Am I deaf?


Hello all,
Just got a Chord Qutest to use as an outboard dac with my Oppo BD 105. Connected the Chord to the Oppo coax out with an Audioquest Carbon coax cable. $2100 for the Qutest including the cable! I'm not hearing it. I think the Oppo dac may sound a bit better than the Chord. Tried all the filters. Am I nuts?
Ben
honashagen
Hey, what other gear are you listening with? And are you using the same cables to your pre or amp?

I haven't heard the Chord, the Oppo's Ive heard were from OK to super hard. An elevated mid to treble which hurt my ears, but synergy matters a lot.

Ayre Kx5 mp pre, Smc audio dna1 gold power amp. Harbeth C7es3, Cardas neutral reference cables. Kimber 8tc speaker cables.
You aren't deaf.  I have a Hugo and love it much more than the DAC in my Oppo.  However, I've heard the 2Qute and Mojo and don't necessarily care for their sound.  It is much different than the Hugo.  The 105 does have a pretty good DAC.  My Hugo is much warmer and smoother sounding than the Qute or Oppo.
Oh boy. Out of my price range. Thanks for the reply.
Just idly speculating, but it may take more than five minutes to break in.
Oppo has very good DACs, so you aren’t deaf, a cream of the crop $200 DAC and cream of the crop $20,000 DAC sound more similar than you might believe.
Break in may be an issue, make sure you leave it playing for about 2-4 days. :)
I just looked at the Qutest.

On the low end, check out the Topping DX3. I'm listing to it now on my PC. Otherwise, Mytek Brooklyn is probably going to be a lot more DAC for the money.
Tried the Brooklyn about a year ago. My reaction was about the same. 
Really?
Hmm,
My Brooklyn stomped my bdp 103 and then kicked sand in its face to add insult.

Seriously it was not even a contest.
Wonder where the difference is in your rig?
I was using a Nordost Heimdall spdif bnc cable.
@honashagen,On avsforum there is a person who claims that he prefers his Oppo UDP-205 over his Esoteric K-01. Everyone hears differently. That does not mean that person is deaf. Maybe a cable change or break-in is needed in your system. Maybe it does not "suit" your system very well.The person who recently purchased my $1.6k TVC emailed me couple of days back, how it beat the Bespoke TVC ($12k starting price). So your finding does not come a surprise. All that matters is what you prefer.
Why would you spend $2100 USD on equipment that sounds worse than the equipment you already own, use, and prefer in actual operation that does not make sense!
Chord says break in is not needed. Warm up is enough. The reviews on this dac are all spectacular and that's what I was expecting. I have an Audioquest Carbon optical cable coming. Can't imagine it can make a difference. 
Clearthink.

Obviously the OP was not expecting it to sound worse!
Hence his thread to see where he maybe going wrong.

Just to confirm, you are comparing CDs, not SACDs, right?  The Chord would decode the CD layer, while the Oppo could play the SACD layer.

In any event, I don't think you're going nuts, you just prefer your Oppo's sound.  While there are differences in DACs, they may not be as great as you would be led to believe, and some of the differences are more sonic "flavorings"--hence the different filter settings on the Chord.  Could you find one you liked better than the others?

You’re just being honest to yourself. Not as fun maybe but will save money and time. Or let you put your money where they differ most.
Playing cds and Tidal. Tidal on the macbook pro too. 
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Not nuts. The Oppo is a good DAC. There are lots of great DACs out there and they are sounding very close. Try PS Audio Direcstream if you want something a little different - smoother and more analog sounding without loss of resolution. Also try a tube preamp, a great way to get old analog sound from what can be otherwise all SS gear and you can roll tubes to taste.

I just went through what might be a similar issue to what you may be hearing with Redbook CD.

 I had been using an Oppo-93 SPDIF out to my Yggdrasil Analog 2 with a Jorma Digital cable (RCA at Oppo, BNC at the Yggdrasil). I was never quite satisfied with the sound. It seemed to be somewhat mechanical, bleached, or lacking tonal densities, with the mid-bass sucked out, and an emphasis on the treble. From memory, I seemed to recall getting better overall quality sound when I was using a CAL Delta transport with a lesser DAC (CIA VDA-2) and cabling.

I had read the Oppo 93 had high jitter and knew that was a problem. I also speculated that something might be occurring with the PCM conversion as the clocks in the Oppo are a different frequency than a dedicated CD transport, and error correction methods (Reed-Solomon or something else) could differ.

On a whim, I tried another Blu-Ray player and heard a difference. That was enough to convince me to get a dedicated CD transport. I recently purchased an Atoll DR-200 Signature, and the sound is significantly better. Now, CDs sound more analog and fluid , tonal densities have improved, the mid-bass is back. The system “boogies” again!

I’d suggest you try another transport. Even as a simple experiment, another Blu-Ray or DVD player. Even better, would be trying a CD player or transport that uses a  dedicated 44.1 kHz clock.

Perhaps the problem is not with the Oppo as a transport, but eliminating it as a variable should yield some useful information. 


Does anyone know if there are any settings in the Oppo that I need to adjust?
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Ok but isn't the digital out on all the time whether it's connected or not?
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Maybe I'm not sure what I should be listening for? When I got the Ayre pre I could hear a difference right away. When I got the SMC power amp it was much harder to tell. When I got the Cardas cables I knew I couldn't give them back. 
Honshagen, as an Ayre C5xe owner and using Cardas throughout my system, I can tell you I love the Ayre sound and Cardas sound. I also have a BD105 and tried their DAC in comparison with my previous Rega DAC and the Cutest and preferred the outboard DAC both times.
I am using the Node2 for streaming and set the Cutest filter on 3 or light green (I do find Chords colorful light indicators annoying) and find it shares the timbre voicing of the Ayre sound, as I know it. I tried a number DAC’s in the price range of the Cutest and I went back to the Chord every time, having heard it first.
I encourage you to give it more time and let it settle in and as a final note, try the different output levels keeping in mind the tolerances of the pre-amp. I found 2mv to be the best in my system.

Good Listening
Thought- These Harbeth C7 speakers and wonderful but not that revealing. I notice you can't hear the reverb in rooms like I'm used to. Could it be difference is just not being resolved by the Harbeths?
Can you get a second and third set of ears in for their take on differences or non-differences, etc.?
Yes. I have a few audiophile type friends.
Have they had a chance to listen to your system, before and after the changes?
I think you're on to something with the C7. 
A friend is going to put the Qutest up against has Yggy Analog for me. 
First, let’s point out a previous reply - Mojo/2Qute/Hugo are different generation/architecture products vs Qutest and Hugo 2. The Qutest and Hugo 2 have the same DAC architecture so they will not sound different or will sound extremely close to one another.

I’m always go in as a skeptic trying out new equipment (cause I hate spending money when I don’t have to) but after recent A-B’ing the Hugo 2, Mojo, Schiit Yggy A2 and Schiit Gumby on 3 different speakers and multiple headphone systems between me and my buddy, we found clear differences. Each had certain qualities that once you found it became obvious. Warmer and fuller, faster and quicker, better separation, smoother, more resolution. Some of these things come out more (or less) with the music your listening to and the system your jamming to. But what I also think makes one "better" is what you individually like about your music and how you have your system set up.


Sources were either NAD or Mac Mini but neither made a difference. Tidal Master, Qobuz Hi-Res, CD quality ALAC. Pre-amp was Emotiva XSP-1 for all speakers. Speakers tested; Klipsch Cornwall 3, Klipsch RF-7 II, and Focal 1008 Be. Headphones included Focal Utopia, Beyer T1, HiFiMan HEX, and a few others.
Well it must be me. Maybe my ears haven't been trained properly. I had a recording studio years ago and I think you listen for different things. I can hear fast, warm, bright, etc. Pace and rythem and some other terms reviewers use not so much. 
I tried again last night but the Oppo still had an inner warmth I like. 
No need to be concerned with what you prefer, especially if it saves a few dollars. Go with what you enjoy and what puts you closest to the music.

It could be you, or system synergy, or sample to sample variation, or whatever. Why care, just fire up the OPPO and enjoy!
" The Oppo still had an inner warmth I like"

Viridian +1


You’re not going deaf.  I got the Qutest to replace my Schiit Gumby Multibit because it had more features.
Boy was I disappointed!  
No contest. Like going from stereo to mono.
Can’t imagine what the reviewers were hearing.

 Returned it post haste.
Computers are noisy and are not ideal for streaming music. If you are comparing CD to computer then the difference in SQ may be down to this. 
I wasn't comparing cd to pc. Thought the resolution from the pc might be higher. 

@mzkmxcv

"Oppo has very good DACs, so you aren’t deaf, a cream of the crop $200 DAC and cream of the crop $20,000 DAC sound more similar than you might believe"

What $20K DAC are you referring to? I am interested to know.


Happy Listening.

@honashagen , Thanks for the thread. I am having a similar experience. Last year I replaced a BDP-95, which I liked a lot, with a BDP-105 with some EVS mods. When I compared the two, I was disappointed because I thought the difference in sound quality was not proportional to the difference in cost.

I still hadn't learned my lesson and recently bought a used Ayre C5xeMP.
I can hear a bigger difference between the Ayre and Oppo, but at the moment, I prefer the Oppo on most, not all, material. Sorry @theo .  ;^)
It may well be because I haven't spent enough time acclimating my self to the Ayre yet. Or it may be that the Oppo aligns better with my particular pattern of hearing loss, which I think influences our preferences more than we'd like to think after a certain age. 

Anyway, I'll give the Ayre a while longer to grow on me before deciding whether to sell it or not, but I've finally learned a lesson: Just enjoy what you enjoy.

No apologies necessary 2channel8. The beauty of this hobby/passion is there is no real Absolute. Each of use hear and listen differently. As with our taste buds some like rum, some like wine, some like both. In the end we have one person to please, the unfortunate is that person also has to pay for it:)

Enjoy the Ayre


I'm not sure if anyone asked but are you using balanced cables from the Oppo to the Ayre and single-ended cables from the Chord to the Ayre? Ayre products all sound much better using balanced cables than they do using RCA cables. This may be part of the problem.

If you have an Ayre dealer nearby you might want to try an Ayre Codex in your system to see if you have the same reaction. The Ayre products sound great together. Just a thought. Good Luck!
Chord has no balanced connections.