Chord Electronics makes some of the most musical home, and portable DAC, and headphone amps I’ve heard, and when I got wind that the Qute2 was being replaced by a new Hugo2-ish form-factored DAC at CES 2018, I wanted to know more.
A little digging around the Internet, and I gathered that the Qutest is a stand alone DAC module that eschews a battery pack, and headphone amp in an effort to bring a more affordable top-tier sound (and smaller footprint) to a home high-fidelity setup, which at $1,650 USD (approx. MSRP) puts it firmly in the wheelhouse of budding audiophiles looking to make a serious upgrade to their computer-audio set up.
With 768kHz PCM support via USB, DSD 512, and a 49,152 Tap-Length FPGA (field-programmable gate array) DAC, and featuring a pair of RCA analog outs, galvanically isolated USB-B, coaxial, and optical digital inputs along with Chord’s proprietary DAC technology pulled from the Hugo 2, the Qutest is machined from a solid aircraft-grade aluminium billet, and promises to be a sweet spot in Chord’s 2018 lineup.
Chipset: Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
Pulse array: 10 element pulse array design
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
Output stage: Class A
Output impedance: 0.025Ω
THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
THD and noise at 3v RMS: 117dB at 1kHz 300ohms ‘A’ wighted (reference 2.5v)
Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation
Channel separation: 138dB at 1kHz 300Ω
Dimensions: 41mm (H) x 160mm (W) x 72mm (D)
Boxed Weight: 1500g
Materials: Precision machined aluminium casing with polycarbonate buttons and glass viewing portal. Available in black.
Device Power Supply: 5v 2amp Micro USB
Connectivity (input): USB Type B (White): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit
2x BNC Coax (Red): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit
Optical (Green): 44.1kHz – 192kHz – 16bit – 24bit
Connectivity (output): 1x stereo pair of RCA (Left and Right)
PCM support: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz.
DSD support: Native playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)
Variable output: Fixed, but selectable between 3v (blue), 2v (green), and 1v (red) via dual press of ‘Filter’ + ‘Input’ upon startup
Driver support: Driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, driver required for Windows OS
Digital designer: Rob Watts
Mechanical Designer: John Franks
Country of manufacture: England