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QLS QA361 impression thread

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by audionewbi, Dec 1, 2017.
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  1. Dobrescu George
    Let's start with my usual first impressions

    + Man, the package is exquisite. They include a 32 GB MicroSD card, with hi-res music, and a card reader. WTH, I haven't seen this much luxury in a long while
    + Also comes with all the cables you could ever desire. It has LO / Coax, Balanced 3.5mm , with adapters included in the package to 2.5mm, and a normal headphone out. This is amazing once again.
    + The build quality is outstanding, full metal build, screen protector applied from the factory, and buttons / USB Type-C. Volume buttons, menu button and hold / power swtich. Really easy blind navigation
    + Screws at the bottom make it fully serviceable.
    + It does scan for music every time it is turned on, but it takes less than 30 seconds for a realistic full 256GB microSD card. More like 10 - 15 seconds
    + Very bright, crisp and clear display
    + Can do DSD conversion on the spot, you get multiple AMP power modes, and even fine tuning settings for the buttons
    + Now, if there's something you won't like about it, is that it is very basic. There is no cover art support, no streaming, no BT, no USB DAC functions. This is a transport or DAP, and that is it.
    + Ligh fast with my 256GB mSD card.
    Now here's what I wasn't expecting.
    + So I have a large number of settings, and on the headphone out, it is doing so much damage, it could be called terminator. It has the power to not only drive but also control Sundara in full. And this ain't no joke, I'm talking about full power and control of a full sized planar.
    + 4 Power modes, including high current, high voltage, and both together. Seems like Sundara loves both, and now you can determine what your headphone thirsts for, if you want to get a dedicated AMP for it.
    + The sound alone is even better than the price point predicts, truly a gem if you like a minimalistic DAP.
    + Overall, the signature is very neutral, very detailed, extremely revealing, yet natural and organic, no digital glare, no harshness, no hard musical notes, just pure music awesomeness.
    + If there is one way to describe the sound, that is too good to be true.
    + Battery life is a bit on the short side, about 6 hours if used in double high mode, with other power features turned on, so not fully happy with that.
    + Even the microSD reader is optimised to lower the noise of microSD reading.

    Now, I don't want my words to be mistaken. This is not a perfect player. This isn't even comparable to something like DX200 form iBasso in terms of abilities and tricks it can do, DX200 has way more powers for streaming, and apps support and such. QLS QA361 is strictly a music player, but it is an amazing one at that, a DAP to truly shine in music, but in a very minimalistic way. No fancy abilities, but with such a good sound, you probably won't even be asking for any.

    I have some issues with it that I'm trying to sort out, like the battery life, and I'm still figuring the UI behavior, but man, that sound alone made me remember why I got in this hobby in the first place, it wasn't for the most revealing, or the most technical thing, or the most capable one, it was all for music. This is what QA 361 does best, play music, and do it really well.

    I will be doing a full in-depth review, and most probably a Youtube video soon to showcase how it looks.

    [Those are still first early impressions, please take them with a grain of salt]

    nick n, pitsel, cleg and 4 others like this.
  2. doak
    Nice write-up George. Thanks.
    I too have recently taken delivery of one of these little gems.
    While I am not a "cans guy" it may make me one since it sounds so freaking great with my Sennheisers. I actually purchased it to do some experimentation in my main system. I'll soon be sharing my findings over at "Audiophile.... whatever" (will always be CA to me).

    Have you installed the latest firmware and/or played around with the various versions?
    I'll shortly be testing the two "WAV only" versions after I do some more conversion from FLAC.
    Here's the firmware location if needed: http://www.qlshifi.com/bbs/dispbbs.asp?boardid=2&Id=7542

    Totally agree with you that the QA361 is a real find and is all about SQ - a bit like a full race version of a production car.
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  3. fzman Contributor
    I'm still quite happy with mine. Given that it does not read tags anyway, the conversion to wav is no big deal. Having 2-digit track numbers as the first characters of the file names allows the album to be played in correct sequence....... Cover art would be nice, but I don;t stare at my dap while I'm listening anyway....

    I am using 1.04 firmware, and think that it sounds awesome with my new, and not even fully broken-in Soalris iems- at a low enought volume setting that an external amp is not necessary. This combo givens me great sound in a single-pocket portable format. Happy Happy. I still lust after a Cayin N8--just BECAUSE! and am thinking about getting an A&K 1000 to complete my menagerie so I can keep current on the best of the best for myself and my customers.

    Glad I took a chance on this thing, and I only hate Audionewbi just a teeny bit for this recommendation-he is right!
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  4. Dobrescu George
    Thank you for your kind words!

    I haven't updated the firmware quit eyet, but I will :)

    Man, I think this is how a truly audiophile portable should sound like. I am amazed head to toes, and it has been more than a week since I've been using it. It simply is that good.

    Also paired with with some mighty cans today, the Empy from Meze, and man, does QLS QA 361 drive them well!! It is quite hard to tell it apart from a typical 2K USD stack when using Empy, and this is a little Player :)

    Happy to hear you're having fun with yours!

    Yep, I'm used to relying only on folder browsing, so my muisc is tagged in such a way that I can always rely on it like this, basically my music tree looks like

    genre / Band name / Year - Album Name / Sont Number . Song Name

    This way, QLS QA361 works flawlessly for me!
    nick n likes this.
  5. musicday
    Sorry if it has been answered, but can it be used as usb DAC connected to PC? Thank you.
  6. musicday
    No, as the usb port is only for charging.:frowning2:
  7. Dobrescu George
    Yes, as far as I understand it isn't possible. This is one of the downsides of this DAP, I really wish I could have used it as a USB DAC, would have made A/B tests with other high-end DAC/AMPs much easier.
  8. Mimouille
    That is the only thing stopping me, I really need USB DAC function.
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  9. Dobrescu George
    It sounds so good, I also really wish it had a USB DAC function..........

    Well, maybe they will implement the function when they make a new version

    I think that the largest issue is to implement it in such a way that the data stream doesn't get noise from the USB power. But I still am not fully sure it wasn't implemented though
    Mimouille likes this.
  10. Moonstar
    nick n, Balamani, pitsel and 7 others like this.
  11. endia
    Moonstar likes this.
  12. Moonstar
    Thank you very much for your nice comment Bro :slight_smile::thumbsup:
    endia likes this.
  13. Dobrescu George
    cleg likes this.
  14. fzman Contributor
    Anybody want to comment on the 361 vs Sony 1Z, A&K Sp1000/1000M and the new-ish VCayin N8? Poppa's gettin' antcy again. Digging my Solaris, and very much favor acoustic jazz, but also prog-metal and prog-rock.... I value natural timbre/tonality, dynamics, and musical detail anything that gets me closer to the music and the illusion the musicians are in the same room with me.

    Thanks for reading this. Also digging the 361 with my Solaris, and the Elac/Audio Alchemy DDP-2 dac-preamp that is feeding my Luxman 750u at home-- the probable future home of Meze Empyrians.....
  15. gazzington
    This or colorfly u8 or opus 2?
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