A Chord Qutest (or other models) thread on settings, LPSUs and overall experiences

Since acquiring this beauty last week I’ve been really enjoying its extremely positive contribution to my digital. It led me to think about starting a Chord DAC thread outlining everyones’ experience with settings, linear power supply additions (if any), ancillary add-ons and just general comments—good, bad or indifferent. I know one can possibly find many of these in separate threads if one looks hard enough and parse from there, but thought it maybe easier to put it in one place for others owning Chord DACs, specifically the Qutest and above.
At some point I’d like to give my personal assessment, but for the time being just wanted to share what I’ve landed on. I will say that unlike any other DAC I’ve ever tried, the Qutest is an absolute truth-teller without a doubt.

• I use AudioQuest SKY 1m interconnects from the Chord to SuperNait 2, and a Blue Jeans Belden 1694A BNC-to-BNC cable from ND5 XS2 to Chord Qutest BNC input; an AudioQuest Vodka Ethernet from the wall to ND5 XS2.

PSU: I have done extensive listening over the weekend, switching between the Chord supplied SMPS wall-wart and an extra UpTone UltraCap LPS-1.2 feeding a Ghent 4S6 (JSSG360) 2.1mm-USB-micro DC cable into the Qutest. Although in my sytem the differences were subtle (which somewhat surprised me, but in the same token not really, as even the eR switch and accompanying LPS-1.2 didn’t make much difference), I nonetheless ‘felt’ the ultralinear PSU added more than it took away, especially in overall impact on really well-recorded tracks, with a quite noticeable across-the-board vertical expansion of the soundstage; horizontal and depth remained about the same.

Settings: For RMS voltage output I tried 3v & 2v. On 3v, everything sounded thrilling and engaging, but ultimately a little too forward across the frequency range; it also left little useable volume control on the SN2. It got quite loud at even 8:00. I settled on 2v for that reason, and it seemed more on-par and level with what I was used to using my Rega Saturn-R DAC. At 2v you do have to turn it up a bit more for volume, but the same qualities are there as with 3v so far as I could decipher.

Filters: I haven’t done much with this, as I enjoyed the ‘white’ Incisive Neutral straight out of the box. If I did decide to try something else, it would be the ‘green’ Incisive Neutral HF roll-off, but at this point have no desire.

So, what say you all?

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Well there is already a Qutest, TT2, Mscaler thread running, so it has all been gone over already on that one. Not sure I would be changing power supplies on a brand new Qutest, it voids the warranty.

I owned the previous Qutest the 2Qute and the designer stated more than once that Linear PSU’s or PSU’s of any type would offer no improvement at all over the supplied wall wart.

Fair enough guys.
Hopefully mods will just close the thread.

It was actually one of the selling points of the 2Qute wether or not it’s the same for the Qutest I have no idea and hopefully the mods can merge this thread with the other as other users may well have found a difference using a psu.

Well, there’s lots out there on three specific forums. I just thought it might be simpler putting such things into one thread, especially since most of us use Naim gear, so it’ll be simpler to compare outcomes and talk about them. All the other forums/subjects have a myriad of different systems/brands in the mix, so it makes comparing settings, LPSs and so forth a bit pointless (or at the very least less reliable). Sorry to add bandwidth.

I just noticed that nobody replied to your post, that is why I mentioned the other thread, but maybe this one will take off now. The Qutest is the only Chord DAC I have not heard, but I did home demo the Hugo 2, which is basically the same thing, but with a headphone amp. I liked it a lot, except for the tiny cables you needed to use it.

Hi, a question, not a criticism. Why do you need a Chord DAC after the Naim streamer (I think I’ve understood your setup, if not, apologies)? Couldn’t you stream from another (cheaper) source if your going to use the Chord anyway? Again, not a criticism, just trying to understand and see if I’m missing something!

No, it’s a good question. I had the streamer first and used the DAC in my CD player as an off-board (the dual-Wolfsons in the Rega Saturn-R, which is quite good). It was at first an afterthought, but the more I spoke to others, the more it sounded like having it in such a configuration would be an improvement versus the onboard of the ND5 XS2 (possibly bringing it closer to the NDX2 streaming from Qobuz and Tidal). Fast-forward to last week and I had the opportunity to purchase a Chord at a phenomenal price so took the plunge to see what synergy there was between Chord and Naim. True, I could get a more economical streaming device, and I might yet go that route.

I have a Chord Qutest arriving on Thursday. I will be using it in a second system I have just finished building which is fronted by a Chris West AV Options restored Nait 2. I have been over most of the Chord information on the Naim forum and, since I have an extensive headphone collection, I have also been through the hundreds of pages on HeadFi. I think the headphone guys are the largest customer base for all Chord DAC’s.

I plan on using the included power supply (as per Rob Watts) and will start out feeding the Qutest with an iPad/iPhone > Apple CCK > Chord C USB Cable > into the Qutest. I had the chance to speak with Rob Watts at the CanJam NY headphone show this past February and discussed the myriad of options getting Roon into any of the Chord DAC’s (as I also demoed the TT2 and DAVE). At the end of our conversation he said “just plug an iPhone into it and off you go”.

I know many here in the States who have sourced their Chord DAC’s from AV Options are feeding them directly from a Roon Nucleus. Since a Nucleus is essentially a computer ie an Intel NUC inside a fanless case, my next experiment will be to feed the Qutest USB from a “computer”. I will most likely try the new Mac Mini M1. There is an ongoing thread on the Roon forum where people are running their Roon Core on the new Mini. Results seem incredible - and will only improve once Roon releases a M1 chip native version of the app.

Best
Gregg

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That’s really invaluable information. Thanks for that. I’m not much of a headphone guy (only have Grado and Sennheiser M2 cans, which are not really audiophile in the least), but know over there they take much of the spirit of this started thread seriously…sometimes a bit too much. :wink:
Appreciate your post. Let us know how it goes once it’s up-and-running, please.

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