I currently have the following system:

1. Martin Logan 11A impressions hybrid-subwoofer with electrostatic panels.

2. Conrad Johnson Classic 62 power amp-60 watts per channel (not the SE )

3. Chord Qtest DAC

4. Lumin U2 mini streamer

Adding the Lumin and streaming with Qobuz has improved the sound immensely from my Cary CD player being used as a transport and the Qtest DAC.

The Qtest Dac was around $2000.00. 

Looking for upgrade suggestions as thinking I can improve my sound further with a better sounding DAC.

Thank you. 




Me and an audiophile buddy of mine had a DAC shootout at his place. The three contestants were Mytech Brooklyn Bridge, Qutest and a Bryston BDA-3.

Same day, same system, same tracks: the Mytech sounded "shrouded", the Qutest was better by a bunch. It was clear and articulate.

The BDA-3 kicked butt, great sound stage, very musical. $4k.

And yes we went back and forth, listened for quite a while...considered doing it single blind, but it was unnecessary. The differences were that obvious.

Just my personal experience YMMV.



You can do better but of course more $$ since the Qutest is still quite competitive with more current/recent similar priced dacs. From my brief experience I would recommend holo audio spring 3 higher trims for a step up. More expensive dacs may give you more of a jump in sound quality but I have not heard them yet to offer advice. 



Looking for upgrade suggestions as thinking I can improve my sound further with a better sounding DAC.

There is another approach you can take to make the DAC more analog-like, and that is to use a tube buffer on the output. I just launched one called the BARITONE. 



It looks to me like Moors Law is in operation in the DAC/Streamer world. It appears that every 6 months or so the quality doubles and the process halve. 

My research led me to conclude that the best route is to get a DAC/Streamer/CD all-in-one. Like the Playback Designs MPS-8.  The entire world of recorded music is at your fingertips with exceedingly high quality sound. 

I think that very soon- in the next 3-5 years the best HiFi source will be an all-in-one DAC/CD/Streamer/Preamp and the power amps will remain separate. 

FWIW I'm an old man who loves multi chassis gear "separates" as they were called back in the 70s when cheaper integrated stereo receivers were taking over the market. However I am capable of recognizing trends and IMO what I'm describing here is the future- just as online retail made box stores obsolete so will the digital revolution make "separates" obsolete. 

I’d suggest taking a look at the Musician Aquarius R2R DAC. I have their Pegasus, which is the next lower model, and unlike many R2R DACs it is very detailed and transparent up top while maintaining the other beneficial qualities of an R2R design. Thinking an R2R DAC would make for a very interesting comparison to your Chord, and if it doesn’t work out I believe you can just return it — thank you Amazon.


Here’s a good and thorough review FYI…


Just another option to ponder, and best of luck.