I am the type of guy who is easily attracted by anything shiny. And that golden scroll wheel of the Questyle QP1-R seems to hypnotize me as I stare at it blankly. I know it is a sin as a personal audio enthusiast to be mesmerized by the looks of the gear alone, but I will have to admit it, I was stupefied.
Yet, then again, the QP1-R is not exactly a mere narcissistic digital audio player. Beneath the shiny housing of the QP1-R lies a mechanism that yields a superb sound based on the feedback I have heard from a lot of enthusiasts. I did give it a try a couple of months back but I wasn’t really too impressed with the sound quality, but given the hype on this monster I decided to give it another go. Perhaps I was not really in a perfect environment to give the QP1-R a closer scrutiny back then, so this time I am ensuring that this be given a closer look before I give my actual impressions on the said DAP.
But, before we traverse forward, allow me to give credit to a very good benefactor, Allen Inigo for making this BRI for QP1-R possible. You truly are the king.
So, let’s start off, shall we?
The frame of the QP1-R is nothing short of excellent. Material used is a CNC machined aluminum which shows the craftsmanship of Questyle. I particularly liked how sturdy the body is, as it obviously has a very solid build while holding it. Not that I am to subject it to too much pressure, you can cram it in your luggage or bag without worrying that you might crush it.
However, there are two things that quite ticks me off. First one is the volume knob. Yes, you can feel it click when turning it, but doesn’t seem to lock in every click. This gave me the feeling that it might loosen overtime which is such a bummer considering how solid the knob looks like.
Second one would be my biggest turn off: the scroll wheel. It is a bit difficult to turn even with a protective film applied to it, even more so without. I had to spin the wheel several times only to move just a few tracks. Without a film, navigating through the menu is, to be honest, quite frustrating. However, I came across a freshly opened box just earlier this week and thankfully, it seems to be a bit better. Not sure though if it was because the unit was new or if Questyle did make some improvements.
Overall, the build is indeed excellent, minus the fact that the scroll wheel is quite annoying to use sometimes.
Here’s some of the specs of the QP1-R:
Using some choice tracks, here’s what I observed:
Static Heart (Dew Of The Drew, What Does It Do)
Guitars on the intro sounded very airy, while drums sounded a bit subtle. What was so exciting on the track using QP1-R was the vocals, as it was clean and neat while blending well with the strings. Drums get punchier as the track progresses, giving the track a relaxing ambiance.
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV)
Robert Plants vocals are as raunchy as ever using the QP1-R, but in this track, the opening lyrics sounded as if you were using balanced output with the DAP. It was immaculate; no minor hisses were present with the track. John Bonham sounded as if he was having the time of his life with each pound on the snare. Jimmy Page’s signature guitar tone was emphasized clearly using QP1-R.
Tomorrow (Silverchair, Frogstomp)
Daniel Johns’ clean tone was totally explicit at the intro in spite of the splashes of cymbals. Even when he switched with his pedals, bass was still distinct. However, I immensely enjoyed the clean tones even at the high notes; it was never harsh. It was clean but still was able to flush out the cleanliness of the tone of the guitars.
While testing the tracks, I noticed that there seems to be some lag when pressing the back key. Not a deal breaker but can be a bit of cumbersome for others. Also, I noticed that QP1-R can drive some significant amount of juice out of it; some considerably hard to drive cans can be driven properly with the use of it.
I did a bit of comparison between the QP1-R and my current DAP, Onkyo DP-X1 and I guess the difference lies more on the sound. While DP-X1 seems to have a bit more dynamics, QP1-R sounded a heck lot cleaner and excels better in terms of clarity. Details are also better for QP1-R although for some, it may not strike as very exciting when it comes to sound. But please take this with a grain of salt as my comparison is relative; DP-X1 sounds great but pales into comparison with QP1-R. I would have appreciated if the QP1-R has a Digital USB out option like the DP-X1 though.
Overall, I liked the sound of the QP1-R, it is smooth and is well balanced, however, I would still opt for the Hifiman HM901S when it comes to versatility. However, as a standalone DAP, the QP1-R is a great choice for around $1000. Would I get one for myself? I probably would, but only when I am looking for a more compact and efficient standalone DAP. Otherwise, as I have stated, I would opt for a Hifiman HM901S or even a Sony PCM-D100. Don’t get me wrong though, I loved the QP1-R, it is just I am more inclined to a desktop setup rather than go portable.