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Article: Chord Electronics Qutest DAC Review


Sonis
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4 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I don't see it, and certainly nothing like that intended. Audio is a male market. How would you like a Ford F150 Qutest pickup truck? Would that be a big seller?

Don’t take it so seriously. I merely meant that requiring the name of a device to be “butch”, as in more masculine could be construed as homophobic. I didn’t say that it actually was homophobic. What I meant by my comments is that it happens quite often that model names of consumer products is changed for gender purposes. After all, do you think that the Datsun 240Z would have sold as well in the USA had it been imported as a Datsun Fairlady? That’s what it was called in Japan, you know...

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17 hours ago, Sonis said:

I took the power supply “brick” apart and there is no switching regulator for the 5v USB power. It seems to be a standard 5V IC regulator. Looking at the output with my 100 MHz Tektronix scope, It looks clean as a whistle. No noise. And the wall-wart is equally clean. 

Are you sure that the regulator is non-switching?  I mean did you check the PN?

 

I am assuming the Hugo 2 uses LiFePO4 batteries, the potential advantage of LiFePO4 batteries is that the have very, very low output impedance (at least when charged up).  Only the best linear regulators will equal a good (yes there are good and bad ones) LiFePO4 battery in terms of output impedance.  The supply I designed for my brother's Qutest utilized a super low output impedance and settling time, discrete, regulation circuit.  He found much better sound with this supply over the supplied wall wart...

 

I am not saying that you are wrong, but it does seem odd that your findings contradict the majority of other users...

 

This: "And the wall-wart is equally clean" suggests that there is something wrong with the measurement.  Even the very best SMPS (and these are much bigger than any wall wart) still have orders of magnitude higher noise than the best linear supplies.  Check out the specifications for even the very best SMPS, they have at least hundreds of µVs of noise, usually a few mV.  The best linear regulated supplies have noise levels in the 10s of µVs.

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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17 hours ago, rossb said:

However, I agree with the conclusion in this review. I think the Hugo 2 sounds noticeably better than the Qutest. I actually think that the Hugo 2 is the best sounding of all the Chord DACs. DAVE sounds thin. TT2 sounds small and hard. Qutest has a slightly astringent sound. And the Blu 2/M Scaler is massively overrated. 

I think it is always interesting in terms of how differently we feel about different products and how audio component synergy affects sound. I own Blu2, DAVE and Hugo 2 and I definitely would not say Blu2 is overrated or Hugo 2 is the best sounding. But I think as long as people are enjoying the DACs that they currently own and they think it's the best one for their system, kudos.

However, it does make it hard for people who don't have access to these DACs for audition to decide which ones to buy.

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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2 hours ago, barrows said:

Even the very best SMPS (and these are much bigger than any wall wart) still have orders of magnitude higher noise than the best linear supplies. 

 

As well as oodles of common-mode AC leakage--which will sail right through the entire DAC.  So even if the local regulators (and battery systems in the case of some of the Chord units) on the DAC board take care of the less-than-stellar DC noise performance of an SMPS, there is still that pernicious AC leakage--which is happy to travel over all sorts of DC connections, digital and analog.

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The Qutest has obviously just been awarded an EISA award this year.

I bought a Qutest last year and I am using it with an Chord Hugo MScaler.

To my ears and with my headphones HD800 and HEKV2 the Qutest on its own was a better option for me with a good headphone amp added.

Hugo 2 did not drive either of my headphones with enough authority and weight with LARGE SCALE NON COMPRESSED classical music.

With an Mscaler added I am closer to both a TT2 and a DAVE/HMS than I would be with a Hugo 2.

The Mscaler is imho absolutely essential with all Chord dacs, including DAVE. 

To me its influence to the end result is so important that I prefer my Qutest /HMS combo over a DAVE on its own.

PS it sounds better with a battery powered psu compared to the supplied smps as well.

Cheers Chrille

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On 8/27/2019 at 9:10 PM, rossb said:

The Qutest does benefit from a linear PSU and a power conditioner,

What about a Ford F150 Daisy or Ballerina.  They would be flying off the dealer lots!

 

I keep flopping back and forth between the wall wart and my CI Audio MKII 5v LPS.  I am not sure I hear a difference but to qualify this, I am streaming Spotify pop and rock.  Some songs sound great ( especially acoustical) and some sound dull and flat which points back to the source code.  So in my case I think the source has more effect on my sound enjoyment than the power supply.  I have settled on the optical input too.  I have a dedicated line too.  When music is stopped my speakers are dead quiet, no ocean noise.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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36 minutes ago, photonman said:

What about a Ford F150 Daisy or Ballerina.  They would be flying off the dealer lots!

 

I keep flopping back and forth between the wall wart and my CI Audio MKII 5v LPS.  I am not sure I hear a difference but to qualify this, I am streaming Spotify pop and rock.  Some songs sound great ( especially acoustical) and some sound dull and flat which points back to the source code.  So in my case I think the source has more effect on my sound enjoyment than the power supply.  I have settled on the optical input too.  I have a dedicated line too.  When music is stopped my speakers are dead quiet, no ocean noise.

Most electronic pop and rock is so “overproduced” and dynamically compressed that dull and flat (as in lifeless, not flat as in a linear frequency response from DC to daylight) seem to be the sound that the producers of these genres are going for! The rock albums that I have bought or saved to Tidal as favorites (because I like the music, not because they sound good) are very mediocre. Even rock and pop labeled “master” is nothing to write home about! I mean you could transfer Edison cylinders to DSD or 32-bit, 768 KHz LPCM, and it still wouldn’t sound any better than it did as an acoustically recorded cylinder. There has to be something “there” on the recording in the first place for so-called Hi-Res to improve the presentation. Nothing can make-up for poor or badly produced recordings.

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5 hours ago, chrille said:

The Qutest has obviously just been awarded an EISA award this year.

I bought a Qutest last year and I am using it with an Chord Hugo MScaler.

To my ears and with my headphones HD800 and HEKV2 the Qutest on its own was a better option for me with a good headphone amp added.

Hugo 2 did not drive either of my headphones with enough authority and weight with LARGE SCALE NON COMPRESSED classical music.

With an Mscaler added I am closer to both a TT2 and a DAVE/HMS than I would be with a Hugo 2.

The Mscaler is imho absolutely essential with all Chord dacs, including DAVE. 

To me its influence to the end result is so important that I prefer my Qutest /HMS combo over a DAVE on its own.

PS it sounds better with a battery powered psu compared to the supplied smps as well.

Cheers Chrille

Well, the Qutest does sound good. No doubt about it. But “good” is a relative thing. After all, sounding very much like a current-build Schiit Yggdrasil, for $500 less money is certainly nothing to sneeze at. In my opinion (for what it’s worth), that makes it eligible for an EISA award in my book.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/8/2019 at 6:27 AM, mentt said:

If you are not willing to buy M scaler I would personally avoid Chord DACs. With out it I can’t stand to listen to those DACs

What are you using as a DAC now?

Furutech GTX-D, GTX Wall Plate,106-D Cover > NCF Clearline >J River 27 > Curious Cable Evolved USB > Chord Hugo TT 2 > Empyrean Copper PCUHD Cable > Meze Empyrean > my ears > audiophile brain

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On 9/8/2019 at 4:27 AM, mentt said:

If you are not willing to buy M scaler I would personally avoid Chord DACs. With out it I can’t stand to listen to those DACs

 

Having owned three Chord DACs and the M-Scaler, I don’t think this is very good advice.  If one “can’t stand” the sound of Chord DACs they should look to another brand.  Buy M-Scaler only if you are already fond of the sound of Chord’s DACs, as you will simply just get much more of that same goodness.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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  • 5 months later...

Just bought one of these. Here in a few days.

Furutech GTX-D, GTX Wall Plate,106-D Cover > NCF Clearline >J River 27 > Curious Cable Evolved USB > Chord Hugo TT 2 > Empyrean Copper PCUHD Cable > Meze Empyrean > my ears > audiophile brain

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  • 1 month later...

I have to regard this review as unhelpful because it has not been reviewed with a quality PS. The Hugo 2 may make a great portable but its lack

of normal DAC input options makes it impractical as a main system DAC...you would have to go to a Hugo TT which is triple the price of a Qutest.

Has anyone seen a review where the Uptone Audio  power supplies or like PS was used with Qutest? I need to  move on from the multibit Gungnir because its

inexpensive AC power supply solution is causing bass sustenuto and transient dynamics deficiencies compared to my previous Metrum Octave DAC.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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4 hours ago, davide256 said:

I have to regard this review as unhelpful because it has not been reviewed with a quality PS. The Hugo 2 may make a great portable but its lack

of normal DAC input options makes it impractical as a main system DAC...you would have to go to a Hugo TT which is triple the price of a Qutest.

Has anyone seen a review where the Uptone Audio  power supplies or like PS was used with Qutest? I need to  move on from the multibit Gungnir because its

inexpensive AC power supply solution is causing bass sustenuto and transient dynamics deficiencies compared to my previous Metrum Octave DAC.

I reviewed this DAC in what I considered the manner in which most buyers would use it. From that standpoint, I disagree with your characterization of the review as unhelpful. I did, briefly, try a high-output battery supply on the Qutest, but didn’t find that if made much, if any discernible difference. Even that was “cheating” because it’s not using the product the way the manufacturer designed it. I tried the battery supply because I wanted to make the Qutest sound as much like the Hugo 2 as possible (which comes with a built-in battery supply). Aside from the lack of it’s own battery supply and built-in headphone amplifier, the Hugo 2 and the Qutest are supposed to be the exact same DAC circuit, but I could never get the Qutest to sound as good as the Hugo 2.

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3 hours ago, Sonis said:

I reviewed this DAC in what I considered the manner in which most buyers would use it. From that standpoint, I disagree with your characterization of the review as unhelpful. I did, briefly, try a high-output battery supply on the Qutest, but didn’t find that if made much, if any discernible difference. Even that was “cheating” because it’s not using the product the way the manufacturer designed it. I tried the battery supply because I wanted to make the Qutest sound as much like the Hugo 2 as possible (which comes with a built-in battery supply). Aside from the lack of it’s own battery supply and built-in headphone amplifier, the Hugo 2 and the Qutest are supposed to be the exact same DAC circuit, but I could never get the Qutest to sound as good as the Hugo 2.

Which leaves the question begging of will a good PS make a difference. Some times it doesn’t , but most of the time it will. Battery power supplies IME are inferior to a wall powered good DC power supply. 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/28/2019 at 6:10 AM, rossb said:

I've owned all the Chord DACs - DAVE, TT2, Hugo 2, and Qutest. I also had the Blu 2 with the DAVE and the M Scaler with the TT2 and Qutest. I've now sold them all because I have moved on to other things. 

 

However, I agree with the conclusion in this review. I think the Hugo 2 sounds noticeably better than the Qutest. I actually think that the Hugo 2 is the best sounding of all the Chord DACs. DAVE sounds thin. TT2 sounds small and hard. Qutest has a slightly astringent sound. And the Blu 2/M Scaler is massively overrated. 

 

The Qutest does benefit from a linear PSU and a power conditioner, and the optical input is the best sounding input. But the Hugo 2 still sounds better. 

In most reviews I have read, for example on the Darko.Audio site, the opinion is that the Qutest sounds slightly better then the Hugo.

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  • 3 weeks later...
6 hours ago, naum said:

What is the effect of usb cable on sound of Qutest, Hugo2? Which cable do you use with Hugo 2 considering that micro usb cable is much less present in the hifi world?

 

I use this Audioquest adapter:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Audioquest-USB-B-Micro-Adaptor/dp/B00M0H4J6C/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2QUAO1GOA8WN8&dchild=1&keywords=audioquest+-+usb+b+to+micro+adapter&qid=1593616140&sprefix=audioquest+usb+micro+adap%2Caps%2C225&sr=8-2

 

USB cables definitely make a difference for me with my Qutest, even with the intervening Audioquest adapter.

 

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  • 8 months later...

I did try a car battery jumpstart battery pack to power my Qutest. Output of the battery pack is 5 volts and 2.4 amps max compared to the stock power supply at 5 volts and 2 amps. My results with the battery pack were quite good. Noise floor is noticeably lower due to music sounding "cleaner". Sound is both smoother and more detailed at the same time. The sense of flow to music is also better. Surprisingly, the Qutest also sounds more dynamic in sound with the battery pack.

 

Perhaps some battery packs have better ability to deliver peak current & that might make a difference in how lively or dead the Qutest sounds when powered by a battery pack. My layperson's thought is that lack of current might limit the Qutest's ability to provide more computing power when needed.

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  • 2 months later...
On 8/28/2019 at 2:05 PM, creativepart said:

Yes, a simple BNC/RCA adapter is all you need. I too planned to sell my Eitr I had used with another DAC and decided to give it a try. What have you got to lose? Run the USB from the IsoRegegn into your Eitr and then the S/PDIF from the Eitr into BNC #1.  Use an adapter ($3 item) or buy an RCA/BNC cable.

 

Tidal / Qobuz--> Roon--> Fios Gigabit--> Netgear Prosafe GS105 --> Supra 8-->EtherRegen --> Fiber--> opticalRendu / CI Audio LPS --> Curious Evolved Link --> Chord Qutest--> AQ Water --> Belles Aria Integrated--> AQ Robin Hood--> Kudos Super 20's

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  • 4 months later...

I bought a Chord Qutest based on the generally positive reviews and then it broke after 9 months.

Now this is a premium product yet my retailer, Peter Tyson UK, believes 6 weeks+ is an acceptable amount of time for my DAC to be repaired. Three times I’ve been told “Mitch at Chord has been emailed” and yet nothing. I’m based in the UK and generally prefer to buy UK made products, bummer

Feel let down, disappointed and a little embarrassed.

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13 minutes ago, Chris66 said:

I bought a Chord Qutest based on the generally positive reviews and then it broke after 9 months.

Now this is a premium product yet my retailer, Peter Tyson UK, believes 6 weeks+ is an acceptable amount of time for my DAC to be repaired. Three times I’ve been told “Mitch at Chord has been emailed” and yet nothing. I’m based in the UK and generally prefer to buy UK made products, bummer

Feel let down, disappointed and a little embarrassed.

Bummer. I hope you were enjoying your DAC at least. Before Matt became the general manager, I used to take my broken Chord products to my dealer and at the same time, email Matt at Chord directly to see what’s going on. They used to respond quite quickly, even if they can’t do the repair right away. With worldwide supply chain issues, I can see why there might be delays in the repair

 

It may be worthwhile to email Chord yourself by using the Contact Us link on their webpage. My suspicion is that it might not get your Qutest repaired faster but at least you get an update as to what’s going on. 

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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2 hours ago, ecwl said:

Bummer. I hope you were enjoying your DAC at least. Before Matt became the general manager, I used to take my broken Chord products to my dealer and at the same time, email Matt at Chord directly to see what’s going on. They used to respond quite quickly, even if they can’t do the repair right away. With worldwide supply chain issues, I can see why there might be delays in the repair

 

It may be worthwhile to email Chord yourself by using the Contact Us link on their webpage. My suspicion is that it might not get your Qutest repaired faster but at least you get an update as to what’s going on. 

Had no issues with a Mojo warranty claim 6 months ago. But that was before the supply chain issues became their own epidemic. Now there are  many things

that aren't available because of Covid impacts on factories and the bottlenecks affecting container ship turn around. If its components come from Asia

the next 6 months look rocky for warranty support.

 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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