MQA in Naim

Hello out there
Sorry if it has been described before and I now need to have it spelled out.
I’m new to it and I get a bit confused in all this Streaming jungle. Is my Nac 272 MQA compatible? I have TIDAL on trial in HI-FI quality at the moment.
Also, I read about Qobuz apparently offering MQA playback, and as far as I can see Naim does not have a partnership with Qobuz, but I think I can get around that if I use some kind of server connection. I would like to get the highest quality…
… Peter

Naim does not support MQA in any of their products. Qobuz doesn’t have MQA content, they use flac for their hi res files.


No Naim streamers support MQA.

If you have the Tidal Hifi subscription you will get the best current quality on Naim. It will fall back to CD quality FLAC. Tidal Hifi Plus is currently overkill as you cannot use those features without extra hardware.

Qobuz on the other hand streams in hi res FLAC so you can get a higher stream quality from Qobuz, although whether that makes a difference to your ears is the question.

BUT there is talk about Tidal introducing hi res FLAC as MQA has gone into administration.

So in summary either get either:

  1. Tidal Hifi for CD quality lossless
  2. Qobuz for hi res lossless
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However, IIUC the first generation Naim streamers - including 272 - may not be able to cope with hi res online streaming (though they can from your own local storage). It is worth the OP reading the following thread from this link onwards:
Is it time for Tidal... Again - #19 by Slamdam

As for the original question, to the OP: why do you want MQA? It was a solution to a problem that has largely ceased to exist (bandwidth), and which IIUC is not bitperfect hi res, and makes claims that I am not sure are wholly realisable.


Oh dear, sorry did not know this. Was answering from Uniti world knowledge.

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MQA is in administration.
Don’t waste your time.


Hi Kryptos

Thank you for your reply.

Yes I have a little confusion with MQA, Tidal uses the concept of MQA.

The quality I get from Naim with Hifi from Tidal can not be better with Hifi Plus with my NAC 272. Is that understood correctly?
You say “If you have the Tidal Hifi subscription you will get the best current quality on Naim”
Unless I use extra hardware… ?

Have I bought a wrong streamer (read too old)? If I get nothing out of Tidal Hifi Plus with my streamer, what can I get out of Qobuz …?

Please bear with my total confusion on this subject


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No worries, they certainly don’t make it easy to get into.

Tidal with Naim equipment sounds amazing, even though it does not make use of MQA. Don’t worry about that. It is simply a case that Naim has chosen not to support the MQA format. And there are a lot of discussions you can find about this format here and elsewhere. By no means everyone agrees that this adds anything.

Why I mentioned the tidal subscriptions is, as it currently stands, you will get exactly the same result on your Naim if you subscribe to Hifi or Hifi Plus. Your Naim won’t use the MQA stream and rather make use of the Tidal FLAC stream which is exactly what you are getting on Hifi. So you will be paying more for no difference in the stream you can consume on your device. One reason to still go for Hifi Plus is if you can use MQA and the Atmos streams elsewhere OR if you want to give higher payouts to the artists as that is also part of the Hifi Plus package. But on your Naim you will get exactly the same result between the two.

As for “other hardware” I mean that if you can stream and already MQA unfolded bitstream to your Naim you will be making use of MQA. One option is using Roon, but this does only one of the two unfolds of MQA (think of the unfolds as two decoding steps, each one resulting in a higher res result).

Qobuz, on the other hand. streams up to 192Khz 24bit in FLAC format which Naim does support. But what @Innocent_Bystander says above is important so take that into account. I have Uniti devices which can handle these streams so cannot comment on the 272.

Once again, the short version: Using Tidal Hifi on your device will give you excellent results already.

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Hello Krypto

Thank you very much for your very nice explanation of it. Now I am more calm.
Had an image that now I had to return my Nac 272 back, maybe a wrong purchase, I thought. But the preamplifier part of the 272 is fantastic, so it would also be a shame

Thank you again

Peter :slight_smile:


When I had a 1st gen ND5-XS I was able to stream 24/192 content from Qobus using a Logitech Squeezebox Touch (modified to support 192) as a bridge between my Roon server and the Naim. So I know at least that much works.


seems Tidal will adopt hi res flac files:

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However, in a recent AMA (ask me anything) Reddit session, Tidal CEO Jesse Dorogusker answered numerous queries about the company’s future plans for MQA and hi-res audio. According to Dorogusker: “We will be introducing hi-res FLAC for our HiFi Plus subscribers soon. It’s lossless and an open standard.” With Tidal now moving to FLAC support for its HiFi Plus tier, this seems to indicate that the platform has no need for MQA files as well. A Tidal spokesperson assured us that “our existing MQA catalogue will continue to be available on the platform”, but didn’t specify for how long that would continue. Either way, current HiFi Plus users appear to have the option of switching between the two “flavours” of hi-res support depending on their preference.

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There are a number of workarounds to make 272 work with Qobuz. They will probably also work for high res streaming from Tidal, when that appears. If you have a Network Attached Storage device on your network you may be able use that as a proxy server. A number of hardware options are available, too.

But if it’s possible to swap your 272, an Atom HE edition may be worth considering.


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MQA again a? Following on from Peter63. Permit me a couple of minutes here as I have dabbled away many hours like many of us have with “is Tidal MQA worth it?”

My conclusions are MQA is “better” to me for certain things as it seems to bring some extra warmth that “perhaps” parallels what many praise vinyl for. But it is a fuss. Anyway, as elverdiblanco/Kryptos state: Naim simply does not support MQA and this cannot said enough so well done for saying again. Even some HiFi dealers thought the new Naim NSS 333 Streamer might actually have added MQA, but no.

In any case when sitting in front of your Naim equipment it is a question we always ask ourselves - can I do better with MQA?

You can find out about MQA yourself with a small investment as I did with my Nac-N 272 system which has a great D to A converter, for about £30 and a Tidal connected pc/laptop/phone/ipad. Most here will know this work around but it is not as obvious as could/should be.

All you need is a connection from your laptop or mobile to a digital input on the Naim. A good way is to get a USB to TOSLINK Optical Audio Adapter, SPDIF Digital Converter Compatible (£20), matching your USB type C or otherwise of you laptop etc. that you can log onto Tidal directly and an Optical Digital Audio Cable (Toslink Optical Cable), you can get a long one if getting out of chair is too much ;-). Mac systems (laptops and ipad pro the USB-C works instantly) Iphones with a lightening connector need the digital (Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter or equivalent, expensive but 3rd party available). I believe most other Laptops have enough sense to autoplay when connecting the USB to TOSLINK. From your device log onto Tidal (via WiFi was fine for me to test) select a Master Quality track, select correct input on the Naim and it should lock the signal to 192 kbs 24 bit etc etc. and start singing. If WiFi not so good simply download the music from Tidal first and playback the downloaded version.

Is it worth it? Goodluck and remember its fun!

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Dear awp4u

thank you very much for that explanation, it sounds quite simple. Have you tried this solution yourself?
I think there must be more to this…? Will a simple connection to the Nac272 digital connector be able to convert the MQA resolution all the way through the DAC in 272…?

No other intermediary (thinking about sound quality) is needed…?

I have tried to bypass the difficult way by connecting to a PtPn connection from the programme Audirvana on my Mac. In the programme you log on to either Tidal (Master quality) or Quboz with hi res. Then my Ipad connects to my Macbook, where I can then play from the Naim App from ptpn.
Doesn’t that sound rather complicated…?

And the sound… I don’t really know if it’s better

Using Roon to manage the integration to Tidal, does allow the Roon Core to unfold Tidal Masters to a max 24/96. This therefore covers all the MQA 16/44.1, MQA 24/44.1, MQA 24/48, MQA 24/88.1 and MQA 24/96 files - which are the majority.
These are then played on the Naim player as regular PCM files.

Using the SonoreUPnP bridge from Roon to my NDS, I also have them playing as WAV files.

Management by the Roon Core, which handles all the connectivity with the internet service means the Naim player is effectively playing a local file, so circumventing all the issues with buffer size on the older Streaming board.

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I apologise for misunderstanding your explanation. You are telling me that you have tried it.
Thanks again for the advice, I will try your solution. My question was more about whether it can really be that simple.

Dear Peter63,

Yes I have done this myself with a Mac, iPad (Pro). Also, iPad ordinary and iPhone through the camera connector and it works well. My understanding is that the Tidal source (Mac etc.) does all the conversion, MQA unfolding etc. and simple outputs the digital forms. The Naim NAC-272 indicates the high quality bit rate that confirms this works. Others maybe able to provide more conformation and detail as simon-pepper hints?

I went the fibre optic route for ease and may give better electrical isolation? My USB Type C to TOSLINK Optical Audio Adapter was made by Cubilux by the way (£20), I use a USB-C to USB 3 adapter sometimes too from windows machines and that works as well but there are other makes made with specific USB as you need.

Sorry, I cannot comment on the PtPn you do. However, when I was trying to get the Naim system to play MQA I was going around the houses with all sorts of things and I could not find any real practical tips and guidance even for my simple way of doing things and decided to give the logic ago and it worked.

I also went the same route for Amazon Music, which is equally difficult to get into your Naim system and that worked too but the quality is not actually defined so moved on. The route I describe also allows you to play your iTunes library from your machine too and this was a good test during set up to show I was on the right track, and better than Bluetooth for sure.

As to the quality that is a debate that continues. I found the MQA lost some edginess and that made sense technically as the analogue waveform should be better represented. Perhaps also generally master, remastered quality from CD to others have more care in the production and perhaps this helps things too and muddy the waters. Also, worth adding that now-a-days the digital to audio converter technology has evolved enormously and high end systems with better components are able to do things better to reproduce what Nyquist limit dictates but as we know everything starts at the source.

Please get back to me if something else comes to mind.

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My understanding was that for the full MQA unfolding the DAC had to be MQA enabled. Your workaround feeding to a Naim streamer isn’t using an MQA enabled DAC, so I am curious as to how it achieves the full unfold? Is it perhaps the first unfold then upsampled to a higher data rate? If so that would be different from full MQA unfold to the original resolution (which my understanding is not identical to the original data because it is a lossy process).

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Roon only does the first unfold. It can’t do more. Subsequent unfolds all require hardware with MQA-licensed decoding (the so-called blue light, or whatever). There is nothing software alone can do beyond the first unfold that Roon does.

I found this from Roon.

Roon will engage its MQA Core Decoder and unfold the file to high-resolution 24 bit/88.2 kHz or 24 bit/96 kHz stream. This stream will contain the MQA Rendering information necessary for your DAC to complete the unfolding process