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

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


About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream