In the early part of the year, I praised the qdc Anole V6, which was my first experience with a qdc custom monitor and a good one at that. This a 6-driver custom-tuned to deliver a beautiful timbre and just how I like to listen to my music. To quote,
“A gloriously fun-sounding performance that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck with a level of PRaT I have not heard in ages.”
Now my feeling was at the time you are not getting the final word in technical capability with the V6 but of course, driver count is not the be-all and end-all. A good small one will beat a crappy big one. However, a good big one should beat a good small one. If that makes sense.
Their new Anole VX., priced at $2647, is a considerable leap up from the $1320 of the V6 so my expectations of what it can do based on the V6 experience were considerably heightened and considerably rewarded by the end of the review process. This could well be the best custom monitor I have heard this year bar one and you will have to wait a few weeks to hear what the other one might be.
The qdc Anole VX is aptly named given this is a 10-driver all BA build with a 3-way crossover. Now qdc have not released the precise configuration on their website but given the 3-way crossover, we are assuming 3 groups of drivers for the lows, mids, and the highs.
Like the Anole V6, the VX also comes with a switching system that allows you to tweak the tuning of the monitor. This time, however, the VX has 3 switches instead of the V6’s two switches.
Instead of 4 flavors of sound, you now get a total of 8 variable sound signatures on the VX that cover the low-end, mids and treble. You can select one of either plus a combination of lows, mids, and treble in tandem or have all switches on at the same time. I do not think I have encountered such an expansive switching system in a custom monitor to date.
The qdc is largely unchanged since the V6 review, except with the addition of the VX in the designer software. I am still a bit cautious about the fact that through the entire check out process I did not see a secure SSL certificate in my browser URL. Something I think qdc should implement where any customer data is collected.
That being said, there are plenty of strong points with the qdc online store. Like most stores I have used the process is fairly linear but you can go back and forwards at any time in the process should you change your mind and want to tweak your final design choice.
You start with your choice of the monitor of which there is currently 11 in the range which can be customized. Once the VX is chosen you have a base price of $2647 and from there you can start to add options such as color, faceplate and custom artwork which will affect the price.
Once completed you will be required to register as a user and there your order will be stored from which you can reference for queries and follow-ups with qdc. What I do like is the notification of the processing time at the bottom which will reflect your order. The turnaround time is listed as the same as the V6 at 2-4 weeks which was roughly my own experience, (2-3 weeks).
Since the changes have been few and far on the design tool the quirks have also remained. Overall, the online custom design experience is good, but in terms of what I know is genuinely possible with them, I would shy away from saying great.
The option in our review design is called ‘XXX’ but it is not available in the online designer. You can get close with silvery options but none of the color options actually have a label so it is a process of trial and error. The design option we have is the stock choice for the universal model also and you can request for and also in their brochure. It really should be online.
Some of the titles under the options menu to the left of the design tool also require rethinking. For example, you have wood, jewelry, and mica all under the term – Woodgrain faceplate. Perhaps Premium faceplate would better work as they do come with additional fees.
Also, the word “Gear” is used for a standard ‘Clockface” design which some fans of this might miss altogether as its a small piece of text at the bottom of faceplate color picker.
Logos & Artwork
In total, you have 31 ‘free’ different faceplate colors to choose from divided into translucent and opaque. For fee-based faceplates, you have 6 wood variations, 3 skull designs, 3 brooch styles, and 6 mica or mineral designs.
For the main shell, you have the same 31 color options as the faceplate and they are also divided between transparent and opaque. You also have the option to add gold powder or flakes for an additional fee.
As with most online designers, you do get a break down with costs of each option so the running total is in clear sight. Be warned though, some options are relatively cheap like $30 for the gold powder, however, some of the faceplate designs start at $75 all the way up to an eye-watering $1965.00.
The color icons under jewelry faceplates are monotone and not hugely indicative of what you will get until you pick it. The first three under jewelry are the unbelievable skull plates which are priced at $395 additional. A big add-on fee but they look stunning in real life and may well be the best designs I have ever seen for a custom monitor.
The second three are cutesier classic brooch-style designs. Striking, and unusual but these are insanely priced at $1965. I am told these are all hand made by a design team hence the premium price.
The final set of add-ons include the cable options and I do urge you to consider this carefully for two reasons. The first is that qdc use protruding 2-pin reversed polarity cables. This means cable rolling will be a challenge. I advise picking a good cable to get the best out of the VX if you do not have any suitable alternative cables.
The second is the price variation which ranges from $60 to $300 depending on the cable. The first two cable options are the stock 4-core silvering copper cables and are free of charge. Go for this if you have adaptors and good cables already. For everyone else, I would recommend going up to the 8-core braided cable (8c) for an additional $60 as a minimum. 8-core will deliver a much better level of dynamic range than the stock 4-core wire.
Accessories & Packaging
qdc do very cool packaging, to put it mildly. The V6 came in a gold-colored two-piece tall retail package and the VX uses the same but this time in a silver and black color scheme. It reeks of premium and slides out to reveal a fold-out black display box that has the same arrangement as the V6 but with some slight accessory variation on the case.
Inside you get a carry case, airline adaptor, quarter jack converter, cleaning pick and of course, the monitor and stock cable. You also get some product collateral in a nice envelope pull-out that sits directly on top of the carry case. The adapters and cleaning tool come inside a smaller black cardboard box beside the new carry case.
The new carry case has changed from a circular orange soft leather-bound design to a new sky-blue square case. The size is not that different but the visual is a nice fit with the stock design aesthetic we went for in the VX build.
The front is adorned with qdc branding and your name on a metal faceplate on the front. the inside has changed a little with a tight leather holder on the underside of the lid and a pillar just off-center on the inside floor of the case to allow you to wrap the cable around. The materials seem to be a soft, almost Alcantara-like material which should do a good job of cushioning the VX whilst on the go.
Customer Service & Guidelines
At the time of writing, qdc require physical molds to be sent into them for scanning and completion of your custom monitors. You can send them directly or via one of their dealers such as Musicteck USA. The turnaround time should be added onto their 2-4 week build time so allow for an additional week to get them to qdc.
I had mine done at the HK AV Show back in August 2018 for the V6 and they were able to recycle these for the VX. qdc do require an open jaw full ear impression to the second band. Note, open jack with a flat bite block and not on its side. That means it is a fairly relaxed open-jaw impression and not wide open. Around 1cm opening of the mouth will be ideal.
Guides and Contact
qdc have provided a very helpful set of guides and pictures of the ideal molds to take on their website here. They also provide scan codes for We Chat customer service support should you need it. We Chat is used by almost everyone in China and is free to download on Android etc.
Click on page 2 below for Build & Sound Impressions