Overview of the QLS player 361 — celebration additional Radioengineering thoughts

Last year was rich in premieres of different players, like a top, and not very much, but QLS 361 stands out. First, it is a real masterpiece of additional Radioengineering thoughts, and secondly, it’s a definite contender for the title of “the best ratio of price and quality for lovers neutral delivery”.


The first player of the company, the index bore QLS350 I missed as he came out at the dawn of portable audio and quickly descended from the sky. The following model index 360 already visited the survey, and the national popularity has not been spared. The company have updated it, releasing the LE version, but overall, since 2014 great advances have QLS was not observed until about the middle of last year did not take place the announcement of the next model received index 361.

I don’t know why the novelty has not named at least 370, it is clearly deserved, because the player has processed all. The developers Quloos (so sometimes the company prefers to call himself) came to everything thoroughly, thinking that nutrition is the cornerstone. The filter circuit takes the lion’s share of the price of the device: inside the player has multiple high-capacity supercapacitors for power stabilization at various nodes of the player and additional filters protect the components from interference. The role of the DAC is used clocked voltage AK495SEQ (specially selected the best specimens of normal 4495), fully balanced amplifier made 6 OPA1622 and thus has a variable configuration. In addition to “normal” mode you can enable it in the modes of high voltage, high current or “double high”, the title of which speaks for itself. Of course, this affects battery life, but it gave the player the opportunity with absolutely no problems, “rock” any headphones (well, except a couple of really clinically tight models), but about it below. Of course, the optimization did not end, player everything is subordinated to the idea of getting the highest quality sound, starting with a special single-threaded firmware running on “bare metal” to a high level driver and generator with special chip analog volume control.

Most surprisingly, the price tag in the QLS put relatively modest for a player they want around $ 800: a larger sum, but, given the “tricked out”, it seems to me that marketing companies still poskromnichal.

Specifications

  • DAC: AK495SEQ
  • OU: 6 × OPA1622 + OPA2107
  • Frequency range: 0 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Recommended load impedance: 8Ω – 600Ω
  • The ratio signal/noise: 112 dB
  • Dynamic range: 115 dB
  • Channel separation: 106 dB
  • Distortion: 0.0008%
  • Output impedance: 0.18 Ω for the unbalanced output, balanced to 0.38 Ω
  • Output power (@ 32Ω): to 400 mW at the unbalanced output
  • Output power (@ 300Ω): up to 100 mW for unbalanced output, up to 320 mW to balanced
  • Scope of voltage: 5.26 Vrms for unbalanced output, 10.4 Vrms on balanced
  • Memory card support: MicroSD up to 256 GB
  • Outputs: 3.5 mm naushnikov unbalanced, 3.5 mm balanced, 3.5 mm line-in, combined with coaxial
  • Input: USB-C charging
  • Battery: 3800 mAh
  • Working time on single charge: ~ 10 hours
  • Time to full charge: 5 – 6 hours
  • Support file formats: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, APE, ALAC, TTA, WV, DIFF, DSF, SACD ISO, MP3, AAC, DTS,
  • Dimensions: 115 mm × 65 mm × 16 mm
  • Weight: 185 gr.

Packing and delivery

The box is made in a minimalist way: the black cardboard in the same black dust jacket with embossed folgirovannye — as they say, simply, but with taste. And here is the set of accessories makes it clear that the company tried to give buyers the most and make the experience with the player the most positive.

In the box, in addition to the player, instructions and warranty card you will find:

  • USB-C charging cable
  • good cover of soft-touch leatherette
  • protective film on the screen
  • a microfiber cloth to care for the device
  • adapter for use with the player headphone with 2.5 mm plug
  • as his memory of the player is not in the set put a 32 GB MicroSD card. Not super capacity, but in order to immediately begin listening to the music — enough
  • The USB card reader to compensate for the fact that the role of the USB flash drive player not working

I would call this package “turnkey”.

Design and management

The appearance of the player is simple enough, but it’s still a huge step forward compared to its predecessor. The main advantage, of course, reduced size and weight, pocket player now fully. Form the aluminum body has a simpler parallelogram with a bevel on the right side looks much more modern artsy chamfers 360. The developers have increased the size of the buttons, simplifying management blind to replace a full-size SD cards came MicroSD, and charging is via a standard USB C. Player comes in two versions: black and Golden color “champagne”, both look stylish and discreet. The build quality of the player is good, no squeaks, backlash and, especially, dangling buttons.

On the left side of the player is a MicroSD card slot. On the right is a volume button, a menu button and two switches, one responsible for the lock player, the second for its inclusion. On the bottom side placed 3 outputs, all 3.5 mm: conventional, balanced and linear, combined with a coaxial. There is also a USB-C connector for charging and a small led to indicate the status of the process. Full recharging takes about 4 hours to work on it can hours 10 – 11 in “normal mode” with unbalanced output, modes of higher power and “balance” will significantly reduce working time.

On the front face is a four position navigation button with the inscribed playback button (selects the menu) and the screen. Good, but given the fact that the firmware of the player is completely devoid of graphics, its “level” remains unsolved.

Overall, the ergonomics of the player leaves a pleasant impression, it is simple, but it is conveniently managed. Only, perhaps, minus the use of three similar connectors on the bottom, so I advise you to get “plugs” to immediately close the ones that you are going to use.

Firmware

Itself player, as in the previous version, made very simple and minimalistic. According to the developers, the player no operating system and firmware running on bare metal, exclusively in single-threaded mode. The creators of the device believe that this allowed them to minimise any possible impact on the sound by reducing jitter. An added bonus in this case is performance: the player turns on within a couple of seconds and ready to please the owner of the music.

Less expected is the absence of almost all modern “chips”, which may please other gadgets. I’m not even talking about things like streaming or Bluetooth support, but no in 361 or more basic functions like media libraries or mode USB DAC. However, limitations quickly, nevertheless the main thing — to listen to music, and with this player, everything is fine.

In the absence of the media library, all navigation is carried out exclusively through folders, that is how you music laid out, so it will be shown. Choose the file, then it starts playing. Screen with information about the track in sufficient detail, there is shown the format, resolution, time, number of tracks in the current folder… well, everything except album art. To switch tracks, use the arrows up and down, rewind, long press. Buttons “right” and “left” allow you to go back to the file browser. From the “organizational” capabilities available only favorites (hint — to add or remove the necessary for 2 seconds hold down the play button).

The settings menu is opened by a separate button and contains a lot of items, mostly related to sound: select the digital filter, gain, mode of operation of the amplifier and so on. The developers care are visible throughout, such as when switching Gein, the player automatically adjusts volume levels so that you hear the changes in volume. Also, there is an additional setting of “filing”, allowing you to select a softer or more “aggressive” option. With the availability of functions upsampling to DSD, the number of possibilities of tuning the audio player exceeds the “standards”. The sound settings include the settings of the interface (changes colors), the speed of the buttons, the order of playback and memorizing the current song/position on shutdown.

Despite the minimalism, the player control is very convenient: it is logical, everything works predictably, any manipulation can be done in seconds. The player is quite good, though not perfect, understand not the Latin and pleasing playback without pauses.

For lovers of experiments, the developers offer two “lightweight” version of the firmware that does not support any single format in addition to WAV, but offering different sound. All firmwares can be kept on the memory card, pereproshivka player “on the go”, but I after a couple of experiments I decided to stay “normal” version. The sound of “purist” of the firmwares are indeed different, but the usability of FLAC files from my collection without conversion for me was more important.

Sound

To listen to the device used the following headphones: iBasso IT04, Meze Empyrean, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Audio Andromeda and Solaris, the Unique Melody Mason V3, HUM Pristine and others.

In the presentation of the player, the developers have tried to achieve maximum neutrality. Perhaps, it would be foolish to spend so much effort to make a player with painted sound. In this case, competent amplification circuit provided QLS361 excellent control of all frequencies that gives the audio player a bit of naturalness.

As I wrote above, of all the firmware I chose “normal”, the difference between balanced and regular output (except power) is small and is a little wider an imaginary stage in the case of the balance sheet, therefore, further description of the sound is given for the standard firmware and the usual 3.5 mm output.

Nicely controlled bass with excellent detail and textures. The depth of the bass as close to the reference, I think it lets you know correctly implemented amplifier. Of course, if the track has tight bass, player will play them exactly right, surprising the listener with power, rascacielo and control, but if they are not in the record, “” nothing will not be added. The player does not emphasize the bass either quantitatively or with added weight, it is not a model for those who are looking for options with dark, bold or any other painted serving. To add a little massiveness will help enable filter Slow mode high voltage, but don’t expect a big bass-boost.

SCH serves neutral, but with good integrity, avoiding “rolling” in the dry monitormost. Despite this great solution, the player does not forget about the right weight, which allows him to easily cope not only with microcontrast, but also with macro-component. Unlike other neutral players, 361 does not emphasize the shortcomings of the recording, just playing them exactly as they are. The player does not emphasize emotions, so that few of them will sound bland, but that’s exactly what you would expect from a monitor source. An imaginary scene — not a record, but significantly more than the average, the division plans — close-to-ideal potential, as well as the size and positioning of instruments.

RF is also naturally good. QLS361 it is not a model for RF-fobov (well, if someone haven’t guessed) as mask and smooth out the top of the range it will not, but, thanks to the remarkable “technical talent”, the player will provide the naturalness, length and layering (yeah) and attack with the attenuation, almost reaching the “level” of the top devices. For the lucky listener this in turn will give the rich tone complex instruments, the richness of overtones and the fact that is called “air”. The downside of this is that critical player to record a treble in the track, and this is the part which is often neglected in modern recordings and you risk to hear it in full. However, this “problem” typical of most high-level devices.

Comparison I to paint this time I will not because of the futility. If you like monitor the supply of, 361 is probably the best player of this kind, bypassing the quality even much more expensive A&K SE100. Compare the same player with less neutral sources, not a lot of sense, since the choice here will determine the first difference in the supply.

Compatibility

Perhaps the biggest strength of the player is versatility and the ability to without problems to shake anything. For sensitive IEM there is a normal mode, characterized by low noise level. For the low-sensitive Nizamov — mode overcurrent. For high impedance models with normal sensitivity — high voltage. For tight istinam — mode “double everything” and increased the gain. In General little able to shake the hero of today’s review, even capacitive load, which baffled most of the sources him on the shoulder.

Stylistically player is totally universal, but we must remember that he desired recording quality and, of course, we must be prepared to unembellished sound. On a scale of fault-finding I would rate it somewhere in the 8 out of 10 points.

According to tradition, a few tracks as example

Iron Maiden — Wasting Love Hardly this track needs at least some views. Perhaps the best vocalist in the history of metal (subjective evaluation) and one of his best works (a subjective assessment). QLS361 plays the track powerfully, dynamically, and with incredible effect of realism, but what else do you want?

Jimi Hendrix — Hey Joe Despite not the best recording quality (and, perhaps, because of), this track is a good test for the player, so as to convey the distinctive sound of the time — the task is not so simple. But the player from Quloos cope with it without any problems.

Nina Simone — Feeling Good How many famous performers I would not give my tribute to this song from Nina Simone is unlikely to be ever surpassed. A good pair of headphones in combination with the hero of today’s review clearly will understand why I’m so sure of that.

Insights

Will not probably be an exaggeration to say that the 361 was a unique device, starting with a neutral and technical supply and ending with incredible flexibility in terms of load. Combined with a quick, though minimalistic, IOS and adequate for this level price tag, this makes the player one of the best options for those who like unadorned and technical supply without being dry.

Buy QLS361

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