Chord Electronics have released the replacement for the 2Qute DAC, the brand new Qutest, which performance wise is already proving itself to be one of the best DACs on the market. In essence a Hugo-Lite, in respect that the Headphone amp stage and battery is removed, meaning the Qutest is designed for a ‘home’ based system rather than offering the portability of the Hugo.
Plugging this solid little compact box into our veteran Naim HDX via a Co-axial cable brings an instant improvement in soundstage and clarity. Drum skins become more tactile, bass tightens and there is an overall bigger sense of scale whilst still retaining an analogue warmth and depth – something that many DACs seem to lose in a trade off for increased clarity. We put on ‘Made In Sweden’ from Brother Jack McDuff’s fabulous ‘Moon Rappin” album and it’s literally like drummer Joe Dukes is in the room with you. You feel every ‘thud’ of the kick drum, every roll of the snare.
It’s perhaps unlikely that someone using Sonos will invest in a DAC at this price point, which is a shame as it made a huge difference streaming Tidal into our system via the Sonos Connect, giving the little streamer a real boost in performance.
Twin coaxial inputs support 24bit/384kHz PCM and DSD128 files, while its single galvanically isolated USB-typeB input takes that to 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512.
The optical input can handle PCM files up to 24bit/192kHz, too. Last but not least are a pair of RCA outputs to your Pre-Amp or integrated.
The Qutest chassis is all-new, too. It has significantly greater mass than its predecessor and has been precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium billet. The Qutest PCB nestles within a shallow cavity in the solid aluminium chassis, giving the circuit board greater protection within the casework and additional isolation from external vibration compared to previous designs.
Qutest offers Hugo 2’s proprietary user-selectable frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls, available via two fascia-mounted spheres, introducing useful flexibility. It also features RCA analogue outputs for connection to integrated amplifiers, preamps and headphone amps, plus high-resolution dual-data digital inputs for connection to future Chord Electronics products. In typical Chord fashion, the DAC’s control spheres for filters and input selection glow different colours depending on the frequency of the playback file and the filter used.
A further new feature is a user-selectable output voltage available in 1, 2 and 3V RMS outputs for flexible connectivity with a wide range of partnering devices.
A truly game-changing little DAC, the Qutest retails @ £1195 and is available now. Please call the Rayleigh Store for more information.