Chord Qutest impressions

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Vtory, Jun 2, 2018.

Tags:
  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

    Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,970
    Dislikes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Greater Philadelphia Area, PA
    Product page: https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/qutest/

    I couldn’t find many discussions or impressions about this product. So, start a new dedicated thread.

    Heard Hugo 2 several weeks ago, and a bit surprised. Thought all Chord products except Dave sounded like a crap, but H2 didn’t. It sounded rather quite good. But for desktop use only, the price was still unacceptable.

    Very recently heard Qutest. More surprised at its sound quality. It’s still pricey (US MSRP $1,800) but 1) there is room to negotiate; and 2) the current UK price without VAT is roughly $1,300 (very close to Gungnir Multibit).

    Got a chance to carefully compare Qutest with ADI-2 DAC and Gungnir Multibit yesterday. Verified that these three performed in the same league. I believe Gungnir Multibit-level or semi-Gungnir Multibit-level DS alternatives are worth paying attention, due to the inherent advantage of “transportability” (not sensitive to super-long stabilization time). I love my ADI2D also because I can easily bring it to any local meets and auditions.

    Gears used
    • Qutest, ADI-2 DAC, Gungnir Multibit (usb gen 2)
    • Lyr 3 (TS new, high gain)
    • HD800
    • No SW/HW DSPs
    • No USB decrapifiers
    • No LPSU for Qutest/ADI2
    • “SD Slow” filter for ADI2D / “Incisive neutral HF roll-off” filter (green lamp) for Qutest

    Non-sonic thoughts
    • Qutest was very lightweight, even lighter than ADI2.
    • Qutest looks and feels like a "cute" luxury toy - less childish than Hugo 2. I prefer ADI2’s sleeker and more professional looks better though.
    • Qutest must be more transportable than ADI2 because there are various USB external batteries satisfying 5V/2A requirement.

    Major findings (sound-wise)
    1. Gungnir Multibit easily beat the other two in holographic staging and layering. More believable instrument placements. Qutest and ADI2 were flatter by comparison. Among these two, ADI2 was a smidge better in separation while Qutest rendered slightly deeper stage. Note that both Qutest and ADI2 were indeed top-notch among DS implementations.
    2. Clarity and black-groundness went to ADI2, closely followed by Qutest. Gungnir Multibit was relatively grayer.
    3. Resolution was nearly on par. There was no such a “Heard X in Dac 1 but not in Dac 2” thing. However, interested to see details were differently resolved. Gungnir Multibit is doing this in a very natural way. Very smooth sounding but resolving. On the contrary, ADI2 kinda magnifies and exaggerates small details and dynamics so that nuances immediately sounds evident. The analogy between real view and well-taken photo might illustrate this difference. Qutest was in between, but closer to Gungnir Multibit.
    4. Tonality was the warmest with Gungnir Multibit, and the coldest with ADI2 (both neither overly nor annoyingly). Qutest sounded the most neutral.

    IMHO Gungnir Multibit was still an overall winner in this price range, but the other two were also close. I also found my specific combination (Lyr 3 + HD800) favors Qutest over ADI2. If I don’t use rich set of DSP features, I would take Qutest over ADI2 any day. Not a big difference though.

    For anyone who are on the market of Gungnir Multibit or that level dacs, I recommend to include Qutest on your short list.

    PS. Also it’s worth reporting that to my ears, Qutest sounded subtly better and more refined than Hugo 2. Is this because of better usb implementations, less internal power conflicts, or just placebo? I dunno..

    PS2. As Chord claims, Qutest = Hugo 2 - Built-in amp + Galvanic isolation
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    Baten, ColtMrFire, Jerry and 7 others like this.
  2. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Likes Received:
    626
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Land of Merriment
    Gears used
    • DNA Sonett 2
    • Eddie Current BW
    • Eddie Current Super 7
    • Headamp Gilmore Lite mk2 (loaner)
    • Schiit Bifrost Multibit
    I'm in a similar situation, seeking a transportable source. My goal is to have a couple of one box, no fuss, yet still interesting to listen to amplifiers (would quietly like to ruffle a few feathers, and resurrect the Mid-Fi Renaissance that was so strong a few years prior). My concern with Yggdrasil/Gungnir Multibit is these require the additional UPS to transport. Bifrost and Qutest have no transport issues. The amplifiers are all single-ended, so that's a factor too.

    I was on the loaner for the Hugo 2. I enjoyed it, but only through direct headphones. I tried to connect it to a few amplifiers, but could not enjoy the sound through any I owned (i.e. Sonett 2). THIS IS KEY - similar to what you heard. I did not enjoy the Hugo 2 then. I do enjoy the Qutest now. Also I have read that the output topology of the Qutest is more like Mojo, not like Hugo 2. Mojo was another DAC, I could enjoy connected to a few amplifiers. So while the internals are Hugo 2, the output stage is Mojo.

    Though when I compare Qutest to the Bifrost, I still prefer the Bifrost stage. Holding out hope that an analog upgrade is destined for Bifrost. I could hear the Bifrost noise (gray) through the Gilmore Lite. Qutest is cleaner and working well for now.
     
    Jerry, Lenroot77, Vtory and 2 others like this.
  3. JWahl

    JWahl Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    62
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I haven't posted in awhile, but since there's few impressions on here, I'll add a few of my observations.

    Background: For a while I was using my Torpedo III with the Mojo, but eventually felt like my Mojo was bottlenecking the amp. Since I couldn't justify having both, I sold the Torpedo III to help fund the Qutest, and auditioned the iFi iCan Micro SE and Massdrop CTH. I have previously owned the Gungnir MB and Yggdrasil, but long enough ago that I am reluctant make detailed direct comparisons between the Qutest and Schiit DACs. All current listening done with sorbothane modded HD-650

    As expected, it's an all around improvement over the Mojo, especially in regard to instrument separation, timbre and bass depth. In rough memory, I still think the Schiit DACs offer better sound value for money, if that is your top concern. I personally like what it is able to accomplish for its size. As much as I love the sound of the Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil, they are still fairly large for a compact desk setup, and I'm afraid the Bifrost Multibit or Modi Multibit may be too warm for my tastes. The Gungnir Multibit is about as warm as I'd like to go. Tonality of the Qutest lies more in the direction of the Yggdrasil than Gungnir Multibit, from memory, though without either Schiit's ultimately authoritative bass.

    There is one major Caveat I will add to contrast with the OP. I did most of my listening with an iFi nano iUSB 3.0 feeding the power and USB signal of the Qutest. When I went back to the stock adapter and direct USB, I was very underwhelmed (within the context of the smallish difference in DACs in general). I don't think this is as much because of jitter or whatever, but the filtering of RF noise on both lines. For whatever reason, the Chord DACs seem to be really sensitive to RF line noise relative to other DACs. It was kind of frustrating because that adds another $220 on top of an already pricey DAC. But I will say, with the iUSB, it was worth keeping, whereas without it, it would not have been worth keeping for me. Without the iUSB, the sound/image seems to be more flat and tonality seems a little gray and hazy.

    I liked the combo enough that I'm temporarily going ampless for a few months to meet some short term financial goals and justify keeping the Qutest long term. In a few months, I may go with either a Monoprice Liquid Platinum, or Gilmore Lite Mk. 2 to pair with the Qutest.

    @sheldaze Did you find the Gilmore Lite Mk. 2 and Qutest to be too aggressive or sharp? I'm using HD-650, so I figure it could be an interesting and compact combo.
     
    sheldaze, Robert777 and Vtory like this.
  4. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Likes Received:
    626
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Land of Merriment
    Strangely, I found this setup to enhance the Gilmore Lite. I was initially hearing either some grain or "gray" that I disliked with the Bifrost Multibit gen 5 source. When I switched to Qutest, it went away, and I could more clearly what the Gilmore Lite was capable of.

    I too find it a strange pairing, but I can only write what I heard. It helped eliminate the last bit of what I disliked, and start to hear the sound of the amplifier.
     
    Baten, JWahl and Lenroot77 like this.
  5. willsw

    willsw Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Likes Received:
    271
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    @sheldaze Have you tried any other power supplies? I have a Chinese 5V linear that I don't use; I could send it over for an extended loan. I might also have the parts available to throw together a higher-end one.

    I have a weird relationship with the 2qute, as we've discussed, but couldn't deny its positive attributes. I'm also thinking about miniaturizing my home system and the Qutest is appealing.
     
  6. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Likes Received:
    626
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Land of Merriment
    @willsw I am not hearing a difference between say using battery to power the Qutest and the provided power supply. However, it stopped working with my Black Widow. That means it is sending DC, according to Craig. I'm still experimenting, which is why I have not posted. I only asked the question (perhaps picked the wrong thread) in the All Purpose Advice thread. On battery, I was able to get in a long listening session. On wall-wart, there is no sound in one of the channels.

    So despite Chord's assertions that the provided wall-wart is sufficient (and I cannot hear a difference) there is a measurable difference. I plan to measure (voltmeter) this weekend.
     
  7. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    34
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Jakarta, Singapore
    I remember the Qutest being better than the Gungnir DAC that Dan of Mr. Speakers brought for his Voce and Blue Hawaii SE setup when listening to that particular combination. I didn't ask whether it was the multibit or standard version though.
     
  8. jeeperbge

    jeeperbge Rando

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Likes Received:
    11
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Anyone find that they have a preference between the USB vs optical implementation with Qutest? I've been comparing them all wee and I'm still a bit torn. There are aspects of the sound i'm getting from each that I enjoy. USB sounds more dynamic, more depth and instrument separation. Optical is a very smooth, cohesive and slightly warmer presentation, but lacks a little treble energy.

    I haver the iFi iUSB3.0 and i'm trying the Qutest both with and without the iFi in the chain as a filter and/or power source.

    The good news is every way I hook it up it sounds great so far. Just having a thought time determine which is my preference.
     
  9. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Likes Received:
    837
    Dislikes Received:
    48
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Has anyone compared the sound of the old 2Qute DAC to the new Qutest. Just wondering if I should upgrade my 2Qute.
     
  10. iDesign

    iDesign Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    234
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    43
    The warmer, smother sound you observed via optical is likely because of increased RF from your USB source. What source and USB cable are you using?
     
  11. data.noodle

    data.noodle Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2018
    Likes Received:
    52
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NYC
    I've owned the 2qute for years and owned the quetest for about 4 months now, the difference between the two is massive. The 2qute sounds a thinner, brighter and is a bit more smooth / has less texture to the sound. To my ears the qutest is more resolving and clear but may also have less treble extension, while I wouldn't say the qutest sounds compressed I do find more parts of the mix to be noticeable similar to the effect a studio compressor can have. Staging and positional cues don't seem very different to me personally, those have never been strong areas of these DACs in my opinion.

    I may get a ton of dislikes for mentioning this, but the 2qute did sound better (primarly in bass response / attack) with an aftermarket power supply however I couldn't tell a difference with the quetest. The power requirement differences are potentially interesting in this context. Both of these dacs also have a pretty noticeable roll-on/roll-off effect which may bother some people. I've been comparing to the adi-2 and onyx in my setup w/ a hp-1 or zana deux s w/ utopias primary.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    Claud likes this.

Share This Page