SQ issue! Chord qutest vs uniti atom

Or a good linear power supply on the Qutest. I spent a while optimising the Qutest with it’s stock wall-wart SMPS by plugging the wall-wart into a mains extension lead which itself was plugged into a mains socket on the other side of the room to the HiFi system, adding a few clip-on ferrites to the DC output cable and finally moving the wall-wart physically as far away from the HiFi as the DC cable would allow. These measures were definitely worth while but not very practical to live with. I’ve replaced the wall-wart with a good LPS (Farad Super3) placed on the shelf next to the Qutest and it’s mains cable plugged into the HiFi system’s mains block behind the rack and, oh-my. I was expecting an improvement but really quite surprised by how big a change this has made.


Good call regarding the Qutest PSU, I use the MCRU a very nice performance lift over the stock wall wart purchased used for about £150.

My digital front end (ND5XS2, MScaler, Qutest) cost approx £6500 on the used / exdemo market, I will also be bold in saying I prefer the above to the new Linn 30k+ offering I heard at the dealers.


That’s quite an endorsement!

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I’m always amazed at how much a good front end(ND5XS2) makes for the entire digital chain.


I went to a dealer this afternoon who suggested a demo for a returned ndx2 next week. He suggested a price of £3700 for it. He added that the ndx2 is sufficient on its own to produce a massive improvement in sq without needing to consider a power supply. So demoing next Friday and it seems a decent price as well.


The Diablo could easily be fronted with a ND555 or Rossini. You’re going to need to splash some serious cash. Wouldn’t buy a Naim streamer since they don’t have balanced output. I’d be looking for a good deal on a LUMIN X1, Linn Klimax Katakyst, or a current dCS model. Good news is you’ll have an amazing two box system.


The Diablo is probably on the level of 252/300. So Ndx2/ xpsdr should be balanced.
But you are right, balanced sources should be better, in theory. But sounding different from Naim.

I am in a bit of a pickle… I should probably stick to atom as a dac streamer for now as I don’t have 8-10 grand at the moment to splash out on a higher end streamer. Maybe save up and then go for a streamer/dac with balanced outputs in future. Alternatively the M scaler has balanced outputs ( I think) which if added to the qutest might take things to a satisfactory conclusion…

If your Naim dealer will offer you a reasonable trade-in on the Atom I would, with your budget limitation, swap that for a Naim ND5XS2, run it into the Qutest with a Naim DC1 SPDIF/BNC digital cable, and change the power supply on the Qutest for a Farad Super 3 (as I have done for my 2Go/2Yu, and for my Hugo2 prior to my new DAC) or Sean Jacobs DC3 power supply.

There are many satisified references to the ND5XS2/Qutest or ND5XS2/Hugo2 combination on this forum and elsewhere.

The ND5XS2 works well as a ‘digital-out’ streamer, and seems to hold it’s value well on the s/h market should you want to upgrader further. I was happy with my ND5XS2 two years ago until I had to temporarily downsize my system for personal reasons. OK, the qutest is not ‘balanced out’ on the analogue side, but it does respond to improving sources.

The NDX2 is great when paired with a XPS-DR and greater with a 555DR, but ‘bare’ I think your Gyphon would reveal it’s shortcomings on the analogue side without an external PSU.


I just read a review of the Atom Headphone Edition and it compared favorably to the Bartok. In your position, I’d certainly get my hands on one. As an owner of a Bartok I’m a bit sad. As a person with an Atom HE due to arrive in 3 days, I’m filled with optimism.


Don’t get too hung up on balanced just because of one post. The NDX2 should be fine, and you can add a power supply as and when funds become available.

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Do you connect your ndx via Din or rca?

I use the Naim standard Din interconnect.

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Hi Allan

You’ve always used a Naim dac/psu with Naim amps for as long as I can remember. Can i ask what was it about the Qutest (with Psu) that made you make the change? Is the Chord equally good with pr&t , along with strengths like detail resolution and imaging that it is particularly known for?


Do let us know how you get along with the new atom. Are you going to use it as a streamer/dac source in your hifi system? I have to admit, my atom is pretty good as a source and doesn’t sound like it can’t hold its own, especially against the qutest with a lpsu. I am waiting to hear this Friday how much better the ndx2 will sound. If I have to. Can I live with the sound quality of the atom as a source? I absolutely can.

Hi Rod, from a “cosmetic” viewpoint, the Qutest sounds simply cavernous and with enormous amounts of detail. There is obvious clarity to the presentation, instruments are well separated, vocals are clear and even the smallest micro-details are well illuminated. In comparison, the nDAC sounds a bit murky, a bit earthy, but with better weight, solidity and tonality.

From a musical viewpoint, the Qutest has a better sense of timing, i.e the way the entire frequency spectrum from the lowest to the highest frequencies, either of individual instruments, or as an assembly, is in alignment and just snaps right into the beat. With the timing sorted it provides a better foundation for the sense of rhythm and pace to fall into place. The nDAC sounds a bit hazy and less precise in comparison.

Regarding PSU on the Qutest. Give me a few more weeks to come to a final verdict on this! I’m still running in the LPS at the moment. I’d like to give it a bit longer as things are still settling in. No doubt it makes a surprising difference. Take everything I’ve said above about the Qutest and multiply by 2. For the first couple of days though it could sound a bit over the top and a bit over exuberant on some recordings. A bit like listening to a turbo-charged Qutest. A couple more days in and things are calming down and sounding more balanced and natural. At some point I’ll go back to the stock supply just to confirm it’s all positive.


Hi Allen, thanks for your thoughts
. I am hearing more detail and upfront vocals from my atom than qutest. I have tried an LPSU and a power bank as well but doesn’t seem to still matchup to atom. Not sure if I am missing something here… have tried both optical and usb connections as well … usb seems marginally better. Have had 2 mates over to a blind test and both preferred the clarity of the atom and the sharp detailed upfront vocals…

That sounds a bit surprising, but you hear what you hear so go with what you find best. For info, I’m using the SPDIF input, but not sure if that would be much of an improvement or not over the other inputs.

Another difference found during my comparisons that I forgot to mention was with seemingly poor or difficult recordings. Ones that would present themselves as a flat wall of sound with vocals seemingly buried in the mix. What the Qutest can do here is present more depth and layering to the sound. A result of that is that vocals can often be heard more clearly as they are separated into their own space behind the lead instruments.


I am running a Node (current model) in to a Qutest and on to the 252/300.
When Naim have integrated the Amazon HD app in to their streamers my intention is to move up a level with my digital source. Given the multiple combinations of Naim transport, separate psu, and external dacs discussed above, what should my next move be?

Great write-up, @AllanP. I agree with what you describe in the Qutest. I used a Paul Hynes SR4-12 @5v and found the pairing sublime. I do think there’s something beneficial to adding a linear power supply on the Qutest, with no downsides that I could detect.

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