Questyle CMA18P Review


Questyle CMA18P Review



Questyle Audio is a Chinese company that is specialized in research of high-tech lossless audio system such like Desktop Amplifiers (CMA800/CMA800R), DAC/Amplifiers (CMA Twelve, CMA Fifteen, CMA 400i), Wireless Audio Systems, Portable DAC’s (M12 & M15) and Audio Players (QPM, QP2R). Questyle has won over 20 international awards since 2015, such as CES Innovation Award, iF Industrial Design Award, and VGP Lifestyle Award, while Foxconn Technology Group is a strategic partner of the company.

The Questyle CMA18P, also known as CMA18 Portable, is a portable digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier that inherits the design style of Questyle’s flagship desktop DAC & Amplifier, the CMA Eighteen Master. The model name CMA stands for Current Mode Amplifier, reflecting its core technology. Housed in a sandblasted aluminum chassis with Corning glass panels, the CMA18P features a unique gradient dot pattern and an RF signal-suppressing coating. Amber LEDs illuminate the glass when in use, providing a sleek user experience.

Underneath its stylish exterior, the CMA18P features impressive hardware. An XMOS XU316 Chip and an AK4493 DAC Chip handle digital-to-analog conversion, supporting high-resolution audio formats like PCM768 and DSD512. Questyle’s own patented Current Mode Amplifier SiP chips, the CC630/CA630, deliver up to 1000mW @32ohms of power through the 4.4mm balanced output, ensuring enough drive for even demanding headphones. A high/low gain mode further optimizes performance for different headphone types. Bluetooth connectivity with aptX HD and LDAC codecs provides high-quality wireless listening, while the 4300mAh lithium battery ensures extended playback isolated from potential power limitations of smartphones or laptops.



I would like to thank Questyle for providing me the CMA18P Portable USB DAC/Amplifier as review sample. I am not affiliated with Questyle beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product!


Price & Availability:

The actual MSRP price of the Questyle CMA18P is 699.00 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;


Package & Accessories:

The Questyle CMA18P arrives in a rectangular black box with a premium look and feel. The box is wrapped in white cardboard featuring an illustration of the product, along with branding and product information.


Inside the box are the following contents & accessories;

  • 1 x Questyle CMA18P Portable USB DAC/Amplifier
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB Type-C Low Profile Cable
  • 1 x 1 x USB Type-C to Lightning Low Profile Cable
  • 1 x USB Type-A to USB Type-C Cable
  • 1 x 3.5mm Toslink Adapter
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB A Adapter
  • 1 x Print Material (Instruction Manual & Guarantee Card)

While a protective case isn’t included with the CMA18P, Questyle offers a high-quality, optional leather case that I highly recommend adding to your purchase.

See the link below for details.


Design & Build Quality:

The Questyle CMA18P is a portable DAC/Amplifier that stands out with its premium materials, unique aesthetics, and well-considered functionality.

The combination of luxurious build quality, transparent elements showcasing the internal workings, and informative LEDs creates a visually striking and feature-rich design.

The CMA18P exudes a sophisticated air with its sandblasted aviation-grade aluminum surfaces in black color.

The unique aspect lies in the custom Corning glass employed on both the front and back. This glass features a gradient dot pattern and boasts an RF signal suppressing coating, contributing to both aesthetics and functionality.

The transparent glass panel on the front offers a captivating glimpse into the heart of the device. You can directly observe the intricate layout of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) with all its chips (DAC, SIP, XMOS, etc.) and components, creating a visually intriguing element. The internal amber-colored LEDs on the PCB provide informative status displays, including gain level, balanced output, data activity, Bluetooth mode, recording mode, and battery level.

An interesting detail to note is the behavior of the LED lights near the four Questyle patented current-mode SIP CC630/CA630 chips, which are clearly visible under the transparent glass panel on the front. When you connect your headphones to the balanced 4.4mm output, all four LEDs illuminate, indicating the utilization of all four current-mode SIP chips. Conversely, connecting to the 3.5mm SE output activates only two of the SIP chip LEDs.

The bottom of the CMA18P serves as the hub for its diverse digital and analog interfaces. Here, you’ll find a balanced 4.4mm input and a single-ended (single-ended) 3.5mm line input, along with corresponding balanced 4.4mm and single-ended 3.5mm headphone outputs. A versatile USB Type-C interface caters to various connection needs.

Notably, the 3.5mm single-ended Line In port cleverly doubles as an optical line input, while the 4.4mm Balanced and 3.5mm single-ended output doubles as a microphone input for the Audio Recording function of the device, providing additional connection options.

The CMA18P has a user-friendly button layout on its left side. Four controls buttons provide all the essential functions: a single button handles powering on/off and battery level checks, while a dedicated function button allows you to switch between sources. Volume adjustments are made through the volume up & volume down buttons. Moreover, a dedicated function button lest you switch between Bluetooth, AUX, Audio Recording, USB, DATA, Balanced and Optical sound Input modes.

Here are also two switches one for the Gain (Standard / High) and one for the HOLD function.

One of the CMA18P’s main attractions are the LED lights. These lights, with their nice retro look, display the device’s current state and settings. They provide information on recording functions, audio modes, and the selected source (like Bluetooth or USB). For recording, the lights indicate if recording is enabled and the chosen resolution (Hi-Res or Normal). Gain levels are also displayed, with red signifying High Gain and amber for Standard.

Beyond this, the LEDs keep you informed about other functions. They illuminate amber to show the selected source and even display the battery level momentarily when you press the power button. Additionally, the lights blink or turn solid to indicate Bluetooth connection status. While it takes some time to get used to at first, I think the LED system has a pretty user-friendly structure, both visually and in terms of use.

The CMA18P’s rear panel is also constructed from Gorilla Glass 3, mirroring the front for a cohesive look. It prominently displays the Questyle logo alongside branding for supported codecs like Qualcomm aptX HD, LDAC, DSD, and Current Mode Amplification technology.



  • Model                          : CMA18P
  • DAC chip                    : AK4493
  • PCM                           : 768kHz/32bit
  • Micro Controller          : XMOS XU316
  • DSD Native                : DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512,
  • DSD DoP                   : DSD64, DSD128, DSD256
  • USB Recording          : fixed 48kHz/32bit stereo
  • Optical                        : 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz/24bit
  • USB Playback            : UAC 2.0
  • Bluetooth Codecs       : SBC/AAC/aptX/aptX-HD/LDAC
  • Supported OS            : XP / Vista / Win7 / Win8 / Win10 / Win11/ Linux/ Android/ HarmonyOS/
  • THD+N                       : THD+N < 0.003%@20mW、300Ω
  • SNR                            : 120dB
  • Max Output Power     : 1000mW @ 32Ω (4.4mm Balanced Headphone Out)
  • Playback battery life   : >10hours
  • Max. Charging current: 2A
  • Charging time             : ~3.5 hour


Hardware Features:

The Questyle CMA18P boasts impressive hardware under its stylish shell. An XMOS XU316 chip and an AK4493 DAC chip handle digital-to-analog conversion with support for high-resolution audio formats like PCM768 and DSD512. Questyle’s own Current Mode Amplifier SiP technology (CC630/CA630) delivers ample power (up to 1000mW @ 32ohms) through the balanced output, driving even demanding headphones. Bluetooth connectivity with aptX HD and LDAC codecs completes the package, ensuring a versatile listening experience. Let’s delve deeper into the hardware components powering the Questyle CMA18P.

Digital to Analog Converter & Supported Sampling Rates

The Questyle CMA18P utilizes AKM’s (Asahi Kasei) power-efficient 32-bit AK4493 DAC chip that supports the company’s VELVETSOUND™ technology. The AK4493 inside the CMA18P offers a total harmonic distortion (THD) of about 0.003% and accepts data up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD512.

Current Mode Amplification (CMA):

Questyle CMA18P employs Current Mode Amplifier (CMA) technology, a distinct approach from traditional headphone amplifiers. This method converts the incoming audio signal to current, amplifies that current, and then converts it back to voltage. Compared to traditional voltage-based amplification, CMA potentially offers lower distortion and improved efficiency. This could translate to cleaner sound and potentially longer battery life for the CMA18P.

The CMA18P delivers an impressive output power of up to 1000mW @ 32ohm in High Gain mode through its balanced 4.4mm output. This balanced connection minimizes noise and interference for a purer audio experience. It also features a 3.5mm single-ended output for compatibility with a wider range of headphones. Selectable gain modes allow for optimized performance with different headphone types, ensuring you get the best possible sound.

The Questyle was capable properly to drive fairly demanding planar headphones like the HiFiMAN Arya Organic. However, it’s worth noting that I have to report a low but audible amount of background noise when paired with very sensitive IEMs, like the HiBy Project ACE.


The Questyle CMA18P boasts wide-ranging compatibility, catering to a variety of music sources. MFi certification ensures smooth operation with Apple devices, supporting high-resolution audio formats on iPhones and iPads. Beyond Apple products, the CMA18P offers versatility with its support for USB-A, USB-C, and Lightning connections. This allows for connection to a vast array of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, regardless of brand or operating system. This extensive compatibility makes the CMA18P a flexible option.

In order to use the UAC2.0 function on WinXP/Vista/Win7/Win8 operating systems, you need to install a driver that is available on .

Bluetooth Connectivity:

The Questyle CMA18P doubles as a wireless DAC/amplifier thanks to its Bluetooth chip and antenna. It supports a wide range of codecs, including SBC, AAC, aptX HD, and LDAC, ensuring high-fidelity audio transmission for most devices. What truly impressed me was the sound quality in Bluetooth mode. While dynamics and resolution are slightly lower compared to wired USB connection, the performance remains very impressive.

The Bluetooth connection offers a range of approximately 10-12 meters and offers a strong signal even with walls in between. Additionally, I experienced minimal lip-sync delays while watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., when paired with my Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This makes the CMA18P a great choice for convenient wireless listening.

Battery Life:

The Questyle CMA18P is equipped with a 4300mAh lithium battery and a special power management system. This combination offers up to 10 hours of continuous playback, which is above average performance for such a small and powerful device. However, battery life will vary depending on the output and gain mode selected.

The CMA18P offers flexibility in how it manages power while connected to a device via USB for data transfer (like computers, tablets, and phones). By default, it operates in “Play Only” mode. This means the CMA18P prioritizes using its internal battery for power while drawing audio data from the USB connection. This is a thoughtful design choice to prevent the CMA18P from draining the battery of your phone or other smaller playback devices.

However, if you want to keep the CMA18P charged while using it with a USB device, you can easily switch to “Charge and Play” mode. This mode allows the CMA18P to draw power from the connected device while still functioning as a high-quality DAC and amplifier.

Here are some details for battery life when the device is used in USB DAC mode: 

  • 3.5mm Single-Ended Output: about 10 hours @ Standard Gain
  • 3.5mm Single-Ended Output: about 8 – 8.5 hours @ High Gain
  • 4.4mm Balanced Output: about 8 hours @ Standard Gain
  • 4.4mm Balanced Output: about 6.5 – 7 hours @ High Gain

LED system keeps you informed about the device’s battery status. A quick press of the power button illuminates the lights, displaying the battery level for five seconds. Four glowing lights indicate a high charge (76-100%). Three lights represent a medium level (51-75%). Two lights signal it’s time to consider a recharge (26-50%). And a single light means only 1-25% battery remains, so you’ll need to plug in soon.

Please note that the latest CMA18P’s firmware now allows for simultaneous charging and audio playback.


Equipment’s used for this review:

  • DAC/AMP’s    : Questyle CMA18P, Quloos MUB1
  • IEM’s              : IOAudio Volare, Campfire Audio Supermoon, HiBy Project ACE
  • Headphones  : HiFiMAN Arya Organic
  • Sources         : Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung Tab S8 Ultra, MSI Vector GP68 HX


Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Christian Reindl – Freya (Deezer HiFi)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • The Weeknd – Starboy (Apple Music Lossless)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Charly Antolini – Knock Out 2000 Album (Deezer HiFi)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Metallica – Master of Puppets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)


The Sound:

The Questyle CMA18P delivers a detailed and balanced sound signature. Its bass response extends deep into the sub-bass region for impactful lows, while remaining controlled and avoiding artificial emphasis. The midrange is natural and transparent, faithfully reproducing vocals and instruments with a touch of warmth for a pleasing listen. Treble is crisp and airy, providing excellent detail and clarity without becoming harsh.

The Questyle CMA18P was reviewed after a burn-in period of approximately 100 hours. The following sound impressions are based on my experiences using the 4.4mm balanced output with a variety of in-ear monitors (IEMs) such as the Campfire Audio Supermoon, IOAudio Volare, and HiBy Project ACE, as well as over-ear headphones like the HiFiMAN Arya Organic.


The Qyestyle CMA18P DAC/Amp offers a distinct bass experience with tight control and deep extension. This results in a powerful low-end presence that reaches into the sub-bass region for a full and immersive listening experience. The bass capabilities are particularly noticeable when paired with In-Ear Monitors known for their bass response, such as the IOAudio Volare or Campfire Audio Supermoon.

The sub-bass response extends deeply, offering impactful bass that complements the music without overwhelming it. Tracks like Massive Attack’s “Angle,” Daft Punk’s ” Doin’ it Right,” or The Weeknd’s “Starboy” can showcase this sub-bass capability. Moving into the mid-bass region, the CMA18P maintains clarity and definition for distinct and accurate bass notes, especially in complex musical passages.

The CMA18P delivers a technically proficient bass response from the sub-bass to the midrange. This may be particularly appealing to listeners who value a strong and well-controlled low end. It avoids coloration, aiming for a faithful reproduction of the source material. This focus on technical accuracy positions the CMA18P as a strong contender for audiophile-grade portable DAC/Amps.



The Questyle CMA18P stands out in the crowded market of USB DAC/Amplifiers with its exceptional midrange performance. The device delivers a natural and transparent sound that brings vocals and instruments to the forefront, creating an intimate listening experience that is both detailed and expressive. This balanced presentation ensures that the midrange is neither recessed nor overly forward, allowing for accurate sound reproduction across a wide spectrum of music genres.

Listeners will appreciate the organic and lifelike presentation of the midrange frequencies, which the CMA18P handles with finesse. The general tonality leans slightly warmer than neutral, adding a pleasant richness to the sound that enhances the emotional nuances of the music. This is particularly evident when listening to male vocals from artists like Dave Gahan, Isaac Hayes and David Bowie, or when enjoying the resonant sounds of acoustic guitars and violas. The lower midrange offers a good sense of body and depth, while the upper midrange shines with detail and dynamism, bringing female vocals such like Diana Krall or Adel to life with clarity and emotion that was audible both with the Campfire Audio Supermoon and HiFiMAN Arya Organic.

Moreover, the CMA18P impressed me with its ability to handle complex musical passages, from the delicate intricacies of classical compositions to the aggressive distortion of guitar solos in rock music. Instruments are rendered with a natural timbre and an impressive level of detail that exceeds expectations for a product of its size and price. Whether paired with IEMs like the IOAudio Volare or over-ear headphones like the HiFiMAN Arya, the CMA18P maintains a sense of authority and control that contributes to a truly immersive audio experience.



The Questyle CMA18P delivers a crisp and airy treble response without becoming harsh. It offers a smooth and controlled presentation with most IEMs and headphones I’ve listened to. There’s a subtle touch of coloration that adds a pleasant sparkle to the sound without being overdone. The treble extension is excellent, creating a sense of openness and breathing room in the music.

From the subtle shimmer of cymbals to the delicate overtones of strings and the bright chime of a triangle, the CMA18P captures treble nuances with finesse. The lower treble maintains excellent clarity, particularly evident with instruments like snare drums, cymbals, and flutes. This was especially noticeable when paired with the HiFiMAN Arya Organic and the IOAudio Volare.

The upper treble region excels at producing air and sparkle, particularly with instruments like pianos, hi-hats, or piccolos. This effect is further enhanced when paired with the Campfire Audio Supermoon and HiFiMAN Arya Organic. Overall, the CMA18P’s treble is characterized by clarity and crispness, contributing to a well-balanced and rich listening experience without overemphasis or harshness with any equipment I’ve used.


Soundstage & Imaging:

The Questyle CMA18P’s soundstage presentation strikes a balance between spaciousness and precision. Instruments and vocals are well-separated within the soundstage, resulting in a clear and defined listening experience. The depth and width characteristics are typical for an Ultra-Portable USB DAC/Amplifier. However, it’s important to note that its soundstage performance is comparable to Digital Audio Players (DAPs) within the 800-1000 USD price range.



Questyle CMA18P versus Quloos MUB1:

The Questyle CMA18P and Quloos MUB1 are both notable contenders in the portable DAC/Amp market. Each offers unique strengths that cater to the preferences of audiophiles. This analysis aims to provide an impartial comparison of their sound characteristics.

The CMA18P delivers a controlled bass response, with a focus on tightness and clarity. It ensures that basslines are distinct and impactful, providing a solid foundation without overshadowing other frequencies. The MUB1, with its slightly warmer bass response, offers a tad fuller sound that some may find more appealing, while it is missing the sense of definition and dynamism that the CMA18P has.

With a transparent midrange, the CMA18P renders instruments and vocals with excellent detail and a touch of warmth that enhances the overall musicality of this range. The MUB1, known for its detailed midrange, exhibits a more uniform midrange profile, which is less dynamic and musical compared to the CMA18P’s vibrant presentation.

The CMA18P’s treble is crisp and well extended, allowing high-frequency details to emerge without harshness, contributing to a clear and detailed listening experience that I have highly enjoyed. The MUB1’s treble, with its refined and gentle character, is likely to resonate well with listeners who favor a treble that is subdued yet detailed. However, the CMA18P’s treble clarity and overall resolution unveils more micro details.

In terms of soundstage, the CMA18P offers a well-defined spatial experience, with precise instrument separation that rivals some desktop setups thanks to its Current Mode Amplification design. The MUB1 emphasizes a slightly wider soundstage atmosphere. This is achieved by its less forward presentation compared to the CMA18P.



The Questyle CMA18P is a feature-rich ultra-portable DAC/Amplifier that features exceptional sound quality, ample power, and wide-ranging compatibility. Its transparent design and stylish LEDs showcase its premium build quality, while the combination of high-performance hardware like Questyle’s patented Current Mode Amplifier SiP chips (CC630/CA630) delivers a powerful, detailed and immersive listening experience. With support for high-resolution audio formats, Bluetooth connectivity, and above average battery life, the CMA18P is a compelling option for audiophiles seeking a portable solution for critical listening at home and on the go.


Pros & Cons:

  • + Excellent Overall Sound Performance even in Bluetooth Mode
  • + Impressive Sonic Dynamism (Trademark of Questyle Products)
  • + Powerful Amplification (1000mW @32ohms & Current Mode Amplifier SiP chips)
  • + Wide-Ranging Compatibility (Bluetooth, Optical, USB, Coaxial, AUX)
  • + Stabile Bluetooth Connection with LDAC support
  • + Analog Input Recording Function
  • + Visually Appealing Design (Features a stunning transparent glass panel for a unique look)
  • + Premium Build Quality (sandblasted aluminum chassis and Corning glass panels)
  • + Portable and Lightweight


  • – Low-Level Background Noise at High Gain with Sensitive IEMs
  • – No Dedicated App for PEQ and Digital Filters
  • – Leather Case Sold separately (needs to be purchased for around $49 USD)


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