A family of high performers
The Mojo & Hugo from Chord Electronics, along with their bigger brothers the Hugo TT and DAVE, represent the latest generation in a long line of unique, very high performance DAC products dating back to the award-winning DAC64. Digital design guru Rob Watts is constantly pushing the boundaries of what silicon and audio electronics can bring to their customers’ home and headphone systems.
Chord is justifiably proud to say that Mojo (‘Mobile Joy’) is a true reference-quality mobile DAC and high-level headphone amplifier for people on the go. Its ultra-compact design is based on the Hugo platform, but Mojo from Chord Electronics uses the new Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA, making it the most advanced DAC of its type on the planet!
It has been designed to be easily operated: there are no confusing or superfluous switches. Mojo is capable of driving any headphone between 4 ohms and 800 ohms and can drive two pairs of headphones simultaneously. It can work with any music file from 44.1kHz up to 768kHz and DoP DSD files: DSD 64; DSD 128 and DSD 256. Mojo can decode a wide range of formats, too: PCM; WAV; AAC; AIFF; MP3 and FLAC files and is designed to work with all smartphones and music players. It has a full recall- memory for both input selection and previous volume set level.
Input selection is fully automatic: if more than one input is active they are prioritized as USB first, coax second, optical third. The file frequency is shown clearly by an indicator color option on the power switch, from 44.1kHz (red), 48kHz (orange) and so on, up through a rainbow of colors to bright white for DSD. The highly accurate low-distortion digital volume is controlled via two color-illuminated buttons.
Many low-cost apps now make high-resolution music files playable from all smart phones. Mojo has three different high-resolution digital inputs: optical to 192kHz, plus USB and RCA (mini-jack) which operate up to 768kHz. Mojo utilizes new advanced high-temperature battery technology that allows for faster charging (four hours) via a standard USB port, and Mojo may be played at the same time. Mojo’s charging Micro USB port has a battery status and charging indicator light. Mojo’s casework is machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminum and has a hard Matt black fine finish that does not finger-mark. All inputs are denoted with a fine laser ablated permanent white lettering.
The Hugo from Chord Electronics offers “studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability”, with thorough support for high-resolution audio in a tiny package aimed at high-end headphone users everywhere.
As well as being a portable DAC/headphone amp, the Hugo can also be used within a static sound system, acting as a reference grade source component, and builds on the success of the multi-award-winning QuteHD.
There are five digital inputs in total, with two USB inputs (an asynchronous and a driverless USB), digital coaxial and digital optical inputs, and an A2DP with aptX Bluetooth connection.
The Hugo can decode sample rates from 44.1kHz to 382kHz (PCM), with DSD 128 playback for high-res DXD music files. As a result, the Chord Hugo can work with Apple and Android devices, allowing you to play music straight from your iPhone or iPad.
The Hugo – named because you can take Hugo wherever ‘you-go’ – is battery-powered, with a built-in battery charging circuit onboard which takes approximately two hours to charge, meaning the USB connection draws no power in operation.
This incredibly versatile and yet audiophile solution to several problems has been a roaring success at Audio High. Whether listening on high-end headphones from Sennheiser or Audeze, or acting as a source for a listening room speaker-based system, the Hugo has proved a revolutionary product. But don’t take our word for it –
“If you’re looking for a DAC/Headphone amp with Bluetooth capability that can go anywhere you go and do double duty in your main hi-fi while performing equally well in both scenarios with PCM data up to 32/384, DXD, and DSD 128 while making good old CD-quality truly shine, the Chord Hugo merits a serious listen.” – AudioStream, Feb 2014
“When I think of Hugo, only superlatives come in my mind and I can hardly restrain myself from writing “WOW, Amazing, Excellent, Incredible”, etc. This small but wonderful DAC became a reference for me and I must congratulate Chord Electronics on this excellent new product.” – HeadMania, Feb 2014
With the new Hugo TT (Table Top) Chord have built on the extraordinary success of their genre-defining Hugo DAC/headphone amplifier. The new larger desktop-orientated device offers greater connectivity including a USB-B input, XLR outputs, two quarter inch headphone outputs, plus improved performance and features.
Compared to the more mobile Hugo, the Hugo TT gains a new larger chassis, remote control, an alphanumeric LED display with input/sample rate data, and improved sonic performance thanks to supercapacitors.
Advanced sample rate capability
The Hugo TT is ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files allowing music lovers to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. Hugo TT supports up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz over optical, plus DSD64 on all inputs and DSD128 via coax or USB (all via DoP).
In a key upgrade over the original Hugo, the Hugo TT benefits from a high-quality asynchronous B-type USB connection for both the SD and HD USB input. With two further digital inputs: a (new) BNC coaxial and optical (TOSLink), any connected component with a digital output can benefit from the Hugo TT’s advanced sound quality.
If Mojo & Hugo from Chord Electronics represent many people’s starting points, DAVE – Chord’s most advanced DAC to date – is the closest we have to an endgame today. Given the acronym DAVE, Chord”s latest-generation digital-to-analogue convertor features the very best conversion technology available, using proprietary techniques never seen before.
DAVE is a highly advanced reference-grade DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier. Hand-made in Kent, DAVE is based around a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) offering more than ten times the program capacity of its predecessor.
At its heart lies a new (and in electronics terms, huge) LX75 version of the Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The FPGA”s extraordinary capability enables a number of key sonic benefits including significantly improved timing and the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC. DAVE”s technology delivers music with unmatched reality and musicality, with an unrivaled timing response. But don’t take our word for it;
“When DAVE entered my system I knew that music listening would never be the same. The sound coming from the DAVE is beyond and above anything I have experienced in a high end component. Listening with my non-audiophile wife Paula, we both agreed we were hearing the best digital system in my listening room.” – Headphone.Guru, April 2016