Chordette Qute EX DAC
The new Chordette Qute EX DAC is an upgraded version of the multi-award-winning QuteHD DAC: a What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision 'Best DAC' winner for both 2012 and 2013. The Qute EX, which is available alongside the QuteHD, now offers both 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback for today’s high-resolution DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) music files.
Forming part of the bijou Chordette range, the new Qute EX adds an advanced new chipset and motherboard which enables decoding at up to 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 over USB (against the QuteHD’s 192kHz PCM and DSD 64). Existing QuteHD DACs can be upgraded affordably with the new chipset and motherboard at the factory.
The Qute EX builds on the strengths of original QuteHD, a compact high-performance D/A convertor that eschews off-the-shelf DAC chipsets in favour of a bespoke FPGA (programmable) circuit. Its EX stable mate, with the ‘EX’ suffix denoting its DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) intentions, takes the Qute’s high-resolution file playback capability to a whole new level.
The Qute EX offers a range of bespoke DAC technologies taken from the flagship QBD76 HDSD, which forms part of our stylish Choral range, and is the latest edition to our beautiful high-performance boutique line, Chordette; a comprehensive range that brings the brand’s exemplary audio engineering and legendary build quality to a far more affordable price point. The Qute EX brings exceptional detail-retrieval, insight and transparency to digital music files, thanks to its bespoke circuit design created by DAC technology guru Rob Watts and implemented by our internationally renowned engineering team.
Ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files, the Qute EX can handle sample rates from 44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM), allowing users to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. The Qute EX benefits from an advanced asynchronous USB input (up to 384kHz) and can also bring sparkling clarity to any connected component with a digital output, thanks to two additional digital inputs: coaxial and optical.
In addition to 384kHz PCM files, the QuteEX can also process DSD 128 data using the latest DSD-over-PCM standard (DoP), making it the world’s most affordable high-quality DSD 128- and 384kHz-compatible USB DAC. Whether using Mac OS or Windows OS, Chord Electronics’ own proprietary driver software is provided, removing the restrictions of current operating system audio playback.
Redefining sonic performance in the affordable DAC category, the Qute EX showcases the unique talents of Robert Watts, whose state-of-the-art world-class proprietary FPGA technology lies at the digital heart of the device and allows capabilities far exceeding that of normal commercial DACs. The custom-designed FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) incorporates all of the functions required of a DAC: SPDIF decoding; Isochronous USB timing and Digital PLL; WTA interpolation filtering; DSD over USB support and finally, the Pulse Array DAC.
The ‘HD’ USB input benefits from its own separate FPGA and features asynchronous USB technology, isolating the digital clocks from the computer. Each sample rate clock is generated discretely using highly accurate crystal oscillators for optimum performance and ultra-low jitter performance.
The Qute EX shares the same bomb-proof build quality and stunning aesthetics that have helped make Chord Electronics famous around the world, and just like other members of the Chordette range, the QuteEX benefits from a one-piece aluminium chassis that has been milled from solid billet in the UK. Complementing the elegant design is a top-mounted ‘porthole’ that gives users an intriguing insight into the internal circuitry, which changes colour with differing incoming sample rates.
Exceptional sound quality has been achieved by our highly accomplished engineering team, thanks to their world-renowned expertise with D/A conversion and DAC production. Like all Chordette boutique products, the Qute EX can be complemented with a matching rack or Chordette Carry case.
An upgraded DAC will also be added to our four-strong Chordette X Series, replacing the QX DAC. Called the QEX, it will join the IX streamer, TX headphone amp and SX power amp to complete the X Series which features squared-off casework and a number of luxurious finishes, including highly polished gold.
DetailsQute EX:Technical specifications
Harmonic distortion: 103 dBV
Signal-to-noise ratio: 115dBV
Dynamic range: 118dBV
1 x USB HD with DSD 128 decoding, 44.1 kHz to 384kHz PCM, 16-32-bit
1x Coaxial 44.1 kHz/384kHz-ready, 16-32-bit
Outputs: 2x RCA phono
Power supply: 12v 1A 2.1mm connector. Centre point positive 100V- 240V – 50/60Hz, 1A wall adapter supplied
Dimensions: 160x70x40mm (WxHxD):
What can I plug into my DAC?
DAC's will usually have a number of inputs. Coaxial and Toslink Optical are the most common, while USB is still also very common.
The Optical and Coaxial connections can have a CD player, network streamer, television, dvd/blu-ray disc player, game console, and some computers.
The USB input can handle pretty much any kind of computer, or a phone with the appropriate adapter (OTG for android, Camera Connect Kit for iOS devices).
What is a DAC?
Every digital device with an analog output has a Digital to Analog Converter of some kind. In the case of phones, televisions, and computers, they are usually stuck on as an afterthought, or just to do the job of creating analog sound to be amplified and played through speakers.
Having a standalone DAC is a worthwhile investment in any modern Hi-Fi system, essentially all the circuitry involved in creating that signal you can hear from the 1's and 0's is housed in its own box, with usually a much better design than what you would find in your television or computer.
A DAC can be useful to connect digital devices to an analog amplifier if the amplifier doesn't have digital inputs. Or if you are after a cleaner, more refined sound.
Things to listen for in higher quality DAC's are separation of sounds (how well you can hear a single voice or instrument in the mix of all the others), "textures" of sounds (raspyness of a bow being drawn across the strings of a double bass), or the clarity of echo's and quiet noises among loud instruments.