And so it continues.....
The Qute arrived today - I was intending to ignore it and have it returned to sender, but my ailing PC is well again (It's definitely a W7 update that's causing it to throw it's breakfast up everywhere, that's another project "challenge" so beware all you Viao users...)
Anyway, it's sat on my table, behind the PC out of sight which is a shame as it's a thing of intrigue if not beauty. I like the coloured lights, but then I'm easily pleased. Takes but 2 minutes to set up - upload the USB driver from the CD that's supplied, connect the USB cables up, and the phono out to the M2, set JRMC to Kernel Streaming (this is the first DAC that doesn't use ASIO in USB mode, if that has any relevance). Interestingly, Chord recommends the use of J River Media Centre, so that's cute...sorry.
First impression, out of the box, cold and certainly not run in are favourable. The smooth top end of the NAD, that silky sheen to cymbals is back, none of the splashy vagueness of the Dacmagic+, and detail, detail and more detail, again much like the NAD. It also has that organic analogue vinyl LP12-a-like sound to it, that makes harmonies sound rich and inviting.
The bass end seems just a little less precise than what I have become accustomed to with the DM - maybe this is the strength of the cambridge audio DAC although the WHF found it be not so dynamic and little flat. In fact, it occurred to me last night, that had I blind tested the NAD against the M2+DACmagic I would have guessed them incorrectly. The latter sounds like I expect a NAD amp to sound, big, majestic almost and totally in control with a huge bottom end slam, yet it seemed the more polite and slightly vaguer of the two.
So, back the Qute first impressions, which are very positive. One thing for sure, in my universe there is a big difference between these two DACs - I'm listening to a 16/44 version of Rock n Roll Damnation, and the cymbals and tambourines are clearly defined with much less harshness than I am used to, the maracas clearly distinguishable from the drum kit, that's novel.
Onto Keb Mo, Slow Down the tack A Better Man and I'm in the studio with them, the imaging and focus is really very good. The hi-hat is planted firmly in space, and tom rolls are easily positioned relative to it. Does it add to the music? Maybe not, but its interesting.
I'll leave it running overnight, and all day tomorrow to give it some time to run in a little and then see how we get on, but I can see straight away why there is a bit of interest in this DAC.