Chord Electronics used CES 2018 to launch its Qutest DAC, which it claims ‘sets a new technical benchmark for a small, home system digital-to-analogue convertor’ and further claims is ‘the world’s most advanced compact DAC.’

The Qutest is based on the latest proprietary Rob Watts’ FPGA technology developed for Chord Electronics’ Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp, and includes user-selectable frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls, available via two fascia-mounted spheres. Unlike the Hugo 2, however, the Qutest lacks a headphone amplifier, rechargeable Li-on batteries and crossfeed circuitry… three reasons it retails for considerably less than the Hugo 2 despite the shared circuitry.

The new Qutest is the latest evolution of Chord Electronics’ most affordable standalone DAC, the multi-award-winning 2Qute, which it directly replaces,’ says Chris Strom, of Radiance AudioVisual, which distributes Chord Electronics in Australia. ‘Qutest is uniquely equipped to bring the benefits of Chord Electronics’ acclaimed proprietary hardware and software technology to a wide range of connected devices.

The Qutest has galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and dual coaxial digital inputs, plus high-resolution 768kHz-capable dual-data digital inputs for connection to Chord Electronics’ devices including the 705/768kHz-ready M-Scaler-technology BLU MKII digital/CD transport.

Qutest offers support for up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 via its galvanically isolated USB-B input, 24-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD128 via coaxial (BNC) and 24-bit/192kHz data on Optical TOSLink. DSD 64 to DSD 256 is supported via DoP and ASIO native DSD format is also supported up to 512. The Class 2 USB input is driverless on Apple and Android devices, with (ASIO included) drivers for Windows devices.

The square-edge chassis design (reportedly the work of owner and Chief Designer John Franks) retains Chord’s familiar circular magnifying porthole window through which the circuit boards can be seen. The two ‘control spheres’ are not only used for filter and input selection—they also illuminate with different colours to denote sample frequency and filter used. Output voltage is user-selectable in three steps: 1, 2 and 3VRMS. Strom says that when the Chord Qutest arrives in Australia it will sell for $2,400 (RRP). 

Manufacturer’s Specifications: Chord Electronics Qutest DAC
Frequency Response: 20–20kHz ±0.2dB
Tap-length: 49,152
Dynamic Range: 124dBA
THD: 0.0001%
THD & N: –117dB
Channel Separation: 138dB
Australian Price: $2,400 (RRP)

For further information, please contact Radiance AudioVisual