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Questyle CMA Fifteen – Flagship DAC/ Headphone Amplifier

It’s a well-known combination that Questyle Audio Engineering is relying on with the new Questyle CMA Fifteen, first and foremost a D/A converter plus headphone amplifier, plus the functionality of a preamplifier. But all this is supposed to be on a reference level.

With the Questyle CMA Fifteen, a solution is available that offers an outstanding level of performance and all the features of a new groundbreaking product, thus clearly assuming the role of flagship.

This is the promise of Questyle Audio Engineering, which has already proven to play in a very special league with its solutions.

Questyle CMA Fifteen – Versatile application possibilities

It comes as no surprise that Questyle Audio Engineering has chosen a tried and tested combination for the new Questyle CMA Fifteen, which can be found on the market these days from many companies in this product sector.

The Questyle CMA Fifteen combines first of all a D/A converter and a headphone amplifier, but – and this is something you don’t find very often – this solution can also be used as a preamplifier.

Questyle Audio Engineering understands this solution as a high-end HiFi solution in the consumer segment as well as a pro audio solution in the studio.

Questyle CMA Fifteen 01
Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen

Numerous interfaces – including analogue input

A special feature of the new Questyle CMA Fifteen is that this solution is immensely versatile in terms of connection options. Probably the most outstanding feature in this class is that not only digital inputs are used, but also an analogue input.

This alone makes the Questyle CMA Fifteen an immensely versatile solution, because although digital sources are primarily used nowadays, analogue inputs are often not the only option, for example to connect a record player.

The analogue input of the new Questyle CMA Fifteen is designed as a pair of RCA sockets.

The new Questyle CMA Fifteen also has a special feature when it comes to digital interfaces, as it offers two USB ports.

On the one hand, there is the typical USB Type B interface for connection to a PC or Mac with support for USB Audio 2.0, but on the other hand, there is also a USB-C interface available, and thus the solution that is predominantly found in mobile D/A converters. Here, as there, the USB-C interface is designed for direct connection with smartphones and tablets via OTG audio output.

This is the simplest way to access hi-res audio streaming services directly from your smartphone, including Apple Music Lossless, or hi-res audio via TIDAL, because, of course, the new Questyle CMA Fifteen also supports content encoded in MQA.

The other digital interfaces of the new Questyle CMA Fifteen include an optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface.

Bluetooth including LDAC

It is interesting that the new Questyle CMA Fifteen also supports Bluetooth, so that smartphones can be used “wirelessly” as a source.

However, initially only the SBC and AAC codecs are supported, not aptX or even aptX HD, but also LDAC from the Sony Corporation, which allows a data transfer rate of 990 kbs and signals up to 24 bit and 96 kHz.

Current Mode²

The most outstanding feature of Quesyle Audio Engineering solutions is the so-called Current Mode Amplification Technology. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, this technology is at the heart of the new Questyle CMA Fifteen’s signal processing, but it goes one step further.

According to the manufacturer, the new Questyle CMA Fifteen is the result of three years of development, with the focus on the selection of the right DAC and its optimal integration. In the end, the ESS ES9038PRO SABRE PRO Flagship 32 Bit HyperStream II 8 Channel Audio DAC from the specialist ESS Technology Inc. was chosen, which according to Questyle Audio Engineering is currently the best of its kind.

This DAC, as Questyle Audio Engineering points out, has a current-type output, which in most traditional amplifiers is coupled with an IV converter and a classic amplifier architecture.

As mentioned above, Questyle Audio Engineering traditionally uses Current Mode Amplification Technology, so it is obvious to do the same with the D/A converter, if it has the necessary prerequisites anyway. So the ESS ES9038PRO is used in current mode and coupled with four current mode amplifiers that work together in fully balanced mode to achieve no losses at system level and thus almost perfect signal processing.

The Questyle CMA Fifteen’s converter is capable of processing signals in Linear PCM at up to 32 bits and 768 kHz, as well as DSD, including DSD512. As already mentioned, this solution also has an MQA core decoder, so it can also play back such compressed content in top quality.

Flexible headphone amplifier

As a headphone amplifier, the new Questyle CMA Fifteen offers all relevant connection options, ranging from an unbalanced 6.3 mm stereo jack to a balanced 4.4 mm PENTACONN and a 4-pin XLR for balanced headphones.

As a reference value, the manufacturer states 188 mW at 300 ohms impedance or 1.5 W at 32 ohms for the 6.3 mm jack, 765 mW at 300 ohms or 2 W at 32 ohms should be available at the balanced connections.

It is clear that the new Questyle CMA Fifteen can be used with a wide range of headphone models and should always deliver excellent results.

  • Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen
  • Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen
  • Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen
  • Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen
  • Foto © Questyle Audio Engineering | Questyle CMA Fifteen

Use as a preamplifier

As already mentioned, the new Questyle CMA Fifteen can also be used as a preamplifier. In addition to a pair of RCA sockets as unbalanced output, there is also a pair of XLR connectors for a balanced connection to power amplifiers or simple active speaker systems. It should be mentioned that the output can be operated not only with variable but also with fixed level.

Very solid cabinet

From Questyle Audio Engineering’s point of view, it is essential that a solution such as the new Questyle CMA Fifteen is built to the highest standards, not only in terms of circuit design and component selection, but also in terms of the enclosure. This is to ensure that no external influences can have a negative effect on the signal processing.

Thus, the new Questyle CMA Fifteen presents itself completely in the design tradition of the company, namely with a housing made of aluminium (6063) with a wall thickness of 10 mm and highest manufacturing tolerance.

The cabinet rests on CNC-machined feet that are covered with high-density rubber.

The front is adorned with numerous status LEDs, which provide information about the operating status and the resolution of the signals at any time. The source selection is done via a button, in addition there are toggle switches for various tasks and of course a generously dimensioned volume control.

The new Questyle CMA Fifteen measures 330 mm in width, 200 mm in depth and 55 mm in height and is presented in discreet black.

According to the distributor, the Questyle CMA Fifteen will be available in specialist shops within the next few days at a recommended retail price of € 2.499,-.

Getting to the point

With the new Questyle CMA Fifteen, Questyle Audio Engineering presents its new flagship, combining a D/A converter with a headphone amplifier in the proven manner, but also adding the function of a preamplifier. For this purpose, not only digital but also an analogue input is available. The actual special feature of the new Questyle CMA Fifteen, however, is once again the Current Mode Amplification Technology favoured by Questyle Audio Engineering, which is used here directly in combination with the DAC.

Price€ 2.499,-
ManufacturerQuestyle Audio Technology Co. Ltd.
DistributionNT Global Distribution GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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