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Chord QuteHD DAC - 'Pulse-Array' Teconology Discusion Thread

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by ok-guy, Jun 17, 2013.
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  1. OK-Guy
    Chord QuteHD DAC
    The Chord Electronics Company is based a couple of miles from where I live in Rochester, I have lusted over their equipment (out of my price range) after spending many happy listening hours ‘chewing the cud’ over music in a sadly missed hi-fi shop that was located where I live, I digress… Chord have released a desktop-range (Chordette) that includes the ‘QuteHD DAC’ which is getting high praise globally… now this is not a review of any sorts but more importantly to discuss the ‘pulse array’ technology that this DAC employs.
    I’ve got to divert off track for a little bit of history… I’m in that place where I will soon have to make a decision of sticking with cd’s (home system) or go the PC/Desktop/Portable route and really get into this headphone malarkey. The one thing I have come to appreciate as a ‘participant or voyeur’ that Head-Fi is an a very informative ‘wiki’ and fuels an incredible ‘cottage industry’ that in my mind challenges the major players and in many cases leaves them lagging far behind in quest of our ‘holy grail’ in sound… a year ago I would have been on the floor laughing at the thought of considering giving up a home-system for a Portaphile/Desktop one but with the rise of hi-end DAP’s and the new breed of CIEM/IEM’s that give staggering levels of detail the time to revaluate on how I enjoy my music now beckons... before I’m prepared to invest in a hi-end DAP, a DAC & desktop headphone amp will be pre-requisite and any future DAP must have the connectivity into the system as a source.
    I get real confused over different file types, if up-sampling is a benefit, is hi-res significantly better over red-book, then to compound everything Duncan (Mod) has confused the life out of me more with technical explanations that just make me want to become a lemming and get the train to Dover (the Nyquist theory was the tipping point)… in such worrying times you just have to pick yourself up and find the courage to phone a Samaritan, in this case a helpful man at Chord who left me more confused but somehow more enlightened after explaining the gist of the pulse-array technology behind the QuteHD.
    Our conversation travelled many different routes and a couple of the notable things that stuck were, only upload/download music in the format it was recorded (red-book, hi-res etc.), up-sampling only has a real benefit when derived from hardware as opposed to software applications… there was more advice but my brain has gone into system overload so I’ll excuse myself from any more memory errors.
    What does ‘Pulse Array’ bring to the proceedings of a DAC and make the QuteHD different from the norm… I’m not technically proficient enough to give a proper assessment so I’ll try and explain things in way that I can grapple with… with up-sampling music the DAC fills in the blank spaces(?) resulting in perceived better definition & detail… the QuteHD using ‘pulse array’ technology does things differently instead of filling in the ‘blanks’ by the disbursement of ‘bits’ it ignores them & only concentrates on the retrieval of the bits carrying information (the further you get away from the source the easier it is to pick out individual bits of information),.. after the DAC receives the data the ‘tap rate’ enters the equation, the widely used industry DAC norms are 256-taps, the QuteHD operates a 11,000-taps(?) with it’s highly modified DAC-chip… the end result being vastly superior sound with regard to definition, detail & sound quality.
    Obviously Head-Fi’ers will want to ask many questions about the ‘pulse-array’ technology and the benefits over rival DAC’s… to help answer any questions the helpful man from Chord has offered to participate in the discussions on Head-Fi (big thumbs-up for that), he may also ask Robert Watts, who is one of the leading world authorities/experts on ‘proprietary DAC technology’ to join in the debate.
    Chord DAC technology & DAC’s:
    QuteHD: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products-info.asp?id=89
    QBD76 HDSD:  http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products-info.asp?id=74
    Chordette Range: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products.asp?cat=16
    Review links:
    HiFi World: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/reviews-info.asp?id=58
    Canada HiFi: http://canadahifi.com/chord-electronics-chordette-qutehd-dac-review/
    What HiFi: http://www.whathifi.com/review/chord-electronics-qutehd
    EnjoytheMusic: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1212/chord_chordette_qutehd_dac.htm
    nephilim32 likes this.
  2. OK-Guy
    Disclaimer: I do not represent Chord Electronics in any way shape or form. I do not personally know anyone who works there.
    This is a local company close to where I live (like KEF) whose equipment I happen to love not only for it music reproduction but it's design.
    I am hoping that the people of Chord will enlighten Head-Fi members on DAC technology and music-file types & upsampling music.
    It can only be good news for Head-Fi'ers to have some renowned experts on board to discuss & answer your digital & technology questions.... so fire away.
  3. audionewbi
    My hope to see an entry level dac from them with only USB feature. 
  4. Duncan Moderator
    Interestingly, although I don't have much chance to post (being at work is a killer - especially first day back after a vacation!) - However, please note that Sony's implementation of Current Pulse DACs from back in the day is different to this - the only similarity is in name, if wanting to know the difference between Chord's and Sony's approach, read the above for Chord's, and this link for Sony's...
  5. FortisFlyer75
    I am a novice in this domain and would like to know starting out how far dac chips have come on in last ten years since the tag McLaren av32r dual processor would fairto todays dacs.

    I also have the oppo 105 bluray player which uses 32 bit sabre dacs.

    From what little I know about dacs I prefer in theory the pulse array dac and not personally keen on upsampling method of adding what is not there to start with.(is that right?!)

    When choosing a dac what would be the primary things to look out for spec wise now days.
  6. JMelvin
    I purchased the QuteHD several months ago and can say with confidence I'm off the DAC merry-go-round. I'm curious as to why Chord believes only hardware up-sampling has any real benefit as opposed to software up-sampling. Personally, I am not a fan of up-sampling in software but a couple of rather popular and highly touted players (Audirvana Plus, Pure Music) have many adherents who seem quite happy using the up-sampling features in these programs.
  7. Baxide
    They have become simpler and cheaper in most cases, The WM8741 is about 10 years old, but it is still one of the top five DAC chips.
    Sound wise the newer chips don't give a better quality output. They perform just as good, or worse.
  8. OK-Guy
    I may of not put that in the proper context, I was filled with so much info I was trying to remember it all... the way I read things in my mind with standard 'red-book' files WAV & Flac (in my case I use SonicStage 'Atrac Advance Lossless 352kbps', not sure if it's compatible, Sony Japan program), upsampling serves no real purpose from a PC program it just gives music more air (makes it bright sounding) but you lose depth(?), think that's how it works.
  9. JMelvin
    Thanks for clarifying and in fact, Redbook is exactly what I had in mind. The QuteHD, as reported in various reviews, online forums, and my own personal experience, does wonders for good-old cd rips/downloads. I was a bit more of a software up-sampling fan prior to purchasing this DAC and now experience no benefit in doing so .. actually, just the opposite. Just curious is all.
    nephilim32 likes this.
  10. OK-Guy
    I got 500+ cd's so I don't see me taking the HD/hi-res route anytime soon, if fact I love my old soul recordings from the 60/70's to have that warm touch, too much detail actually takes away focusing on the music imo... I also get a lot of music from http://livedownloads.com/ which is essentially a 'live' music/concert site but there some great obscure bands with weird names (String Cheese Incident etc.), the music recording quality is surprisingly good for the most but you're hardly going to get top-notch hi-res... I really do try & think about the benefits about hi-res files but a lot of what is out there is upsampled as there really ain't that much recorded stuff around.
    are these new super DAP's really that super if all the extra dosh just means it can play a certain file type, if that's the case I'll stick with what I got... so now I'm back at square one of the conundrum, should I go for PC/DAC/Headphone amp system over a proper one, living in a apartment there's pro's & con's with both but what actually will pulse-array bring to the table with different file types, is this technology a big step-up to the industry norm?
  11. OK-Guy
    I sell one of my balls to a eunuch if they made a portable DAP... [​IMG]
  12. FortisFlyer75
    That;s interesting, so they have not evolved ten fold then, I have a Oppo BDP-105 which has Sabre 32 bit latest chipset  inside and was going to at some point when I get a secondary Chord Indigo digital i/c for loop continuity is to feed my Tag Mlclaren DVD32R with a music cd through it by passing my old Tag Dual processor dacs t(think they are 2 XSuper Sharc 21161N ?) to see how they  perform in comparison.  
    I would sell both![​IMG]
    I am in same sort of bind as I am hopefully not until next year now looking at a top end full size can and headphone amp to match but will also need a relative dac with all inputs to suit. 
    I am intrigued how the tapping rate on average with dacs is 200+ and then the Chord comes along with tens of thousands tap rate!
    Interested to know how these extra tap rate translates into actual sonic performance and where you hear this improvement over dacs with much lesser tap rates?
  13. Currawong Contributor
    I've been long meaning to give a QuteHD a good run. The first one in a shop my computer wouldn't "see" over USB and the only other option beyond buying one was a 1-week loaner, which is a bit short. I've seen the odd person rave about it though, with an added high-quality power supply and maybe a good USB to S/PDIF converter (better than the built-in USB anyway). 
    I don't blame anyone for being confused over digital audio. A lot of the fine detail in the technology only equates to small differences, but with the right combo I've found the sound can be amazing. At worst music can sound flat and dull or harsh and "digital" out of even expensive gear too. 
  14. OK-Guy
    I'm going through mixed emotions on what to do as I'm really beginning to see the potential of portable/desktop solution... my perceptions on how I prefer to hear my music is changing from system to a more portable based affair.
    Files types were the first real enigma I've faced... I prefer Atrac-Lossless to Flac, which I can only describe the difference being the same as a standard Euro red-book cd versus a Japanese 'obi' cd... the difference is subtle but to my ears noticeable.... hd & hi-res files have yet to be explored.
    Combinations between my Z1070 and my recently acquired amps have brought mixed results (listed on profile), with one it brings a lovely glow to classic soul music, another is clean sounding & powerful but I guess I won't see any benefit until I get some full-sized cans, the last is about 75% burnt-in but already I'm hearing more body(?) with 'live' music.
    I can understand the benefit of a good DAC for a desktop solution but finding a suitable portable source to feed into it is also paramount to me going the 'whole hog' via the pc etc... it's a bit of a minefield in truth but a seemingly enjoyable one.
    Currawong, my sincere apologies for my turrets outburst... it won't happen again.
  15. Currawong Contributor
    No worries. 
    Archive.org has a music section too. Someone pointed out a Cowboy Junkies live album (Live at the Ark) mastered for headphone use there. It's pretty good. 
    Finding a good combination of gear can be pretty tricky. Technically excellent gear can be detailed but unexciting. "Musical"-sounding gear can be the other way around. Some of the recent portable DACs such as the CLAS and USB-powered devices are very good. I'm awaiting the Centrance M8 to how it fares.  For transportable duty I'm using a modded AK100  with IEMs and a Pico Power connected to that with my Grado-like Magnums.
    I suspect some devices or computer software is better or worse playing back different file types. When I had the DX100, it sounded great playing back FLAC and awful playing back ALAC. Crazy, but I had assumed there'd be no difference. With high-res files, I think now the primary thing is that you end up bypassing some of the built-in over-sampling in a regular DAC, which may or may not be the reason for any differences. However, some vinyl rips I've heard of good albums have been way better-sounding to me than the regular CD, to the point that at least one album I didn't like I enjoy listening to now. It's definitely a quagmire!
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