Peter Familari's avatar

by Peter Familari

11th January, 2018


Chord Electronics' new Qutest DAC may be small, but take our word it’s going to be huge where it counts, and that’s its sound quality.

This UK boutique brand’s new models are never overstated because they always hit the mark. This time around it’s a perfect bullseye for the Qutest, a DAC chord says qualifies for the mantle of the globe’s most compact DAC.

Coming from anyone else, this would be a huge claim. Chord backs it up by pointing out the Qutest is based on the latest proprietary Rob Watts’ FPGA technology developed for the class-leading Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp.

Enough said.

Chord Electronics Qutest

The Qutest adds to this advanced technology a totally new precision-machined aluminium chassis along with new features such as fascia controls.

The Qutest is also equipped with the Hugo 2's user-selectable frequency shaping filters, and input selection controls that can be accessed by two fascia mounted spheres.

The Qutest offers the best of Hugo 2 at a much lower cost. Ditching the headphone amp, rechargeable Li-on batteries and crossfeed functionality found on the transportable dearer model has made savings.

Qutest is a DAC made for home audio and desktop use. Think of it as the latest evolution of Chord’s most affordable standalone DAC, the 2Qute that it now replaces in the brand’s range.

Chord also says the Qutest’s galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and dual coaxial digital inputs will breathe new life into everyday audio gear and ageing digital source components.

And yes, it has RCA analogue outputs for connection to integrated amplifiers, preamps and headphone amps.

Onboard as well are dual data 768kHz digital inputs that link to other Chord models including the 705/768kHz ready M-scaler-technology Blu MK11 digital/cd transport.

Other features include 5V Micro USB powering and support for up to 32-bit/7868kHz PCM and DSD512 via its 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 supported up to 512.

Another new feature is a user selectable output voltage in steps of 1, 2 and 3V RMS outputs. Users also get a four-function switch filter to frequency shape their sound by choosing warm, soft or transparent settings.

Technical specifications

  • Frequency response: 20-20 kHz +/- 0.2dB
  • Tap-length: 49,152
  • Dynamic range 124 dB AWt
  • THD: 0.0001% 1 kHz 2.5V RMS 300 ohms
  • THD and noise at 2.5v RMS ref 3V: -117dB 300 ohms AWt
  • Channel sep 138 dB at 1kHz 300 ohms
  • Galvanically isolated USB
  • No measurable noise floor modulation


  • 1 x Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
  • 2 x BNC coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable (dual data mode up to 768kHz for M-Scaler operation)
  • 1 x HD galvanically isolated USB-B input 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512-capable


  • 1 x (pair) stereo RCA phono outputs: 1, 2 and 3V RMS

The Chord Electronics Qutest is not yet in production but is expected to be available in the first half of 2018 for $2400 RRP.

For more information visit Chord Electronics.

Further reading: DACs & Digital Transport Discussion Forum


Peter Familari's avatar

Written by:

Peter Familari

One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: chord  radiance audio visual