SQ issue! Chord qutest vs uniti atom

Thanks. I’m on day 4 now with the Farad Super3. Quite shocked with the improvement when I first added it but had a few ups and downs since. Today it’s been sublime, hasn’t put a foot wrong and so engaging! I think that maybe it for run-in now, I’m really happy with where it’s settled.


I hear the Farad3 needs some break-in time, but I honestly don’t know if that’s true as I’ve never had the pleasure of owning one. I’ve attempted buying second-hand, but they go faster than I’ve ever been able to get my mitts on one.


Allan thanks very much for taking the time to write that up. I was keen to hear your take on the Chord “sound” having been a Naim dac owner for so long. There is a growing number of people here using Chord dacs. For many the presentation is perhaps more analytical and others say you focus more on details to the detriment of the 'main musical message", but that definitely doesn’t appear to be your findings. Some reviewers praised the Chord Dacs ability to time, so good to hear that musicality is on the cards too.

Did the Qutest come after the 252? Are you thinking about trying Chord amps in future as well? The Chord gear is certainly more easier to accommodate than Naim and they don’t seem fussy about installation as well, which is appealing. I have a nd5xs2 and the natural upgrade would the ndx2, but I’m definitely curious to try the TT2 when funds allow. Gives you the headphones option as well. Of course, with the Chord dacs there is always the option of the Mscaler as well, so there is a further upgrade path, if upgradeitis strikes.

Price wise the Qutest/psu option seems to come out favourably comparing the price to a ndac/xps Dr combo. I hope the new psu takes things onto an even greater level. You’ve certainly come a long way with your new set up. Enjoy !

Nice write up Allan, things do settle down after a few weeks of run in with the Qutest, for me adding the MScaler is the icing on the cake and transforms the Qutest into a world beating dac with a realism I haven’t heard before via digital playback.

Previous dacs owned (not in any particular order)
Lavry DA10
Cambridge Audio Dac Magic

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Thanks Rod. Yes, the Qutest came after the 252 and I’m very much of the opinion that it’s happy in the company of its downstream components. No plans really for trying the Chord amps. The Chord/Naim combo sounds pretty good to my ears and any changes to the 252/250DR would probably involve a move to TT2 or Dave as part of that and I’m not feeling up to a wholesale change just yet :slightly_smiling_face:

I owned a Hugo 1 as well, quite a few years ago. It was when dedicated Mac-minis running Audirvana and USB out from Mac-mini to DAC was popular. Before long I was using an Uptone USBRegen, then a LPS on the Regen, then LPS on the Hugo just to get the noisy SMPS out the way. Before long, it was a source containing lots of little voodoo boxes and I bailed out at that point and bought an all-in-one streamer, a Linn Akurate DSM. I sometimes wonder if things aren’t starting to go the same way again, especially if I add an Mscaler (and potentially another LPS). However, very impressed right now with what the Qutest+LPS is doing and the box count so far is reasonably manageable (and the boxes are quite small and easy to hide/accommodate)

Edit, forgot to say, prior to the Hugo, I also owned a Qute and a QuteHD, so I’ve got some history with the Chord DACs

The Atom HE is for my daughter so I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to use it beyond initial setup. She really liked my Bartok and wanted one for herself. After explaining how money works, she quietly retreated to her room and started reading “The Myth of Sisyphus”. I looked for something similar to the Bartok at a realistic price point et voila Atom HE.

Only problem is now she keeps going on about the “benign indifference of the universe” and refers to me as “K.”


She’ll get over it, I guess.
(And lucky she should be, with the HE.)

As a front end I have read good things about an nd5x2 with a qutest. Has anyone tried pairing an ndx2 with a qutest?


Though not addressed specifically, I tried the Qutest with NDX2/XPS-DR. Some have tried it with a bare NDX2 and liked the results, but that just seems like such an expensive transport option when the XS2/Qutest is already quite formidable. However, if you already have the NDX2, then why not?

The Diablo 300 is a legend. The 802 D3s are some of the best speakers in the world. You are incredibly lucky and this is a very good start.

You are playing with an Atom, a ZENmini and a Qutest. The Diablo and 802s are just showing that your toys are inadequate.

You have a million options, but I would go one of these two ways, which are very well documented in this Forum.

  1. The Naim way. Get a NDX2 and upgrade from there all the way to ND555. You may find that selling your three toys you can fund most of a second hand NDX2. Easy and fast to execute, you will have a superb system in short time with little expense. And you still can upgrade.

  2. The Chord way. Keep the Innuos and stream into a Chord Hugo TT2. USB from ZEN to TT2, XLR from TT2 to Diablo. Sell the Atom and the Qutest to fund the TT2. You can also upgrade from there adding a Hugo M Scaler, etc.

Both the NDX2 and TT2 are a bit unbalanced for the Diablo and 802s, but they are the start, not the arrival. Most importantly, you can go any of these ways in the second hand market within reasonable cost.

Try to avoid experimenting with power supplies, a mix Chord/Naim or other difficult options at the moment. The Diablo and the 802s are waiting, the sooner you connect a decent source to your system, the better.

I have a Hugo2+2go, I have listened to it in a friend’s Diablo. It was a really wonderful experience. But I personally would go the Naim way.

Good luck, I would kill to have the remote of the Diablo in my table!

And welcome to the Forum @Rupeteam!


Thanks Rafeal for an incisive and clear breakdown of the two roads to take. I am going to try and demo both an ndx2 and a tt2 option and decide which route sounds better to me.Thanks for your kind words about my system and for making me feel welcome here.

You are welcome, sorry if I am incisive a bit too much.

One more thing, if you use headphones the second way may be less costly. But the Diablo has tape out which is a beautiful flexibility.

I think you are in London, you will find plenty of space and opportunities, let us know about your journey.

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Will do.

Don’t do much headphone listening really but that’s a future option to explore. Demo of a nd5x2 planned tomorrow at Graham’s hifi , London. I feel in two minds about having to spend thousands later on an additional power supply if I buy the nd5x2.

It’s hard to get a decent one box dac n streamer system as I don’t have funds for something like Lumin X1.

The chord route, could be a used Hugo TT2 fed from a decent streamer like innuos zen mk3 or zenith.

This has been a year of upgrades for me and the last piece in the puzzle remains unsolved. Thanks

If it helps, the ND5XS2 can’t be upgraded with an external PS.


Thanks . Will try and demo an nd5x2 with a qutest as well,

The Hugo2/2Go is no slouch, especially with a Farad Super 3 power supply or running off it’s internal battery.
The ND5XS2 as a digital transport, with an external DAC, probably the best option for our OP here, with the budget limitations - around £3k outlay (with a moderate dealer discount, or ex-demo). The NDX2 only really steps over the ND5XS2/ext DAC once it has a XPS-DR, so we are getting to £9k RRP and extra real estate.
PS. I have evaluated, owned and used all of the above.


I am interested in an opinion regarding Hugo2+2go versus Atom HE.

Unless headphones are difficult to drive, I am putting my money on the Hugo — but then I am biased… Having said that, the Atom HE looks like a rather attractive package. I am not surprised that Naim is selling these well…

I’ve not been able to do that comparison - the nearest Naim dealer to me doesn’t have a demo Atom HE (“we don’t sell many headphones”).
The Hugo / 2Go suits my portable/smaller footprint needs.

Their loss — headphones seem like a huge growth area…