Question

Connect, Meridian and MQA

  • 27 January 2017
  • 56 replies
  • 7711 views

Will using a Connect with a Meridian Explorer DAC allow full resolution MQA?

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56 replies

A little like the Connect Bit Perfect thing that Sonos is taking heat here without having ever specified Connect to be so.

True, but they have done little over the years to correct the misinformation, either. For a few years now, every discussion about using different dacs has finished with the 'clincher' that the Connect is bit-perfect, so the OP must be wrong - but I have never seen Sonos jumping in to correct it.

Misleading by omission is just the same as misleading by commission, IMHO
we'd get to watch audiophile heads explode in epic fashion
Don't hold your breath, not going to happen. If creationists can thrive, audiophiles are small fry in comparison.
B-b-b-but it sounds better cause it has moar bits!
A thoughtful piece from Linn (who presumably are no friends of Meridian)
LOL. They wouldn't be, because this also encroaches on their music downloads business, from which website:
"Linn makes download files available in three quality levels: MP3 (good), CD Quality (better) and Studio Master (best)."
Studio master is 192khz;)


The battle of the snake oil masters.
No. Sonos does not play MQA files.
Thanks.
I would be interested in bit more clarification here. I have a Connect that outputs to a Meridian Direct DAC (not MQA). I know the Connect will not recognize a downloaded MQA FLAC file (I tried), but it does stream Tidal MQA files since they are within the 44/16 parameter. The question I have in mind (and perhaps so did the OP), is can you unfold a Tidal MQA streamed file to full resolution with an MQA DAC after it passes through a Connect (and bypassing its DAC)? [no MQA debates please]
TIDAL MQA streams cannot, surely, be 16/44. Where would they put the folded ultrasonics? They must live below the noise floor in a 24-bit sample.

Sonos throws an error when confronted by 24-bit files.
You are correct. It appears the Tidal MQA streams at 24/48. But if that is true, and the Connect cannot recognize 24 bit files, how can it stream Tidal MQA? The product manual says it will support 48k sampling rates, but it is silent on bit rate. (I know I am playing the MQA version of albums because I am tagging them as favorites in Tidal on my second audio system, which has an MQA-enabled Bluesound Powernode).
Sonos will negotiate with the service to locate the best compatible format to stream. Without examining the diagnostics (and also putting a bandwidth monitor on the stream) one can only guess what's happening. But I'd assume that Sonos is requesting and streaming the standard FLAC version of those files.
After updating to 7.2 it seems Sonos will play MQA Flac files. I don't have a MQA DAC, so it will not be unwrapped to a high res format, but it does sound a bit better than the same cd Flac file that comes from the same master. I downloaded the files from the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.
Which means that the difference is in the mastering. It's been established that the top 16 bits in an MQA file are in fact fractionally less accurate than the Red Book equivalent.
the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.
I was curious to see what's on the site and came across this page:https://shop.klicktrack.com/2l/469902
which I guess is typical. How on earth do people figure out which format to buy and what is value for each of the five price points for different formats, ranging from USD 6 to USD 22 that the same album is offered in?!
After updating to 7.2 it seems Sonos will play MQA Flac files. I don't have a MQA DAC, so it will not be unwrapped to a high res format, but it does sound a bit better than the same cd Flac file that comes from the same master. I downloaded the files from the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.

Well that was a surprise!

All the 2L MQA test files play perfectly :S
All the 2L MQA test files play perfectly :S
It would be intriguing if someone could analyse the digital output of a ZP80/90 or pre-2011 CONNECT, in Fixed volume. The question is: what's in the lowest 8 bits of the 24-bit S/PDIF?

If the lowest byte remains populated an MQA follow-on DAC could in theory decode the stream. If the samples have been truncated at 16 bits then any improved mastering would have to make up for the loss of precision. As the chaps over at Benchmark remarked:
There is no question that MQA degrades the quality of the audio for users who do not have an MQA decoder. The compatible portion of the MQA signal is equivalent to about 13 to 15 bits at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. The loss of resolution is due to down sampling, dither noise, and pseudo-random noise from the high-frequency compression channel which occupies the lower 8 to 11 bits.

I guess the 'analysis' could in fact be plugging the ZP output into a suitable DAC and seeing whether it indicates an MQA stream. Volume would have to be Fixed, as noted, otherwise the lowest bits would be garbled.
MQA albums from Tidal apear to be playing, made a few Favourites in the desktop Tidal app and they play!
MQA albums from Tidal apear to be playing, made a few Favourites in the desktop Tidal app and they play!
So presumably you're happy with the loss of fidelity.
Cannot say that there is any audible difference, just working out what is going on.

So presumably you're happy with the loss of fidelity.


Though I'm really not for legitimizing snake-oil, I always had a secret wish that Sonos would implement down-res on-the-fly for Hi-res music and then not tell anyone. Eventually audiophiles would stumble across the new functionality and rise in choirs of angels fashion to declare how much better the Hi-res version is compared to the crappy Lo-res. Sonos could then sheepishly reveal what is really happening, and we'd get to watch audiophile heads explode in epic fashion (soon followed by even more epic denial, rationalization, and subterfuge).

Until then, this MQA stuff is the next best thing. I've got my popcorn popped.
I did try a few 24/96 tracks, but as suspected they did not play.

Don't hold your breath, not going to happen. If creationists can thrive, audiophiles are small fry in comparison.


Hence the followup - "soon followed by even more epic denial, rationalization, and subterfuge". 😉
Even more so with MQA, since 16-bit truncation should evidently yield marginally worse sound than a pukka Red Book version from the same master. It would indeed be hilarious to deflate the 'night and day better!!!' declarations in that case.
Even more so with MQA, since 16-bit truncation should evidently yield marginally worse sound than a pukka Red Book version from the same master. It would indeed be hilarious to deflate the 'night and day better!!!' declarations in that case.

"But Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes."
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Hi everyone, great discussion all around. Version 7.2 has an updated FLAC library which, as a happy, unexpected side effect, allows for some decoding of higher resolution FLAC tracks. This isn't official support or intended, so I'd just say be happy and enjoy. We aren't planning on updating any supported codec pages or listings at the moment as this isn't fully supported or tested out.
Ryan,

Can you be any more specific about "decoding of higher resolution FLAC tracks"? Unless MQA is explicitly supported as a codec the "higher resolution" in such files is just, well, 8 to 11 bits of noise.