Chord Electronics - Official Thread

Chord Electronics, founded by electronics engineer John Franks, in the UK in 1989, is a high-end audio manufacturer that was spawned out of work John did on power-supply design in the avionics industry. Starting with a founding belief that clean, stable, power delivery was fundamental to high-quality audio design, Chord’s product range has expanded to include everything from amplifiers (pre, power and integrated), CD players, DACs and DAC/Amps, portable DAC/Amps, phono stages, streamers and their latest upscaling/filtering “M-Scaler” products.

In headphone/personal audio circles Chord are probably best known for their DAC/Amp products, designed in partnership with Rob Watts. These first saw life with the award winning Hugo portable and today includes the portable Mojo, Hugo 2, desktop Qutest DAC and Hugo TT 2 and the flagship DAVE DAC/Amp.

This is the spot for general discussion about Chord Electronics.

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I believe, there is no Qutest thread so I’m gonna ask the question here. Hows the Chord Qutest compare to new version of Gunnir Multibit? Is it about the same sonic performance or close enough that you guys would recommend it?

I like the form-factor and I dont think I care much about having no XLR outputs. Any impressions of Qutest also welcomed! Thanks!

The “current” Gungnir Multibit and the Qutest are tonally relatively similar.

The “current” Gungnir Multibit exhibits better macro-dynamic performance, somewhat better slam, and a more intimate, but equally stable stage as the Qutest. The Qutest has greater clarity, a blacker background, superior micro-dynamics and a more expansive stage with better separation/layering.

Both are excellent DACs, with the Gungnir Multibit offering better value, especially if you need balanced output and don’t listen to a lot of native DSD content.

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How does the Hugo 2 compare when paired with an external amplifier? Got many people citing notable improvements using the Qutest over the Hugo 2 despite the Hugo 2 having the same DAC chip.

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The simple answer is “it depends” … on how you’re feeding them, both in terms of signal and power, and if an amplifier is involved then which one you’re using.

For a start, if you don’t need the transportability of the Hugo 2 then you should probably save yourself $800 and just buy the Qutest. It works better in a desktop/rack scenario. Assuming you have a suitably performant amplifier to pair with it.

If you’re not using very power-hungry headphones, then the Hugo 2 via it’s internal headphone output will do you better as the level of amplifier you need to pair with either unit to get a fully transparent result is non-trivial (and will cost more than the $800 difference). The only solid-state amplifier I’ve found, so far, that doesn’t result in audible degradation of the direct output on the Hugo 2 is the SPL Phonitor X ($2,399).

If you’re using USB or S/PDIF COAX as a source, then Qutest can have a small advantage over the Hugo 2, especially if your source is noisy (e.g. the USB outputs on most PCs or laptops), since the Qutest has galvanically isolate electrical inputs. It really is a SMALL difference though … unless you’re comparing back to back, I doubt you’d notice it and even then you’d still have to be proficient at finding the already-tiny differences between competent DACS.

But if you feed it via TOSLINK (which is the preferred input for Chord’s stuff, at least according to the designer) then it can wind up being behind the Hugo 2 (direct or amped) due to the very clean battery-supply in the Hugo 2.

Jitter with TOSLINK, while a concern with a lot of DACs, is essentially a non-issue with Chord’s latest stuff (audibly and measurably).

So, if your headphones are going to need an amplifier anyway, you’re better off with the Qutest. If not, then Hugo 2 is the way to go.

Put another way, if you feed them both via TOSLINK, and use the same amp, there’s no audible difference between Qutest or Hugo 2 … at least that I can hear across an array of flagship cans.

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@Torq, A friend of mine in Edinburgh has been hounding me to try Cord DAC. He is an old friend of mine when I visit we get into trouble at The Scotch Malk Whiskey Society with Very old first casks whiskey.

Back to the question, I know most people are into the RME DAC with the SPL Phonitor X, I was personally was wondering more about Cord Qutest with SPL Phonitor X, if it would be nicely paired with the ZMF VÉRITÉ LTD and Rosson Audio RAD-0.or if you had any other recommendations for a DAC with these two headphones.

You’re the only other heavy Cord user, so love to know your thoughts on Hugo2/Qutest DAC vs RME.

What I mostly listen to is Rock, Blues, Jazz, and once in awhile Classical, loved Opera when I was in the Bay Area but I like it better live. I occasionally still listen to EDM as well. Everything digitally I have music-wise will be CD or PCM based files, do not have DSD or MQA based music nor plan on acquiring them. Like you, I am in the Apple Echo system, so Mac OS X and IOS based playback and streaming.

I know there are lot more secondary features on RME DAC, but the Cord simplicity does appeal to me.

At some point, I drive down to the closest Cord dealer down in San Antonio, still a bit of drive from Austin.

One thing the SPL came with it DAC loaded as data point

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Yes, please. :thinking:

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The Hugo 2 is pointless unless you’re going to use it as a (trans)portable as well.

Qutest sounds essentially identical to the Hugo 2 when used purely as a DAC. It’s a nice little unit. It’ll pair very well with the Phonitor X. And among competent DACs, of which both the RME and Chord units are, the differences are small enough that they really won’t be a factor in which headphones you choose.

The DAC192 module on the Phonitor X is serviceable, but nothing special. Mine has it too, and I’d use it for monitoring or convenience, but not for serious listening.

If I wanted a PURE DAC I would take the Qutest over the RME ADI-2 DAC fs.

In my review rig (RME/Phonitor) I use the RME in a manner where it’s not just a DAC. The headphone and IEM outputs get used for various things, as do its other features.

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Agree on the Hugo 2 unless I was going to take it on the road with me, I travel for work like you do. I do not want to go on that path since I like to travel light. Back when I was doing 250-350K Air miles per year taught me to pack lean keep a low profile. Here I use lower-cost IEM < $250 just in case they get nicked or lost.

I was really only asking about Qutest vs RME. Since I was looking at the DAC fuction for home use. Are there any sonic detail differences between the two DAC’s? Currently, the only feature that might be interesting to me is the outboard eq on RME prior to amplification. I guess i am also asking do you any coloring from the analog section post the digital section differences prior to hitting the amp.

Note this is really more for enjoyment, I am not really interested in getting into the formal reviews side of the hobby like you and @Resolve. I have to critique enough at work ; ). Also, I love reading your reviews.

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@Torq Also thank you for answering my questions. Since there lot of love towards RME with the SPL on the forum, and there is very little talk about the Cord Qutest other when you talk about it.

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Yeah I really do appreciate the time @Torq and the other core members take to answer questions. I learn a lot just from reading.

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@Torq Decided on the Chord Qutest for my premium DAC, I was not ready to drop HugoTT or Dave class money on DAC yet.

So it is the Chord Quetest + SPL Phonitor X to power the new RAD-0 and latter ZMF Veritie. The SPL will be here tomorrow.

Thank you for your help again.

Greg

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Chord Qutest Unboxing




Qutest + Phonitor X + Qobuz + Rad0 & Ananda = Fantastic Listening experiance

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That’s an awesome setup! Congratulations.

I’d love to hear your impressions after you get some good listening in.

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Well … well … well …

Finally the 2Go is going to make a proper appearance, and with the 2Yu should make for an interesting alternative input option for my M-Scaler/Hugo TT 2 setup in the office, as well as the 2Go letting me use the Hugo 2 as proper Roon-capable AIO for my bedside.

Now to see how they get priced …

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Oh! the 2Go and 2Yu are for sure cool new Chord products!
Your bedside setup sounds mesmerizing!

Wonder if Chord is releasing a Mojo 2 in the near future as well.

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this looks fascinating!

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Pricing is relatively reasonable … for Chord …

The 2Go is $1,295 in the US, shipping at the end of the month*.

The 2Yu is $595, shipping early next month.


*My experience with Chord new-product availability dates in the US is bordering on comical. Even for products that have been in the channel for a while, if they’re not in stock at your dealer/distributor, the estimate is usually a month out and off by a factor of two …

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I like how versatile these two units are. And ability to combine them and use as a streamer in pretty fascinating.

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If you have a Hugo 2, you don’t even need to combine them - just the 2Go gets you there.

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