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In Reply to: RE: Anything new in the Tidal world? posted by zacster on March 18, 2017 at 07:43:16
Guys, this is where a little research into the Dragonfly DACs could be helpful. Remember that the Dragonfly Red and Black DACs are using a Microchip PIC32MX processor inside.
There is not enough horsepower for much processing. This is why it depends on software decode in TIDAL on your computer. At best, I suspect the device will just detect an MQA stream and plug in some custom parameters for the filter on the DAC chip. No fancy further unfolding to 192kHz since there's just not enough processor cycles...
No surprise they're taking their time. We shall see, but I very much suspect the difference in sound will be essentially placebo.
Archimago's Musings: A 'more objective' audiophile blog.
A DAC can be a MQA "decoder" or a MQA "renderer."
When a DAC is a decoder it takes the basic file and decodes the MQA info. And in some cases can do multiple unfolds of the buried data to make even higher rez playback - not just 96 but 176.4 or 192.
When a DAC is a Renderer all it can do is take a file that is already unfolded on the computer (presumably in an App such as TIDAL 3.0.x) and process the unfolded info.
The Meridian Exp2 is a decoder while the Audioquest DragonFly (once updated) is a renderer.
When you setup TIDAL to recognize your DAC it recognizes the Meridian as a Decoder and sends an "bit perfect" copy of the file to the DAC for decoding. But if it detects a DAC that is a Renderer it will unfold the file and send the unfolded file to the DAC. At least, that's the story that TIDAL is telling us users.
Here, according to Robert "Fan Boy" Harley, it is clear as day:
MQA's Unexpected Twist
by Robert Harley | Jan 12th, 2017
The announcement on January 5 that Tidal would begin streaming MQA files (and suggestions that many other streaming services would soon follow suit) was accompanied by an unexpected twist—that MQA decoding can be performed in music-player software rather than exclusively in an MQA-compliant DAC.
That is, you can listen to decoded MQA with your existing DAC.
MQA had previously asserted that MQA decoding would take place only in MQA-equipped DACs. Although technically possible to perform MQA decoding in music-player software such as Tidal, Roon, Audirvana, etc., MQA prohibited that scenario in part because software decoding doesn't deliver the full sound quality that MQA is capable of. MQA is an end-to-end system that ties together the analog-to-digital converter in the studio with the digital-to-analog converter in the listener's playback system. Software decoding, in which the "unwrapped" MQA file is output as a 96kHz/24-bit stream, doesn't allow this end-to-end connection because the software player doesn't know what DAC it is driving. The full implementation of MQA (decoding in a DAC rather than in software) offers better performance because it can correct for known limitations and flaws in the particular DAC chip, among other benefits.
Convenient how they changed the story? Why? DAC manufacturers were telling them to go take a hike.
According to my Audirvana 3.0X desktop software, when a decoder DAC is recognized - my Meridian Exp2 is recognized automatically - only the bit perfect file, not one software unfolded, is delivered to the DAC.
There also seems to be DACs that are not full decoders but can "render" a higher resolution from a software unfolded file. And lastly there are also those that receive some but not as much enhancement from a software unfolded file because their DAC is neither a decoder nor a renderer.
That's how I read the description anyway.
But it seems many believe the whole thing is a lie. Not just a lie but a damned lie.
It has not gone unnoticed that some of the people that are more vehement in their opinion of the whole thing are also people selling either DACs or High Rez files for download. Who can blame them. MQA is getting more attention and traction than you'd expect from such a false product.
Add to that a great many that have never heard a decoded MQA file - EVER - but nonetheless know it's a lie and a fake.
I'm going to try to be open minded about it. I have it. I like it. I works for me. Other than that I have no skin in this game.
I really think you have it mixed up.
When the the file is "unfolded" in the software, ANY DAC will receive and play that file. That is the WHOLE selling point of software decoding, it is NOT dependent on hardware. According to Meridian, cough cough, when the DAC can decode it is a more "complete" solution. Surprise, surprise.
Correct me if I am wrong.
Even if they are able to make it work, I'd suspect that the power requirement would just eat up my iPhone's battery, assumimg that Tidal MQA would even be available on an iPhone. The DFB is OK now, it takes more power than just straight headphones, but still quite usable.
Maybe the best solution is to do the first unfold in the phone and let the DAC just work on 24/96. I don't expect "perfect" sound from the phone anyway. For that matter, I'm mostly on the NYC subway when I use it for music, not exactly a relaxing, quiet environment. I get looks from people when I have it plugged in with that green glowing dragonfly.
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