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Chord Qutest vs Gustard X26 Pro DAC

Chord Qutest vs Gustard X26 Pro DAC.

I finally gathered my thoughts together on this comparison, partially motivated by finding a 5V Lithium battery supply for Qutest that sounds better than other 5V battery supplies I have tried in past. Unfortunately, this battery supply was something that came with some other non-audio product very long ago, and I have no idea where I would even buy one currently as there are no labels.

Straight to point, I am glad I did not sell the Qutest because with this battery supply, I prefer its treble/midrange presentation over Gustard X26 Pro by around 10-15% range, while I prefer the Gustard's bass presentation by at least around 20-30%. Yup, life is not easy, and there are choices to be made. In bass punch, definition, power, Gustard simply walks all over Qutest. Qutest sounds just fine in bass until one rips some good EDM, rock, dance music on the Gustard, and the differences become quite obvious. Sigh..

On the other hand, Qutest makes higher percentage of recordings sound palatable and more beautiful without appreciable decrease in resolution or detail. The difference here is subtle but significant. Akin to when one waxes and polishes a car, it feels like Gustard quit at about 95% compared to Qutest that got the ink-black, mirror-shine. Great recordings sound great on both DAC's, but the over-produced, etchy recordings are a bit more difficult to tolerate via Gustard.

*Note. My digital source is a fanless audio PC with native battery powering the SOtM USB card and USB-to-spdif converter. There are no USB cables or spdif cables connecting server/DDC/DAC.

*Caveats. These observations are made using the most revealing system I have, which happens to be actively-biamped compression driver/horn speaker system. Without this battery supply, using the stock wall-wart with Qutest loses some of the midrange magic, leading to Gustard pulling head.

Edits: 12/14/23

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Topic - Chord Qutest vs Gustard X26 Pro DAC - Jon L 23:57:13 12/13/23 (9)


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