QLS QA361 impression thread

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by audionewbi, Dec 1, 2017.
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  1. audionewbi
    Those of you who are into portable audio will certainly have come across the QLS QA360. For a while, it has been Clarks only DAP and he did release two other variations of it but I am happy to report he is working on a new DAP, the QA361.

    For now, this is all that I have to share.

    Source: http://www.qlshifi.com/bbs/dispbbs.asp?boardid=5&Id=6895&page=1&star=4

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Official webpage: http://www.qlshifi.com/wzcp/qa361.htm

    Official Firmware page:

    Links: http://www.qlshifi.com/bbs/dispbbs.asp?boardid=2&Id=754

    Members impression:


    Other useful sites:
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  2. audionewbi
    For those of you who know me, you guys know how much I respect QLS Hifi brand, and in particular the Chief Engineer, Clark. They are about the only brand who are as transparent as one can be for their product development, without risking giving away their trade secrets.

    The products they design and built around the philosophy to always be better than their predecessor without breaking the price bracket. And they only release a new product when that product has a substantial performance departure from its older model.

    They don’t produce products just so they share part of the spotlight of the DAP market, which is the case for many other brands. They only do it when there is a reason for it.

    I always wanted to own the QA360LTD, but they sold out rather quickly and never saw one for sale. So when news about QA361 was released I jumped on the email as soon as I could to put me on the waiting list to buy one. Clark told me he is fulfilling the local market first which as I type this is back-order ever since I show an interest to buy one. I waited and waited and anxiety of thinking I might have to wait next year untill I can buy one slowly creeped in. I shoot another email, and to my surprise, Clark felt bad about me and offered to send me a unit to try, so full disclosure I did not pay for this unit, nor was there any agreement for me to write a review. For all intent and purpose, this is just a trial unit for me to decide for myself. I was not asked to write any positive review or anything of such a nature.

    What’s in the box:

    1)SD card read

    2)32 GB red/gold microSD card which Clark recommend loaded with all sort of recording for one to try for one's self.

    3)Music Player

    4)User guide

    5)Extra screen protector

    6)Leather case

    7)2.5mm female balance to 3.5mm male balance converter

    8)USB type C, used only or charging


    The first thing you have to do is insert a TF card, else the unit will turn on, but that is as far it lets you go. Load a micro-SD card first.

    The early impression is the sound, on stock FW, has a clear, natural and above average soundstage. The first thing I did was to use an ALL to DSD feature, which gives the sound a more organic appeal.

    Next, I plugged in my Ultrasone IQ, which thanks to Nathan, has become my hiss detector. On all the low setting, including low gain, I could not hear any hiss. Yes!

    So if I was to blindly test between LPG and QA361, which I would pick, I think it is safe to say LPG is slowly getting replaced as my reference by QA361. There is a lot more testing to do, as this DAP has three FW, one stock and two version of WAV only FW, which known Clark background is going to yield a better sound. Clark was the first person who pushed for WAV only DAP. His UI is also designed to maximise sound and keeping the UI as barebone as it can be.
    Update 1: 10-October-2018

    Whenever I get new daps, I test it with IEM I'm used to, and they go about like this. Ultrasone IQ ER4S, Dita Truth, EX-1000, Kaede II, Hum Prisitine. Issue with QA361 is that the stock FW plays DSD and Double DSD and the WAV FW which has two styles, and the popular one due to better sound, doesn't support DSD.

    In stock FW, I'm really enjoying the sound of DSD. It has this organic sense to it that is very similar to LPG. I strictly use LPG for a DSD DAP as I find it best suitable for DSD. Once I'm familiar with this DAP, I will focus on stock FW testing and than move onto WAV only FW, which is where this DAP shines best.

    Update 2: 15-October-2018, Testing the lineout.
    Had a chance to test the lineout of the QA361 against the LPG, to me the lineout of QA361 is a lot more dynamic and not as sterile, compared to LPG. However, at times the 2VRM output can cause clipping, which LPG thanks to its adjustable output can compensate for it. Connected to my Wagnus Epslion S, and Oriolus NT-1, QA361 sounded more live and organic, and alot more closer to what I expect to have from a desktop DAC.

    A general sonic comparison between LPG and QA361, when it comes to well-recorded DSD albums, LPG still sounds better, but other files sound just off if the recording is off. Using my HUM Prisitin, I get a better performance using the PCM file from QA361and that is on the stock FW. I have yet to test the PCM FW.
    Over all UI, I find the QA361 a lot more reponsive and much easier to navigate with, compared to LPG.

    The major advantage of LPG is its PMEQ feature which will allows you to adjust the sound to your liking, it is a power feature that sadly I don't use, as I don't have the patience, but LPG can sound different if one wishes. More to come.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018 at 2:04 AM
  3. technobear
    In the diagram it looks like it has an SD slot but in the photo it looks like a micro SD slot.

    If it's the latter, this is a large step backwards for QLS.
  4. kvik
    Why do you think so? Prices seem fairly close (512/400GB and 256/256GB).
  5. musicday
    Let's hope for an OLED screen and not another 2.4 inch 320x240 ancient one.
  6. kvik
    I hope the volume button will be either slightly raised or have some kind of physical markings (like on/off button). Sitting flush with the cabinet it will be hard to locate and use without looking, for instance when player is in the pocket.
  7. ExpiredLabel
    I actually preferred the design of the earlier model...this one not so much. Look forward to reviews

    Edit: gonna have to take back what I said about the looks. Months later and having forgotten about this thread and my post, I actually don't see anything wrong with its looks. Looking forward to perhaps a review tour!
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  8. kvik
    I wonder if there is an actual launch scedule for this player? Reading Clark’s stream of consiousness (first link in original post) it appears to still be somewhere in the (late) development stage.
  9. audionewbi
    In an email I was told March 2018, he told me he will announce it on his website and allow preorders. I'm just very happy that Clark is so open about his design process, well as open as one can get without releasing his trade secret. I had high level of respect for QA360, QA361 seems to be aiming to do QA360 and more.

    I still want to buy a QA360 for my Cardas EM5813, but the QA360 is always immune to all the holiday specials.
    bden59, Forty6 and tarhana like this.
  10. kvik
    I agree, it’s interesting as well as useful to read about the tests and considerations gone into the development of the player. I have had QA350, and have been eyeing QA360 for some time, hence my interest in QA361 (and launch time). Thank you for starting this thread.
  11. audionewbi
    Mimouille likes this.
  12. unknownguardian
    still no details about the specifications and what DAC chip, but expected to release on May 2018 at price around 4000-5000RMB (~USD630-800)
  13. ExpiredLabel
    If I'm not mistaken this should be the DAC AKM4495S
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  14. audionewbi
    There are a lot of new exciting announcement regarding daps. Slightly off topic but Shanling is releasing something new in three days, so is Luxury precision, targeting R2R2000. Not all will be affordable nevertheless still exciting to read about.
  15. ExpiredLabel
    the LP came out of Left field. My questyle may have to go back in favor of that...
    audionewbi likes this.
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