We first saw Questyle’s double-drop into the DAP field at CES in January. Their QP1 (US$599) and QP1-R (US$899) portables arrive with 16Gb and 32Gb of onboard memory respectively. A pair of downward facing microSD card slots allow for more serious storage expansion.
Transplanted from their desktop units, Questyle’s Class A ‘current mode’ circuit promises a significantly faster negative feedback loop, high bandwidth and reportedly immeasurable transient intermodulation distortion (TIMD). Scene followers will know that South Korea’s Bakoon pursue a similar circuit methodology.
Vice President Bruce Ball [far left] says the first, analogue-only 3.5mm headphone socket has the sonic edge on the second, which is both analogue line out (for feeding a separate amplifier) and optical out (for feeding a separate DAC). Battery life keeps pace with category rivals: 8-10 hours from a full charge.
What causes the QP1-R – formerly QP1-Pro – to sell for US$300 more than its sibling? ‘Premium components’. Both units run with the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip. That’s the same silicon used by Astell&Kern in their US$2499 AK240, the technical advantage of which is native DSD playback – there’s no a priori decimation to PCM. If the purest of DSD reproduction is high on your list of portable player priorities then the QP-1 and QP1-R should now have your strict attention.
No longer behind display case glass, I took the QP1-R for a spin with a pair of Audeze LCD-XC. The Carpenters aren’t really my musical bag but a quick A/B between DSD and PCM Redbook versions of the same cut had me aghast at the difference in detail and dimensionality. So spatially superior was the DSD version that I wondered if the digital files were sourced from different masters. Clearly, the QP1-R is seriously talented in excavating deep detail.
Extended exposure revealed a couple of niggles.
The first player began glitching with a Bjork cut, also in DSD, before sticking like a scratched CD. No such problems presented with the replacement player that was also loaded with a veritable truckload of (presumably) SACD rips. Kraftwerk and Peter Gabriel sounded terrific.
Questyle’s challenge will be to draw interested parties close enough to take a listen. Why? The QP1/R’s user interface could be a tough sell. The four touch-sensitive buttons come complete with haptic feedback but the rotary wheel, it actually moves. Old school in both look and feel the Questyle portable is reminiscent of Apple’s very first generation iPod…from 2002!
Oh – and the screen, it isn’t a touch screen. Against the backdrop of modern smartphones and touchscreen-enabled rivals, that could be a deal breaker. The QP1-R struggles to keep up with the Astell&Kern Jr. (US$499) whose sleek styling, slim profile, touchscreen, 64Gb onboard storage and innovatively positioned volume pot is the entry-level DAP pack’s new leader.
It’s possible that the units on display at the M.O.C. were pre-production samples; the navigation wheel and volume pot on the unit I played with showed evidence of lateral movement.
We can but hope that this Chinese company’s more offbeat styling and navigation system doesn’t detract from the promised audible benefits of its current-mode headphone drive.
Lastly, Questyle will soon be offering the limited edition QP1-S that adds Foxconn-factory custom engraving and headphone model-specific output tuning.
Further information: Questyle
Manufacturer’s response 21st May 2015: “The volume pot and navigation wheel issues have already been resolved and customer units will not have lateral movement on the volume pot.”
Munich High-End 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs: