Output is always 44.1 kHz, 16-bit on Tidal i.e. no MQA


I’m new to Volumio. Just today I installed the latest version using berry-scripts not knowing the funcionality I was after is just out (!)

I have a Dragonfly Cobalt hooked up to my Pi and it’s working perfectly for local media i.e. the DAC is correctly outputting the media without resampling. But when I try using Tidal, it doesn’t matter if I change the quality, the light is always green and I see the output is 44.1 kHz on MyVolumio/volumio.local. Of course, resampling is deactivated on the Volumio settings.

The issue is I’m unable to play MQA and just saw John Darko do the exact same thing.

Any ideas on what to test and how to fix this?

Thanks in advance!

Volumio Information

Volumio Version: 2.878 (berryboot)
Hardware: Raspberry Pi 4B 2 GB
DAC: AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt

The Cobalt is an MQA renderer, it does not do the full MQA decode. From what I understand, Volumio does not have an MQA license so it is not able to do the first MQA unfold to pass off to the Cobalt for further processing.
For MQA to work in Volumio, you need a dac that can do the full MQA decode attached to the Volumio device. That’s my understanding anyway.
There are other ways, like Roon or Audirvana doing the first unfold. You may not want to go that route.

Thanks for the response!

I wasn’t aware Volumio is, apparently, not doing the decoding. I assumed it would because I see an on-off switch for MQA in the settings and saw Darko post he was doing MQA with a similar setup.

Indeed, I wouldn’t want to go the Roon or Audirvana route. I’d be willing to continue the MyVolumio membership, though, if I’m able to play MQA from Tidal without investing in another DAC, which might be wishful thinking if you’re right.

What’s still bugging me is seeing the output is not responsive to quality settings on Tidal. Not that I’d ever want lower quality streaming through Volumio, but I figure something’s off with the compatibility.

I believe the MQA on/off switch basically means MQA passthrough. My thinking is this, “Volumio, I have an MQA dac that can do a full MQA decode so just pass the requested Tidal MQA file through your system untouched to the attached dac and it will handle it from there”.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it :wink:


Right. I’m in no position to argue with that…

But how come Volumio is outputting at a fixed sample rate no matter what settings combination I try on Tidal and Volumio?

Not that suddenly CD quality is low for me, I’m wondering if some additional sampling is going on. I’d like to avoid that.

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I think you will always get 16/44 from Tidal if you have the Hifi plan and no MQA decode ability on your end. So, you should see the green light as you say on the Cobalt. My view is that you are getting what the device (Cobalt) will do with Volumio and Tidal in your setup.

Yes, if I select quality as HIFI, indeed, I get what I want from Volumio and my Cobalt glows the green light. But even when I play albums on “Normal” the green LED comes up. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this shouldn’t happen if Tidal, coming with whatever sample rate it’s coming, is streaming straight to the DAC.

The Cobalt colors are showing you what the sample rate is. The green light is correct even in normal, it’s still 44.1 khz sample rate. If it’s coming in at 320 kbps mp3 or 128 kbps aac, the sampling rate is still 44.1 khz. CD quality is 1411 kbps at 44.1 khz (green).
When you get to higher res audio, the sample rate may change, so the color on the Cobalt will change then. 24 bit 96 khz for example. You can have a hires file at 24 bit 44.1 khz and the Cobalt will show green. The light does not tell you everything.

Agreed, absolutely. You just pointed me to my problem understanding my Cobalt: I was used to seeing the LED change colors changing the quality on Tidal on Windows; I just noticed it’s setup to play 48 kHz on shared mode, and colors change to whatever sample rate I select there.

So, all good with Volumio. No reason for my Cobalt to change colors then. Thanks for taking the time!

Now I wonder what Darko might put in the mix to render MQA on his Cobalt…


You sure he’s not using Roon or similar? My guess, he must be.

Can’t tell for sure… this is my reference: Tidal Connect comes to the Raspberry Pi via Volumio | Darko.Audio

you have to watch this … @rootkill

you hear it all over even the friend of the creator says it’s ps studio …it’s just a compression methode
and not always the high sample rate that they claim ect …and it’s added to all things because of the
demand of the people not for the greatness of it … and yess my dragonfly’s have it …

Got it, and still don’t care. I play hires, cd quality, and MQA. I like them all and am not concerned or interested in the MQA battle.

Thanks @dvo, I had seen it being suggested to me by the YT algorithm.

I haven’t watched it yet and, while I’ve had MQA in Tidal for a while, I hadn’t given it much attention until I heard a master of “Jumping at Shadows” by Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green at the top of his game). No blind testing when comparing to the FLAC version but, since then, I’ve been giving MQA its fair chance. It may be possible to say the same of different formats what’s said of mathematical models: all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Staying on topic, I’d be happy to listen to Peter Green on MQA through Volumio and my available hardware. Having listened extensively the “HiFi” versions, I don’t see why I wouldn’t sacrifice doing the same with the MQA…!

I’ve kind of missed out on the early Fleetwood Mac. I like them more than the famous version with Stevie Nicks after listening to some of their MQA Tidal albums.

Peter Green was an unknown artist to me as well. I like his 1979 album, In The Skies. Listen to the Tom Petty song “The Trip To Pirates Cove” from Mojo. Petty borrowed the riff from track 2 “Slabo Day“ from In The Sky in my opinion.

Ah, the joy of discovering Fleetwood Mac was originally an entirely different band… I was sold after listening to “Underway” from Then Play On, happily, now also on MQA. This version became my favorite, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNpSsAWroDE

You’re right about the riff from “Slabo Day” Tom Petty seems to have borrowed. In the Skies has a great version of “A Fool No More”, by the way. I figure you also enjoy Roy Buchanan’s playing. These two are my favorite bluesmen and am lucky to have so much of their music available online.

Before getting too much into the “I must have MQA”, please watch this video which outlines all its faults: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRjsu9-Vznc&t=944s

Thanks, that video has been widely linked. Personally, I just don’t care what they have to say and am happy to play MQA, hi res, or plain old CD quality.

I believe the MQA on/off switch basically means MQA passthrough. My thinking is this, “Volumio, I have an MQA dac that can do a full MQA decode so just pass the requested Tidal MQA file through your system untouched to the attached dac and it will handle it from there”.

I agree with that.

I have an external DAC connected via TOSLINK, that is capable of both MQA unfolds, and the MQA-switch in Volumio does exactly that.

So now, with Tidal Connect, I start a 44.1/16 track on my Tidal app, and then it will show 44.1/16 in the Volumio app and no MQA on the DAC’s display.
If I start an MQA track from the Tidal app, in Volumio app it will show as 48/24 and the DAC-display will say “MQA”.