• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Review and Measurements of CHORD Qutest DAC

Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
91
Likes
56
Looking at what FPGA it is using it is only 28 nm part, which at Digikey is $42.49 qty 1. They have a lot of room to shrink, reduce power and add functionality as they move to smaller geometry FPGA's Xilinx announced 7 nm FPGA There are still 20 nm and 16 nm chips which are coming down in price. New interesting thing with FPGA are they becoming hybrid so ASIC + FPGA on a single package.

Comparison AKM DAC Digi-key Qty1
  • AKM 4499 $83.70 <- look forward to seeing what Monoprice does with this chip.
  • AKM 4497EQ $50.99
  • AKM 4493EQ is $8.33
  • AKM 4490EQ $2.30
 

doug2761

New Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
1
Likes
0
I might be the one loner that likes the look and doesn’t mind the LEDs. It is unfortunate it has no balanced outputs for that price. Also I’m wondering how many people are going to use the BNC inputs (maybe BNC is more popular than I think it is?).
I use both USB and the BNC input. I connect the Qutest to my Roon server over USB and to my Squeezebox Touch over BNC. I like to do casual listening with the SBTouch streaming Pandora or TuneIn stations. This way I can switch sources at the DAC and essentially upgrade the the SBTouch DAC. I could use optical instead of BNC but wanted to try it to see if I could hear a difference. I can't really hear a difference but superstition has me using coax. This set up also lets me compare same track from Roon server PC direct to Qutest and through SBTouch using the Touch as a streaming end point.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
25
Likes
16
I have my SoTM SMS200 Ulta connected to the Qutest via USB and my CD player connected via BNC. It’s actually an RCA S/PDIF cable and BNC adapter.

I used to own a Benchmark DAC1 USB and it too only offered BNC inputs for digital S/PDIF.

Both DACs came with RCA to BNC adapter.
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
91
Likes
56
I have the Chord Qutest, I have been using USB in with RCA out to headphone AMP. Not having XLR out has not been an issue with any amplifier I used. the ground loop issue is nonexistent

Amplifier tested with the Qutest:
  • Geshelli Labs ARCHEL2.5 PRO ( Selling )
  • Monoprice THX 887 ( Selling )
  • TCA HPA-1
  • SPL Phonitor x
  • Headamp GS-X mini
Headphones tested against the stacks above:
- Audeze LCD-4
- Focal Stellia
- Focal Elex ( sold off now )
- Dan Clark Audio Aeon X Open
- Hifiman Ananda
- Hifiman HE-1000 SE
- Rosson Audio Rad-0
- Sennheiser HD-6xx
- ZMF Vertie


Note on the Phonitor x and GS-X mini with the D90 and Bifrost you can A/B the DAC on RCA and XLR via source switch.

Other DACs I have tested against the Qutest.
- Topping D90,
- RME ADI-2 fs,
- SPL Phonitor x internal DAC
- Schilt Bifrost 2
 

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
748
Likes
648
Location
Laguna, Philippines
Would love to see a Qutest DBT volume matched A/B test against the D90 and Bifrost 2. I have the Bifrost 2 (volume unchanged from 0 dBFS) and Mojo (3 clicks down from 3V lineout) as well as the AK SP2000 (144/150 yields very close to 2V and 0.1 dB difference between DACs) to Schiit Saga and DBT A/B volume matched switching with Saga preamp yields insufficient statistical data enough (aka random guessing pretty much) between the three DACs
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
91
Likes
56
What I tell you all three are very nice DACs especially on HeadAmp GS-X mini
On the Qutest it default is 3 Volts on the RCA, but it super easy to set press both button upon powering, press again too the green LEDs and you're at 2 Volts. All the fuss on it UI was silly, it simplest DAC to use.
 

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
748
Likes
648
Location
Laguna, Philippines
What I tell you all three are very nice DACs especially on HeadAmp GS-X mini
As they should unless something is really broken in the design. BTW, I haven’t heard the mini but its big brother GSX MK2 along with the HEDDphone. That headphone and amp combo have inaudible noise floor and distortion while club level SPL listening to music with the volume past 4 o’clock to on the DACT attenuator
 

Shoaibexpert

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2019
Messages
314
Likes
112
To the experts here...how true is this? I mean does this mean a well measuring D/S DAC cannot be as good as a Chord FPGA DAC... through pure technical perspective?

 

Veri

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
4,483
Likes
4,807
To the experts here...how true is this? I mean does this mean a well measuring D/S DAC cannot be as good as a Chord FPGA DAC... through pure technical perspective?

Oh my god.. They're basically saying, "we use a FPGA instead of an off-the-shelf solution so it's better". So what they programmed an FPGA??
What a load of utter nonsense. Yes, they're doing it differently, but there's no reason to believe that standard DACs are worse just because they aren't FPGAs, that's just false. Look at Topping E30, D90, ... they are stellar.

About Chord's "superior steep filter". I'll never forget this review of the monolith portable thx amp:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...monoprice-portable-amp-and-dac-with-thx.5189/


Here you see an "off-the-shelf" AK4493 implementation, attenuating better by 14dB. What's so special about Chord's Mojo?!!! Nothing.
Yes, Qutest does better than Mojo. It's also $1895 without balanced output, which is ridiculous. You can get a balanced monolith for $500...
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
91
Likes
56
When I read response like this I do not know if I should Laugh Hard or Cry for Humanity,

First, why do we always have turn this into muck racking conversation I never said Qutest is better than D90 nor even Schilt Bifrost 2, I said it sound good, It is at SINAD 117 dB which honestly most on this list you take a hearing challenge if they can hear bellow -90 to -110 dB the full frequency range of 10 Hz to 20 Hz.

Post on FPGA can be good or not compared to production ASIC, is just silly. It just shows the extreme people on this forum go to prove there point and have Zero understanding of how we really make Silicon solutions. An FPGA is also manufactured just like an ASIC, the difference it reprogrammable, I still use Verilog or VHDL to program it just like an ASIC. I have been in the business for 25 + year I call Bull Shit, there is nothing stopping FPGA to be a great product out of them. a lot of the Router we use daily are FPGA based for example

The second response just falling into the trap of the first.

The third response has zero to do with Qutest it is going in left felid about Mojo which is not even relevant for the discussion. Defending the THX amp which again is not relevant to the discussion.

Also, lack of XLR on Qutest is not an issue due to how he does ground isolation, If you 1-2 foot cable the only benefit you getting is 4 Volts RMS input instead of 3V RMS on the Qutest ( Qutest can also run 1V 2V and 3V RMS RCA output ).

One thing you really need to match the best signal path for you AMP, So match the DAC that best meets you AMP.

- SPL Phonitor it really best RCA in with Single-Ended Out and the Qutest is best paired here.
- THX887 I agree for that AMP you want to use XLR, you have Volume GAIN lift in the XLR path over RCA Path due to the design of the AMP. I would use D90 or Bifrost here on XLR.
- HeadAmp has a Gain lift with XLR over RCA to I going to use D90 to drive it,

Again XLR does not mean you get a better signal path on all amps.

Yes I own all three amps along TCA HPA-1

Let be civil and keep the topic relevant
 

Veri

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
4,483
Likes
4,807
First, why do we always have turn this into muck racking conversation I never said Qutest is better than D90 nor even Schilt Bifrost 2
? I don't think anyone was quoting you these past posts, we are free to talk about what we want yeah :oops:

Also, lack of XLR on Qutest is not an issue due to how he does ground isolation
It's still a single ended signal. You're not going to claim Chord magically does single ended better than every other product on the market, are you? All of this noise could have been avoided with a differential signal, as well as any potential for a ground loop!



I agree it's not a "problem", but for a product this expensive? It's a shame.
 
Last edited:

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
748
Likes
648
Location
Laguna, Philippines
One thing you really need to match the best signal path for you AMP, So match the DAC that best meets you AMP.
I sense some "synergy" Bull Schiit in here like oh pair warm DAC with bright amp or vice versa

Let me go back to my question: Have you ever DBT volume match those three amps and three DACs to conclude that those equipment's sound statistically different (i.e. 95% confidence) that oh it's this DAC with this amp, or it's that DAC with this DAC, you get the point? If not then we can say that as long as the DAC and amp are transparent enough, i.e. in the Blue SINAD graph, then those DAC/amp combinations are audibly transparent and the discussion of finding the perfect DAC to match an amp is all moot.
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
91
Likes
56
@majingotan really, Do you know what Ocilicope is that how you volume match, you have to start at the DAC outputs.
Remember I not falling into the trap of which is sonically different if you want to do that volume matched remove your ears and a/b with a spectrum analyzer.

No, I do not fall into the warmer vs cooler trap, look at the spec of the amp it all about Voltage and Current and how they respond to impulse.

PS I am not Schiit fanboy, I only picked it because everyone wanted to know how it sounded against Cool Whip D90. I sent it back because it has an issue on the Left RCA channel.
 
Last edited:

Angsty

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 11, 2020
Messages
32
Likes
29
Location
Southeastern U.S.
I've been following this discussion for a while as I've considered buying a used Qutest. Looking at the measurements, it's a great DAC. It's a single-ended DAC; that will work well for my Bryston pre-amp that has an open "CD" RCA input. It will require only a 0.5m cable to connect it.

People have issues with its user interface; I'd plan to "set it and forget it" once I have settled in on my favorite filter. Honestly, it seems the biggest forum (and review) quibble is about its price. That seems more like a value-based choice than a specific issue of performance or functionality.

The biggest functional issue I have with the Qutest is not the lack of balanced output, but the lack of Bluetooth input. I'm also considering the Topping D90 as an alternative for its superlative performance. What I don't know yet is if I would hear a meaningful difference between the two; published measurements suggest I would not. Either would be a huge advance over the 15 year old DAC in the Bryston (using a Crystal CS43122 processor).

I am returning to digital after a long romance with vinyl. I'm convinced now the DAC systems have become good enough to largely close the "enjoyment gap" with many vinyl set-ups and my listening requirements have changed over time.
 
Top Bottom