Questyle CMA 18 Portable Review

Questyle has released some notable DAC/Amp products that I’ve used as some of my go-to devices for testing headphones and IEMs. Their high-end desktop amps like the CMA Twelve and Fifteen speak for themselves, but their potable options are just as strong. They have decided to launch a new portable DAC/Amp that aims to service as a more mid-tier option like the Chord Mojo. Can the CMA 18 compete in this area?

What You Get

  • CMA 18 Portable
  • Charging cable
  • USB-C to USB-C OTG Cable
  • USB-C to Lightning OTG Cable
  • Quickstart Guide
  • Warranty Card

Questyle CMA18 Portable input and output


The build of the CMA 18 is like a blown-up version of the M15 to put it simply. However, it’s not blown up too much, as the device is still the size of your palm, and it lines up nicely with the back of your smartphone. Using a band to attach the CMA 18 to the back of your phone is the best way to use it on the go. Its design is also a lot like the M15, with an aluminum casing supporting a glass window revealing the device’s main board. This board will also indicate your source and volume level.

It runs off USB type C and uses one port for both charging and data transfer. Two analog outputs are dedicated to your headphone plugs, which the CMA 18 offers with 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm terminations. There’s another balanced 4.4mm slot for line-in, joined by a port for optical.

Questyle CMA18 Portable back


The CMA 18 incorporates an AKM AK4493 DAC chipset, supported by four sets of PCT-class current-mode SiP chips for amplification. They are designed to be efficient, with low power consumption that will satisfy those with more resistant headphones and IEMs. With this configuration, the CMA 18 can achieve a maximum sample rate of 768kHz/32-bit with PCM, and DSD512. For Bluetooth connections, you can enjoy both aptX HD and LDAC with compatible devices.

Questyle CMA18 Portable stand up

Sound Impressions

Like its closest competitor, the Chord Mojo, the CMA 18 is a small device that houses a distinct sound profile with tons of power. It was able to drive all my headphones and IEMs with similar efficiency. I think it’s better suited for headphones, but it worked well with the more premium IEMs I used. Something like the HD 600 will come through with comfortable gain, but headroom might not be as plentiful as other portable amps even with high gain switched on. The CMA 18 makes up for that in its overall presentation of all the sound that comes through it.

Most instruments have a definite position and angle through the CMA 18. This is especially apparent with headphones and IEMs that have a closer headspace, as the CMA 18 is capable of revealing more breathable space. While the CMA 18 shows increased surface area to sound elements, it still organizes everything in a way that’s both accurate and immersive for the listener. Headphones like the Final Audio D7000, and Focal Celestee felt like there was more space between sound elements and it heightened their dimension.


I’m fond of a lot of Questyle’s library, and the CMA 18 is a fantastic addition to it. It separates itself from a lot of its other products, giving people seeking power and enhanced clarity for their headphones and IEMs on the go. It carries more options for connection than most portable dongles do and uses Bluetooth as just another added benefit. While it might not feature as much consistency in amplitude for high-impedance headphones and IEMs, the sound profile it provides is highly enjoyable and will make for a capable mid-fi audio companion for your phone.

Major HiFi Silver Award

The Questyle CMA 18 Portable is available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.