HQPlayer + Roon to DS DAC: no sound (only) when upsampling MQA to DSD

Hi All,

I’m new here (this is my first post at the PSA Forum :slightly_smiling_face:) and just got my Directstream DAC a few days ago (I’m going through the break in process).
I’m using the Roon as front-end and the HQPlayer as DSP (which I do find beneficial in terms of SQ). I’m not overly worried in finding the ideal settings on the HQPlayer, since I’m still in the early stages of the break in, but when streaming MQA files from Tidal and engaging the DSD conversion on the HQPlayer, all I get is an “hiss”. Keeping the PCM upsampling with MQA works just fine as does converting any non-MQA material to DSD …
I’m limiting the upsampling to 384 KHz in PCM and to 128x48 on DSD (with auto rate family). I’m using the USB input (with the SoTM tx-USBultra in the loop but the described effect happens with or without it).
I’ve pulled the trigger on the DS after spending some time with the DS Jr. (lent by a friend) and, by the way, I got exactly the same behaviour. Any suggestions on how to “fix” this? Generally speaking I prefer the sound when upsampling to DSD and I can always switch to PCM when streaming an MQA album, but that’s not the most practical scenario :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Thanks! :hugs:


Two notes for you to consider/try:

  1. Do you have the Bridge II Ethernet card installed in your DAC? (Only way for the DAC to “unfold” MQA files)

  2. Leave the DSD conversion function to the DAC. It is fundamental to its performance.

Hope this helps some/welcome to the fora.


Thanks for the reply, @scotte1!

  1. I got the DS without the Bridge as I already had a custom built server which delivers top SQ. Roon performs the first unfolding its output to HQPlayer is PCM (like on any non-MQA material). The HQPlayer performs the PCM to DSD conversion in any situation. This is scenario I’ve used with several DACs I’ve owned or tried before (all of them non-MQA capable) and the DS is the only one I’ve experienced this behavior;
  2. As far as I know, the DS will upsample anything it gets on its input (MP3 @320KBPS or DSD 128) to 20xDSD sample rate, so it still processes the HQPlayer signal. I will leave my conclusions to a point further down the road of the break in process, but in the case of the DSJ I had at home for a few weeks, I found myself preferring the sound when the HQPlayer fed it with DSD … of course this may be system (and ear) dependent :slightly_smiling_face:


I am a little fuzzy on your signal chain, but best I can tell, you are not getting a fully decoded MQA file with your current set up. (If that matters to you.)

I also maintain that the PSA DS DAC should not benefit from any PCM to DSD conversion you might do upstream of its inputs, but this is an oft counter-intuitive hobby. Trust your ears and enjoy the music.

Maybe others more knowledgeable than I will chime in with more insight into your issue and signal chain.


HQPlayer won’t work with the Bridge anyway as it’s not a Network Audio Adapter. .

In the Roon device settings for HQPlayer, try setting the device MQA capabilities to none. This ought to make Roon handle the decoding and rendering and thus send a signal the DS can understand.

You’re right, @scotte1: as I’ve mentioned I’m only getting the first unfold through the Roon. The full decoding must be done by the DAC. Not that this is keeping me awake at night but, generally speaking, whenever there is a MQA and non-MQA version available at Tidal I find myself leaning towards the MQA version (even if I’m only taking advantage of the first unfold through Roon). Thank you! :slightly_smiling_face:

Still looking for a solution, but I’ve settled on the PCM upsampling on HQPlayer as it’s totally glitch free with the DS…

Thanks, @dancingsea. I will check it … My assumption, supported by my previous experience with several non-MQA DACs, is (was) that Roon produces a PCM stream at 88.2kHz or 96kHz (resulting from the first unfold) which is then processed by the HQPlayer in a way that is not distinct from a native 88.2kHz or 96kHz. I will chase this solution later on when I’m back home :slight_smile:

I used to have the sane MQA issue with Roon/HQP until I set Roon to do the decoding and rendering before sending it to HQP. I’d just get hiss. Changing the HQPlayer device settings in Roon fixed it.

Thanks a lot, @dancingsea! … it looks like this will definitely get the issue fixed :slight_smile:
BTW: are you feeding the DS with DSD as well?

I have the DSJ, but yes, I have 400 DSD albums and I often upsample PCM to DSD, sounds great.