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Questyle M15 Dongle DAC/Headphone Amplifier: Review

Dongle DACs grew to become a scorching commodity in 2021, however understanding which one is smart for you and the headphones or powered loudspeakers that you just personal takes greater than only a fast peek on the specs.

Questyle M12

Questyle’s M12 Dongle DAC which I reviewed not too long ago was the luxurious Chinese producer’s first foray into the class and its efficiency made me understand that their long-term experience in regard to high-end headphone amplifiers does matter.

Questyle doesn’t minimize corners and the M12 proved to be way more succesful than a lot of its rivals; the costlier Questyle M15 isn’t a substitute and I used to be curious to see if the uptick in worth positioned it into the highest tier within the class.

Questyle M15 Mobile DAC Front and Back
Questyle M15

The Skinny

While the M12 is single ended with a 3.5mm jack, the Questyle M15 presents each single ended (through a 3.5mm port) and balanced (through a 4.4mm balanced port) units of outputs.  

Questyle M15 Mobile DAC 4.4mm BAL
Questyle M15 Mobile DAC Input
Questyle M15

The M15 is bigger the the M12 however the weight distinction is negligible and neither unit is troublesome to journey with.

The M15 makes use of a steel shell on three sides and a glass face so expertise nerds have one thing to take a look at. Unlike the M12 with its computerized achieve switching, the M15 offers the consumer a guide change on the aspect eliminating one of many complaints leveled in opposition to the M12.

The LED indicators of the M12 are retained with one on both aspect of the USB port.  On the correct hand aspect, we’ve got a achieve indicator with inexperienced for low and crimson for prime; on the left hand aspect we’ve got the info indicator with inexperienced for 44.1/48kHz PCM, crimson for prime pattern price PCM (88kHz to 384kHz) and DSD64/256, and magenta for MQA information.  

questyle-m15-mobile-dac-left
Questyle M15 Mobile Lossless DAC with Headphone Amplifier Right
Questyle M15 Mobile DAC Front
Questyle M15

Much like its cheaper sibling, the guts of the M15 is the ESS9281AC SOC, and like its little brother — the M15 makes use of present mode amplification and bypasses the built-in amplifier in favor of a present mode amplifier designed by Questyle.

While most Dongle DAC producers use the built-in amplifier for simplicity, the present mode amplifier Questyle designed has decrease distortion and noise and presents higher bandwidth than comparable voltage-mode amplifiers. 

The M15 provides a Torex energy administration system to permit the M15 to ship most output energy with out draining the cellphone’s battery excessively. I discovered that the M15 price me roughly an hour of battery life on my Samsung S21 or iPhone 13 when listening at regular quantity ranges for a interval of 4 hours.   

The Questyle M15 is certainly not straightforward in your battery; it drains lower than the Xduoo Link 2 Balanced Dongle DAC and is roughly equal with the Cayin RU6 which presents among the greatest efficiency I’ve heard to this point from something within the class.

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With two achieve choices, the M15 presents sufficient energy to drive full sized headphones just like the Meze Audio LIRIC and delivers sufficient finesse to deal with delicate IEMs utilizing the low achieve mode and single ended output.    

Due to the usage of the present mode amplifier, the measurements look a bit completely different than most; I nonetheless had no hassle driving the Beyerdynamic (600 ohms) headphones or Fostex T50RP with its low sensitivity.    

The HEDD and HiFiMAN HE6 tax it closely, however each can be utilized with the balanced output in a pinch though neither has plenty of additional headroom.   

One quirk that have to be highlighted is {that a} headphone or pair of earphones have to be related to the Questyle M15 earlier than it’s detected by the supply system.

Questyle M15 Mobile DAC Kit
Questyle M15

This design determination really makes makes good sense since it will probably’t be used and not using a headphone related and there’s no level in draining energy from the supply unnecessarily. It continues to be not a function you see fairly often and has led to feedback on-line screaming about faulty M12 and M15 fashions as a result of finish customers don’t know in regards to the function.

Be certain you have got a headphone or earphone related to the M15 when plugging the USB cable into the supply.

I had run into some driver points with the M12 and questioned if they’d rear their head as effectively with the 2 designs sharing the identical SOC however fortunately discovered that no matter subject had plagued WASAPI in Foobar had been cured. 

I had no points with cutouts in any respect no matter which system I connected the M15 to. Questyle lists the M15 as being suitable with Windows 10 however I think older variations of the OS might need some points; it’s one thing value checking on the Questyle web site.

Questyle M15 Mobile DAC Kit Top

Sound

What’s most hanging in regards to the Questyle M15 is the very linear and even efficiency throughout the complete frequency vary; there are only a few dips and I used to be fairly taken with the degrees of element and texture.

Bass notes are delivered with wonderful extension and affect and I seen that in contrast to different Dongle DACs which have struggled with some full sized headphones within the low finish, the M15 delivered plenty of vitality, management, and pace.

The midrange is clear, detailed, and fairly crisp; vocals should not overly ripe making the M15 match for hotter sounding headphones or IEMs.

The treble can be clear, detailed, and never aggressive in any respect. It might not be the final phrase in treble airiness however it’s by no means etched or arduous sounding with most recordings.

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The soundstage with good headphones could be fairly extensive and deep and the M15 clearly bettered its cheaper sibling and others in that regard. Imaging is exact and I used to be fairly stunned by how effectively it rivaled the Cayin RU6 in that regard.

The M15 isn’t mushy or candy and it’s actually not rolled off at both excessive; wonderful recordings will profit from its tonal steadiness and presentation.

Conclusion

The $249 Questyle M15 Dongle DAC actually belongs within the premium class for a variety of causes; construct high quality, function set, sound high quality, and the power to drive some fairly troublesome headphones.

With each single ended and balanced outputs, two achieve ranges, PCM, DSD, and MQA help, there’s a lot to love about this product. Not everybody cares about MQA however those that use TIDAL will definitely need this function.

Is it well worth the uptick in worth over the M12?

I might recommend that it rivals the Cayin RU6 and even some DAPs just like the Hiby R6 and that iBasso 220 which makes it a fairly good cut price on the worth.

Does it make sense to spend the extra funds on the Cayin RU6 or is the Questyle M15 now the mannequin to beat within the class which additionally contains the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt and THX Onyx.

I might recommend attempting it earlier than you pay for the rest.

For extra info: questyle.com

Availability: Friday, April 15, 2022