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Article: Chord Electronics Qutest DAC Review

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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.


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO (ESS 9038) or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, XLR, & speaker cables-Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  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.


ultraRendu > Chord Blu Mk. 2 > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature + Sunfire TS-EQ10 subwoofers

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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:  MBP - Qutest | Pass XA30.8 | Paradigm S6 Cables: Kimber Silver Streak RCA Mapleshade double helix speaker Lifatec Toslink |

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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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