Chord Electronics Qutest DAC Review & Comments

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I think Ed needs a new camera - pics in the last 3 reviews are all washed out with a blue hue
I did all the photography on the same day and it does indeed suggest that the white balance was off somewhere. I've recalibrated it and the screen I edit on and will be doing the next batch shortly- fingers crossed!
 

gadget man

Active Member
Nice review i only have an Arcam A19 with KEF LS50 Speakers and the Arcam irdacII. So my question would i hear a difference replacing the Arcam DAC with Chord?

I know i need to hear for myself.
 

vkvedam

Active Member
Nice review i only have an Arcam A19 with KEF LS50 Speakers and the Arcam irdacII. So my question would i hear a difference replacing the Arcam DAC with Chord?

I know i need to hear for myself.
You definitely will! I used to have an rDAC and Mojo was a revelation to my ears. I have a similar setup to yours with LS50s and a Marantz. I would have liked the Qutest to be able to stream, that would have been ideal for me.
 

BigAl217

Active Member
Hi Ed, Thanks for the review.
Did you ever review the 2Qute DAC and is this a good step up in performance.
You can still pick up the 2Qute for £500 less than the Qutest from some sellers and was wondering if the Qutest is worth the extra, subjective I know but thought I'd ask.

Thanks
 

gadget man

Active Member
You definitely will! I used to have an rDAC and Mojo was a revelation to my ears. I have a similar setup to yours with LS50s and a Marantz. I would have liked the Qutest to be able to stream, that would have been ideal for me.
Thanks for reply maybe time to start saving up.
 

camelot1971

Member
Hi Ed, Thanks for the review.
Did you ever review the 2Qute DAC and is this a good step up in performance.
You can still pick up the 2Qute for £500 less than the Qutest from some sellers and was wondering if the Qutest is worth the extra, subjective I know but thought I'd ask.

Thanks
I have owned the 2Qute and now have a Qutest. The difference is significant but whether it's worth £500 or not is very subjective. I think it is.
 

RichardG

Active Member
I have owned the 2Qute and now have a Qutest. The difference is significant but whether it's worth £500 or not is very subjective. I think it is.
Interesting. I've also got a 2qute, having tested it over a weekend with the Arcam and Rega equivalents, and there was no comparison. I preferred the 2qute in every department...and I've previously disliked almost every piece of Chord kit I've heard. It's the only piece of Chord kit I own, but I don't think anyone is near them in the DAC arena.

I didn't have any intention of moving on from the 2qute, but I do like the sound of Chord's Hugo M Scaler, which is compatible with the Qutest, but not the 2qute (needs 2 BNC connectors?). I might try a Qutest and look for a part ex upgrade in anticipation of a possible M Scaler investment.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Interesting. I've also got a 2qute, having tested it over a weekend with the Arcam and Rega equivalents, and there was no comparison. I preferred the 2qute in every department...and I've previously disliked almost every piece of Chord kit I've heard. It's the only piece of Chord kit I own, but I don't think anyone is near them in the DAC arena.

I didn't have any intention of moving on from the 2qute, but I do like the sound of Chord's Hugo M Scaler, which is compatible with the Qutest, but not the 2qute (needs 2 BNC connectors?). I might try a Qutest and look for a part ex upgrade in anticipation of a possible M Scaler investment.
Compatible??. My reading is that all three devices do the same function..take a digital bit stream and convert it into analogue, but at different price points and fidelity. .. if you had an M the other devices would be redundant.
 

BigAl217

Active Member
Compatible??. My reading is that all three devices do the same function..take a digital bit stream and convert it into analogue, but at different price points and fidelity. .. if you had an M the other devices would be redundant.
As i understand it the M is just a scaler and has no DAC capability. The Hugo TT2, Hugo 2 and Qutest will all upscale the resolution anyway but cant get your networked stored files to the lofty heights of 705Khz / 768Khz without the M Scaler or Blu Transport.

The M Scaler is like the Blu Transport but without the physical media option as i understand it, so a DAC will still be required.
 

Jefke13

Active Member
indeed no dac in the mscaler, will be all over the place in the next few months, very interesting indeed
 

BigAl217

Active Member
I used to own the original Blu and DAC64 mkii, and do miss it, unfortunately due to financial circumstances at the time had to move it on.
As most of my music is now ripped to HDD and the convenience that brings I would give the MScaler serious consideration if initial owner reviews are favourable and the initial release isn’t reported as buggy.

Question of the moment on most new kit, Roon Ready on release?
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
Question of the moment on most new kit, Roon Ready on release?
If you tell a Roon Nucleus it's a Hugo2 it works perfectly. I think it'll get a dedicated profile in due course.
 

gadget man

Active Member
ordered will be arriving Monday, i need to be blown away for £1200 most expensive piece of audio equipment i ever bought.

Currently using an arcam irdac will be very unlikely i will hear the difference i am not an audio nerd head.

Hoping to be proved wrong i will report back here next week.
 

waspy

Active Member
ordered will be arriving Monday, i need to be blown away for £1200 most expensive piece of audio equipment i ever bought.

Currently using an arcam irdac will be very unlikely i will hear the difference i am not an audio nerd head.

Hoping to be proved wrong i will report back here next week.
I changed from a Chord Mojo, and the difference is quite stark. This is one of my beloved audio equipment pieces, drop in some Agnes Obel for a revealing session of tonality and 3d soundscape. I love it!
 

camelot1971

Member
ordered will be arriving Monday, i need to be blown away for £1200 most expensive piece of audio equipment i ever bought.

Currently using an arcam irdac will be very unlikely i will hear the difference i am not an audio nerd head.

Hoping to be proved wrong i will report back here next week.
I will be shocked if you can't hear an obvious, better difference.
 

blue max

Distinguished Member
I changed from a Chord Mojo, and the difference is quite stark. This is one of my beloved audio equipment pieces, drop in some Agnes Obel for a revealing session of tonality and 3d soundscape. I love it!
Just listening to your suggestion of Agnes Obel and love it!
Listening on a Yamaha WXC-50 and ancient and battered active Wharfedales plonked on a window ledge and it sounds amazing. Total investment £170. Now, whether to invest in this DAC?

Rhetorical question I know.

I'm not completely understanding what this actually is. I mean, obviously it's essentially a circuit board, but why can't, or hasn't it been reverse engineered and duplicated in China and flooded Ebay?

Is it a matter of time until the rest of the industry catches up, or is there something unique to Chord that gives them a competitive advantage?

I genuinely am interested in the answers.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Just listening to your suggestion of Agnes Obel and love it!
Listening on a Yamaha WXC-50 and ancient and battered active Wharfedales plonked on a window ledge and it sounds amazing. Total investment £170. Now, whether to invest in this DAC?

Rhetorical question I know.

I'm not completely understanding what this actually is. I mean, obviously it's essentially a circuit board, but why can't, or hasn't it been reverse engineered and duplicated in China and flooded Ebay?

Is it a matter of time until the rest of the industry catches up, or is there something unique to Chord that gives them a competitive advantage?

I genuinely am interested in the answers.
I'd imagine it's not duplicated because the internal parts are not ones that are readily available off the shelf, plus the casings are milled afaik. It probably be to expensive to copy and make a profit
 

blue max

Distinguished Member
I'd imagine it's not duplicated because the internal parts are not ones that are readily available off the shelf, plus the casings are milled afaik. It probably be to expensive to copy and make a profit
I wasn't really thinking of a clone, but more just using the tech. Obviously, if it sounded similar, but cost a tenth of the price, it probably could come in a shoe box!

Just musing on how they have such an advantage for so long. Usually there is only a small window before the competition catches up, by fair means or foul.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I'm not completely understanding what this actually is. I mean, obviously it's essentially a circuit board, but why can't, or hasn't it been reverse engineered and duplicated in China and flooded Ebay?

Is it a matter of time until the rest of the industry catches up, or is there something unique to Chord that gives them a competitive advantage?
Unlike almost any other DAC on sale, Chord units don't use a pre existing DAC chip. Instead they use a Xilinx Field Programmable Gate Array. A competitor can buy one of these to 'copy' but without the code- developed over the preceding twenty years buy a chap called Rob Watts- it won't do anything (and I mean nothing- the 'Field Programmable' bit means that it's essentially dumb until you tell it what to do). The code is the bit that gives the USP.

As to extracting the code from a Qutest to copy- good luck.
 

blue max

Distinguished Member
Unlike almost any other DAC on sale, Chord units don't use a pre existing DAC chip. Instead they use a Xilinx Field Programmable Gate Array. A competitor can buy one of these to 'copy' but without the code- developed over the preceding twenty years buy a chap called Rob Watts- it won't do anything (and I mean nothing- the 'Field Programmable' bit means that it's essentially dumb until you tell it what to do). The code is the bit that gives the USP.

As to extracting the code from a Qutest to copy- good luck.
Thank you. I wasn't intending to try! :)

But gives an insight into where the value is.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Thank you. I wasn't intending to try! :)

But gives an insight into where the value is.
.. A field programmable array is one of those odd concepts that is really brilliant. It consists of a sea ..or better ocean of logic gates all working, all disconnected built on a a slip of silicon. Each logic function is disconnected, but can be connected to others if a conductive path is made. A programme identifying the interconnections to be made sits in Memory device ..ROM adjacent.
When the unit is switched off all the logic gates are disconnected. When power is applied, a small weak microprocessor reads the contents of the ROM and slowly makes the the interconnects. When it has finished, the microprocessor says I'm done, and takes no further part. It passes control over to the PGLA ,which then behaves like a customized integrated circuit.
By changing the wiring diagram..(the ROM program) the chip can serve any different function.
Obviously the manufacturers of the chips, have made it rather difficult for third parties to read the ROM contents.. Difficult is not the same as impossible, .. the Enigma code was cracked, so sooner or later copyright infringement clones will appear.
Why bother with a FPGA and just use a microprocessor??. Well it will complete logic operations thousands of times faster.
.
 

blue max

Distinguished Member
.. A field programmable array is one of those odd concepts that is really brilliant. It consists of a sea ..or better ocean of logic gates all working, all disconnected built on a a slip of silicon. Each logic function is disconnected, but can be connected to others if a conductive path is made. A programme identifying the interconnections to be made sits in Memory device ..ROM adjacent.
When the unit is switched off all the logic gates are disconnected. When power is applied, a small weak microprocessor reads the contents of the ROM and slowly makes the the interconnects. When it has finished, the microprocessor says I'm done, and takes no further part. It passes control over to the PGLA ,which then behaves like a customized integrated circuit.
By changing the wiring diagram..(the ROM program) the chip can serve any different function.
Obviously the manufacturers of the chips, have made it rather difficult for third parties to read the ROM contents.. Difficult is not the same as impossible, .. the Enigma code was cracked, so sooner or later copyright infringement clones will appear.
Why bother with a FPGA and just use a microprocessor??. Well it will complete logic operations thousands of times faster.
.
Amazing info! Thanks for posting.
 

Cathode

Member
This is slightly off topic but follows on from your comments about poorer recordings.

I have auditioned the Chord Dave and have heard the current DCS dacs at shows. The impression I get is that while they play excellent recordings superbly, listening to less perfectly recorded performances is likely to be less enjoyable than with more ordinary devices. (I would need to spend more time to be certain of this.)

Is it generally the case that the better the reproduction of the best, the poorer the listening experience in relation to more ordinary recordings?

This does not seem to be the case with vinyl.
 

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