Hi-Fi+ Reviews Questyle CMA 400i Headphone Amp/DAC

Thu, 25 Jun 2020

Questyle has never been shy of making a great-sounding converter. This model uses the AKM AK4490 chipset to great effect, delivering up to 32bit, 384 kHz precision in PCM and up to DSD256 on DoP downloads. Questyle uses its own ‘True DSD’ digital pathway that means there is no PCM transcoding for any DSD datastream.
The Questyle CMA 400i is a detail hound, and that means it requires a diet of the finest digital audio data… and yet the CMA 400i is also extremely good at stepping past that detail and making the music a coherent, cohesive whole rather than a laboratory experiment.
I played some old-school funk, the title track on Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain album primarily for that outstanding Eddie Hazel guitar solo. On highly detailed systems, this can sound disjointed and almost aggressively bright, but here it sounded precise and that showed why it’s perhaps one of the best guitar solos ever recorded.
Funkadelic also exposed two of the outstanding aspects of the CMA 400i performance, deep bass and excellent dynamic range. Any track with George Clinton at the Fender and Billy Nelson on bass is going to plumb the depths, but the depth, precision, and slam of that bass was surprising. You expect gut-crunchiness with large loudspeakers, but to perceive similar from a pair of IEMs is impressive. The CMA 400i didn’t put a foot wrong elsewhere, but these aspects of detail, scale, and bass are headliners. It nails these aspects better than any rivals.
Single-ended headphones played through the CMA 400i sound excellent, but you are only really hearing what the CMA 400i can do in low gear; balanced shows what it is really capable of.
The CMA 400i is so damn good, it’s almost an existential threat to more upmarket devices. When the performance of the CMA 400i is this good, it gets difficult to praise products that deliver slightly better performance at almost 20x the price.
- Alan Sircom, Hi-Fi+, April 2019

Read the full review here.

 

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