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Chord Qutest: the successor to the 2Qute with Hugo 2 tech!

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  1. Music Alchemist

    From another source, with a few corrections on my part:

    Chord Electronics has launched what it’s calling the most advanced compact DAC on the planet, the Qutest.

    The Qutest is based on the latest proprietary Rob Watts FPGA technology developed for the outstanding Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp. Qutest uses an all-new precision-machined aluminium chassis and includes several new features, including fascia controls.

    Qutest also uses the same internal DAC architecture, proprietary software coding , user selectable frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls of the Hugo 2. The controls are available via two fascia-mounted spheres, introducing useful flexibility. Qutest offers a significant cost saving over Hugo 2 (H2 £1,800), as it eschews the headphone amplifier, rechargeable Li-ion batteries and crossfeed functionality integral to the transportable device.

    Qutest is the latest evolution of Chord Electronics’ most affordable standalone DAC, the 2Qute, which it directly replaces. Qutest is uniquely equipped to bring the benefits of Chord Electronics’ acclaimed proprietary hardware and software technology to a wide range of connected devices. It features galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and dual coaxial digital inputs, giving an instant upgrade to everyday audio devices plus the ability to modernise aging digital source components. It also features RCA analogue outputs for connection to integrated amplifiers, preamps and headphone amps, plus high-resolution 768kHz-capable dual-data digital inputs for connection to Chord Electronics’ devices including the 705/768kHz-ready M-Scaler-technology BLU MKII digital/CD transport.

    Qutest has been designed for static use within home audio and desktop hi-fi systems. The new design benefits from 5V Micro USB powering which offers improved flexibility over its predecessor. Qutest offers support for up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 via its galvanically isolated USB-B input, 24-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD128 via coaxial (BNC) and 24-bit/192kHz data on Optical TOSLink. DSD 64 to DSD 256 is supported via DoP and ASIO native DSD format is also supported up to 512.

    The device features a Class 2 USB input which, because of the Qutest’s home-system orientation compared to Hugo 2’s more mobile aspirations, has been galvanically isolated. This has been achieved using a novel technique which allows for very high data rates of up to 768kHz; the input is driverless on Apple and Android devices, with (ASIO included) drivers for Windows devices.

    The Qutest chassis is all-new. 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’s new square-edge chassis design created by owner and Chief Designer John Franks retains the popular circular magnifying porthole window, which reveals the custom Chord Electronics’ circuit board within. Qutest’s control spheres (for user-selectable frequency-shaping and input selection) illuminate with colour-coding information denoting sample frequency and filter used; brightness settings are user-adjustable. A further new feature is a user-selectable output voltage available in 1, 2 and 3V RMS outputs for flexible connectivity with partnering devices.

    The latest FPGA and advanced WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filters have been implemented in the Qutest, bringing a variety of performance improvements over the 2Qute in a number of areas. Performance gains have been made in timing accuracy, noise reduction and dynamic range, and tap length, the technical indicator of how complex the interpolation filter is, has nearly doubled compared to its predecessor, to 49,152.

    A four-function switch filter, operated by its own control sphere, offers a degree of user-selectable frequency-shaping, bringing warm and soft or transparent and incisive presentations, giving additional flexibility and user control.

    Technical specifications

    Frequency response: 20-20 kHz +/- 0.2dB
    Tap-length: 49,152
    Dynamic range 124 dB AWt
    THD: 0.0001% 1 kHz 2.5V RMS 300 ohms
    THD and noise at 2.5v RMS ref 3V: -117dB 300 ohms AWt
    Channel sep 138 dB at 1kHz 300 ohms
    Galvanically isolated USB
    No measurable noise floor modulation

    1x Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
    2x BNC coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable (dual data mode up to 768kHz for M-Scaler operation)
    1x HD galvanically isolated USB-B input 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512-capable

    1x (pair) stereo RCA phono outputs: 1, 2 and 3V RMS

    Qutest is available to order now (black only) from Chord Electronics dealers priced at £1,195.


    Now for my personal thoughts:

    This DAC is gorgeous. Definitely buying one. As a Chord fan and former 2Qute owner, I'm so happy this was announced earlier than expected.

    £1,195 is about $1,600 USD. That's nearly $800 lower than the Hugo 2!

    Hopefully the UK and US prices will be matched like they are for most other Chord products, and hopefully there won't be too much of a delay for it to reach the US market.

    Below I will list dealers you can order from. Note that some UK dealers require you to go there in person to pick it up and do not ship to other countries.

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  2. AndrewOld
    Hands up who would prefer it with a volume control and remote?
  3. dawktah2
    I'd like to be on the first to purchase list. I absolutely love it! I'm in the US so I'll be anxiously waiting. No need for the volume or remote. Chords other DACs do that.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  4. Bulbsofpassion
    No, signal is on the larger USB connector on the left, power is on the micro-USB on the right, you can tell this by the little lightning 'power' symbol.
    ray-dude likes this.
  5. gintamafans
    super excited! however if we can order now, when will this be shipped? any ideas?
  6. elviscaprice
    What are the minimum power requirements to operate at 5V?
  7. elviscaprice
    Yes, I would have preferred a volume control with remote but not a deal breaker. I like that the RCA outputs are far from the USB B input. Instead of right next to each other on the 2Qute.
    Hooster likes this.
  8. Music Alchemist
    Whoops... There's an official thread now, posted less than an hour after this thread.


    I updated the first post here with links to dealers that are selling it.

    I like the ability of Chord DAC/amps to be used as digital preamps and drive headphones (and even sensitive passive speakers) directly.

    However, the lower price is appealing to me and I don't mind missing those features.

    If you want a volume control and remote, you could always go for the Hugo 2 instead.

    Qutest does not have an internal battery. I put in a request to Rob Watts to clarify how the power supply works.

    It comes with the following accessories:

    1.5m 5v 2a Switching Micro USB Power Supply
    2m Type A to Type B USB Cable
    Qutest Owners Overview Manual
    Raw Silk Drawstring Bag

    The dealers I linked to say it's in stock already. However, they are UK dealers, so customers from other countries may have to go there in person to pick it up.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  9. JWahl
    It's also interesting that it seems to run off of 5v USB power. It opens up options for those who may want to run their own power supplies.
  10. Music Alchemist
    I added a Head Gear page for future reviews and the like.


    I'm assuming it only works with the type of 5V 2A micro USB power supply that is included. (Not from a computer's USB output.)

    I'm also assuming that using an aftermarket power supply will void the warranty, as it did with the 2Qute.
  11. JWahl
    That's a good point. It would need to supply the necessary current. It also would likely void the warranty.

    I more intended that for those more technical users who understand that and are willing to assume the risk.

    It's nice to have the flexibility.
  12. jlbrach
    kind of a strange comment since the hugo 2 already exists,this is essentially the hugo 2 without battery and volume control....if that is what you need i suggest the hugo 2
  13. elviscaprice
    Ahh, but the Hugo2 has it's non desirable desktop features also. I can't win.
    My perfect Chord DAC would be, Hugo2 without Lipo batteries, normal DC input (common voltage, 5, 7 or 12) (let us the audiophile choose our preferred power supply), normal USB 2.0 input, no 5V VBUS needed.
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