Questyle CMA Twelve Wins Exceptional Value Award

Removing the Questyle CMA Twelve from its black cloth bag is instantly exciting. Aficionados of fine design, machining, and assembly will really appreciate the exquisite detail and high level of finish the CMA Twelve offers. The few other manufacturers in the high-end audio world building at this level all have five and six-figure price tags attached.
A big part of the sound of the CMA Twelve is its utilization of current-mode amplification, a Questyle patented technology. Questyle claims that operating in current mode makes for lower distortion and faster transient response. Running through our usual set of phones, this is a valid claim, especially on musical selections with solo, breathy vocals.
Tracking through a number of our favorite Blue Note tracks (high res and CD res versions) easily show off how well this DAC does with acoustic drums, piano, and percussion, offering up a convincingly real presentation of tone, timbre, and attack/decay.
The overall sound of the Questyle is dynamic and neutral – neither embellishing nor detracting from the music being played. Using Johnny Cash’s American Recordings to further investigate this, his signature huskiness is clearer, with more of a resonant ring. Drums and percussion have more power and distinctiveness, without feeling harsh or brittle.
The CMA Twelve’s digital performance is so much more refined than any of the other $1,500 DACs we’ve experienced, even if you aren’t a headphone listener, this device is well worth it, as a DAC alone.
Favorite phones from Audeze (Orig. LCD-2), Focal (Stellia and Utopia), and Grado (RS-60s) were on hand for nearly all of the listening sessions – with excellent results. Questyle claims an output of 2 watts per channel via the XLR output. This amplifier has no problem driving any load.
In the end, the Questyle CMA Twelve DAC/Headphone Amplifier gets an A and our first Exceptional Value Award for 2021. Engaging as the CMA Twelve’s sound is, this component’s build quality is without peer at any price. There’s something wonderful about using a component that is this well made, and I hope we see a wider range of products from Questyle in the future.
Jeff Dorgay, Headphone Arts, Winner TONE Exceptional Value Award, February 2021

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