Article Index
Chord 2Qute
Page 2
Sound Quality
Measured Performance
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Clean, accurate and tremendously detailed were my first impressions when hooking up the 2Qute. This is a DAC that goes about its business with almost forensic precision.    
    Connected to the excellent Creek Evolution 100A integrated amplifier and fed Leftfield’s ‘Phat Planet’ in plain 16-bit/44.1kHz it was immediately obvious the Chord has a crisp, robust sound with a talent for digging deep into the heart of the music.
    This is a deceptively simple track on first listen but there’s actually a lot going on throughout the piece.
Through the Chord, though, it was easy to pick out the various samples and electronic trickery even when these elements were buried way back in the mix. Bass was firm and well-rounded with good depth while the Chord seems to have a slightly forward nature which emphasises the speed of the piece.
    In fact, there was a natural dynamism to the overall sound – probably down to the fact that the 2Qute manages to start and stop notes on a sixpence, leading edges having pinpoint precision and timing.

   Playing The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now’ (24/96) Johnny Marr’s guitar work was laid out on a palette in all its studio-engineered glory. The Chord made it clear there were four amps being used on the rippling tremolo effect at the start of the song, where some other DACs can reduce the effect to more of a reverberation-soaked drone.


On the rear of the 2Qute are coaxial, optical and USB type B digital connections as well as RCA analogue out sockets.


It's a level of clean, clear detail that makes the Chord the ideal DAC for those who really like to hear well into the detail of various pieces of music.    
    Switching to DSD via a MacBook Air connected into the USB input  that quality worked wonders with the San Francisco Symphony’s ‘Mahler No 2’. Here every element of the orchestra was spread in front of me in an immense sound stage – yet every note, cymbal strike and string could be easily delineated.
    This level of clarity does mean the 2Qute can sound a little harsh on poor recordings. Feed it some heavily-processed pop and you’ll soon know about the production’s shortcomings.
    But switch to a decent recording such as Miles Davis’s classic ‘Kind Of Blue’ and it has the ability to transport you to the studio with Davis’s trumpet and Coltrane’s saxophone ringing clean and true while the rhythm section possesses a natural, organic flow.
    In fact, with high-definition recordings there’s a sense that the 2Qute doesn’t really have any character of its own at all but is merely letting the music flow through it completely unsullied.



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