AUDIO FORUMS >> Digital >> New DAC, Chord Qutest

Message started by MarioEd on 09/18/18 at 22:44:04

Title: New DAC, Chord Qutest
Post by MarioEd on 09/18/18 at 22:44:04

I decided to make some changes in my second system by swapping some Caintuck Betsy baffles for the old speakers and adding the Crown XLS 1002 amp & Caintuck Alpha 15 baffles I had to cover the low end. In order to make everything work the way I wanted I needed to move the W4S dac 1le I'd been using with the Decware system into the second system. Here's the second system, custom pc with hq player >Shunyata Venom usb > W4S recovery reclocker> W4S dac 1le > unbalanced outputs to modified Jolida JD102B to Betsy's & balanced outputs to Crown to Alpfa 15's. IC's are Morrow MA-3's & SC's are Morrow SP-4's.

Unfortunately the dac I had been using in the second system didn't work well in my Decware system. A local hifi dealer had a few dac's I was interested in available and was willing to let me try them at home in my system. He also suggested I give the Chord Qutest a trial. It was out of my price range but he said business was slow and he could cut me a nice deal on it. Over the course of a week I tried the various dac's saving the Chord for last since he could only let me have it the days his shop was closed. The demo unit had been well broken in at his shop so I figured 48 hours would be enough to test it.

Upon initially hooking up the Qutest I didn't think it sounded much better than my W4S dac, it sounded very good but not better. After a few hours of listening I remembered I used a W4S recovery with the W4S dac and thought what the heck let's try that with the Chord Qutest. I didn't think it'd make much difference since the Qutest has galvanic isolation built in to the usb.

Brother was I wrong! The Chord opened up and took the music to another level. The clarity and detail of the music was amazing and the balance across the treble, mid-range & bass excellent. While the width of the soundstage was about the same as the W4S the depth increased significantly. Instrument separation is very realistic. The over-riding sense I had was how musical, for lack of a better term, everything sounded.

To get the perspective of another set of ears I called my wife down and played a variety of classical tracks for her, including one of her favorites the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah. She said that it was unreal she could hear individual voices in the chorus. I continued to try a wide variety of music, from rock to bluegrass to jazz to singer/songwriter. I listened to some solo bass both electric & upright and  some Bach pieces for solo organ. The Qutest handled them all and sounded great doing so.

Fortunately, the dealer was able to offer me a Chord Qutest for not much more than the upper end of my budget so I had him order me one. I've had it a few weeks now and am a very happy camper. Anybody looking for a new dac might want to consider this one.

Here is a link to the company info & specifications on the Qutest,


Title: Re: New DAC, Chord Qutest
Post by Keith on 09/19/18 at 04:02:54

Hi Ed
nice review, I bought a Chord Hugo to go with the Tori MkIV when I was putting the system together.
I purchased the Decware system based on what I read on this forum and Steve"s contribution to the discussion and the fact that he was about the "music".
I bought the Hugo right after it came out based on what I read on and Rob Watts joining g the discussion and his openness about how he developed his DAC"s. he to was passionate about the "music"
they are very musical DAC's
I have been debating buying either the Qutest or a new Hugo 2 .The advantage of the new line is the ability to ad Rob's new Mscaler.
the reviews are just coming out and so far it sounds great.doubt I can afford one fact its a toss up between the new Chord or the new Anniversary amp. Both would be amazing.
At this time I am very happy with the Hugo and the ZMA #3 which I picked up from a forum member. love the red caps! Often wonder if I need to change anything
I was considering sending the ZMA in for the upgrade, but I don't know if I want to change the original voicing. think I would rather leave it stock and pick up the 25th Zen. in for a penny in for a pound!
happy listening and please keep reporting on how it develops, might have to break down and order the Qutest
Cheers Keith

Title: Re: New DAC, Chord Qutest
Post by MarioEd on 09/19/18 at 14:12:09

Hi Keith,
Thanks for the kind words. From my understanding the Qutest is essentially the dac section of the Hugo 2. The differences are the Qutest does not have the headphone amp or battery and allows you to select 1, 2 or 3 volts as the output. Currently I'm using the 3V output with my se84ufo.

The big surprise for me was how much difference adding the w4s recovery reclocker  made. It was much gretater than I'd anticipated. Right now with the Qutest I'm using the power supply that came with it. From online research it seems the jury is still out on whether there is any benefit to going with a linear power supply for the Qutest, but it's something I'm considering.

Yeah, I've been eyeing the 25th Zen too. At the moment there are a few other changes to my system I'm thinking about doing first. I'm real curious about the power conditioner Steve is coming out with, at the moment I'm not using one with my Decware system. Before I got the Qutest I was planning to get a zrock 2. I'm still leaning in that direction but the Qutest has added some fullness in the low end that has me wondering.


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