AirLens-MK2-Roon setup

Just received my AirLens (sweet). Two questions:

  1. I can’t get the MK2 to display the expected output. Playing Pink Floyd Meddle which is “48kHz 24 MQA 192kHz” but MKII displaying 96/24! Using I2S 1 input. And AL firmware up to date.

    Dipswitches on AirLens are all set to top (i.e. as came out of the box). Within Roon device setup for AL my rates and samples are all set to max. I have “Decoder and Renderer” set for MQA.

  2. AirLens comes with a stock PSA HDMI cable. Thoughts on quality and whether I should upgrade (I had ordered a Wireworld Silver Sphere 48 )

Thanks in advance, Dave

1 Like

Update: If I play NON-MQA 192kHz, the MK2 reports it as received.

Appears to be an MQA issue with my setup.

Any help with proper Roon-AL-MK2 MQA setup would be appreciated.

Thanks, Dave

This is because nothing in your music chain is capable of full MQA unfolding. You are just getting the first unfold.

My suggestion is to avoid MQA.

Hi Dave,

I just played the same track with the same results. What you are getting is correct considering that it is the MQA version


@mycrowave are you seeing 96 24 on the MK2?

Thanks, Dave

Hi Dave,

Yes, 96/24. I didn’t realize that was the point of your post.

It seems to be working “correctly,” given that the airlens only does the first unfold.

The following quote comes from this web site.

"The 3-step MQA decode process – music origami

  1. An MQA Core Decoder performs the first ‘unfold’ in software (for example the TIDAL app) by expanding the file to 88.2kHz or 96kHz. (44.1 → 88.2, or 48 → 96)
  2. An MQA Renderer is found in portable devices and can do the following two unfolds, once they are fed the data from the MQA Core Decoder. (88.2 → 176.4 → 352.6, or 96 → 192)
  3. An MQA Full Decoder does all three unfold steps within a single device, and MQA claims this is necessary for achieving the highest quality reproduction."

Agree with most of what has been said here, other than that from the MQA detractors.

As I understand it, the first MQA unfold corrects for the impulse response of the ADC the engineers used to initially render the analog signal into PCM. That is not trivial or unimportant.

Although my current setup no longer is capable of full MQA decoding, I still generally prefer MQA versions of my favorite tunes where available…

1 Like

I might be misremembering but can’t a Roon core completely unfold MQA? You could set it up like that if your looking for the full unfold

Not to my understanding.

The second unfold can only happen if the DAC is MQA certified/enabled and its impulse response is known to MQA.

Roon can only do/send the first unfold…

What DACs by name are capable of a full MQA unfold? More importantly why is it relevant if Tidal has walked from MQA? Is it of primary interest for those who purchased MQA encoded downloads? Just curious at this point.

I get it.

MQA might have a list of enabled DACs.

So far, I still have access to, and can play Tidal MQA files in my library…

I did find this comprehensive list on the MQA site.

MQA Device List

Also this from April 2023 What HiFi:

With major music labels such as Universal, Warner Bros and Sony Music offering music in MQA, there was a time when we thought more music streaming services would get in on the action too. But Apple Music and Amazon Music found alternative ways to offer hi-res streaming. Deezer announced a partnership with MQA back in September 2017, though all has gone quiet on that front since. It’s certainly worth noting too that Tidal’s reliance on MQA is about to come to an end, as the service has announced that it “will be introducing hi-res FLAC for our HiFi Plus subscribers soon. It’s lossless and an open standard". Tidal hasn’t given a specific date for FLAC’s introduction, and the existing MQA catalogue “will continue to be available on the platform”, but it’s hard to believe that with FLAC now in the picture there will be room for two hi-res audio file formats in the long term.

Finally there is this prognosis from What Hifi:

MQA’s future

In April 2023, news broke that MQA is going into administration, with the company’s official statement reading as follows:

“Following the recent positive reception to MQA’s latest technology (SCL6), there has been increased international interest in buying MQA Ltd. At the same time, MQA’s main financial backer is seeking an exit. In order to be in the best position to pursue market opportunities and expedite this process, the company has undergone a restructuring initiative, which includes entering into administration and is comparable to Chapter 11 in the US.”

That had us wondering what the future of MQA holds and any potential implications for the hi-fi industry, not least as Tidal the same week announced its plans to introduce hi-res FLAC streaming on its service. We have mused what MQA entering administration might mean for Tidal and supported products, though in this current state of limbo, it is only conjecture. Right now, nothing is changing for owners of MQA products and Tidal HiFi Plus subscribers.

Hard to say how it will end up for MQA, but there appears to be alternative options with potentially longer shelf life.

1 Like

Hi, this seems right to me too - the AirLens will help you out to 88/96, but not further with MQA unfolding.

I think the most underrated aspect of the Bridge II / DS I was its ability to unfold MQA to 192.

I’m enjoying having native unfolding of MQA again with the AirLens :grinning: Some of David Elias’s work in MQA is just superb for me, where the live tracks really shine.

@daveboyd - really hope you enjoy your AirLens!!

1 Like

Again, unless I miss understand what this means, in your device set up on Roon I believe you can have the core do the complete MQA unfold if your dac is unable.

1 Like

That’s just the first unfold. This is well established and answered with a simple Google search.

Roon can only do the first unfold, which is called the core decoder. Any further unfolding, called rendering, must be done by an MQA capable DAC. Only hardware products are licensed to do this.
If your DAC can’t recognize an MQA file, you can use Roon to do the first unfold. This will allow you to reach 24/96. However, only an MQA capable DAC with a full decoder over USB can unfold files to 32bit/384khz.

1 Like

Furthermore, AFAIK, even with that toggle enabled, Roon “knows” that the airlens is capable of performing the first unfold, and rather than doing the unfold in your PC, as that toggle indicates, it allows the airlens to do it.

1 Like

That I don’t know. I haven’t read that before. But to be honest I haven’t used MQA since I had a Mytek Manhattan. That seems so long ago. I was skinny and had dark hair. :older_woman:

I don’t know of any official statement on this, but one would expect the signal path view to change depending on that switch being turned on or off. However, when playing back with Airlens, that signal path remains unchanged regardless of that switch position.

MQA playback to MKII over USB (No airlens):

MQA playback to Airlens via ethernet roon toggle off:

MQA playback to Airlens via ethernet roon toggle on:


@club_pizzazz , Sorry for delay in getting back. Was at a cottage.

Yes, that is my Roon setting; No MQA support and Enable MQA code decoder is No