Chord Qutest DAC

Rating:
96%
$1,695.00
In stock

Chord Qutest is a standalone DAC introduced by Chord Electronics at CES 2018 to replace its multi-award winning predecessor, the 2Qute. With DAC architecture based on the award-winning Hugo 2, Qutest offers class-leading digital conversion.

Qutest is Chord Electronics' pure digital-to-analog converter; it does not contain headphone amplification or rechargeable batteries like the Hugo2 and is designed to improve sound quality in the home. It is Chord's most affordable standalone DAC.

The Next Generation of Pure DACs

Qutest is a ‘pure’ DAC (it does not contain headphone amplification or rechargeable batteries like some of its range stablemates) and is designed to improve sound quality in the home. It is the latest evolution of Chord's most affordable standalone DAC, the multi-award-winning 2Qute, which it directly replaces.

Qutest, a What Hi-Fi? Star of CES 2018, is based on Chord's award-winning proprietary FPGA technology developed for the class-leading Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp, giving it proven class-leading technical and sonic performance. Perfectly equipped to bring the benefits our digital technology to a wide range of connected devices, it features a galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and coaxial digital input, giving an instant performance upgrade, plus the ability to modernize aging digital source components.

The Qutest chassis is all-new, too. It has significantly greater mass than its predecessor and has been precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminum billet. The Qutest PCB nestles within a shallow cavity in the solid aluminum chassis, giving the circuit board greater protection within the casework and additional isolation from external vibration compared to previous designs.

Qutest offers Hugo 2’s proprietary user-selectable frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls, available via two fascia-mounted spheres, introducing useful flexibility. It also features RCA analog outputs for connection to integrated amplifiers, preamps, and headphone amps, plus high-resolution dual-data digital inputs for connection to future Chord Electronics products.

A further new feature is a user-selectable output voltage available in 1, 2 and 3V RMS outputs for flexible connectivity with a wide range of partnering devices.

The Power of Upscaling

To upgrade your Chord Qutest to the next level, we recommend adding the Chord Hugo M Scaler.

The M Scaler is an instant upgrade to any existing DAC you have. It has the ability to upgrade your standard definition digital input signals and output them to your DAC at a max resolution of 352.8 or 384kHz via a single BNC SPDIF output or via a 176.4 or 192kHz via an Optical SPDIF output. If you have a Chord Electronics DAC that utilizes Dual Data Digital inputs, such as the Chord Qutest, Hugo2, Hugo TT2 or the Dave, then you can increase this output resolution to 705.6 or 768kHz via the M Scaler Dual BNC SPDIF outputs. The Hugo2 requires a special cable for the 3.5mm dual data input, so we've developed aBlack Dragon Mini Coax Cable to connect it to the M Scaler.

Keith Howard wrote a wonderful profile on Rob Watts' theories of why the upsampling filters are so critical to remarkable digital audio playback. Read the Hifi Critic article here.

Key Features

Chord Custom FPGA DAC

Chord Custom FPGA DAC

4x Selectable Filters

4x Selectable Filters

Selectable Output Voltage

Selectable Output Voltage

768kHz USB Type B Input

768kHz USB Type B Input

192kHz Optical Input

192kHz Optical Input

USB Galvanic Isolation

USB Galvanic Isolation

2x 384kHz BNC Coax Input

2x 384kHz BNC Coax Input

1x Stereo RCA Outputs

1x Stereo RCA Outputs

Supports up to 768kHz PCM

Supports up to 768kHz PCM

Native DSD 512 (8x) Capable

Native DSD 512 (8x) Capable

Solid Aluminium Chassis

Solid Aluminium Chassis

What's in the box?

  •  1.5m 5v 2a Switching Micro USB Power Supply
  •  2m Type A to Type B USB Cable
  •  Qutest Owners Overview Manual
  •  Raw Silk Drawstring Bag

Awards

What HiFi? Award 2018
What Hi-Fi? Award 2019
2019 EISA Best Product Award

Press and Reviews

Chord Magazine Guide
Chord Magazine

Guides & Advice
by Moon Audio

Moon Audio Qutest Review
Moon Audio

by Drew Baird
Apr. 2018

HIfi Choice Chord Qutest Review
Hifi Choice

by David Price
June 2018

Audiostream Review
AudioStream

by Rafe Arnott
Sept. 2018

Headphonics Review
Headphonics

by Marcus D.
May 2018

Headphonics Best Gear of 2018
Headphonics

Top Gear for 2018
by Marcus D.

What Hi-Fi? Review
What Hi-Fi?

by Staff
Oct. 2018

Stereophile Review
Stereophile

by John Atkinson
Dec. 2018

The Absolute Sound Review
Absolute Sound

by Steven Stone
Apr. 2019

Audiophile Style Review
Audiophile Style

by Sonis
Aug. 2019

pdf
(Size: 2.5 MB)
Chord Electronics Qutest DAC

General Features

Materials
Precision machined aluminium casing
Polycarbonate buttons
Glass viewing portal
Color
Black
Weight
1.70 lb (770g)
Dimensions
1.61 H x 6.30 W x 2.83 D (41mm x 160mm x 72mm)
Shipping Weight
3.3 lb (1500g)
Device Power Supply
5v 2amp Micro USB

Performance

Input
USB-B (White): 44.1kHz–768kHz / 16bit–32bit
Dual BNC (Red): 44.1kHz–768kHz / 16bit–32bit
Optical (Green): 44.1kHz–192kHz / 16bit–24bit
Output
1x stereo pair of RCA (Left and Right)
PCM support
44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz
DSD support
Native playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)
Variable output
Fixed, but selectable between 3v (blue), 2v (green), and 1v (red) via dual press of ‘Filter’ + ‘Input’ upon startup
Driver support
Driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, driver required for Windows OS
Chipset
Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
Tap-length
49,152
Pulse array
10 element pulse array design
Frequency response
20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
Output stage
Class A
Output impedance
0.025Ω
THD
<0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
THD and noise at 3v RMS: 117dB at 1kHz 300ohms
‘A’ weighted (reference 2.5v)
Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation
Channel separation
138dB at 1kHz 300Ω

Package Includes

  • Qutest DAC
  • 1.5m 5v/2a Switching Micro USB Power Supply
  • 2m Type A to Type B USB Cable
  • Raw Silk Drawstring Bag
  • Owners Manual
  • 3-Year Warranty

    three year warranty


Development

Digital Designer
Rob Watts
Mechanical Designer
John Franks
Country of Manufacture
United Kingdom

4.8 / 5.0
6 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
5
1
0
0
0
If you have a 100 to $500 dac And you feel like upgrading this is a great one to upgrade to.
1s thanks to moon audio for the great customer service and patience towards me ( I made a mistake and they were patient enough to deal with me), now that's out of the way.
I bought this product mainly because I intend to use it wit my PC, The audio coming out of the PC without a proper dack is Horrendous, i had a small cheap dack, but it wasn't quite doing the job, I still was not enjoy my music out of the pc ( With my old little Dacs) and the convenience of having thousands upon thousands of tracks on a PC and organizing them in different playlist is just to much to let go of, ( Many of my playlist are 3 to 8 hours long many and I made over 100+ already) I like to get home and enjoy my music sit down and relax, not get home and feel like I have to work to enjoy my music, just click and play without having to change dozens of different disks is so convenient. The Qutest fix my problem with the Audio coming out of the pc feeling so bland and without body, the sound is nice and clean and musical also I notice the sound Stage expanded a little bit more which is a big plus for me, The headphones that benefit the most from this where the HD 800, previously the mid bass was non existent and now it's every noticeable, it's not quite as much as I like it to be, but that's really the headphones problem not the dacks (I need to upgrade to the HD 800 S hopefully that fixes my issue with that). My go to headphone is still the Audio technica ath-r70x ( Yeah I have a cheap taste I've had them for over 3 years already), they do not sound as clean as the HD 800 and Wide, however everything I throw at them from rock to jazz to classic to hip hop, metal, electrica, basically any genre (I mainly listen to instrumental music), sounds nice and rich whit body, really musical and enjoyable, Of course they sound like this with the Qutest and not with out. So this is my 2 cents on this particular dack, ( I really rarely do any reviews that is why this may not soud very good or well put together, but this particular dack definitely deserves a heads up for people that wanna try it), is it worth the money yeah I would say every penny if you're into this type of stuff, and obviously that's why you are probly here because you want to get the most out of your music if you can afford better I say go it, better for you I would hope, this is what I could afford and I'm loving it. In case you're wondering (don't know wy?), yes I would highly recommend this product a 100%.
I already did recommend to a few friends and family members.

P.s. This is only a part of your audio system don't expect it to work with everything, I have a couple of different amps and one of them sounded like garbage with it, it was not the dacs fault it was the amp and was reflecting what the amp sounded like combining it with this particular dac, I believe this is obvious but just in case im going to say it, do your homework before you start combining different audio gear make sure to know what you're looking for in particular, don't just buy anything somebody likes we all like different things. Yeah I know it's obvious but just repeating it just in case lol.
May 9, 2019
Purchased
7 months ago
Great DACs in s small form factor.The fact that it is readily upgradable with the MScaler made it a no-brainer for me.
August 16, 2018
Chord Electronics Mighty Muscular DAC
Not sure how Chord Electronics comes up with their product names, but the Qutest digital to analog converter (DAC) is stronger than cute. Thanks to friends at Moon Audio, I&rsquo;ve had a chance to listen to Chord&rsquo;s DAC for several days. I&rsquo;ll miss this diminutive black box when it comes time to give it back.

I listened to Chord&rsquo;s DAC with Silver Dragon cables connected to my iPad (via an Apple CCK since Chord hasn&rsquo;t paid Apple&rsquo;s licensing fees making the CCK adapter a requirement). Moon Audio founder Drew Baird also let me borrow a pair of Moon Audio's Blue Dragon cables to connect my Shure KSE1500s to Chord&rsquo;s black snowman. The stand-alone DAC Qutest is perfect for my Shure&rsquo;s since the KSE1500 in-ear monitors (IEMs) come with a headphones amplifier - no need to have a DAC/Amp combination.

With the Qutest facing away (plugs toward me as I listen) the DAC appears to have two tiny snowman eyes and a large glowing open red mouth. Qutest sound does melt in your ears with a pleasant mellowness matched with a fearsome muscularity. When the music requires strength and speed the Qutest chips more than keep up.

When the music needs subtlety, art, and peace Chord&rsquo;s DAC doesn&rsquo;t scrimp or chisel. Hard to find a DAC not made by Chord capable of adding muscle to dramatic musical transitions such as Elton John&rsquo;s piano in Tiny Dancer, the clocks in Dark Side of the Moon or Cannonball Adderly&rsquo;s saxophone in Miles Davis&rsquo; Kind of blue.

Chord&rsquo;s little snowman delivers BIG SOUND (fortississimo) except when quiet, patient, and soft is needed (pianississimo).
July 25, 2018
awdawd
awdawdawd
May 24, 2018
Good quality
It works perfectly as I expected. I really enjoy my music collections
April 29, 2018
Huge upgrade to the OPPO 205D.
March 13, 2018
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Chord Qutest Review

Chord Qutest - Unboxing