Chord Qutest + Bluesound Node2i

Hi everyone,

I’m in the market for a new d/a converter and was wondering if any of you knew any pros or cons on integrating the Chord Qutest into my system.

  • Roon Core v1.7 (build 537) on an SSD on a MacBook Pro (osCatalina 10.15.4 Intel Core i7 8GB RAM), this is wired connection to router.
  • Node is connected over ethernet to the same router.

I understand simply bypassing the Node’s internal d/a converter using a COAX cable to the Qutest is the best way to go, is this correct?

Would Roon still be able to see the Qutest as its endpoint this way and would it future proof my listening experience, i.e. would I be limited with resolution of playback?

Incidentally, I stream Quboz and FLACs stored on the SSD on the MacBook Pro.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

Hi Matt,

I haven’t used a Qutest - my system has been Node 2 connected via Benchmark DAC3 HGC via coax - but the same principle applies.

Roon won’t be able to recognise the DAC - it can only do that if the DAC is connected by USB - either directly to the core or to a streamer which connects to the DAC by USB. You can’t use the USB connector on the Node - it’s only for Bluesound system updates if needed.

Roon will still think it’s sending to the Bluesound but the DAC will work fine via coax. The only issue to be careful of is MQA - the coax signal from the Node will not have decoded MQA and (if I am right) the Qutest does not decode MQA - so you will have to change Roon settings so that Roon does the MQA decoding. If you don’t use MQA then it doesn’t matter.

Hope that helps.

Mike.

Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for your reply - really helpful!

To make the user experience as enjoyable as possible (many other reasons of course!) I could connect the MacBook Pro to the Qutest with USB and I’ll see the Qutest recognised in the Signal Path?

I like the idea of keeping the file to speaker route as simple as possible.
Will this only apply to the FLACs I play from the Core or to Quboz streams too?
Finally, am I right in assuming connecting the Core directly to the Qutest will leave the Node redundant?

Many thanks again,
Matt

I don’t own a Bluesound, but do have a Qutest. Great DAC. Use it in my office headphone system. It has USB, optical and two BNC inputs. BNC is compatible with SPDIF coax, but you’ll need RCA/BNC adapter. The Qutest is Roon tested and is recognized by imac desktop Roon Core.

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This is correct. Though you could repurpose the Node to another room as an additional zone.

The real question is, why do you want the Qutest? Are you unhappy with the sound quality of the Node? Or just assuming that the Qutest will make things magically better? Reality is there will probably be pretty minimal difference, as things like the room acoustics and your speakers have FAR bigger impact on the sound reproduction than the DAC does. If you do buy a separate DAC, make sure it is returnable in case you find it doesn’t materially improve your listening experience.

Hi @cwichura, many thanks for your reply.
I have heard quite a substantial difference alternating between the Nodes d/a converter and the one in my integrated Pro-Ject DS2 (PCM1796), this being the chief reason behind my endeavours.
Thanks for the advice, though, its been really helpful.
Cheers!

The chord QUTEST is recognized by Roon as a supported end point. My setup is (Tidal, Qobuz, FLAC) - i7NUC (ROCK) - 1GB Wired Network - i5NUC endpoint - USB - QUTEST - MicroZOTL M3 preamp - LM 219ia Amp.

Thanks @Jeff_Friedman1, great to hear your setup.

Hello, Matt. I’m exploring connecting my NUC8i5 (in Alaska fanless case) directly via USB to a Qutest or RME ADI-2 then rca from Qutest to Arcam SA20 integrated amp. My current setup is Node2ai to the Arcam…nothing coming off the NucROCK currently. I don’t mind losing MQA second unfold or rendering…recall roon does the first unfold in any case. My speakers are monitor audio silver 200s.

I currently have the node2ai connected to the arcam via rca and coaxial to do testing of node2ai mqa thru it’s dac versus 1st unfold only through an improved internal dac in the arcam…I prefer going through the Arcam dac. I am beginning to suspect MQA starts to show its value in really top end systems…anything below $20k it becomes less obvious. That’s my theory anyway. I find my cds sound better from CD player. Also navigating to MQA you want (Jazz/blues/classical/indie rock) is too annoying in both tidal and roon…unless I’m missing something…they bundle masters and put rap/hip hop over everything. So annoyed Qobuz not yet in Canada.

Anyone have any advice if the sound quality will be lowered or improved by removing the bluesound node2ai and going NUC8i5—USB>QUTEST/RME ADI-—RCA>ARCAMSA20 integrated amp.

Hi @Dean_McPherson,
I’m no super duper expert but replacing the Node for the Nuc as your streamer might yield audible differences. Best way to do it is find a dealer who promotes trialing electronics at home for a period of time and deciding that way.
I am now streaming Qobuz and locally stored FLACS so can’t comment on the MQA part of your message but does sound a bit of a faff.
My dac+streamer+amp combo is now Qutest + Allo USBridge + Quad 33/303. The Qutest definitely makes a difference in my room with the associated gear.
Hope that kind of helps!
Best,
Matt

I’ve hooked my chord DAC via USB.
How the heck do I control the volume?
Adjusting via Roon doesn’t do anything?
Thank you

Never mind I got it
Thank you

Hello dean,

I replaced my i5NUC endpoint with a microRendu v1.5 and noticed a much cleaner sound stage and instrument separation.

Kind regards, Jeff