Pros: beautiful natural timbre, full body without sacrificing detail, big driving power, solid and sexy construction, awesome volume knob, top-loaded audio outputs, format compatibility
Cons: small screen, wheel control, hiss with a few IEMs (especially out of 2.5mm), no wireless connectivity (Bluetooth, DLNA, streaming, etc.)
Product Website: https://www.questyle.com/en/product/qp2r
Rating Disclaimer: ratings are subjective. Audio quality and value do not mean the same thing across all prices. A headphone with a 5 rating on audio at $5 does not have equivalent sound quality as a 5 rating at $500. Likewise, value at $5 is not the same as value at $5000 dollars.
I first was introduced to Questyle via Phil Wannell at Audio Sanctuary. I had asked him if I could review the Fidue Sirius, as I knew he’d be getting it in soon, and he said sure, but asked me to review the Questyle CMA600i. I far preferred the CMA600i and eventually bought one from Matt at SCV Distribution to be my reference source. When I heard about the QP2R, I asked Matt about reviewing his sample units before launch, which led to Jackpot77’s super detailed impressions—it’s a review over two parts, essentially (Part 1, Part 2).
Later on, we set up a review of the retail unit of the Questyle QP2R. I’ve had this for a while now. I’ve tested it against players in my stable (Aune M1s, Shanling M2S, Audio Opus Opus #3) and ones outside my stable (A&Ultima SP1000 Cu, Cayin N8, HiFiMAN R2R2000) in show settings. While show setting impressions should be taken with a bucket of salt (enough to make some yummy okra pickles), I’ve been impressed by the QP2R more with each comparison.
Usability: Form & Function
The QP2R comes with multi-level gift grade packaging befitting a premier audio device. It begins with a minimally adorned white card sleeve. Inside the sleeve is a magnetic clasp box with two halves. The bottom half holds the player behind a thin protective veil, it’s like lingerie for the player—a very alluring visual. The upper half has a heavy card barrier that is released with a shiny polyester pull tag. The packaging of the QP2R is tightly compartmentalised and well put together. There is a place for everything cut into the foam of the player and card inserts to keep everything tidy. For transportation, the QP2R comes with a velvet-effect draw-string bag. It isn’t much protection. The QP2R does not come with a case, I can recommend cases by Miter and Spyker (Spyker has grown on me most since the review). Other accessories include a USB-C charging and data cable, a sticker to apply to the scroll wheel (for more grip), and a toslink to mini toslink adaptor (nice touch). There is also a startup guide and warranty registration information.
The player is a solid block of CNCed aluminum burnished in gold or space grey. I went for gold. I like gold.
This thing just plays music. It uses a wheel system that took a while to get used to, especially since my wheel seemed to be slower than the wheels I tried at shows. It took me a while to figure out why. The wheel is prone to dust getting stuck in the groove around it. When dust gets in there, it can be slow. I’ve now taken to never transporting it free in my backpack—always in a pouch that I carry around with other gear—and after dusting the groove I now have smooth operation.
The menu on the button lay-out is pretty simple. Power button on the right. This can also be pressed to turn off the capacitive touch buttons (good for sliding the player in my chest pocket). On the left side of the DAP are back, play/pause, and forward buttons. On the top you have the excellent volume knob.
My favourite way to use a DAP is in a pocket—not a trouser or jean pocket, a coat or shirt pocket. I like to have access to my volume knob and the ability to change tracks. With many players, this isn’t possible. They have the amp output on the bottom with the volume control on the top (FiiO, iBasso), or they have a volume control that you can’t use effectively in a pocket (Audio Opus Opus #3). I’ve asked iBasso to switch it up, thinking they could just flip the board and mount the amp on top. It’s not that simple, apparently.
I can use the Questyle QP2R in my shirt pocket. It’s a tight fit, but I can still press the buttons through the fabric and I can easily turn that beautiful volume knob.
The front fascia is also easy to use, and pretty fast for navigating. If your files are organised, you won’t miss the search function on touch screen daps. The menu button is on the upper left and does different things depending on what screen you are on. If you are in the now playing screen (the one with album art and track info), it calls up a 4 item menu with selections selectable by the wheel and the centre button. They are all clearly labelled: add to favourites, add to a playlist (more on this later), change shuffle/repeat mode, and remove. If you are on a track list (e.g. a list of songs) the menu calls up three options: add to playlist, batch process, and remove. Batch process takes you back to the list, but allows you to select multiple tracks and perform and add them to a playlist (including your favorites list), which is pretty useful. The last option for using the menu button is easiest accessed by holding down the back button (top right). Holding down the back button takes you back to the home screen, which has all the main areas of the DAP function laid out. If you press menu here you get your options menu, which is customisable to fit your most used functions. If you only ever adjust gain, you can use the + Regular menu at the top to weed down the menu options to only that. There are a ton of options in the menu. For me, the most useful outside of gain is “Flip Function”. Flip Function allows you to navigate through artists and album lists by pages rather than moving down the page one item at a time. This allows for finding your artist or album incredibly quickly. With this in play you can use the wheel for selecting on a page and hold down the right or left arrows to scroll through the alphabet at lightning speed. There is an option in the menus that you probably will not want to use, Album display (Cover). This makes navigation pitifully slow as it shows one cover at a time in the album menu. Stick to Album display (List).
The left and right buttons do exactly what you’d think they would do. They move around the menus one item at a time, or with Flip Function, one page at a time. The buttons can also be used for next and previous track navigation. The centre button can be used for selections and as a play/pause button.
Overall, I find the operating system very easy to use, with good speed. I like the customisable options.
There are some features people will ask about, so I’ll run down those really quick:
- Gain: 3 levels
- Bias: high and low (high bias is really only necessary for power hungry cans)
- EQ: It has two user customisable presets with 10 bands (31Hz, 62Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1Khz, 2Khz, 4Khz, 8Khz, 16Khz). It won’t allow you to tame the 10K peak on the Sennheiser HD800, but its pretty functional. If you want infinite curve shaping, you’ll need to get an touch-screen based player most likely. Turning EQ on lowers the dB level of the player immediately. This is a common safety to prevent people from immediately shattering their eardrums when they decide to spike some levels—fools!
- Playlists: there are 13 of them (including Favorites), but you can’t name them, and they are thematically named in ways that I’ll likely never actually use. My test-tracks playlist is called ‘Bar’. Seriously, what weirdo is using the QP2R to play music in a bar? There are also the following lists: car load, ballad, pop, electronic, rock, Chinese, sport, jazz, dance, country, classic. So if you make playlists that are all one specific genre or for one specific purpose, maybe you’ll use these. I don’t really do that. I’m not that kind of audiophile. I want me some Weezer – In The Garage followed by Handsome Boy Modelling School – Modelling Sucks.
- Music navigation options: Category (artist, album, genre [just a bunch of songs], track [just a bunch of songs], DSD [just a bunch of songs]), Playlist, and File browser
- Hiss: The single ended output hisses with very few IEMs: the Campfire Atlas has some hiss that disappears with music, the Campfire Andromeda doesn’t hiss, the Noble Encore has some hiss in single ended, Flares Pro hisses in single ended mode. In balanced mode the Noble Encore has unbearable hiss, as do the Flares Pro (using prototype balanced cable). Hiss is fixable with iFi iEMatch accessories.
The operating system has HiBy development written all over it, but annoyingly, some of their old flaws are present in the QP2R, but not in their own players and their phone app. I’ve been complaining about Genre being just a bunch of songs with no Artist and Album organisation for a long time (Cayin i5, Audio Opus Opus #3, Shanling M2S). That they fixed it on their own gear and not everybody that they develop for is really annoying. A HiBy related problem that I’ve discovered on this and the HiBy R3 (maybe Linux related), is that there is huge static noise on DXD files (24/352) that isn’t present in the tracks when played back on other systems (or other Android based HiBy OS players), I’ll be letting HiBy know about it so they can fix it. If you have complaints with Questyle’s operating system, remember that a lot of changes would have to come from HiBy. Don’t complain too vociferously to Questyle.
The Questyle QP2R is dynamic and impactful without ever sounding forced. The timbre of the player is natural and realistic. It doesn’t sound bright or etched and there is a light organic warmth to the sound. It’s tuneful without losing detail. It has an effortless presentation to soundstage and instrument separation with almost every IEM and headphone I’ve tried with it sounding better from the pairing compared to other sources. The QP2R’s current mode amplification allows it to drive headphones that, on paper, it shouldn’t have any right to drive. It has an effortless quality with the HD600 that really feels like it is getting the most out of it that it can. Even with the HiFiMAN HE-1000 V2, it does a respectable job—more amp yields improvement, clearly. The three gain settings and the bias control give it excellent compatibility with almost every headphone and IEM on the market, and if you get the hiss-busting iFi iEMatch it’ll do well with almost every sensitive IEM.
Comparisons (formal, volume matched with an SPL meter)
The Questyle QP2R is dynamic and impactful without ever sounding forced. The timbre of the player is natural and realistic. It doesn’t sound bright or etched and there is a light organic warmth to the sound. It’s tuneful without losing detail. It has an effortless presentation to soundstage and instrument separation with almost every IEM and headphone I’ve tried with it sounding better from the pairing compared to other sources. The QP2R’s current mode amplification allows it to drive headphones that, on paper, it shouldn’t have any right to drive. It has an effortless quality with the HD600 that really feels like it is getting the most out of it that it can. Even with the HiFiMAN HE-1000 V2, it does a respectable job—more amp yields improvement, clearly. In high bias and balanced operation, I’ve got loads plenty of overhead on the HE-1000 V2. Three hours of Yes albums and I’m still happy—cha cha cha cha cha huhnnn. The three gain settings and the bias control give it excellent compatibility with almost every headphone and IEM on the market, and if you get the hiss-busting iFi iEMatch it’ll do well with almost every sensitive IEM.
|Source||Headphone||Cable||SE / Balanced||Volume||SPL (dB)|
|LG V30, high gain||Kumitate Labs Sirius||Double Helix Cables Symbiote Elite SP v3, with DHC 2.5mm to 3.5mm hypershort adaptor||SE||42||78.4|
|LG V30, high gain||UERR||Stock Balanced to DHC 2.5mm to 3.5mm hypershort adaptor||SE||47||78.2|
|LG V30, high gain||Noble Encore||PlusSound X Series GPC to DHC 2.5mm to 3.5mm hypershort adaptor||SE||33||78.2|
|LG V30, high gain||Sennheiser HD600||WyWires Red with bespoke adaptors||SE||67||78.2|
|Audio Opus Opus #3, high gain||UERR||Stock Balanced||Balanced||98||78.1|
|Audio Opus Opus #3, high gain||Kumitate Labs Sirius||Double Helix Cables Symbiote Elite SP v3||Balanced||90||78.3|
|Audio Opus Opus #3, high gain||Noble Encore||PlusSound X Series GPC||Balanced||80||78.4|
|Audio Opus Opus #3, high gain||Sennheiser HD600||WyWires Red with bespoke adaptors||Balanced||135||78.2|
|Questyle QP2R (High Bias), low gain||Kumitate Labs Sirius||Double Helix Cables Symbiote Elite SP v3||Balanced||78||78.3|
|Questyle QP2R (High Bias), low gain||UERR||Stock Balanced||Balanced||89||78.4|
|Questyle QP2R (High Bias), low gain||Noble Encore||PlusSound X Series GPC + iFi iEMatch2.5||Balanced||97||78.3|
|Questyle QP2R (High Bias), high gain||Sennheiser HD600||WyWires Red with bespoke adaptors||Balanced||104||78.1|
I debated pulling out the UERR, but it’s a well-known neutral reference, so I’ve left it in. The HD600 isn’t a sound quality test as much as it is a headphone driving test, though there will be some comments on sound quality. The Noble Encore is easy to drive, but is prone to hiss. In both single-ended and balanced, the Encore hisses out of the QP2R.
One comparison won’t be represented here, vs. the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label, the Nano got owned, but is an excellent device in it’s own right. You can read about that in the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label review.
Questyle QP2R vs. LG V30
Let’s start it out with driving power. The LG V30 doesn’t sound strained at all with the Sennheiser HD600. Listening to Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper I get lots of dynamic energy, with the signature liquid mids of the HD600. It’s still such an excellent headphone. The V30 doesn’t let it down. The Questyle QP2R has more bass depth and groove with a bigger soundstage and greater instrument separation. The guiro is really nicely portrayed with the QP2R. The QP2R stage kicks the V30’s butt in every direction.
On Yes – Sound Chaser the Kumitate Labs KL-Sirius sound more refined out of the QP2R. They sound a tad slow and chunky out of the LG V30. On Beck – Beercan the LG V30 sounds a bit louder, as the signature is overall pushed a bit forward. The QP2R nails the instrument texture and timbre better. There’s a joy to the music that comes from it feeling just a bit more real on the QP2R. It’s not an over vividness or bright etched detail, it’s a natural connectedness from a completely honest and organic feeling sound. Great space and detail on the QP2R. Janis Joplin sounds lovely on both setups performing with Big Brother and the Holding Company – Piece of My Heart, but as with Beercan, the QP2R delivers a lot more depth. The LG V30 is a forward sounding player, so it doesn’t really feel like a realistic stage when placing all the performers.
With the UERR, on Macy Gray – Annabelle the sounds stage gets good width and height, but the depth isn’t big on the V30. The sound has an overall forward presentation. It sounds full and vibrant in the V30. The QP2R is immediately clearer in the intro with more depth to the presentation. The bass kicks in with more texture and realism but not as much force as the arrangement is less forward. Kraftwerk – Kometenmelodie2 has similar sharpness and clarity between the V30 and the QP2R, but less stage. Of the three comparators, the softest was the Opus #3 (I did recently upgrade the firmware, maybe this has something to do with it). The Opus #3 used to have the hottest treble of all my players. When listening to T. Rex – The Slider the vocals sound a bit stuffier on the LG V30 and the overall sonic depth is less. Bass reverb coming from the back of the stage is audible on the QP2R, but not on the LG V30. On the LG V30, all tracks sound smoother (less detail) and more forward sonically.
With the Noble Encore, the last drum hit on the intro to The Slider isn’t as heavy as on the QP2R. This could be a little colour on the part of the QP2R, as this same observation is recreated with the Opus #3. However, I prefer the sound of the QP2R in this case.
Questyle QP2R vs. Audio Opus Opus #3
With the Kumitate Lab Sirius the Opus #3 has less stage depth on Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. The QP2R is clearer with more stage in every axis in three dimensions. The technical resolution is higher too. On 2Pac – God Bless the Dead the mids are much more clear. The bass on the QP2R extends a bit deeper, but the midbass to lower midbass sounds a touch more refined on the Opus #3. The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice sounds a bit distant and veiled on the Opus #3, but I’ve figured out why. The Opus #3 doesn’t have the option to boost up DSD volumes, which means that there is about a 6dB difference in sound levels, PCM files are evenly matched, but the Questyle has an appropriate option to boost DSD volume, as DSD tends to be recorded at a lower volume level. Upping the volume to 100 from 90 should make it pretty even. When switching over to Beck – Beercan there is a bit of a hole in the lower octaves of the bass guitar sound. The QP2R gets better extension which gives it a more deep-throated groovy, full-bodied real damn instrument feel. That’s my bass, baby.
Listening to Big Brother and the Holding Company – Piece of My Heart, the Opus #3 just doesn’t give me as much live feel off of this wonderful live recording off Cheap Thrills. It sounds good, but sounds pale compared to the QP2R. It has better depth than the LG V30, but the QP2R soundly thrashes it.
Using the UERR, Macy Gray – Annabelle can’t match the depth of the QP2R. The background is just a smidgeon blacker. The bass on Annabelle sounds fuller on the Opus #3, but more textured on the QP2R. Kraftwerk – Kometenmelodie2 has small differences between the two players. To my surprise, with the UERR, the QP2R gets the notes a bit sharper. It also has more dimension to the stage.#
With the Noble Encore, T. Rex – The Slider has the opening salvo of drums made tangible in the room and the sound just comes off more true on the QP2R over the Opus #3. I think the blacker background helps here. It feels like there is a little bit of something between me and the music with the Opus #3, comparatively.
On DSD tracks the LG V30 and the QP2R both give a better performance with the HD600. When running PCM tracks, with the HD600, the volumes match up well, but the Opus #3 is a bit brighter and doesn’t define the lower mids quite as well on Yes – Sound Chaser as the QP2R. The QP2R brings much more resolution to the breakneck speed percussion during the 2nd minute of Sound Chaser. The Opus #3 keeps the speed but makes the fast cymbal work sound a little thin. The QP2R delivers the dynamics in an effortless flow. The QP2R is seriously fast.
Comparisons (informal show impressions, volume matched by ear)
I’ve been to a couple shows while I’ve had the QP2R, and taken it along as my reference source. It has great power for driving headphones for a portable source, in spite of its meagre output specifications. Ignore the output spec, current mode amplification is magic. I listened to Astell & Kern gear at Bristol Sound and Vision 2018, and listened to the HiFiMAN R2R2000 and the Cayin N8 at Canjam London 2018. The listening environments were loud, and sometimes the headphones were ones that I was unfamiliar with, so some big caveats apply. I’d love to do many of these comparisons again in a quiet environment and update—maybe in the future.
Questyle QP2R vs. A&Ultima SP1000 Cu (Bristol Sound & Vision)
When I switched to the Questyle QP2R it was an instant upgrade with the Audeze MX4. The QP2R is more powerful, with increased soundstage. The SP1000 Cu has a somewhat busy sound with the Audeze MX4. The QP2R sounds more organic while matching the SP1000 for detail resolution. The QP2R has more instrument separation and more stage width. The SP1000 sounds a bit sharp. I think the QP2R sounds better with this pairing. The caveat is that I had a new MX4 and a loud show environment. I’d be interested to repeat this test somewhere quiet.
The user interface on the A&Ultima is much better. I like the volume knob location on the QP2R better, but every other physical characteristic on build choices is a push. Both are well-constructed with excellent aesthetics. The price of the A&Ultima SP1000 ($3499) is nearly triple that of the QP2R. From my brief, caveated listen, I wouldn’t pay the extra amount.
Questyle QP2R vs. Astell & Kern Acro L1000
I did my comparison with the i4 on hand plugged into the QP2R and Acro L1000 in single-ended operation. The Questyle improves in balanced operation (more power = more dynamics), and I imagine that the Acro L1000 does too—it’s primarily a question of driving power, not anything special about balanced operation. When I switched to the QP2R to drive the i4, I discovered that it takes absolutely tons of juice to fully drive. I’ve got the QP2R in high gain with high bias and it is doing it, but it is eating a lot of volume knob. The QP2R has a smoother, more organic sound than the L1000. Strings especially sound more natural. Edge, once again, goes to QP2R as a source. The comparison was done in single-ended, as that is the connector that was there.
Questyle QP2R vs. Astell & Kern KANN
First off, the KANN is one of the ugliest audio players I’ve ever seen—it looks like a tank tread with a screen thrown on where a tank body and turret should be. The Questyle QP2R is attractive, so it easily wins the aesthetics battle. The KANN also has a bit of a cheap feel to the front buttons. The Kann user interface is better, hands down.
When I listened, the headphone I was listening to was the LCD-X, which is a fabulous headphone. I threw on some Norah Jones – Feelin’ the Same Way. The Kann output a nice natural sound. I definitely like the LCD-X. I also tried the LCD-X out of the QP2R. Now mind you, both of these listens were done in single-ended. The KANN is known to have a better balanced out. Planars also like lots of current, and the QP2R delivers current in spades. I found that the KANN had less power than the QP2R in single-ended. The QP2R gave a larger stage representation in all dimensions. Vocals and bass were more emotive on the QP2R. Overall, I much preferred the QP2R.
CanJam London 2018 comparisons
At Canjam London 2018 I compared the Cayin N8 and the HiFiMAN R2R2000 to the QP2R, both more expensive DAPs than the QP2R. Neither beat the QP2R for audio quality, both were on par with the QP2R using the Kumitate Labs KL-Sirius. The Cayin N8 has more options (tube amplification in a DAP, 8 Vrms amplification, Android based touch screen, wireless and streaming, more) and uses a 4.4mm balanced jack, which is a more robust connector than 2.5mm (brittle, brittle, brittle). The Cayin N8 is also $3000 vs. the QP2R’s $1299, is heavier, and less attractive. The R2R2000 is $2500 and does everything operating system related worse than the QP2R, has a bad volume knob, a terrible number of volume steps, only does DSD64, and has less power than the QP2R. It does have a 4.4mm balanced output, and some cool wireless options that offer remote DAP control and pseudo ‘hi-res’ streaming—I say pseudo due to lossy compression usage in all wireless ‘hi-res’ codecs—that should be comparable to Sony’s LDAC or aptX HD. All three DAPs can be used as USB DACs.
Of the three flagship DAPs that I listened to, including the QP2R, the QP2R was the best balance of features, sound and price. They were all basically equal on sound quality. The QP2R was almost half the price of the nearest comparator.
There has been some noise made about the signal to noise ratio (SNR) of the QP2R. Almost every DAP has a better measurement than the QP2R. Personally, I don’t hear this making a difference on the sound in a positive way for the other DAPs, as detailed above. All the Astell & Kern players listed above have superior measurements, and the QP2R sounded better than all of them. I doubt that SNR is the driving factor.
|Audio formats||Up to PCM 32/384 and DSD256|
|Outputs||3.5mm headphone single ended, 3.5mm optical, 2.5mm balanced headphone out|
|Output voltage||Single ended: 1.6 Vrms,
Balanced: 3.2 Vrms
|Output power||Single ended: 38mW @ 32Ω, 9mW @ 300Ω
Balanced: 70mW @ 32Ω, 38mW @ 300Ω
|Sensitivity||104dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz|
|Frequency response||±0.1 (20Hz – 20kHz)|
|S/N||Single ended: 100dB @ 1kHz,
Balanced: 102dB @ 1kHz
|THD+N||Single ended: 0.0006% @ 1kHz
Balanced: 0.0005% @ 1kHz
|Memory||64GB internal, expandable through microSD (400GB claimed online)|
|Battery||3,100mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer, 10 hours claimed (6-9 confirmed)|
|Body material||CNC machined aluminum, available in gold and space grey|
|Accessories||Toslink to mini-toslink adaptor, USB C cable, cloth pouch, wheel cover|
The Questyle QP2R was provided free of cost by SCV Distribution, the UK distributor for Questyle products. I do not have to return it, nor can I sell it or give it away without express permission of SCV Distribution. The views represented here are my own honest opinions.
The Questyle QP2R is my favourite DAP for pure audio quality. It has a natural, effortless presentation with top-tier resolution and power and grace to drive most headphones and IEMs. It can hiss with some sensitive IEMs, but there are several solutions to help with that, with my favourite being the iFi iEMatch—Ultimate Ears Buffer Jack, and iFi Earbuddy would work in some degree, too. The soundstage on the QP2R is large, with excellent instrument separation.
The player is lacking some features that people look for, notably a touch screen, Bluetooth, and wireless streaming services. If you want those options, there are other players that can tick those boxes. It does have a capable USB DAC and the option to buy a dock and have one player to rule them all in all your audio systems.
Ergonomically, the QP2R feels right in hand, and the control scheme works well once you’ve acclimated. The volume knob is perfectly positioned and works very well. I can use it in a coat pocket or shirt pocket and look like a tool, a tool with amazing music piped straight to my ears, while retaining all control aspects of the device.
At $1299, the QP2R is an excellent value. Players from iBasso are cheaper, and are reputed to offer similar performance capabilities, but I don’t have those for testing. It beat every Astell & Kern player I tried on sound quality. It matched or beat every flagship DAP I tried it against. It’s my favourite audio player.