Questyle CMA Eighteen Master Review

Questyle CMA Eighteen Master angled view

Questyle has been well regarded for quite some time. Their CMA series on amplifiers attempt to offer best in class audio. Meanwhile their DAPs and mobile DAC/amps look to bring a taste of high end sound to portable gear. Today, we have their new CMA series amp, the CMA Eighteen Master DAC/Amp. Promising upgrades like updated USB capabilities and a great, refined listening experience, the CMA Eighteen Master looks to be a pretty solid device. Let’s jump in!

What’s in the box:

  • CMA Eighteen Master DAC/Amp
  • Remote
  • Carrying pouch
  • USB C cable
  • Power cable
  • User guide


The build of the CMA Eighteen Master is similar to its predecessors, the CMA Twelve and CMA Fifteen. It’s an all-metal construction that feels premium and looks excellent. On the front, you’ll find switches for power, the DAC/headphone amp mode switcher, and one for bias control. It features a smooth volume dial that feels premium and has plenty of room to get your listening levels just right. 

The only thing that is a little odd about the build is its placement of gain switches on the bottom of the device. This is a holdover from the CMA Twelve and Fifteen. However, it comes on the high setting and I never had to change the gain switches while listening. 

Questyle CMA Eighteen Master back of device


The Eighteen Master is able to decode PCM 44.1-768 kHz at 32 bit, Native DSD up to DSD512, and DOP DSD up to DSD 256. The optical and coaxial inputs support 44.1 kHz – 192 kHz at 24 bit. Meanwhile its Bluetooth input supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptx-HD, and LDAC (up to 96 kHz/24 Bit, 990 kps/909 kps).

At the amp stage, the Eighteen Master is able to produce 2 watts into 32 ohms when using the balanced output, and 1.5 watts into 32 ohms when using single ended. I found there to be plenty of power for demanding headphones, especially on high gain, which, again, the amp comes set to. 

Questyle CMA Eighteen Master front of device


Off the bat, the soundstage on this device was really impressive to me. Using Abyss Diana MR and Focal Clear Mg headphones, I got a great sense of space and sound placement. What I enjoyed the most, though, was the DAC/amp’s imaging and separation. I could hear every sound and where it was coming from. But even more impressive is I could hear the open space on the track and locate where it was. For example, on King Crimson’s “Starless,” not only could I hear the detailed imaging of the different cymbals as they crashed, I could get a sense of the space they recorded in as the musicians built from quiet to loud. Overall, this is an impressive amp for imaging and processing details to the point that it feels like you’re in the room with the musicians. 

Low end:

The bass response on the CMA Eighteen Master is neutral with great punch. I never missed a kick drum beat and separation between low end instruments was phenomenal. Especially on the Focal’s, which are known for their dynamics, I got a great sense of slam without it ever becoming too much. The sub-bass rumble is present without causing any bias towards the low end and the transitional space between mid-bass and lower-mids is smooth and transparent. 


I found the midrange on this system to be neutral-warm. Vocals are clear and natural without feeling too forward. What really stands out to me was the sense of microdynamics of which the CMA Eighteen Master is. Sticking with King Crimson, sounds like violin pans had great attack while moving within the stereo range. Meanwhile I could hear the decay of reverb-laden vocals with crystal clarity. 

Midrange detail is also fantastic. On Mdou Moctar’s “Tumastin,” I could hear the sounds of the guitarist’s fingers moving up and down the fretboard. Instrument notes are all handled with care. You can really feel the impact of snare drum hits and guitar strums. All in all, the midrange on the Eighteen Master is nuanced, detailed, and natural. 

High end:

Like the rest of the frequency response, the CMA Eighteen Master leans towards the neutral side of things. As I alluded to earlier, cymbal hits are delivered with great detail and resolution. The DAC/amp delivers a great sense of attack on cymbal hits, however there is never a sense of any sibilance or discomfort when listening. 

I’ll use the word decay again to describe how the high end resolves. Sounds don’t just end, they shimmer and fade like sound naturally does. There’s no distortion that I can hear, just high resolution sound. 

Questyle CMA Eighteen Master angled from volume knob


I think Questyle has a knockout on their hands. The CMA Eighteen Master is a top of the line performer that scales up headphones and delivers great sound quality. If you want a great sense of space and imaging, a neutral yet impactful sound signature, and to just get lost in the music, this is a great product to check out. 

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The Questyle CMA Eighteen Master is available at Audio46

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