Chord Electronics Qutest
Product Code: CED019
ex-vat: £ 995.83
The Chord Electronics Qutest, which replaces the multi-award-winning 2Qute, 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. It features a galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and coaxial digital input, giving an instant performance upgrade, plus the ability to modernise ageing 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 aluminium billet. The Qutest PCB nestles within a shallow cavity in the solid aluminium 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. It also features RCA analogue 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.
Available in black finish only.
Download the user manual.
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“If you have a basic but flagship-level DAC that is more than ten years old, and you have been thinking about modernizing I would strongly recommend trying the Qutest before you replace your DAC with something with an additional zero at the end of its price tag. The Qutest qualifies as a solid piece of engineering at a reasonable price that delivers digital music with power and finesse. What’s not to like?”
“The journey from the 2Qute to Qutest hasn’t altered the overall character. In 2015 we complimented the 2Qute for its ‘almost effortlessly cohesive and musical sound’, and thankfully those qualities haven’t been lost in transition.
“A soundstage full of crisp, clean, concise – not to mention explicitly detailed – instrumentation fills the space between our ATC SCM50 speakers, with the singer’s lush, down-tempo jazz arrangement having equal parts sinew and sparkle thanks to the Chord DAC’s familiarly neutral tonal balance.
“But the Qutest offers more resolution here. Greater texture and nuance cling to the wheeling cymbal, double bass plucks and Porter’s honey-thick vocals, all of which have plenty of room on the Qutest’s expansive canvas.
“Its presentation is slightly bigger and more spacious than that of the DAC it replaces, giving musical elements greater scope to evolve without bumping into each other.”
“Occupying a price point that puts it in a competitive consumer DAC market tier, the Qutest proved itself a worthy champion of listening to music through it rather than analyzing it, which is what I find far too many in this hobby tend to do despite their exhortations to the opposite. The audiophiles doth protest too much, methinks as graphs and measurements still seem to predicate being able to enjoy music for many that I hear from. The Qutest is an excellent tonic for curing this malaise as it fights tooth and nail in the detail retrieval department – which will please many – while still maintaining vigilance for portrayal of the soul of the recorded event, which to be honest, is what always kept me coming back for more from this DAC.”
“Yes, it lacks a volume control, remote handset, Bluetooth capability, balanced outputs, MQA decoding, and a headphone jack—but it offers close to the state of the measured digital art ca 2019, and it sounds simply superb. It may not quite reach the sonic heights offered either by Chord’s DAVE or by PS Audio’s DirectStream DAC, but at less than one-sixth the price of the former and less than one-third the price of the latter, it can be strongly recommended.”
“The overwhelming takeaway from my time with the Qutest is that it has a wonderfully organic presentation and musical ability that would be hard to beat at this price.
“The Qutest not only proves Rob Watts’ prowess once again but Chord’s ability to make something so small sound so good.”
- Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
- Tap length
- Pulse array
- 10 element pulse array design
- Frequency response
- 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
- Output stage
- Class A
- <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
- 41mm H x 160mm W x 72mm D
- Boxed weight
- 1.5 kg