You can now stream MQA through Tidal Masters. I was supplied with enough MQA encoded music to be very impressed, but I was also running a separate portable HD crammed full of hi-def files too and if you are looking for the ultimate in streaming quality, then both these and MQA are the future, alongside whatever new formats might come along later. MQA certainly brings a cleaner presence and sense of reality but its main lure for me is the generous increase in colour and enriched tonality. It is more precise too and deals with silences much better. Heard with all the latest dCS software updates it has that rare combination of extreme detail and musical and rhythmic integrity and this runs through listening sessions. It strikes a very attractive balance between dynamic articulation and a real sense of instrumental and vocal warmth, presence, and shading. The way it copes with high-stress musical passages where the soundstage is crammed full of musical happenings is quite easily the best I have heard from any equipment with a digital source.
The Rossini handles the increased resolution of MQA and high-res material just as it does with standard resolution files. Any digital product that you can hook into the Rossini through any of its myriad of inputs will sound about as good as it gets. When my wife questioned me as to what the clock did, she asked if it told the time, which was an interesting question. Its inclusion certainly brings a more solid sense of timing which is to be expected from the addition of a separate clock of such accuracy. But, like all dCS boxes, its effects are firmly focussed on the power and presence of the music. There’s a further increase in articulation and dynamic swings that the single-box can’t quite manage. CD or streaming based material simply comes alive and this means more expression, especially way down into the background of the mix, that lets you look deeper and deeper into the music. It is more focussed and certainly more nuanced. I guarantee that, if you hear it you will want it. You can always add it at a later date.
I said, at the beginning of this piece, that I had wondered if I would ever be able to write it. I had grown weary of people citing streamed or ripped music as being a serious alternative to listening to CD. Some of the sounds I was hearing bellowing and screeching out of the speakers over the past few years were excruciatingly bad. Was it me? I had thought, “What are these people talking about?” Progress seemed to be slow but, over the past year or so, something happened. Tidal jumped from strength to strength and with the arrival of Roon and their resultant axis, a new dawn broke for me. I still firmly believe that the music should always transcend the format but I reckon we are at the beginning of a new age of high-end quality music in the home and the good thing is that it can only get even better. Indeed, it has got better during my few months with the Rossini. There is a lot of equipment out there that can take advantage of this and the dCS machines, from what I have heard, are right at the cutting edge. The Rossini, with or without the clock, is certainly expensive, but it provides the perfect gateway in the world of music and it has no built-in redundancy as the software improvements will no doubt keep coming as and when they are needed. With or without CD transport is up to you and the sales show about a 50/50 split at the moment I am told. But I am giving serious consideration to ripping my entire CD collection to a NAS, whether this will be physically inside or outside the Roon Nucleus is yet to be decided so I doubt I will be buying many CDs from now on. These are truly exciting times for those who need access to high quality music at home.