Chord Qutest DAC: polarising opinion ?

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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I have read a lot of reviews of this DAC - I mean, spent months researching it. I would say maybe 60-70% say it is amazing and that it competes with DACs almost twice its price. I read that it is particularly impressive with c;lassical and vocals. Yet there are some dissenting voices - some say it isn't as well suited to rock, jazz or electronic music, some say it doesn't sound as engaging as some similarly priced competitors. I have heard the Qutest in a few different systems but never with my own rig and never in a place where I was able to quickly do an a v b comparison with other DACs. What is your take on this interesting DAC ? Is it an acquired taste or the best DAC under £2000 ? Why ? And why do you think some wax lyrical about it while others are more 'meh' about it ?!
 

Gray

Well-known member
...why do you think some wax lyrical about it while others are more 'meh' about it ?!
Same as with any other product Hawk, it comes down to personal taste.
Although I must admit I would rather hope that a DAC (especially one so expensive) would not be flavouring the sound as much as to cause all those different opinions.
 

Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
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620
Is it expensive though? I mean many spend as much now on a DAC as they do on amplification so it's not unusual to spend considerably more than what the Qutest costs - perhaps less so in the UK but in places like the US
 

Vincent Kars

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2021
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The Qutest is simply a very good performing DAC:

The same can be said about Topping EX5

I do think the Qutest too expensive.
All most all well designed DACs have a extremely low noise floor, no traces of jitter, linearity of 20 bits or more, etc. makes one wonder if spending $$$ has any advantages other than bragging rights.
 
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millennia_one

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Sep 1, 2014
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Well everyone is looking for certain things in audio some don't even believe DAC's make a difference and are quite happy with £30 products (if not less). Some are using imperfect products like headphones that need to be EQ'ed the living daylights out of or moded to get them sounding good (don't trust their opinions). SO you can't really win with some people opinions and that's just it, its opinion. And then you have your parrots (the worst of the worst) people that look at the numbers and spec think they magically know what it sounds like even though they have never owned or even seen it in the flesh.

I've owned it now for 3 years (maybe 4 can't remember). So let me try my best to describe my time with it.

Let's start with build this is easy it's built like a brick Sh!t house nothing more to write there.


Anything that really annoys me functionality-wise? Yes it needs one more Toslink and it seems pretty susceptible to static. So don't drag your feet along the carpet and then touch it or the computer it's connected to it will have a bad day.

The sound! The reason you're really here, mine is connected to a Sugden a21sig and has been used with Revel m106s (pretty much as good as it gets Standmount wise) and as of now Klipsch heresy 3 speakers but really want to upgrade to some Cornwall in the future. But that's a different topic thats not relevant here.

The Qutest is what I describe as organic/ fluid/pure there's no glare and it's not vailed, music is allowed to show its colour if has a colour, nothing gets in its way, you hear everything if your speakers/headphones allow it. If it's a poor recording you will hear it. It has the drive and its bottom end is seismic, notes stop and start with ease and the overhang and decay are second to none. It conveys texture superbly, you can hear the difference in materials with instruments and tonal texture is amazing, the sound stage, even through my heresy's is remarkable. There is a fullness to sound that I haven't been able to replicate with any other DAC.
I think ill stop there you get the point. Is the sound perfect? No, what is. but you need to listen to see if they're apparent to you.

BUT what I have said above really has nothing to do with the Chip (well a little to do with the chip) and more to do with its output stage which is class A and those output stages are really very good.

Chord is the Apple of the Hi-fi world people will always say there something better for less. is there? if there is i haven't found it not for less. RME is probably (probably = i haven't heard it) Qutest's equal, it does a lot more but it has functions i'd never use. The Qutest looks better which means a lot to me.

It's not good with all music? What a load of bull! if classical is your bag listen to it. if rocks you bag listen to it.

Does it have the drive for Rock? Yeah, it does but it's a refined high-end product so its not going to make your ears bleed (foo fighter and death from above are so propulsive it's addictive) and it's something you don't really notice until you listen to a lesser product! If it was ever going to make your ears bleed it would certainly do it with my Klipsch heresy 3’s, another product where a load of people that haven't heard them parrot what other people have said using rubbish amps to drive them.

Price? well, i can't help with that. To me it was affordable, I'm going to quote Jay-Z here "if you can't afford to buy it twice then you can't afford it" and i think that's really good advice for all on here whether you have 100's to spend or millions.

Some Music I listen to with it but not limited to which is almost everything and it all sounds, well really good I don't think I'm missing anything. Minus what my room and speaker cant produce.

Death from above 1979
Foo fighters
Korn
Queen’s of the Stoneage
The black keys
Clare Maguire
Cigarettes After Sex
London grammar
Freya Riddings
Fieh
Lily Moore
Mac Millar
Royal blood
swifty- say what you will evermore sound really good and muisc real well written
Billie Ellish- same as above
Welles
DJ shadow
harry styles
kilo kish
Raphael Saadiq
robert glasper

A real good mix as you can see.

Not to mention plenty of movies as it lives in the family room.

I listen to anything that sounds good and i like the sound of I'm not an audiophile that niches to one type of music, A product that does only one type of music well is useless to me. Everything I own plays everything well i could use a subwoofer to reproduce synth bass better but outside of that, I'm happy.

I s there anything better sure there all ways is but i ain't heard and i don't really care at this point. there only a few I would like and it doesn't involve a new digital front end. It a product i don't feel i need to replace and that for me is very rare.


Hope that helps do with that what you will.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
1,052
701
20,070
Are you able to get one on trial from a dealer? That’s the only way to be sure.

I have a friend with one, him having previously owned the earlier 2Qute. He recently upgraded it with the M-Scaler, and I was surprised how much better it sounded that way. Still very fine without, but one of those ‘once you’ve heard it’ improvements that are obvious. His speakers cost about £25,000 though, and my system is not that revealing.

The main dissent with Chord seems to be about brightness or hyper-detail, which isn’t natural sounding in some systems. I’m pretty sure they’re essentially neutral DACs, but may not work in every system, especially one that might exacerbate any top end emphasis. Hence auditioning is vital.

Here in the UK, a used one for under £800 is easily resold if not liked.
 
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Hawkmoon

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2020
101
38
620
Well everyone is looking for certain things in audio some don't even believe DAC's make a difference and are quite happy with £30 products (if not less). Some are using imperfect products like headphones that need to be EQ'ed the living daylights out of or moded to get them sounding good (don't trust their opinions). SO you can't really win with some people opinions and that's just it, its opinion. And then you have your parrots (the worst of the worst) people that look at the numbers and spec think they magically know what it sounds like even though they have never owned or even seen it in the flesh.

I've owned it now for 3 years (maybe 4 can't remember). So let me try my best to describe my time with it.

Let's start with build this is easy it's built like a brick Sh!t house nothing more to write there.


Anything that really annoys me functionality-wise? Yes it needs one more Toslink and it seems pretty susceptible to static. So don't drag your feet along the carpet and then touch it or the computer it's connected to it will have a bad day.

The sound! The reason you're really here, mine is connected to a Sugden a21sig and has been used with Revel m106s (pretty much as good as it gets Standmount wise) and as of now Klipsch heresy 3 speakers but really want to upgrade to some Cornwall in the future. But that's a different topic thats not relevant here.

The Qutest is what I describe as organic/ fluid/pure there's no glare and it's not vailed, music is allowed to show its colour if has a colour, nothing gets in its way, you hear everything if your speakers/headphones allow it. If it's a poor recording you will hear it. It has the drive and its bottom end is seismic, notes stop and start with ease and the overhang and decay are second to none. It conveys texture superbly, you can hear the difference in materials with instruments and tonal texture is amazing, the sound stage, even through my heresy's is remarkable. There is a fullness to sound that I haven't been able to replicate with any other DAC.
I think ill stop there you get the point. Is the sound perfect? No, what is. but you need to listen to see if they're apparent to you.

BUT what I have said above really has nothing to do with the Chip (well a little to do with the chip) and more to do with its output stage which is class A and those output stages are really very good.

Chord is the Apple of the Hi-fi world people will always say there something better for less. is there? if there is i haven't found it not for less. RME is probably (probably = i haven't heard it) Qutest's equal, it does a lot more but it has functions i'd never use. The Qutest looks better which means a lot to me.

It's not good with all music? What a load of bull! if classical is your bag listen to it. if rocks you bag listen to it.

Does it have the drive for Rock? Yeah, it does but it's a refined high-end product so its not going to make your ears bleed (foo fighter and death from above are so propulsive it's addictive) and it's something you don't really notice until you listen to a lesser product! If it was ever going to make your ears bleed it would certainly do it with my Klipsch heresy 3’s, another product where a load of people that haven't heard them parrot what other people have said using rubbish amps to drive them.

Price? well, i can't help with that. To me it was affordable, I'm going to quote Jay-Z here "if you can't afford to buy it twice then you can't afford it" and i think that's really good advice for all on here whether you have 100's to spend or millions.

Some Music I listen to with it but not limited to which is almost everything and it all sounds, well really good I don't think I'm missing anything. Minus what my room and speaker cant produce.

Death from above 1979
Foo fighters
Korn
Queen’s of the Stoneage
The black keys
Clare Maguire
Cigarettes After Sex
London grammar
Freya Riddings
Fieh
Lily Moore
Mac Millar
Royal blood
swifty- say what you will evermore sound really good and muisc real well written
Billie Ellish- same as above
Welles
DJ shadow
harry styles
kilo kish
Raphael Saadiq
robert glasper

A real good mix as you can see.

Not to mention plenty of movies as it lives in the family room.

I listen to anything that sounds good and i like the sound of I'm not an audiophile that niches to one type of music, A product that does only one type of music well is useless to me. Everything I own plays everything well i could use a subwoofer to reproduce synth bass better but outside of that, I'm happy.

I s there anything better sure there all ways is but i ain't heard and i don't really care at this point. there only a few I would like and it doesn't involve a new digital front end. It a product i don't feel i need to replace and that for me is very rare.


Hope that helps do with that what you will.
Thanks for that very full user review - really useful !
 

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