Not getting full system gain with Chord Qutest

I have a Chord Qutest, set to 2 volts output, volume set to “fixed” but am definitely not getting full output from my system. This is easily apparent when comparing the preamp volume control setting using my phono stage (1.3v output) to using the DAC. I can actually max out the preamp and only get ~80db sound from listening chair. So something is amiss. Any suggestions?

I’m using an older MacBook, usb to DAC, latest version of Roon. And as stated, volume is set to fixed. All sliders I can see are maxed out in any case.

Thanks in advance.

Try one of the “hotter” output settings on the Qutest?

Thanks but I don’t want to create distortion. 2 volts output should blow me out of the room at full volume on my preamp so something is off. I’m concerned I’m losing resolution somewhere in the chain.

So I seem to remember been similarly underwhelmed by my Qutest on arrival. That was driving two actives over 4m RCA cables so not ideal. I added a preamp and upped the Qutest output. If you hear distortion you can step it back again, but it might solve the issue.

Thanks, appreciate the responses. I’m sure I can get things louder but I’m concerned with whatever may be causing me not to get 2 volts output in the first place. Makes me think there could be an underlying gain issue in Roon/OS which, if present, means I’m losing resolution somewhere.

Well, that assumes that the 1.3V and 2V are giving the voltages advertised. You’d need to measure them to be sure. Totally get the concern though, you think you might be losing gain upstream. What’s the other kit in the chain and how’s it connected?

Per Stereophile measurements and other indep measurements the Qutest is definitely supposed to output 2 volts at the 2 volt setting (outputs 2.01, actually). But I know I’m not getting that so must figure out why.

Rest of system is older MacBook, hohum usb cable, and then very high quality tube preamp and amps.

Again, my issue is easily verifiable given difference as compared to my phono rig which is ~1.3v output yet much louder.

Sorry, a quick screen shot of the signal path as well might be good also please.

To be clear, Stereophile measurements are for the review device. If you think you have an issue question all assumptions. Your device may have a fault.

Yes a friend is coming soon to measure the voltage outputs

1 Like

So there’s clearly no reason for any loss of gain via Roon. What happens if you up the Qutest output? Sorry am like a stuck record, but given the evidence not sure what else to suggest…

I’ll see what the measurements say

1 Like

Final thought, I assume you’ve tried the DAC through the same input and interconnects as you’re using for the Phono rig?

Great thoughts. Yes I did that.

Roon volume settings are at max level? Right? No dsp?

Definitely something is seriously off, my Qutest would blow the drivers out of the speakers if I had tried max volume! This was with it set at 2v, mine was a a decent bit louder than my phonostage input.
I admit I was using very short rca ic into my amp and a top notch usb cable from my ultrarendu but that should not make an appreciable difference.
Likewise I had all Roon volume settings set to fixed.
But why not try this as a quick out for the box thinking test, set Roon volume to variable and try that?

Yes, correct.

Could there be a problem with the old MacBook output to the qutest?
If that was very low then obviously the qutest output to preamp is going to be low

Yes there could be. In fact, I think that is much more likely than a defect in the Qutest. I was hoping someone on here could help me spot/fix this potential issue. I’ve done all I know how to do by using “fixed” volume and hedging by maxing out the Mac output and audio midi sliders.

Unfortunately I am not a Mac guy so cannot assist in that respect but I would agree it is more likely than a faulty Qutest.
But stranger things have happened!
Hopefully you can resolve it and then relax and enjoy the SQ of the Qutest, I found it was a fabulous little dac that I enjoyed thoroughly.
Only sold as I upgraded to an all in one streamer/ dac with the Lumin T2

I run Chord Qutest connected to a McIntosh MHA100 headphone amp driven via USB from a 2014-era iMac. I haven’t had the gain problems you are experiencing.

One place to check is Audio MIDI Setup which is a utility app that allows you to configure your Mac’s audio output. The app can be found in Applications → Utilities → Audio MIDI Setup.

Launch it and you’ll see a list of all audio devices that the Mac can “see.” Click on the Qutest icon in the sidebar and see what your channel volumes are set to. If they are not at full, pulling the Master up to 1.0.