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Chord, once Qute2, is now the Qutest with latest DAC launched at CES 2018

KEF R Series

The Qutest DAC from Chord Electronics.

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.


A formidable package.

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.

–Rafe Arnott


Small on size, not on connectivity. The Qutest DAC.


Chipset: Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA

Tap-length: 49,152

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

Weight: 770g

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


KEF R Series
About Rafe Arnott (392 Articles)
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream