Chord Electronics

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.

2 Likes

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.

2 Likes

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.

1 Like

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.

3 Likes