Quloos QLS MC01 Review

 

 

 

Quloos QLS MC01 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 Quloos QLS MSC1 that I will now review for you is the company’s first USB DAC/Amplifier dongle. It features 2x Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chips, an Advanced 2×6 Layer PCB Design, Panasonic Film Capacitors, low noise LDO LT3042 & ADM7171 regulators and a Low-Power MCU Management chip. Moreover, it is equipped with a OLED Display, an 100 step independent Hardware Volume Control button, 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced output, which are located in & outside a CNC Machined Aluminum Alloy Shell with a special anodized surface.

  

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Quloos and Shenzhen Audio for providing me MC01 DAC/Amplifier for sample purposes. I am not affiliated with Quloos and Shenzhen Audio 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 249.99 US$. More information can be found under the link below;

 

 

Package & Accessories:

The Quloos QLS MC01 came inside a rectangular box with some product and brand related illustrations on the top.

 

Inside the box are the following contents: 

  • 1 x Quloos QLS MC01 USB DAC/Amplifier Dongle
  • 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
  • 1 x Different Type of Silicone Attachment Tools
  • 1 X Print Material

 

The Quloos MC01 comes with both a USB Type-C to Lightning and a USB Type-C to Type-C low profile cable with a nice braided design. Other brands do sell often one of those cables separately, good job Quloos!

The device comes also with various types of stacking gadgets in form of silicones and metal plates that are some useful additions.

 

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The Quloos QLS MC01 is a portable USB DAC/Amplifier in form of a dongle that is equipped with a 2x Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chips. The body of the MC01 is made from precisely 5-Axis CNC machined aluminum material that has an eye-catching modern design, which gives you immediately the impression that you hold a solid product in your hands.

The device has dimensions of about 62mm*22mm*13.5mm and has a weight of about 25.4grams exclusive low profile cable.

The MC01 is available in two different color options that are red and dark grey same like my review unit.

On the top of the devices is an OLED Display which gives you direct access to multiple settings (Gain, Filters, Volume, etc.) without the need to install any application to your source such like a tablet or smartphone.

Here are also the CNC engraved Quloos brand logo and Mobil Audio Converter labelling.

The right surface of the MC01 sports the Mode button that gives you access to Gain, DAC Filter, Power Supply Filter, Left/Right channel adjustment, Screen Brightness and Auto Screen On/Off settings. Here are also the two other buttons for that work for Volume Up/Down and Navigation.

The left surface has a channel shaped pattern that is machined to the body of the MC01, which is a major design element of the device.

The top surface of the Quloos MC01 features the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 4.4mm Pentaconn Balanced (TRRRS) analog interfaces.

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

At the bottom of the device is the USB Type-C digital sound & power input port.

 

 

 

Quloos QLS MC01 Specifications:

Outputs4.4mm Balanced3.5mm Single-Ended
Net Weight25.4g
Dimension62.0(L) x 22.0(W) x 13.5(H)mm
ChassisCNC Aluminum
USB PortTypc-C USB Audio Input
HP Port4.4mm Balanced + 3.5mm Single-Ended
ControlVolume +/-, High/Low Gain, 3 kinds Power Filters, 5 kinds Digital Filters
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
USB OSUAC2.0 / UAC1.0,Windows、MacOS、Android、iOS、iPadOS
DAC ChipsDual Flagship CS43131,QFN package
AMP ChipsHigh-Power AMP Chips x 2
Gain settingHigh / Low
Power consumption
(Vol 50, 16bit 44.1kHz)
5V 105mA@3.5mm,5V 115mA@4.4mm,Add 4mA to P-High ,

Add 3mA again to P-Highest

Freq.Response20Hz – 20kHz ±0.5dB
THD+N
(Unweighted, no load)
0.00012%0.0002%
SINAD
(Unweighted, no load)
118dB114dB
SNR
(A-Weighted)
131dB118dB
Dynamic Range(A-Weighted)131dB118dB
Crosstalk(no load)-141dB-131dB
Crosstalk(32Ω)-92dB-72dB
Lineout Level
(±0.1V)(Vol:100)
4.0Vrms (High)
1.4Vrms (Low)
2.0Vrms (High)
0.7Vrms (Low)
Max Output260mW@32Ω 54mW@300Ω130mW@32Ω
Noise Floor (A-Weighted)1.2uV2.4uV

 

 

 

Hardware Features:

The Quloos QLS MC01 comes with some impressive hardware features such like Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chips, an Advanced 2×6 Layer PCB Design, Panasonic Film Capacitors, low noise LDO LT3042 & ADM7171 regulators and a Low-Power MCU Management chip.

  

Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC & Supported Sampling Rates

The Quloos MC01 is equipped with Dual DAC architecture, which are 2x Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chips (Digital to Analog Converter). Quloos was able to archive excellent values such like a SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of 131dB and THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion) of just 0.00012% over the balanced outputs, which is quite impressive.The CS43131 inside the MC01 is able to decode Hi-Res audio signals supporting 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

 

Balanced Circuit & Amplification:

The Quloos MC01 features quite sophisticated balanced audio circuit design with carefully selected audio components such like High-Power Amplification Chips, Panasonic Film Capacitors, low noise LDO LT3042 & ADM7171 regulators and a Low-Power MCU Management chip that are integrated together with 2x Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC Chips in to an Advanced 2×6 Layer PCB Design.

The 4.4mm Balanced out offers an output power of up to 260mW@32Ω, which is a quite impressive value for such a miniaturized device. The MC01 shows also a death silent background with ultra-low levels of white noise/hissing thanks to the use of LT3042 and DM7170 Low-noise LDO chips. This makes the MC01 to one of the cleanest sounding USB DAC/Amplifier dongles that I have listen to.

What also surprised me is that the device doesn’t get hot like other devices with a powerful balanced output, even after longer listening periods.

 

Femtosecond Crystal Oscillator:

The MC01 features a high-precision femtosecond crystal oscillator with only 150fs of nominal jitter that according to Quloos has been carefully selected among dozens of models/brands.

 

Compatibility:

The Quloos is a multiplatform USB DAC/Amplifier dongle that supports Android Smartphones/Tablets, iOS devices such like iPhones & IPad’s, Computers installed with Mac or Windows and even a Nintendo Switch.

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • DAC/AMP’s    : Quloos QLS MC01, Shanling UA5
  • Sources         : Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus+, ASUS TUF FX505DU
  • IEM’s               : Campfire Audio ARA, Meze Audio ADVAR, Moondrop Variations

 

 

 

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)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • 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 – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • 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 MC01 is a powerful and clean sounding Ultra-Portable USB DAC/Amplifier in form of a dongle with an excellent sound performance that reminds me to previously owned QA Series portable DAP’s such like the Quloos (QLS HiFi) QA360LE & QA361. The MC01 shows an impressive combines or in other words fusion of musicality and technicality in to one compact device.

The Quloos MC01 review has been written after a burn-in period of 100 hours. My sound impressions bellow are based on my experiences with IEM’s like the Meze Audio ADVAR, Moondrop Variations and Campfire Audio ARA. The device was set to the “NOS” Digital Filter and “High” Power Filter.

 

 

Bass:

The Quloos was always successful when it comes to the sound of their products and it is great to see that MC01 is no exception.  Let’s start with the lows; that are shown with a pretty linear presentation. The subbass region stands out with its fast decay and transparency. Songs like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right”, Massive Attack’s “Angel” and Lorde’s “Royals” is reproduced in a quite controlled and well extending manner when paired with IEM’s such like the Moondrop Variations and Meze Audio ADVAR.

The midbass region shows a tad of coloration that adds the overall presentation good sense of fullness and musicality without to show with any IEM a unwanted midbass hump or muddiness. The Quloos MC01 is able to produce a quite impactful and pretty controlled midbass response, without to lose that great sense of clarity and resolution that was especially audible when paired with the Campfire Audio ARA + ddHiFi Air Nyx (BC130) OCC upgrade cable combination. Songs like Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration” and Charly Antolini’s “Duwadjuwandadu” with quick and quite complex passages are reproduced in a controlled manner.

 

Midrange:

The Quloos MC01 shows a tad warmer than neutral midrange tonality with all IEM’s I have listened to it. The sense of transparency and airiness is impressive for such a small device. The lower midrange is shown in a pretty natural way, which offers a good level of body and fullness, especially when paired with IEM’s like the Moondrop Variations and Meze Audio ADVAR. Male vocals like Isaac Hayes, Sting and Dave Gahan do sound quite successful and musical, while instruments such like acoustic guitars do sound fairly smooth and emotional.

The upper midrange of the Quloos MC01 stands out with is excellent grade of clarity and resolution that sounds natural, detailed and well extended. Female voices from Adel to Edith Piaf, from Sarah McLachlan to Aretha Franklin do sound very lifelike and emotional. Instruments on the other hand with such like a side flute, violin or pianos are shown with a decent level of control and natural extension.

 

Treble:

The Quloos MC01 has a treble character that is pretty smooth, extremely controlled and detailed. The treble notes are shown with a natural sense of weight and brightness that do never sounded dry or digital to my ears, with any IEM I have paired the device. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the treble region are quite controlled in moments when instruments played with high level of distortion.

For example, instruments such like electro guitars, cymbals and pianos, or human voices such like soprano vocals are presented in a nicely smooth, natural and controlled manner. The sense of airiness and sparkle created in the upper treble register is decent. The brilliance of the upper midrange is successful and doesn’t shows any unwanted side effects such like over-sharpness

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The Quloos MC01 is a pretty successful portable DAC/Amplifier in terms of separation and positioning of instruments and vocals. The soundstage is expansive and shows a decent grade of airiness, which is supported with a dark and clean background. Both the depth and the width of the stage do create good conditions for a fairly holographic soundstage atmosphere with efficient grade of imaging.

 

 

 

Comparison:

 

Quloos MC01 versus Shanling UA5:

Both the Shanling UA5 and the Quloos MC01 do share a pretty detailed, transparent and airy overall sound profile with decent sense of dynamism. However, the MC01 shows a tad warmer and fuller tonality and sounds in general less aggressive and digital compared to the UA5. The bass of the Quloos MC01 shows a slightly better sense of decay and control and offers also a higher level of extension. The midbass region of both devices sounds pretty detailed and controlled, while the UA has the slightly edge when it comes to the impact and dynamism.

The Shanling UA5 has a slightly more dynamic midrange presentation with a brighter and somewhat dry sounding tonality compared to the Quloos MC01, which sound more natural smooth and transparent. The MCU1 shows a tad more airy midrange presentation and offers also a bit more micro detail retrieval in this area. The lower midrange of the MCU1 has a tad more body and depth. The upper midrange of the Shanling UA5 is more highlighted, while it sounds a bit sharp and energetic. The Quloos MC01 on the other hand offers a more mature, natural and controlled character, while listen to instruments such like a piano, violin or flute.

The treble range of the Shanling UA5 shows slightly more intensity, both in the lower treble and upper treble area. The UA5 shows a better sense of extension in this area, while the transitions from the upper midrange towards the treble area do sound a bit more controlled when I switch to the Quloos MCU1.

The soundstage performance of both the MCU1 and the UA5 is pretty equal in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The Shanling UA5 has the slight edge when it comes to the wideness of the stage, while the Quloos MCU1 offers a better sense of height and depth of the soundstage.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

The Quloos MC01 is another great example how far miniaturized DAC/Amplifiers have come in recent years. It’s a product with a modern design and very good build quality that packs tons of sophisticated hardware components in to one ultra-small device in form of a USB dongle. But the most impressive part is the overall sound performance that combines musicality, technicality and amplification power in to your pocket for a relative affordable price, which was a dream in the past for many audiophiles.

 

 

Pros & Cons:

  • + Excellent combination of Musicality & Technical Performance
  • + Tonality & Timbre
  • + Decent Overall Resolution
  • + Clean & Powerful Output
  • + Great Build Quality
  • + Doesn’t gets hot even after longer listening periods
  • + Rich Accessory package that includes Two Cables and many Stacking Tools

 

  • – Larger in Size compared to other USB DAC/Amplifier Dongles
  • – No protective Case available at the moment

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

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