PS Audio AirLens

That is good news.

I wonder if MQA 1’s and 0’s will be acceptable to (and passed through) the AirLens. I do enjoy some MQA recordings from Tidal via Roon fairly often.

I cannot recall if this has already been addressed in this thread.

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I recall somewhere earlier that MQA won’t be supported by AirLens. Paul is not a a proponent of MQA. Once I removed Bridge II from my DSD, I dropped Tidal.


Yes, MQA unfolding will be possible with the AirLens but no news as yet on whether the AirLens & DS2 will allow a higher level of unfolding than the Bridge2 & DS1.


The AirLens will do the first unfold and pass it on to the DAC of your choice. If that DAC is one by PSA then that first unfold is where it will stop. Any MQA processing done via the Bridge II was paid for by Conversdigital the Bridge II maker.

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It’s important to understand how MQA works to answer this question. For things that know nothing about MQA it is just PCM. For this reason the AirLens will “pass MQA”. But it won’t do anything with it.

If your DAC supports MQA then you can pass MQA through the AirLens to the MQA compatible DAC. However, PS DACs do not support MQA so AirLens + DS can’t do anything with MQA; they just see it at the lower bitrate PCM.

If your source supports first unfold (Roon or Tidal, example) then you’re passing the first unfolded PCM to AirLens, which passes that to DAC, and then depending on DAC it decodes at that bitrate or, if MQA DAC, can finish the unfolds.


Sounds like the AirLens/DS2 will support MQA to 88.2 or 96k, but not 352.8k. Bit of a bummer in my book to leave that extra resolution on the table.

But the wonderful feedback from @jamesh on the alpha version of the AirLens, and of the DS2 from its beta testers, makes me think the AirLens/DS2 will be a great combo.

Will be very much looking forward to DSD128+ in the new system.

You do realize that making a DAC MQA compatible requires both a licensing fee by the DAC manufacturer and the belief that it is a valid processing choice. At this point PSA doesn’t believe in either. If Hi-Res streaming is important to you switch to the other service.


From an enduser perspective, I don’t want MQA and would rather not have to pay an increase in the DAC’s price to cover the MQA licensing.


It sounds like we both agree Qobuz is better than Tidal! But I do find some MQAs can turn the tables, like HDtrack’s MQA remaster of Dire Strait’s Money for Nothing. So for me, being able to hear the good MQAs is a definite plus of the Bridge II/DS1.

I also thought PS Audio wasn’t going to support MQA so was surprised but happy to hear in March that the AirLens would retain that capacity. I know @Paul has since said the AirLens

I’m simply assuming whatever needs to be done for the AirLens to handle MQA has already been priced into its cost?

The airlens is likely first unfold. Usually the DAC handle’s the second. The AirLens could eliminate a UltraRendu, a Matrix and the shared LPS in my system if it sounds better. The less software the better PSAUDIO has to squeeze into it the better. They are a hardware company and complex software is not their ticket like most other audio companies. If you have been on this forum long you see the user interface struggles they have. It is best to stay in the swim lane that works. Notice how they killed off Octave server software. Plus the UI struggle in DSMKII Beta right now people needing hard restarts.

Roon does first unfold currently and feeds the UltraRendu which passes it along. So likely The AirLens is counting on that.


I’m no expert, but your streaming device (in my case a Roon Nucleus+) will/can do the first MQA unfold.

As I understand it, the Airlens will pass the resulting bitstream on and that’s as far as it will go re: MQA.

The second MQA unfold requires info on your DAC. That’s not a known quantity in an FPGA DAC.


Much further up in the thread, PS Audio mentioned the AirLens being Tidal Connect compliant. I thought that for folks who only stream that this could take out various devices from their system chain. I like Tidal for ATMOS. I buy files from Qobuz. Don’t do MQA myself. But if AirLens is indeed Tidal Connect compliant, would there be no MQA unfolds done after the AirLens? But maybe for someone with an MQA capable DAC… so not a PSA DS… would they get their MQA complete?

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If the downstream DAC is an MQA DAC, you will get the second MQA unfold after the AirLens. But, remember the AirLens doesn’t have USB out. That narrows down the number of DAC options very quickly. If you want the highest bit rates, there’s not that many DAC’s that have i2S and MQA.

Personally, I would have liked USB out as an optional board in the AirLens much like Bridge II in the DS MKI.

I see your point and think it’s fair from a client protective. However, wouldn’t providing the option be about as costly as implementing the USB out right away?

The thing that makes the AirLens interesting at all is completely at odds with the idea of having a USB output even as an option. It’s incongruous like asking for a turbocharger on an electric car.

Frankly I’m not expecting the device’s software to be especially capable. It doesn’t have to be. It just needs to offer the basics of “here I am, send me music” on the network using a small collection of common protocols. It does not bring an ecosystem or platform of its own, it must fit into a world defined by others.

The thing it’s aiming to excel at is to sound amazing by delivering a super clean and stable – but incredibly simple – digital audio data stream from a network source to any SPDIF or I2S/HDMI DAC, especially those with a PSA logo. That’s its Job To Be Done.

Its job is not to compete with Sonore etc as a USB DDC. The engineering design would be vastly different and the software aspect would matter a whole lot more to be competitive. And it probably wouldn’t deliver a price/performance advantage as a network connectivity option for PSA DACs.

Remember, PSA came up with a great-sounding I2S/SPDIF output stage for their disc transport, and they wanted a new network bridge solution for their DACs. 1 + 1 = AirLens.


That’s a very nice summary of the AirLens concept!! :smiley:

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I think what people using online streaming services have to consider anyway is, that either their service might shut down some time or a manufacturer finishes support some time due to whatever changing.

One has to get aware that nothing except the time having played the files so far has been paid with no guarantee of service into the future.

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What is with the negative waves man?
Take a nap.


Maybe too early for realism :wink:

But finally I think the main risk isn’t unavailability of a service, just quality (high end demand assumed), loss of one’s own library with the possible need to build it up somewhere else again as well as support of equipment due to licensing fees.

If I wouldn’t have a collection and online streaming sound quality be good enough, I’d take the risk, too (but by being aware of the above).

As higher DSD rates seem to get the future for demanding high end folks (at least for the extremely limited supply), the streaming solution for this will take some time anyway.