Despite its size, the Questyle QP1R had the smallest display of the three players we evaluated. Even the smaller Astell&Kern AK Jr comes equipped with a larger and more legible screen. Credit: Theo Nicolakis
Playing the DSD version of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean,” from Thriller, revealed some of the QP1R’s abilities. The dynamics and punch of the opening drum sequence were exceptional, and then the synthesizer kicked in with its nails-across-the-chalkboard scratchy sound. The entire mix came together as a coherent whole, you could sense each instrument as distinctly as the layers in a delicous cake.
The QP1R shines with female vocalists, too; from Adele to Alexis Cole to Patricia Barber, this player consistently delivered a smooth, oh-so-right presentation. Listening to Allison Krauss’ sweet-sounding vocals through the Questyle on the 24-bit/96kHz version of “Please Read the Letter” from Raising Sand was hair-raisingly good.
Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, or the glorious orchestral movements and deep organ notes from Saint Saens' Symphony No 3 all relished being played through the QP1R. Listening to music on this player is a delightful experience.
For example, listening to the 16-bit/44.1kHz version of Yo-Yo-Ma plays Ennio Morrcione was pure bliss. Listening to “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission and “Dinner” from The Lady Caliph literally sent chills down my spine. And finally, while listening to Tomoko Sonoda and Norikatsu Koreyasu play “Spring can Really Hang You Up the Most” through my B&W P7 headphones, I had one of those freaky audio experiences where you pick up sounds you previously didn't realize were in the recording.
I was not intimately familiar with this track but the jazz ensemble was evidently recorded live, as I could hear the occasional sounds of plates moving, people coughing, and other environmental noises throughout. The track’s ambience was so life-like that I removed my headphones several times thinking that the noises were coming from somewhere in my house. Ambience aside, the piano on that track was spot-on and natural. Bass lines were taut and well defined. There wasn’t a hint of anything unpleasant anywhere.
The bottom line: Redemption
In the Biblical Story of the Exodus, the Israelites had to endure 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the promised land. If you can endure the QP1R's break-in period and interface problems, you’ll be bountifully rewarded with a player flowing with rich, lush, satisfying sound. Hands down, this is the go-to player for the hard-core music lover and audiophile.
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