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Tidal now displays “MASTER” - does SONOS now support MQA?

  • 16 April 2020
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I just noticed that Tidal displays “MASTER” now on MQA tracks where before it would kick down to “HIFI” - has SONAS started supporting MQA?  
 

my understanding before was that even if you were playing the master quality music, it would downgrade to hifi and this was reflected in the display.  What changed?  Audio Quality or just the display?

i have two gen 2 Play 5s with the sub in my office.  I enjoy the sound 😁

 

Thank you for any input!!!

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Best answer by ratty 16 April 2020, 09:11

Sonos doesn't support MQA decode. It would make no sense to unfold lossy ultrasonics which could, if anything, damage the sound. Evidence does however suggest that Sonos is able to play the files by interpreting the top 16 bits, out of which some 13 bits evidently contain useful PCM music data. 

Where do you see the word "MASTER"? A screenshot would be useful. 

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Sonos doesn't support MQA decode. It would make no sense to unfold lossy ultrasonics which could, if anything, damage the sound. Evidence does however suggest that Sonos is able to play the files by interpreting the top 16 bits, out of which some 13 bits evidently contain useful PCM music data. 

Where do you see the word "MASTER"? A screenshot would be useful. 

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I noticed the same thing. Here is the screen shot. Thoughts?! Maybe preempting S2 although I doubt it would actually decode mqa yet. Maybe the ‘gui’ is ahead of the codec support?!
 

 

What are we looking at here? The Sonos app doesn’t have shuffle and repeat controls on the main screen, they’re on the queue screen. The Tidal app? 

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That is the Tidal App playing through Sonos.. 

The Tidal app doesn’t ‘play through Sonos’ as such. It asks the Sonos player to fetch the stream. Despite the Tidal app advertising ‘Master’ the Sonos player will request what it can handle. 

It used to show “HiFi” when you played the Tidal app through SONAS even though you selected MASTER - when I first got the Tidal app I was perplexed by this and did the research.  I was told that the stream was downgraded to HiFi and that was the way it was always displayed until very recently. 

 

 

It’s conceivable that Sonos is taking delivery of a 24/48 stream from Tidal. After all, Sonos will play 24/48 files from a local library. However as of now the 24-bit file is apparently truncated to 16-bit. Maybe with the coming S2 developments Sonos will choose to handle the full 24-bit PCM depth.  

Nevertheless Sonos doesn’t support the MQA encoding and, given historical comments that “the math isn’t there” for higher sample rates, it seems unlikely that they would license a proprietary MQA decoder to unpack ultrasonics from the lowest bits, particularly when it’s generally accepted that these could actually degrade the sound.

It will be interesting to hear as info comes out.  I am sure there is a psychological impact seeing the higher rate label 😁  I have confirmed that previously it would only display “HiFi”.  
 

Thank you all for the input!   Spent the quarantined workday listening to older classics.  Love the quality and easy access to so much music!

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The most important question for me would be: have you noticed any difference in the quality of the sound?

The most important question for me would be: have you noticed any difference in the quality of the sound?

Given the widely known characteristics of the MQA format I await the answer with baited breath...

Is there an improvement in sound quality?

I love the psychological effect of seeming “MASTER” on the stream quality - my systems has always sounded very good (2 Play 5s 2nd gen and the sub with Trueplay).  Is there a difference in sound quality?  I have no idea - human interpretation has some limitations.  Am I enjoying it? Yes 😉  

Has something changed in the delivery of the music resulting in the change in the display that now indicates Tidal’s “MASTER” label to the stream?  That  was the question which remains unanswered.

I've noticed the same but it only happens when I'm using an iPad. Not when using my Samsung S9. 

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I have also seen this, do not know if it is a bug.  My connect gen 2 hooked up to an external DAC still shows 16 / 44.1.  It looks like MQA is in the next version of the Sonos platform (S2).  Doubtful though if you will hear any major difference.  Have tested MQA via Roon and raspberry pi as an endpoint. It's always nice to see the DAC light up to high resolution, but as I said, I do not notice any major difference. But still it Would be nice to have MQA on Sonos :)

I believe it is a bug in the iOS App. If you use Airplay instead of direct cast/control, it will say HiFi.

Side note/question, because I dont see many active Tidal/Sonos users in this community, could you try my most recent question I posted about and see if it replicates? It would be a huge help.

https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/control-sonos-directly-from-the-tidal-app-issues-6841012?postid=16430090#post16430090

 

It also says “Master” when airplay is used.

Wow this is weird. It seems my direct control is HiFi now and my Airplay is Master. I have the Sonos beam, perhaps there are different symptoms for us as you have a different product, or this has a mind of its own and it is randomly going to show Master at times.

 

Wow this is weird. It seems my direct control is HiFi now and my Airplay is Master. I have the Sonos beam, perhaps there are different symptoms for us as you have a different product, or this has a mind of its own and it is randomly going to show Master at times.

 

**Edit again. This is changing abruptly as I explore it more.**

Earlier my IKEA Symfonisk was playing on MASTER (Direct play) and HiFi (Airplay). And then iPhone was playing on HiFi. This has reversed now with the latest update. Now IKEA Symfonisk plays on HiFI (Direct play) and MASTER (Airplay). And now the iPhone plays MASTER.

Wow this is weird. It seems my direct control is HiFi now and my Airplay is Master. I have the Sonos beam, perhaps there are different symptoms for us as you have a different product, or this has a mind of its own and it is randomly going to show Master at times.

 

Even I am facing the same issue. Looks like the last update messed with this. Earlier it was exactly opposite.

Hello LuvMusic, if you have time would you mind checking out the post I linked a few comments up and let me know if you have the same issue? Seems there aren’t many Tidal-Sonos users active on here

Wow this is weird. It seems my direct control is HiFi now and my Airplay is Master. I have the Sonos beam, perhaps there are different symptoms for us as you have a different product, or this has a mind of its own and it is randomly going to show Master at times.

 

Even I am facing the same issue. Looks like the last update messed with this. Earlier it was exactly opposite.

Hello LuvMusic, if you have time would you mind checking out the post I linked a few comments up and let me know if you have the same issue? Seems there aren’t many Tidal-Sonos users active on here

 

Hello knopper, I am using iOS and not Android. Moreover, I am not facing either of these two issues you mentioned.

I am facing the other weird issue when using Tidal and Sonos together. “Earlier my IKEA Symfonisk was playing on MASTER (Direct play) and HiFi (Airplay). And then iPhone was playing on HiFi. This has reversed now with the latest update. Now IKEA Symfonisk plays on HiFI (Direct play) and MASTER (Airplay). And now the iPhone plays MASTER.”

 

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Now TIDAL shows "just" hifi again for me. interesting ... and I have the same problems as others, When pause/resume TIDAL jumps to the next song.  Same problem If I do it in the Sonos app with a TIDAL stream.

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I’ve noticed under S2 it now always shows HIFI - opposite to my expectations 

The announcement says

With S2, Sonos speakers now have support for high resolution audio, 24-bit, 44.1/48kHz for FLAC/ALAC only. This support is for local music libraries shared from computers and network attached drives.

So not online services, and definitely not the folded lossy ultrasonics in MQA.

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The new SONOS S2 update only supports 24-bit audio for local FLAC/ALAC files - no support for 24-bit streaming like TIDAL HD service etc.

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