FIRST, there was the Qute, then 2Qute… and now, UK’s Chord Electronics delivers its “Qutest” DAC yet, launched at the ongoing 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Based on the recent Hugo 2 headamp/DAC, this collaboration between company founder John Franks and his digital Merlin, Rob Watts, promises to deliver performance that belies the desktop DAC’s diminutive dimensions.
According to Chord, the DAC-only Qutest is based on proprietary FPGA technology developed for the Hugo 2 and features USB-B, optical and coaxial digital inputs.
“The Qutest chassis is all-new, too. It has significantly greater mass than its predecessor and has been precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium billet. The Qutest PCB nestles within a shallow cavity in the solid aluminium chassis, giving the circuit board greater protection within the casework and additional isolation from external vibration compared to previous designs.”
Additionally, “Qutest offers Hugo 2’s proprietary user-selectable frequency-shaping filters and input selection controls, available via two fascia-mounted spheres, introducing useful flexibility. It also features RCA analogue outputs for connection to integrated amplifiers, preamps and headphone amps, plus high-resolution dual-data digital inputs for connection to future Chord Electronics products.
“A further new feature is a user-selectable output voltage available in 1, 2 and 3V RMS outputs for flexible connectivity with a wide range of partnering devices.”
Qutest is available only in black, and yes, it will support upto 32-bit/768Hz resolution via its single USB Type B and two BNC coaxial inputs, and 24/192 via the optical input.
PCM support is for 44.1kHz to 768kHz, with native DSD playback (DSD64 to DSD512).
For computer connectivity, it is driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, although a driver is required for Windows. We’re also informed that the price for the Qutest will be very competitive.