Playback of MQA-CD or MQA encoded music files by SA30

Is it possible to play the MQA-CD with a SA30 amplifier? I was playing the MQA-CD (specifically, the Japanese edition of “The Best of Blondie”) in a CDS50 player connected to the SA30 with an optical cable (SAT input). Unfortunately, the amplifier shows 44.1 kHz stream and doesn’t show MQA decoding on the display. I ripped the CD to WAV and FLAC files and tried to play from the NAS. Same result. The amplifier shows 44.1 kHz without MQA. I don’t believe that MQA decoder supports the Tidal service only. Does anyone have any experience?

What does it display in the Webclient.

The Web client displays: FLAC, 44.1 kHz, 16 bits, 2 ch

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That would suggest it is not decoding them as MQA. I have some MQA FLAC files that I downloaded from a test site. I stream them from my NAS. On the last firmware update the only place that correctly displayed MQA was the Webclient. Both MusicLife and the front display showed sample rates (different sample rates between them incidentally!). I have just tried them on the latest firmware and all 3 locations (front panel, MusicLife and Webclient) display MQA master.

I downloaded from the test side two types of MQA FLAC files. They are called:

  1. MQA stereo original resolution
  2. MQA-CD 16 bit/44 kHz
    In case of “MQA stereo original resolution” file the front panel display, MusicLife app and Webclient show MQA master and high resolution, e.g. 192 kHz. When I play the “MQA-CD 16 bit/44 kHz” file all the places show 44.1 kHz without MQA decoding. Looks like only MQA-CD is not supported.

MQA is a little controversial, e.g. refer to thread here, link and link. MQA-CD seems to be a derivative with a resolution of 44k1 16bit on ordinary CD players [source]. If I’m not mistaken then it can unfold to higher resolutions on MQA-compatible encoders. I guess the CDS50 is not MQA capable and this device produces a 41k1/16 PCM audio stream to your SA30. The SA30 does not see the MQA information so it cannot decode it. In order to use the MQA capability of the SA30 you have to feed it an MQA stream, e.g. from your NAS (or use a subscription service like Tidal).

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@jvs1 As I wrote earlier, I ripped this MQA-CD to the FLAC files and uploaded them to my NAS. Unfortunately SA30 doesn’t see these files as MQA codded.

So my understanding is that you don’t need an MQA certified device to play MQA, but you don’t get the second unfold of the data to reach the full hi res if not. So you will only achieve CD quality. CDS50 isn’t MQA certified (it won’t stream the full fat MQA either from tidal for example) and I believe the DAC in the SA30 is a slightly different variant of the ESS9038 that is.

Just wondering, what was used to rip and encode? Is their software for that which is MQA certified that means you get the full hi res in FLAC format, or is it only getting the CD level quality of the the MQA before re-encoding?

Finally I managed to replay the MQA version of the ripped CD. This requires the following steps:

  1. Rip the MQA-CD to FLAC format files.
  2. Install the MQA Tag Restorer available from the official MQA site MQA
  3. Use this software to modify the ripped files (it extracts information from the file and adds missing tags to the header)
  4. Upload modified files to NAS and play them with SA30. The amplifier confirms on the display that plays MQA.

What software did you use to convert the MQA-CD into flac?

I was curious about the ‘mqa tag restore’ application and tried to download it. After filing a form the web page didn’t allow me to download the application.

I use Exact Audio Copy. To download tag restore application you have to tick both checkboxes.