Chord 2Qute

General Information

The new 2Qute is a compact, affordable standalone DAC which combines two award-winning products in one: the revolutionary Hugo DAC/headphone amp and the class-leading Qute EX standalone DAC.

The new 2Qute takes the technology from What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision's 2014 Best DAC - (Hugo) and adds it to What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision's 2014 Best DAC £700 - £1,000 (Qute EX). The result is a new super-DAC for 2015 with class-leading specification, outstanding technical measurements and proven sonic performance.

2Qute advances the award-winning Qute EX DAC into 2015 with the latest Hugo specification. Essentially a Hugo in a Chordette chassis, it brings the latest FPGA DAC technology into an affordable home-system-orientated unit. 2Qute contains the same high-performance Spartan 6 FPGA that has enabled Hugo to redefine the DAC genre in 2014. The 2Qute also boasts astonishingly low distortion levels of 0.0003%.

The 2Qute offers support for up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz over optical. DSD64 is supported on all inputs and DSD128 is supported via coax or USB (all via DoP). The new DAC also gains a handy switch to easily move between coax, optical and USB digital inputs.

The device features a Class 2 USB input which, because of the 2Qute's home-system orientation compared to Hugo's more mobile aspirations, has been galvanically isolated for greater sonic performance. This has been achieved using a novel technique which allows for very high data rates of up to 384kHz; the input is driverless on Apple and Android devices, with (ASIO included) drivers for Windows devices.

2Qute key features

- Coax, optical and USB digital inputs with input switch
- Galvanically isolated Class 2 USB input up to 384kHz
- Driverless operation on Apple and Android devices; drivers supplied for Windows
- Support for up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz via optical
- DSD64 supported on all inputs, DSD128 supported via coax or USB input (all via DoP)
- Source and sample rate indication/illumination
- 12V 0.5A power supply provided

Measured performance

Output: 3v RMS 1kHz
Dynamic range: -119dB A Wt
THD: 0.0003% at 3v RMS 1kHz; 0.0002% at 2v RMS 1kHz
Crosstalk: 126dB 1kHz
Frequency Response: +/- 0.1dB 20-20kHz

Latest reviews

I am writing this review for my own pleasure, to help others making a good decision and from appreciation to Chord DACs.

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I used a Chord Mojo for nearly two years and recently purchased a 2Qute DAC. Since the next generation of 2Qute is already available for £1195 (Chord Qutest) the price of the 2Qute has significantly dropped. You can find end of stock 2Qute for as low as £699, used ones even for £500 with some luck.

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The disadvantage of a stand alone DAC is that you need to pair it with an amp which means you need to double the costs at least. Many audio enthusiasts on a budget only look for amps or DAC/amp combos and a higher quality DAC is not on the top of their list. The reason for this is partly because DACs under £5-600 sound very similar and make not much of a difference. The 2Qute still sells for £995 at most places, but being able to buy it effectively half the price makes it an exceptional bargain. This fact has partially triggered my review. I would not spend £1000 on a DAC, but I would spend £500 if the difference in sound quality is there. Let me tell you now, it is there.

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I sold my Chord Mojo and bought a Questyle CMA 600i. I wanted a 2in1 combo, DAC/amp which sounds better than Mojo. While in general the 600i does sound better than the Mojo, I did miss certain attributes of the sound which seem to be unique to Chord products.

The 600i as a DAC/amp sounded much more powerful and authoritative than Mojo. The bass and treble extension was better, and felt like suddenly there is meat on the bones. The sound was meatier with a bigger, better body. This was the most obvious in the bass and treble. The mids were pretty much equally beautiful.

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What I missed with the 600i as a DAC/amp combo after owning Mojo was the soundstage depth. The pitch black background. The 3D placement of sounds and instruments. The tightness, speed of sound (attack/decay). The airiness and the separation of the instruments. Using Mojo as a DAC with the CMA600i improved things a little, but I did not want the hassle with a battery powered DAC.

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I am happy to report that the 2Qute pretty much blows the Mojo out of the water. It delivers all the qualities from Mojo that I was missing and multiplies them. With the 2Qute in the picture I have a very clean, very clear, tidy and tight view of what's happening with all the sounds.
Compared to the built-in DAC in the CMA600i the 2Qute is much faster, cleaner sounding. It sounds much more spacious and this space is clear and airy. It is easy to place the instruments. There is height, width and depth.
Imagine, you draw something on a deflated balloon with a black marker. That is how an average DAC sounds like. Now inflate the balloon. This is how Chord DACs sound. The picture is much sharper, more detailed, more spacious with greater separation and air around the instruments. A more three dimensional space.

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I auditioned quite a lot of DACs under £600 (iFi, Fiio, Schiit, even R2R DACs). R2R DACs do sound better than most average DACs, but in my opinion nothing beats the qualities of a Chord DAC. I owned Mojo, now the 2Qute and extensively tested the Hugo2. In my opinion Rob Watts uniquely programmed FPGA chips steal the show on the DAC market in 2018. For the price that older Chord models become available they are a steal. (Hugo TT and DAVE are still out of reach for most of us.)

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In my opinion if you are building a home system for £1000-1500 than you have only one DAC option in case you are after the best sound and this is the Chord 2Qute. Pair it with a decent amp and you will get 80% of the sound quality what is available today. For the remaining 20% you need to spend at least another £1500-2000.

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To my personal experience this is the sweet spot of price/performance ratio at the moment.
Build quality is exceptional, the simplicity of design makes the 2Qute a timeproof product.

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