Exciting news for Roon users! It will now perform the first MQA unfolding to 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz. Full decode requires an MQA hardware decoder.

Release notes here.

It’s been a long road. While we got off to an encouraging start when we began serious discussions about an MQA integration in 2016, it ended up taking over a year to negotiate the commercial and technical/product details that would allow us to move forward in a satisfactory manner.

Implementation work started in January, and involved quite a bit of iteration with MQA Ltd over the past few months, followed by a trip through their certification process. MQA is a complex product/idea, and it deserves a more comprehensive treatment than simply jamming the MQA Decoder library into Roon and pushing a build out the door.

The presence of MQA content on TIDAL motivated us to redesign the “Other Versions” screen, as described above. It motivated us to kick off the data mining project that is now populating format information for TIDAL tracks, since without that format information, the overall experience of browsing MQA content is poor. It even pushed us on the device setup/auto-configuration work–since in many cases, we can’t automatically determine a device’s level of MQA support by querying the device directly.

We have also covered some new ground with MQA: Roon will not only be able to perform DSP on unfolded MQA content, it will do so without destroying the MQA Signalling information–meaning: it is now possible to use features like EQ, Room Correction, and Volume Leveling while still taking advantage of the rendering capabilities of your MQA DAC.

During playback, Roon presents MQA-related aspects clearly and transparently in Signal Path–the details of what is going on throughout the MQA decoding, processing, and transmission process are fully exposed. We did not feel that we could release support for something as intricate as MQA without also explaining it clearly and truthfully.

Finally, Roon will support the MQA USB/HID protocol for implementing some extra MQA-specific communication with USB devices. While this isn’t absolutely crucial for a good experience (and has no impact on sound quality or audio capabilities), it does polish up some aspects of the experience. The USB support allows us to auto-detect a device’s level of MQA support more accurately, and enables us to display information about the device’s MQA status in Signal Path.

It’s important to note: not all MQA-capable hardware products are handling decoded MQA streams properly yet. While the majority of USB devices support this today, there are some DACs which do not yet recognize decoded MQA streams, particularly when network streaming is involved. We are working with MQA to chase these down and encouraging vendors to fix any products that do not implement this important aspect of MQA support.

New Functionality for Roon 1.5

  • MQA Decoding
  • Linn DS Support
  • Redesigned Device Setup, with easier automatic settings
  • Improved “Other Versions” with TIDAL and MQA
  • Internet Radio supports FLAC and OGG/FLAC streams
  • Support for “Bootleg” file tags (If MEDIATYPE, MEDIA_TYPE, RELEASETYPE, RELEASE_TYPE, MusicBrainz Album Type = Bootleg)