Here's a thought...MQA access on the cheap?

Hi Folks.
I have been using the Tidal streaming service for three years now and find it’s convenience a real bonus on nights when my missus and I just want to explore the new music put there. We have a £9.99/month plan which gives us CD quality and frankly it’s sound quality (to our ears) is pretty good. However, we cannot upgrade to the master MQA quality as our ND5XS doesn’t support these files. We also don’t want to replace our streamer (spending probably over a £1000 extra to get the later XS2 version). Instead I have wondered about adding the £299 NAD CS1 streamer (which does unfold MQA files) and simply use the digital input on the ND5XS? Would this work?
Alternatively the little CS1 has a pair of RCA outs which I could simply plug into my Supernait 2?
Any thoughts guys? It seems a simple way to gain access to high resolution Tidal? I need to check if the CS1 can stream Qbuz which if it does makes it a no brainer. Cheers. Gaz

That should read ‘out there’ not ‘put there’ predictive text gone wild!

My experience with digital is that the minutiae matter, the power, grounding etc.

Adding a widget, and I won’t call it cheap, May give you a flavour while upsetting your system balance.

My advice would be to get to a decent dealer and do the demo initially, with your wife.

Or change to Qobuz and get more full fat files.

Either way I am sure you will hear differences, whether they are improvements or consistent will be interesting.

We can’t stream Qbuz as our ND5XS doesn’t support it. I think my point is…the CS1 has the chipset to decode the higher resolution files but I wondered if using a digital connection to the ND5XS digital input I still get the benefit of the naim internal Dac and power supply, etc. At £299 I might just do it and share my findings.

There are software solutions to stream qobuz to an nd5xs. Look at m connect hd or bubble upnp.

Both of which presumably require a laptop? These days I only have a work laptop onto which unauthorized third party software ist vorboden!

M connect is on iOS phone, bubble on an android phone. The things phones can do these days ……

So my next question…how do I interface my Pixel (6) with my ND5XS :crazy_face::person_shrugging:

That’s an android phone, so install bubble upnp on it,

£299 for lossy MQA seems a dumb deal to me and hardly cheap.

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Is MQA lossy then? I thought the whole point of it was transfer of high resolution files?

The CS1 does stream Qbuz. I just checked. Seems it’s worth a punt to me. £299 is hardly much in naim spending terms (a couple of lengths of Naca5)! If it outputs 24bit

24bit/192Hz into the ND5XS Dac, would that not work? :person_shrugging:

Technically a case can be made that it is lossy, that doesn’t mean that it sounds worse than a full fat equivalent.

This is why it’s worth taking time to do the demo, you may be chasing a mirage; or something that makes a small difference on particular files, many of which you wouldn’t listen to anyway.

A friend bought an IFI Zen as a stop gap, might be worth also considering if you decide to go this route.

For more info on the case against MQA I posted a couple of links here:

Certainly DOES NOT mean that their view is correct and the scheme doesn’t have benefits. I have a healthy respect for Bob Stuart.


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I used to stream Tidal for quite some time until I discovered Qobuz sounds a lot better and is cheaper.
I would echo similar comments here recommending a switch to Qobuz, Tidal streams in comparison seem coloured and muddled with Qobuz giving a more natural open and transparent sound.
This just with a Bluesound Node 2i, whilst at my dealers earlier this week listening to the new 200 series, comparison of Tidal v Qobuz really was remarkably night and day as they say.

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I agree, my earliest streaming was with a laptop and Meridian Explorer DAC which was really very good.

The thing with MQA (aside from its coloured sound imo) as I understand it, was developed as a means of delivering “HiRes” audio over slower bandwidth internet services which is no longer such an issue. Most broadband services even at the lower end of the available speeds now are more than capable of delivering full HR files (FLAC anyway).

Theres possibly some benefit with MQA encoded CD with a suitable player but then we already have SACD.

There may be some anti piracy benefit to MQA that is supposed to indicate that the file is an authentic one originating from the original studio label, but licensing has to be paid similar to the old Dolby NR.

Overall, I think MQA has been developed as a solution to issues that in the main no longer need resolving, so is perhaps kind of anachronistic?

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That might give the first unfold, but not fully unfold as that requires an MQA licensed DAC, and if you’re taking a digital signal from the NAD you’re not using its DAC. There are other alternatives if you really want to bother with MQA first unfold (e.g. you could use software like Audirvana on a computer to do first unfold and send to the ND5XS), but I do wonder why anyone would want to. You’d have to listen and decide for yourself if you prefer the MQA version of life, or if you want high res in bit perfect form instead use Qobuz or download hi res files.

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The fact you want it on the cheap suggests you yourself aren’t convinced.

Why not use a software that makes the first unfold and send it to the streamer.

MQA IS lossy. It is a scam and nothing more. It will not sound better. Do not waste your precious time and money to get it.