Chord Electronics Qute EX Review. The Qute EX is a beautiful audiophile desktop Hi Fi DAC in the Chordette range. Capable of DSD playback the aluminium clad EX provides astonishing sound quality at a brilliant price.
Regardless of Chord’s astonishing reputation, in the Professional Audio realm it is exceptionally uncommon to witness a main highflying ‘typical’ Hi-
In any studio with a sensible engineer, more times than not, these trained audiophiliacs will find themselves battling to preserve a neutral linear-
Often online, in discussions, and occasionally in print, we see the rhetorical hawking of ill-
Building upon the success of the multi-
As with the entire Chord Electronics Chordette range, the Qute EX is boxed small. It comes with a driver CD for versions of Windows from XP upward, and Mac OSX 10.4 onwards. It is securely held within the package by cardboard spacers and comes equipped with a branded PowerPax UK 12v regulated power supply. This packaging appears economical, and unfortunately is tricky to reuse. During the review process we have taken the Qute EX out of the packaging a few times and its structure has been rendered to a floppy mess. Fortunately for most users it is unlikely that you will end up fiddling around like we have, and if so you may have already considered Chord's Chordette carry systems.
Being part of the Chordette range, the Qute EX shares an identical form factor to that of its sisters. If you are lucky enough to have numerous Chordette components, or are looking to start a collection, Chord Electronics have created an excusive carry case for situations such as this, and the Qute EX is more than welcome to become one. However, for all intents and purposes, the exact dimensions of the unit is 6 1/4” in length, 3” in width, and stands 1 ¾” tall.
With only the engraved Chordette engraved signature on a curvy brushed aluminum outer, from afar the Qute EX case design appears to be 'unmistakably' minimalist, yet, as you verge closer, this simple and elegant design comes into its own with an internally lit spherical 1 ½” crystal looking glass. This inclusion is no add-
On the rear of this unit, the analogue and coax connectors are 24ct gold plated and are very well seated. There is no wobbling around here, and likewise the optical input is of a very good quality. It has a firm solid weight that holds its composure even when the most substantial RCA or USB is connected. Our final notes are that with it being expertly engineered and outstanding in quality, we hold the Qute EX in the highest regard.
Without any need for introduction, the immediate capabilities of Qute EX are stunning and plain to hear. Although it may seem early to say, the Qute EX really is an exemplary DAC. Regardless of sample rate, it exudes a gentle buttery rich vibe that extends down from the lowest lows and right up to the highest highs. Similarly it boasts an excellent transient response that crisp, elegant, and surprisingly crystal that it allows the music to breathe. Even when there is momentary silence the Qute EX does not forget those delicate nuances that were naturally created during the recording, you will hear those beautiful secret sounds, and the wonderful gentleness in which the Qute EX handles such events is exclusive and absolutely free from crunchy crispy distortion. We have found it to hold a very good composure during the playback of classical recordings, where it is guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck by transmitting an lifelike quality.
Throughout the frequency bands the Qute Ex holds its composure. There is no audible evidence to suggest that any frequencies are inflated, especially the bass and treble. Neither does it perform particularly like a typical Hi-
Having lasted several hours of critical listening at a time, the Qute EX has been a remarkable device that has not brought on premature listening fatigue. Even after extended mastering or mix sessions, during the crucial intermediary breaks that we religiously took; we always found that coming back to this device was a joy. Certainly, the Qute EX was the critical link in our production chain that didn't mask the work that was being done by our hands; particularly notable when applying EQ because it represented it well, and due to the dynamic nature of this unit compression, in even the smaller ratios, was audible. On a practical level I cannot recommend this device for use during recording as it is not trying to be an audio interface, but in other critical areas I can see that this little wonder can and will act as a critical component.
Overall I would like to say that the Qute EX has finesse. However, for all the right reasons, pigeon holing the sheer dynamic prowess of this beauty and the beast is not in any way fitting. I have been lucky enough to use this unit for quite some time now... As I have said previously, the Qute EX has both beauty and brains. Its build quality is solid. Its performance was mind-