Chord Qutest DAC Review by Moon Audio
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.
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.
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.