Wednesday, 22 February 2012

QLS QA350 Mod V2

Just purchased the QLS Mod V2 - to try out some decent portable audio in contrast (and comparison) to my iPhone 4. The first thing I noted was the supplied SD Card (A Sandisk Class 2 2 GB card) did not work with the player. I had to use my Class 10 Sandisk - this works fine. At the same time, I have also tried to convert my files into WAV. For this, I am currently using XLD to convert to WAV format, and then Audiofile's Sample Manager to down-sample to 44.1 kHz and 16 bit. A little bit convoluted, but still, it works.

At the moment, the first track, after 0 hours burning in was Holst's Mars from HD Tracks. I have only had a very brief time with this, and a few quick notes when listening to a more familiar CD, Coldplay's X&Y. The interface is refreshingly simple. Some say too simple, but I think its a great minimalist approach. I have no issues with that. It is quite a nice departure from a full blown computer playback - absolutely no frills.

When I am listening to music, I am not too concerned about the CD cover, track name, etc. I just want the music. So far, there isn't much hiss or noise when using the EM4. Which is a good sign. Increasingly, I am of the feeling that at 59R the EM4 aren't as susceptible to noise as I thought that they would be. Which is a good thing, but also, I am of the feeling that they probably need more voltage to drive well, as opposed to being current hungry. So perhaps they can be seen more like my HD650 in terms of amplification.

Anyway, back to the QA350. With the Mod V2, this had apparently an upgraded headphone section; using AD8397 as the driver. I must say, that at this stage, the sound is quite enjoyable and articulate. Nothing overly wrong, or excessive at all. The bass is probably a little loose, but the mids and highs quite well defined and controlled. It lacks a little bit of life and energy, especially on complex parts, it feels like it is losing some control over the music. But in simple guitar passages - quite lovely. Bear in mind, this unit has had zero play time thus far; so all comments need to be seen in this light.

Doing a quick comparison with the D-Zero over one track - 'Hardest Part'. The sound is a little more lively and wider on the QA350. The bass is more 'focused' and a little softer in the mix than with the QA350. This was played back through Fidelia, with volume control all the way up, and volume controlled from the D-zero. The vocals on the D-zero has a slightly duller and small image. The music in general was more lively than the QA350. In very short, brief and un-critical manner, the QA350 had a more musical balance, that already feels more enjoyable. But then, the problem (?), maybe there are just so many variables with computer playback, that it's hard to figure out just WHAT is the source of the negatives and positives.

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