Upgrading DAC From CA CXNV2 to Chord Qutest

I currently have my Cambridge Audio CXNV2 streamer connected via ethernet and host Roon on my MacBook Pro which I connect via wifi or ethernet to the Cambridge streamer. Works very well.

I am intending on upgrading to a Chord Qutest DAC. Question how do I get Roon to connect to the Qutest since I see only a USB connection for a potential network connection. Do I utilise an Ethernet to USB converter?

I intend to connect my CD player and CA CXNV2 streamer digital outputs direct to the Qutest to take advantage of the better DAC performance.

Ethernet from MBP to the likes of Sonore microRendu and then USB to Chord.

Thank you and understood. I note the digital outputs of the CXNV2 are unprocessed - so could I simply use the CXNV2 as a network bridge by using the digital coaxial input of the Qutest and “pass through” the Roon feed to the Qutest via the CXNV2?

Good question. I’m wondering why a DAC would have unprocessed digital output at all. I guess you could just try it. If it works, you’ve saved a little money. If not, you can order a Rendu or Allo or whichever of those you like.

Yes you can do that and it will pass through unmolested to the Qutest. Whether it is a worthy upgrade only you can tell. I would also consider the RME ADI 2 as its a very good DAC that’s noted as being equal to the Qutest and a lot lower in price.

The CVX manual describes the unprocessed digital outputs as being used for example to drive an external DAC so may well give that a first try.

I doubt Roon will be able to look through the CVX and see the external doc though so will probably have to use a manual setup for the processing path.

Does anyone out there have a view on what would be a good external day upgrade to the CVNXV2. It sounds great but the research I have done on the Qutest is very tempting given the laser focus on the functioning of the DAC. I will keep the front end of the CVNX as a convenient streamer.

Look into the line of Denafrips DACs

The CXN digital outs are indeed unprocessed they are before the upsampling stage in the CXN, I use the CoAx one to feed my headphone amp.

The Qtest looks a bit short of inputs for what you want to do, I have never used BNC so I can’t comments. If you have to start looking at converters I would worry about signal degradation. USB would only work from a PC or Bridge device, not the USB ports on the CXN for sure they are inputs for USB Drives or input from a PC.

The manual doesn’t specify the hi res performance of the optical but that would be your best bet CXN Optical OUT to Qtest Optical in. I would ask CA Support if that will be 24/192 . The input is but no spec on the output

I know the Chord have a great reputation but so does CA , I would find a way to compare the two before I bought , you may find the improvement minimal , who knows but its an expensive experiment.

You won’t see a downstream DAC you will see the CXN v2 as a Roon Ready device , you will also keep the visuals on the CXN screen if that’s important. On the other hand using the digital INPUTS , not on your plan, you lose the artwork.

If you do go the Chord route , a CXN is a very expensive Bridge , some sale maybe called for

I am a CA fan !!

Good Luck

I am also very pleased with the CA! Will contemplate further.

Roon cannot see any device connected to S/PDIF optical or coax connections, so you will need to manually configure the DAC, but that’s fairly straightforward.

If you sell the CXN you may want to consider buying a NUC for your Core as you can connect the Qutest directly to USB. For instance, you can pickup the parts for a NUC8i3-based ROCK setup for less than the Sonore microRendu mentioned earlier. Food for thought?

While I like the Chord DACs @CrystalGipsy is correct about the RME.

I liked the Qutest so much I bought another one for one of my other systems (where it replaced a Shiit Bifrost Multibit). In my main rig I’m running the Nucleus+ Direct connected to Qutest via USB (Curious “Elevated” cable I think it’s called). I have an Audioquest jitterbug on that USB cable but not sure if that really makes a difference. I have not heard the Cambridge unit you have but believe it has a good rep. I have found the Qutest to be head shoulders better than any of my other DACs, which have included the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic100, Shiit Modi Multibit, Bifrost Multibit, regular Modi, and Mojo (which is the closest to the Qutest). I also have the PS Audio SGC which has a very good DAC but I feel it’s a little harsher sounding than the Qutest, which I find the most “analog” sounding.

I am running the second Qutest off a microRendu (again with Curious cable). For my “mid-fi” system I think the Qutest is about as good as it gets before spending serious change. The microRendu is one of your best options to get a simple, good sounding, reliable network bridge up and running if you want to do without the Cambridge unit. And powering it with a relatively cheap linear power supply will up its game considerable as well.

Thank you for your comprehensive reply, very informative. I really am leaning towards the Qutest now. Many many years ago I undertook my PhD in electrical engineering and I worked on developing a digital signal processing solution utilising the design of a digital filter. That application had nothing to do with audio but the filter design fundamentals were similar.

So much of what I read and hear from Chord about their approach rings true with me and I find their approach compelling. Will report back on the next step if my audio journey.

The only thing I would add is that Chord Electronics really don’t need the addition of aftermarket products as the things these are supposed to improve are already built into Chord’s designs.

I had two CXN v2 and now a similar Azure 851. I tried the digital outs (optical and coax) and yes it is an unprocessed signal, but within the limits of the player. I tried to run DSD through it and it failed. Maybe I had a setup mistake, but I doubt it. So be warned if you are into streaming DSD to the Chord.

I did purchase the Qutest and now have parallel inputs from the CXN v2 (dig output) and a USB feed from Roon running on a dedicated Mac mini. I am able to do instant A/B comparisons. Most of the time - no difference, though I do enjoy some very high res DSD USB to Qutest from time to time. Very happy with the setup will keep both CXN v2 for the moment - particularly if Spotify goes high def soon.

@Anthony_Barker : Can you comment on sound quality improvement with Qutest compared to CXN V2 ?

I have both CXN V2 and Qutest operating. I can select USB direct to Qutest from Roon Mac mini, CNX V2 direct from ethernet or CXN digital output feed to Qutest - all then in to a common output chain of pre-amp and bi-amped mono blocks (Roksan).

After a couple of months listening in terms of pure quality I prefer the direct USB drive to Qutest - particularly since I dropped Tidal (MQA) in factor of Qobuz CD/Hi-Res feed. I am still getting over the “MQA fraud” - leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

I will retain my CXN V2 because of its day to day flexibility and ease to select different radio feeds and Spotify direct. In terms of sound quality for casual listening no discernable difference. For serious focused listening just a little bit more detail and clarity in soundstage seem to be the lasting impressions in favour of Qutest . Not night and day, not significant, but very subtle.

I think the CXN V2 is better “value for money”, but then again I did pickup my Qutest from eBay at a similar price to the CXN. Happy days.

I am also running twin subs (SVS ultra-13) and SVS (SB4000).

@Anthony_Barker Thank you for this detailed answer ! I’m discovering “MQA fraud”, amazing…