Chord Electronics Qutest
Although they have the same number of taps, the Qutest sounds better than the Hugo 2 to my ears. It has everything Hugo 2 has but has more solidity, is warmer, and strides with more confidence. The Hugo 2 sounds a little edgy and thin in comparison. When the Qutest is combined with the Hugo M Scaler – it’s mind-blowing. Take what I’ve said about the Hugo 2 and apply it here. Once again, it’s like a completely different DAC.
While using a PS Audio Sprout100 as a preamp – I was able to compare the combination of the Hugo M Scaler and Qutest with standalone DAVE. There’s no doubt that transparency takes a hit – but the M Scaler has a lot of that go around.
Qutest & M Scaler vs. DAVE
In this configuration, I still prefer standalone DAVE for the qualities I mentioned in the Hugo 2 section. The Qutest combo is definitely more resolving in every way. But I feel like the “acoustic glue” with DAVE makes the music more seamless and effortless. There’s something more lifelike and convincing about it. Timbre and tone are also on-point with the DAVE.
That said, there are enormous gains in pairing the Qutest with a Hugo M Scaler. The Chord Electronics Qutest DAC in itself is already a crazy value. With the Hugo M Scaler – it moves closer to end-game. 99% of audiophiles will be completely happy with this combo.