one song. Just tried Roberta Flack (still listening...) and after one or two A/B switches, same result... back to beginning for end to end MQA stream.

So far, one album, meh. But, that disco era album is produced with such a hard edge. The two more soulful, and more acoustic tests so far... Spooky presence. No better way to say it. Spooky. Joni's guitar was tall chair height. NEVER have had imaging that sharp. The dogs were looking EXACTLY head height for someone in a tall chair.

I wonder how much difference having an MQA DAC would boost things. How to make sure the pure MQA goes into the DAC for decoding?

PeterInVan's picture

I wonder how much difference having an MQA DAC would boost things. How to make sure the pure MQA goes into the DAC for decoding?

In my case using the DAC setup in Tidal at "Passthrough", the Explorer2 is sounding better than letting the Tidal app decode the MASTER version.

ednaz's picture

i need to find a way to get an MQA DAC for a couple weeks. I'm VERY curious to sort out what's making it sound better. After listening to more albums now, I think it's probably 80% remastering, 20% being a higher rate than normal Tidal. Minimal effect for some albums, spooky amazing for others. Listening to a Ray Charles Milt Jackson album now (second time through... my wife came down during the last number and demanded a full repeat) and it's done wonders for the saxophone, but everything else isn't much better than I'd expect. However... there's a short tom-tom solo and the drummer "materialized" in the room for the duration. A brief few moments of spooky. Not that everything else is bad... but certain kinds of sounds are way better than normal. Biggest impact of all still Joni Mitchell Blue.

PeterInVan's picture

i need to find a way to get an MQA DAC for a couple weeks...

Amazon has one left...

https://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Explorer2-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B0...

MilesFerg's picture

Just saw article here today that the Dragonfly will soon be MQA enabled. I don't think it's as good a DAC as my main one, but I can at least hear what difference an MQA decoder makes.

morrismrinak's picture

I'm running a mac mini via optical out to an older PS Audio dac w/o MQA, 192kh max decoding. Letting Tidal decode MQA with no issues. Soundstage is definitely not as deep, wide or clear as 96/24kh files played on Jriver. That said it sounds light years better & more involving than mp3s.

ednaz's picture

I played a lot of different types of music, and looked for MQA stuff on Tidal where I had an HD version (24/88 or better). At least based on today, with the MQA app doing the decoding, the results were VERY album specific. And I noticed that where the MQA version absolutely crushed the HD version I owned (and even some red book versions) the album tags showed that there'd been a recent re-production or re-mix. Like the Joni Mitchell Blue album... the HD version I have is from a couple years ago, the Tidal MQA says 2016 remix... and man, I need to have THAT version.

Results elsewhere differed significantly. I've several BNL HD albums, and they sounded pretty much like the Tidal MQA streams. The album CSN is one that I've used since it came out as a way to evaluate components, so I know it inside and out. The MQA version trounced the 16/44 CD rip but the 24/96 HD Tracks version... in general the 24/96 version sounded more corporeal, other than short passages here and there.

I found an MQA enabled Meridian Explorer 2 DAC for $200, and since I can declare things birthday gifts (for another day) I bought it. Curious as to whether having the decoding at the DAC produces a big difference compared to the HD content I've got. I've concluded that decoding pre-DAC is better sometimes, not others, but HUGE doubt that it's anything MQA specific versus remastering specific.

Nevertheless... MQA versions from Tidal kick the stuffing out of non-MQA versions. They only pale when compared with HD versions I have where the re-production or remix happened recently, and when the files are 24/48 or better. I'm sold on it for improving streaming. Not sure I'd buy MQA files for my library. But keeping my mind open for playing around the next couple weeks.

morrismrinak's picture

Yes. Agree with your comments especially streaming content. All systems sound different & on mine my hi rez files sound much better on jriver. That said My M2 tech Hiface 2 with coaxial out should arrive sometime next week. Will offer input based on further listening.

morrismrinak's picture

Yes. Agree with your comments especially streaming content. All systems sound different & on mine my hi rez files sound much better on jriver. That said My M2 tech Hiface 2 with coaxial out should arrive sometime next week. Will offer input based on further listening.

deckeda's picture

... above, someone said they were getting a 24/96 (non MQA ...) stream from Tidal. So does Tidal now offer "regular" hi res streams in addition to MQA?

and

it needs the "desktop" app, so does that mean the various PC/Mac -less setups (microRendu, ELAC et all) are still out of luck here?

Rusty's picture

If you check "Pass-Through" on the settings tab there is no software decoding of MQA and your DAC sees regular 24/96.

deckeda's picture

thanks!

smassa8559's picture

Is this a MQA enabled DAC?