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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-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO/ESS 9038--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC cables, Iconoclast XLR, Iconoclast speaker, cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.                                                               Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                       

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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 > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > 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:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L Nord SE NC500 MKII | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:   Van Damme XLR Canare 4S11 Biwire Wireworld USB

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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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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

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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>J River 23>Curious USB>Wyred4Sound DAC2v2 SE>Moon Audio Blue Dragon IC>Cavalli Liquid Fire>Q French Silk Headphone cable>Audeze LCD2rev2>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:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Sigma USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

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

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

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


Furutech GTX-D>J River 23>Curious USB>Wyred4Sound DAC2v2 SE>Moon Audio Blue Dragon IC>Cavalli Liquid Fire>Q French Silk Headphone cable>Audeze LCD2rev2>my ears>audiophile brain

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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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