Review: QAT MS6i Music Server

Posted on 11th February, 2016

QAT MS6i Music Server Review

Setup

QAT have developed a proprietary control app to operate their music servers, QAT Remote App, which is available for free for both Android and iOS phones and tablets.

I am very happy to report that the app itself is actually quite pleasant to use, particularly on a tablet. It's responsive, functional and quite well thought out. Far too often an excellent product is limited by poor software implementation, so it's great that QAT have approached this in the manner that they have and made it as user friendly an experience as possible.

The same app used on a phone version is acceptable, but I would save it as a secondary controller. The loss of real estate does result in a somewhat more restricted layout. For the best experience, you’ll want to use a tablet.

The MS6i was able to locate my network storage quickly and easily and it wasn't long before I was able to listen to content both on the server itself as well as via the local network.

During the review period, an update became available which also saw the integration of Tidal streaming into the QAT Controller App, which I will discuss further on.

QAT MS6i Review

Listening

I was able to test two of the MS6i's outputs, digital optical via my WireWorld Supernova 7 cable, and digital coax via my Chord Anthem Tuned ARAY cable, connected to a NAD M2 Direct Digital amplifier.

What I experienced was interesting as I found that via the coaxial hookup there was a noticeably greater sense of musicality, whereas switching to the optical output resulted in a touch greater depth. The optical output did sound slightly more 'digital' though.

Both outputs however sounded excellent in their own regard and in the end, I settled on the coaxial output for the remainder of the review.

I experimented with a number of different recordings, at various sample rates. Ryan Adams' recent self-titled release in 24/96 sounded excellent.

QAT MS6i Review

Adams' records in his own purpose built studio and this particular release really hits the accelerator from the very first track, 'Gimme Something Good'.

The drum-fill in the intro hit hard and wide. The hard left panned electric guitar letting off a single strum throughout each of the verses really stood out nicely. The arpeggiated acoustic guitar panned slightly to the right throughout the chorus managed to find breathing space amongst a very busy mix. The overall presentation was spacious, separation of instrumentation was excellent and imaging was airtight.

Another self titled album, this time from Fleet Foxes, is a modern masterpiece of music production. Their brand of folk rock also shines through the QAT MS6i.

Streaming the 16/44.1 FLAC from my networked drive, the QAT nearly delivered the kind of musicality I'd only ever heard through the LP, which is solid testament to the performance of the MS6i. 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song' in particular was a standout for me.

This track starts with a heavily panned acoustic guitar to the right and after several bars; a secondary guitar begins to play on the hard left. It's at that point lead singer Robin Pecknold's vocal kicks in. There is just such air, and such ambience to this track. Hauntingly captivating; the best words I can find to describe the performance through the MS6i.

Recently I picked up a copy of Chvrches new release, 'Every Open Eye' on LP. Bundled with it was the obligatory 320kbps MP3 code. My music collection is vast, but not all of it is necessarily ‘high-res’. I thought it would be interesting to see how the MS6i handles less than favorable file resolution.

'Leave a Trace' is a favourite of mine on this release, featuring a relatively stripped back verse, and a gorgeous Lauren Mayberry vocal sung over a subtle synth and electronic kit. The pre-chorus fleshes it out substantially, leading into the full chorus as Mayberry's vocals add some overdubs and layers.

Surprisingly, listening to the MP3 version didn't leave me wanting for more. There was no noticeable ringing, just silky smooth, delicious music. The MS6i is clearly up to the job across all formats and resolutions.

Tarkan Ceviker's avatar

Tarkan Ceviker

Lover of Hi-Fi, Music and Recording Engineering. I particularly like the affordable and value-packed products; finding that diamond in the rough.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: qat  magenta audio  ms6i  music server 

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