Questyle QP1R Portable Player

The Insider

Equipment report
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Questyle QP1R
Questyle QP1R Portable Player

The volume knob on the QP1R is located at the top of the chassis, protected Panerai-style by guards on either side. It turns smoothly through its scale of 0 to 60. And while there were times when I wished it would respond faster, when I wanted to turn the volume down quickly, it was glitch-free. Turning the knob clockwise (looking down at the top of the player) brings the volume up and counter-clockwise brings the volume down.

Another unique feature in the QP1R player is its “vibrate mode.” When this setting is activated (it’s also the default), if the QP1R wakes up from sleep, turns on, or acknowledges a command (such as “pause”), the entire chassis vibrates briefly. The first time this happens will surprise you, but after the novelty wears off it may seem somewhat silly. I suppose if you need to be able to operate the QP1R’s controls while the unit is still in your pocket, out of sight, the vibration will serve as a confirmation that something will happen, soon. Fortunately you can turn off the feature, which will also increase your battery life.

Speaking of power, the 3300 mAh li-polymer battery has a published playing time of between eight and ten hours. If you play primarily high-resolution files, the duration will be on the shorter end of the spectrum. Even with eight to ten hours of projected runtime, I would advise carrying an extra USB battery along for international trips.

For users who prefer to tailor their sound, the QP1R offers two user-configurable-and-saveable eq settings, EQ1 and EQ2. Users have up to 6dB + or – adjustments at 31Hz, 62Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 1k, 2k, 4k, 8k, and 16kHz. The eq controls are located in the system settings, which require several button-pushes to locate. If you are a compulsive eq-alterer this could get tiresome, but for those who set and then forget about eq this arrangement works fine.

Gorilla Glass has a neat name, and is known for its hardness, which is a fine attribute for a portable device. But Gorilla Glass is also extremely slick, so slick that if you hold the QP1R in your palm and slant your hand even slightly downwards, the QP1R will inevitably begin to slide out. While the QP1R’s chassis and glass look as if they could survive a drop or two without any ill effects, I’d prefer not to find out.

When it comes to portable players, describing their intrinsic sonic character is difficult. That’s because their sonic personality is a result of the combination of the player and the earphones connected to it. Yes, I know that’s obvious, but what is less obvious and far more empirical, is how a particular player’s own impedance and power-handling characteristics will interact with a headphone’s impedance and sonic personality.

Perhaps it’s a function of Questyle’s current-mode amplification circuit, but I found the QP1R to be among the least fussy portable players when it came to headphone pairing. Even the more idiosyncratic headphones in my collection, such as the Sennheiser HD 700, which can sound “peaky” with some portable headphone amps and players, sounded smooth and controlled. While I was still aware of the HD700’s sonic personality, its positive sonic characteristics were moved to the forefront by the QP1R, while its amusical faults were minimized. The QP1R can handle a wide variety of headphones successfully while letting the basic personality of the cans show through.

Audiophiles who don’t care for headphones often cite the lack of a conventional three-dimensional stereo image as a barrier to their enjoyment. Headphone devotees, on the other hand, can go to great lengths expounding upon the imaging differences between various headphones. When I first began to listen to headphones I was in the former camp, but as time passed I’ve learned how to listen through headphones and decode the imaging information. For me the “imaging breakthrough” came one evening while I was monitoring a live recording using Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors. I was using a single stereo pair of microphones and during the show it was easy to imagine that instead of listening through earphones my head was where the microphones were. Listening to that recording today through the QP1R via in-ear monitors puts me right back in that moment again.