QULOOS MUB1 Review

 

QULOOS MUB1 Portable

USB & Bluetooth DAC/Amplifer Review

 

 

Introduction:

Quloos (former QLS HiFi) is a Chinese brand located in ShenZhen, GuangDong, China, which is specialized in design and production of High End Desktop & Portable Audio Players, DAC’s and Amplifiers.

The MUB1 is the companies latest an All-in One portable audio solution in a pocket friendly package. It is a versatile and powerful device that can serve as a portable USB DAC/Amplifier, a High-Definition Bluetooth Player that supports the APTX-HD, APTX, AAC SBC and the Hi-Res LDAC codec. It can be used as a Car or Home audio source and even as a mobile phone charger thanks to its built-in 2500mAh battery.

The MUB1 is equipped with four high-performance 32-Bit DAC chips featuring four units of CS43131 decoding chips and four BUF634 amp chips to achieve balanced headphone amp architecture, with an output power of up to 1110mW @32Ohms. The device features a small OLED screen, has hardware buttons for volume, power and navigation controls, comes with both 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced and a separate 3.5 optical/SPDIF outputs, which have been integrated in to a CNC Machined Aluminum Alloy Shell with a special anodized surface, and glass panels on the front and rear side.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Quloos for providing me MUB1 Portable DAC/Amplifier for sample purposes. I am not affiliated with Quloos beyond this review and all these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

  

Price & Availability:

The actual MSRP price of the Quloos QLS MC01 is 499.99 US$. More information can be found under the link below;

 

Package & Accessories:

The Quloos MUB1 came inside a rectangular black box with some brandings and a product illustration on the top.

Inside the box of the MUB1 are the following contents: 

  • 1 x Quloos MUB1 USB DAC/Amplifier
  • 1 x USB Type-C to Type-C Cable
  • 1 x USB Type-C to Lightning Cable
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB A Adaptor
  • 2 x PVC Screen Protector
  • 1 x Silicone Case
  • 1 X Print Material

The Quloos MUB1 comes with both a USB Type-C to Type-C and USB Type-C to Lightning low profile cable that do have a nice braided design.

There is also a transparent silicone case that fits perfectly to the MUB1.

The leather case in the picture below is an optional item that can be purchased separately (Price: 30.00US$).

 

Design & Build Quality:

The Quloos MUB1 is an portable USB DAC/Amplifier with premium look & feel, and pretty pocket friendly from factor with respect of its high output power of up to 1100mW @ 32ohm (4.4mm Balanced output). The device has a 5-Axiss CNC machined aluminum alloy frame with glass panels on the front the rear side.

The dimension of the MUB1 is about 96*65*14.5mm (L* W * H) and it weights approx 142g (exclusive low profile cable).

On the front of the device is a glass panel in black color where you can find a small OLED Display with adjustable screen brightens. It gives you quick information about the actual connection mode (USB/Bluetooth), volume, filter, battery and sampling rate of the device. The display gives you also direct access to multiple settings like output and input mode, filters, screen brightness, gain, etc. that you can navigate with the menu and navigation buttons located at the left side of the device surface.

The right surface of the MUB1 is equipped with multiple hardware buttons which are the power button with a nice golden finish, the volume up / volume down, settings (M) and up & down navigation buttons.

The up and down navigation buttons also serve as next and previous track interface.

The bottom surface of the MUB1 features a very rich digital and analog connection interface.

Here is a 3.5mm single ended headphone port that doubles as LO/AUX output port, a 4.4mm balanced headphone port that also works as a balanced LO port, a microphone pickup hole, the USB Type-C Audio & OTG input port, a USB Type-C charging port and a digital audio output port in form of a 3.5mm optical/3.5mm coaxial output interface.

At the rear side of the device is the Quloos brand logo, some product related brandings (model, origin, etc.) and some industrial certifications.

Right below you can find some key interface descriptions for the MUB1.

 

Quloos MUB1 Specifications:

Item / modelBalance portSingle port
Body size96*65*14.5mm  (L * W * H)
Host weight142g
Input interfaceType-C USB data, Type-C USB power supply&charging, wireless Bluetooth
Bluetooth formatBluetooth 5.0, LDAC, APTX, APTX-HD, ACC, SBC
USB protocolUAC2.0 protocol / UAC1.0 protocol, supporting Windows, Mac, Android, iOS systems
USB port DSD sampling rate2.8224MHz (DSD64), 5.6448MHz (DSD128), 11.2896MHz (DSD256), Native or DoP
USB port PCM sampling rate16Bit ~ 32Bit, 44.1kHz ~ 384kHz
Output interface3.5 single ended & 4.4 balanced headphones (can be set to Line out/Aux out), 3.5 optical or coaxial SPDIF digital output
Optical/ coaxial output16Bit ~ 24Bit, 44.1kHz ~ 192kHz PCM, DoP64
DAC chipCS43131 * 4 pieces, QFN large package
OPSelected 2 OP* pieces with excellent texture and musical appeal
Headphone amplifier chipBUF634A * 4
Gain controlLow / Mid / High / Super-High
Volume controlThis device has a volume level of 100, which can be independently adjusted from the phone volume
Frequency response20Hz ~ 20kHz  ±0.5db
THD+N
 (AES17 (20kHz), A-weighted, unloaded, medium gain)
0.0001%0.00015%
SINAD
(AES17 (20kHz), unweighted, unloaded, medium gain)
120db116db
SNR
 (A-weighted, medium gain)
132db126db
Dynamic range
 (A-weighted, medium gain)
132db124db
Crosstalk
(unloaded, medium gain)
-140db-137db
Crosstalk
(32Ω, medium gain)
-95db-73db
Output power
(THD+N<0.01%, S-gain)
1100mW + 1100mW @32Ω410mW + 410mW @32Ω
250mW + 250mW @300Ω65mW + 65mW @300Ω
Noise floor
(A-weighted)
1.2uVrms @G = L1.8uVrms @G = L
1.2uVrms @G = M1.8uVrms @G = M
2.5uVrms @G = H2.5uVrms @G = H
8.3uVrms @G = S5.8uVrms @G = S
Reference: High sensitivity headphones are also difficult to hear to the noise floor. When QA361 has low gain, the noise floor is 4uV.
Battery life8~10 hours
Charging time2~3 hours
ChargerType-C charger (user provided), DC 5V, ≥2A
External power inputInput from charging port Type-C, DC 5V, ≥2A
Microphone functionSupport Bluetooth calls with built-in omnidirectional microphone

 

 

Hardware Features:

The MUB1 is an ultra compact USB & Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier that features some impressive hardware specs. The device is equipped with four high-performance 32-Bit DAC chips featuring four units of CS43131 decoding chips and four BUF634 amp chips to achieve balanced headphone amp architecture, with an output power of up to 1110mW @32Ohms. The MUB1 comes with both 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced and a separate 3.5mm Optical/SPDIF Digital outputs interface.

 

Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC & Supported Sampling Rates

The Quloos MUB1 is equipped with four high-performance 32-Bit DAC chips featuring four units of CS43131 decoding chips. This 32-Bit Quad-DAC arrangement is able to archive excellent values such like a SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of 132dB and THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion) of just 0.00001% over its 4.4mm Balanced headphone output, which is quite impressive for such a compact portable all-in one solution.The Quad CS43131 inside the MUB1 has the capability to decode Hi-Res audio signals up to 32-Bit/384kHz PCM and Native DSD256.

DSD Decoding2.8224MHz (DSD64), 5.6448MHz (DSD128), 11.2896MHz (DSD256), Native or DoP
PCM Decoding16 / 24 / 32Bit, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz

The DAC of the Quloos MUB1 supports 5 kind of Digital Filter including NOS (None-Over Sampling) and this is the first time I’ve experienced such a profound sonic distinction between digital filters. The NOS filter is the one that I do enjoyed the most.

 

Balanced Circuit & Amplification:

The Quloos MUB1 has a pretty innovative and sophisticated balanced audio circuit design that is equipped with carefully selected audio components such like High-Power Amplification Chips, Panasonic Film Capacitors, Würth inductors, etc. All this components have been integrated in to a 6-layer circuit board for digital analog separation.

Quloos MUB1 comes with both a 3.5mm Single-Ended and 4.4mm Balanced headphone ports with dual output ability. The device is equipped with a specially developed high-power headphone amp section designed with 4x units of BUF634 amp chips, which offers an impressive power output of up to 1100mW @ 32ohm (in Super-High Gain) that was capable properly to drive fairly demanding planar headphones like the HiFiMAN Edition XS and Moondrop PARA.

The MUB1 offers 4 Gain modes that are Low, Medium, High and Super-High. Low and Medium are ideal for sensitive IEM, while High and Super-High are suitable for harder to driver earphones and headphones. Very remarkable is the very clean, noise free and almost pitch black background of both the 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced outputs.

It is also remarkable to mention that the MUB1 didn’t heat up despite it is powerful device with a small size and built-in battery, which makes it comfortable to use in your pocket, even after longer listening periods.

Another feature of the MUB1 is the high-precision “Femtosecond Crystal Oscillators” with only 150fs of nominal jitter.

 

Compatibility:

The Quloos MUB1 supports multiplatform including Android Smartphone’s/Tablets, iOS devices such like iPhone’s & IPad’s, Computers installed with Mac or Windows and even a Nintendo Switch. Quloos MUB1 works on both USB modes, the UAC 2.0 which is a standard today for most devices, and UAC 1.0 mode commonly used in previous-generation systems or low-power output devices such as Nintendo Switch, etc.

 

Bluetooth Connectivity:

The Quloos MUB1 can be used as a wireless DAC/Amplifier since it is equipped with a Bluetooth chip and Antenna that supports the V5.0 BT protocol. The MUB1 supports most of the advanced high-resolution wireless codec’s including LDAC, AptX HD, AptX and more traditional formats like AAC and SBC. The sound performance of the MUB1 when connected as a Bluetooth DAC/AMP is pretty decent!

The Quloos MUB1 also has a strong Bluetooth connection that can reach up to approx 10 meters without any problems. The device works well with videos and movies on YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc., and does not have any noticeable lip-sync delays when I paired it with my Samsung Galaxy TAB S8 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This is because it supports LDAC and AptX-HD codec’s.

 

Battery Life & Power Bank Function:

The Quloos MUB1 has a big battery of 2500mAh that can last for 10 hours. This is an above average performance for such a small and powerful device. The MUB1 also has a special feature: it has two USB Type-C ports; one port is for the digital input, and the other port is for charging. You can use this port to charge the MUB1 or you can use it as a power bank to charge your device that is connected to the MUB1.

Battery Test Results:

  • 5mm Single Ended Output: approx 9.5 – 10 Hours @ High Gain
  • 4mm Balanced Output: approx 7.5 – 8 Hours @ High Gain

Another feature of the MUB1 is that you can disable the charging function from the settings menu, which means when you connect the device to a charger you will Bypass the battery and power the MUB1 directly from the charging port. This is important since it will significantly increase the health and lifespan over time of the built-in battery of the device.

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • DAC/AMP’s   : Quloos MUB1
  • Sources         : Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung Tab S8 Ultra, ASUS TUF FX505DU
  • IEM’s              : Campfire Audio Solaris Horizon, Westone MACH60, Moondrop Blessing 3
  • Headphones  : HiFiMAN Edition XS, Moondrop PARA

  

 

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)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • 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 Quloos MUB1 is a quite powerful portable DAC/Amplifier with small size and compact design, which offers an impressive overall sound performance that was beyond my expectation. The device can handle different genres of music with ease and delivers a balanced and natural sound signature with the IEM’s and Headphones I have tested the device. The MUB1 stands out with its very good tonal balance!

The bass can be described as deep, powerful and well-controlled, giving most music genres a solid foundation and impact. The midrange impressed me with its rich, smooth and pretty detailed character, bringing out the vocals and instruments with accuracy and emotion. The treble range on the other hand is natural and crisp, able to create a good sense of airy and extension, and adding clarity to the music without being harsh or sibilant. The soundstage is presented in a pretty natural and spacious manner that shows a good sense of depth and wideness, especially when you use it in Super-High Gain mode.

I know that this seems quite promising, but the sound & output performance of this pretty small and compact device is simply stunning. It doesn’t give you the feel that you listen to a portable device; it has a unique presentation that is very close to a desktop device. But keep in mind that the MUB1 requires some burn-in to show its best since it is equipped with some electronic compounds that do benefit from these.

 

Sound Performance in Bluetooth Mode:

Another surprise for me was the sound performance when I have connected the MUB1 to a Bluetooth source like a Smartphone (Galaxy S22 Ultra) or tablet (Tab S8 Ultra) via LDAC codec. The sound what I do hear is relative close to the to the USB DAC mode. Yes, you will lose some sense of dynamics and some grade of micro details here and there, but what you get it is a pretty impressive type of sonic quality which you most likely won’t reach with other Bluetooth devices, and I’ve tested tons of them.

 

The Quloos MUB1 review has been written after a burn-in period of approx 120 hours. My sound impressions bellow are based on my experiences with IEM’s like the Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon, Westone MACH60, Moondrop Blessing 3 and Headphones like the Moondrop PARA and HiFiMAN Editions XS. The device has been used with the stock “NOS (None-Over Sampling)” Digital Filter and at “High Gain” with IEM’s and Super High Gain with Headphones.

  

Bass:

The Quloos MUB1 impressed me with its pretty natural and rich bass response with top notch level of layering. The subbass region has a natural feeling of depth and rumble when I listen to songs like Christian Reindl’s “Freya”, Massive Attack’s “Angel” or Lorde’s “Royals”, paired with IEM’s like the Campfire Audio Solaris Horizon and Westone MACH 60. Instruments such as bass guitars, electronic synthesizers or percussions are delivered with a good grade of subbass depth and intensity.

The MUB1 impresses with its authoritative midbass presentation, which I noticed right away when I listened to it with the Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon. This region has a subtle touch of warmth that adds some fullness and musicality to the overall presentation. The MUB1 handles complex bass passages with ease, displaying a high level of texture and control. Songs like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” and Charly Antolini’s “Knock Out 2000” album sound dynamic and engaging that I have highly enjoyed.

Midrange:

The midrange of the Quloos MUB1 is attracts attention with its pretty realistic and organic timbre both while listen to instruments and vocals. The general presentation of this area is extremely transparent, engaging and revealing. There is a slightly amount of warmth that is not overdone. The lower midrange is able to create a decent sense of fullness that was audible while listen to male and female voices, as well as instruments such like strings, pianos and percussions. Male vocals from Sting to Barry White are shown with pretty natural sense of body and depth in this area.

The Quloos MUB1 delivers a stunning performance in the upper midrange, where it showcases its superb resolution, extension and naturalness. It inherits the same distinctive tuning that I have always admired from previous Quloos devices, such as the QA361 and MC01. The MUB1 strikes a perfect balance in this region, blending a presentation that is neither too analytical nor too analog, but rather captures the essence of both worlds. Female vocals, such as those of Adele, Edith Piaf or Diana Krall, sound enchanting and lively, while instruments are rendered with vibrancy and realism, especially when paired with IEM’s and headphones like the Moondrop Blessing3 and HiFiMAN Edition XS.

Treble:

The Quloos MUB1 offers a natural and smooth treble performance that has a touch of warmth, adding a pleasant coloration to the sound. The MUB1 has an impressive level of resolution and extension for a device of its size and price range, which is evident with any IEM or headphone that I have paired with it. The MUB1 delivers a clear and refined treble sound that will satisfy audiophiles who appreciate detail and realism.

The lower treble range of the Quloos MUB1 has a good sense of presence and a high level of clarity and definition, which makes string instruments, pianos, and soprano voices sound lively and realistic. The MUB1 handles the lower treble region with finesse and accuracy, avoiding any harshness or congestion that might affect the sound quality. The MUB1 renders the upper treble region with a good amount of airiness and sparkle, without being harsh or sibilant. Instruments like strings and percussions do sound detailed and realistic, while a hint of warmth prevents them from sounding too sharp or thin.


Soundstage & Imaging:

The Quloos MUB1 has a spacious and airy soundstage atmosphere that creates a realistic and immersive listening experience. The background of the device is very dark and clean, which enhances the precision and separation of instruments and vocals. The soundstage of the MUB1 has a good level of depth and wideness that creates a decent sense of spaciousness and dimensionality.

 

Conclusion:

The Quloos MUB1 is an All-in-One Portable audio solution that delivers a stunning sound performance in both wired and wireless modes. It is equipped with four high-performance DAC chips and four amp chips that can drive various headphones and IEM’s with ease and accuracy.  Moreover, it supports multiple Bluetooth codec’s, including the high-resolution LDAC, and has a built-in battery that can even charge your phone if needed. What I also really like is its sleek and compact design, equipped with a small but useful OLED screen and multiple hardware buttons, and output/input options. All this features makes the MUB1 to a versatile and powerful device that can serve as a portable USB DAC/AMP and Bluetooth player that will satisfy the needs of any audiophile who values sound quality, convenience, and functionality.

 

Pros & Cons:

  • + Impressive Sound Performance (both Wired & Wireless)
  • + Great Tonal Balance
  • + Very Clean Background (@ Low / Mid & High)
  • + Powerful Output (up to 1100mW @ 32Ω)
  • + Multiple output/input options
  • + Support for multiple Bluetooth codec’s (including LDAC)
  • + Above average Battery Life (up to 10 hours)
  • + Sleek and Compact design
  • + Solid Build Quality
  • – Slightly Hiss @ Super High Gain Mode
  • – Leather Case is Optional (but, yes it comes with a Silicone Case)

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

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