Aurender N100h usb to Qutest dac issues -SOS-

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I just bought a used Qutest over the weekend to go between my N100h and my Mcintosh MHA100 integrated. Prior to the sale we discussed how I was going to use it, the seller informed me that he strictly used the coax connection from a Node streamer. So I grab my battery pack and Apple Camera kit to at least verify I can lock into 192, 96 and 44.1K songs on my phone. Seller seemed nervous I was doing this, I assured him this was standard affair. I forgot I recently uninstalled Qobuz so I couldn't bring up any hi res songs, but the Qutest powered up normally, was in perfect order and I had no reason to think I'd have any issues. 

When I get home I set it up as follows: N100h> Pangea USB cable>Qutest>Audioquest ICs>MHA100>SVS speaker cables(temp in for my Acoustic Zen)>Omega Modern CAMs. I bring up my normal playlist to start testing and here's what happened.

  1. The Qutest immediately showed itself to be a superior dac to the MHA's onboard as far as resolution and detail retrieval. The problem is, vocals in particular can sound raspy and it's quite evident that while part of the song is playing wonderfully, there is a layer of something bad going on. Some songs on my playlist are down right gargled sounding. 
  2. Tried all three output voltage settings. Volume acted accordingly but sound anomaly continued.
  3. So I take the Aurender out of the equation and Camera Kit connect my iPhone and iPad directly to the Qutest's usb connection and it's the same. MacBook Pro direct usb in...same thing.
  4. Swap out Audioquest IC's....Hail Mary change.
  5. Swap out the Pangea usb cable with a no name pc grade cable and everything was downright garbled...unlistenable. Plug same cable into MHA100....sounds fine through onboard dac.
  6. I don't have a coax digital source but I tried out the fiber from my tv and also a AudioEngine B1 and the Qutest sounded simply startling....addictive. Even Bluetooth streaming via the B1, my system never sounded so good. I could only imagine how it'll sound with a great streamer.

This dac sounds so good I've got to make this thing work or replace with another. I'm hooked.So here's my options:

  1. Aurender has a usb to coax adaptor (pricey at about $700). Moving away from usb is attractive to me in general. Usb can be a bit quirky at times.
  2. I have an Arcam iRdac which has coax digital passthrough so I could feed it from the Aurender and pass it on to the Qutest via coax. Just need a RCA/BNC cable or adapter..... but more equipment, more cables. I've set this up similarly between the N100h and MHA100's dac before to test coax vs usb.
  3. Get a Node3 to stream to Qutest and just be done. 
  4. Return the Qutest and find another who's usb inputs work fine. Switch to coax later when more convenient. 

Anyone using an Aurender with a Qutest? Am I doing anything wrong with this usb setup? I really hope I'm just missing something, but I've been into high end digital audio since the 80's and I've never run into anything like this. 

Thanks and sorry for the long post.































"3. So I take the Aurender out of the equation and Camera Kit connect my iPhone and iPad directly to the Qutest’s usb connection and it’s the same. MacBook Pro direct usb in...same thing."

The Qutest has a busted USB check it with other things.

Maybe needs a factory reset and software/firmware update contact Chord.

Thanks for all the updates gentlemen. A shout out to Jeff the seller who put me in contact with the east coast Chord service guy, Steve. Talked to Steve for quite a while and he went through the normal questions, probably in his mind to figure out how I screwed it up lol.

When I told him my background and the steps I took, he pretty much stopped me after I mentioned the Apple CCK with two IOS devices not working either, and said..."yeah you've got a bad board". So hopefully in about a week he'll be popping a new one in, fresh from England. 

Now that's service from a seller and a good company. It'll be basically brand new so lots of break-in will commence. I'll circle back and report on the N100h/Qutest combo after the repair. 

Cleeds, your Aurender experience sounds horrible. I've never had to contact them once, I've used three different usb DACs pretty much problem free. One strange quirk is if you change tracks too often and quickly, the Aurender will eventually  give you a usb error on the screen, and a reboot of the dac is required. Bounce around tracks just a little slower and you can go for months problem free. 


Sorry to hear you've got the same problem. My Qutest was sent to a factory authorized service tech and the mainboard was replaced. Never had a problem since. 

You may be better off with a UC100 or UT100 converter and just go fiber or coax to it. I ended with both and prefer the coax by just a smidge.