DSD Sr with MQA Streamer

dancingsea,

Thanks for the heads-up on Roon sq and the tip on the Matrix. Don’t know that I can use the Matrix with the NAD, as surprisingly, the streamer does not have a USB output, so it’ll be a digital RCA. The NAD does have an HDMi/i2s connection, but it won’t work with the DSD or any i2s DAC… There are conflicting statements on the NAD website and even a thread on the Forum here suggesting it might work, but I’ve confirmed with NAD engineers that it won’t support an i2s connection.

According to the Stereophile review of the NAD M50.2, the answer to your first question is YES:

The sad death of Tom Petty at the beginning of October had me searching Tidal for Petty’s music while I prepared this review, and I found a playlist listed under “Tidal Masters.” The “Masters” appellation means that the files are MQA-encoded. Sure enough, when I selected “I Won’t Back Down,” the metadata indicated that it was an MQA file. I was feeding the NAD’s coaxial S/PDIF output to the PS Audio DAC, which won’t decode MQA data. However, the M50.2 performed the first “unfolding” of the data, and the PS Audio’s screen indicated that it was receiving 24-bit data sampled at 96kHz.

Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/nad-masters-series-m502-digital-music-player#4Eb1Hr3iZio6Wlue.99

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“So the Bridge isn’t required for Roon, but you’re recommending it…what advantages the Bridge would have rather than feeding the Roon signal from my Nad streamer to the DSD?”

@stuarthartenhotmail-com: I can’t speak to any advantages compared to your NAD streamer as I am not familiar with it. Roon and the DS Sr./Bridge II combination play well together and sound excellent. Using Roon 1.6 with Tidal and/or Qobuz integrated into the library it manages really makes this a “we are living in the best of times” moment in terms of access to music. I recommend the Bridge because: a) it sounds and works great with Roon (and JRiver Media Center, my preferred “critical listening” music software for playing ripped and purchased files stored in my iMac); b) it makes the DS Sr. a MQA player (full-on “origami” on tap); and c) the combination does not require a super-complicated signal path (or separate renderer/digital player) to get a high-quality digital signal to the DAC. Others prefer to take the specialized renderer/player path and report superior performance that I am sure can be obtained.

Like I said, I am not familiar with your NAD but if it does everything you need, you may be very satisfied feeding Sr. directly (via USB?). Keep in mind that conventional wisdom tends to judge USB as a potentially (but not universally) inferior digital pathway to a DAC. This is a general issue, and the subject of great debate; not universally true depending on the specifics of one’s set up.

If I were you, I would grab a Bridge Ethernet card on trial and try out your system with a variety of configurations using the kit you have on hand and pick what works best for you. There is 0 risk in giving the Bridge a spin.

Maybe some others will chime in.

Have fun/hope this helps a little.

Bootzilla, I read the review when it came out and forgot all about the fact that it was connected to the DSD. Yes, indeed, it does answer my question. Right now, I have a Metrum Onyx and wanted to make sure that my new DSD would not have an issue with accepting the first unfold.

Scotte1, thanks for the suggestions. I don’'t know why, but there’s no USB out on the NAD M50.2 (like the PSA, a Stereophile A+ component). I suppose the limitations are only whatever the specs are on the Digital RCA. From the responses above on Roon, it sounds like I can use the NAD as an endpoint, and bypass the bridge purchase, at least on a trial basis for Roon. I have a couple older thinkpad laptops , so one of them can function as a starter core on Roon.

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You are welcome.

Keep us all updated on where you land and what you think when you get there.

I would absolutely keep your NAD in the chain and not worry about I2S :call_me_hand:

Of the outputs the NAD has the AES/EBU is most likely the best sounding.