Chord Electronics Hugo TT D/A headphone amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital Sources: Apple MacBook Pro computer (2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) running OS 10.10.4, Roon V1 Build 30, JRiver Media Center 19, iTunes 12, Amarra Computer Music Player, VLC, Reaper 4.78, XLD; Western Digital NAS Device (2TB); Oppo Digital BDP-103 universal BD player; Meridian Sooloos Control 15 music server (QNAP TS-669 Pro NAS); Apple iPad Air & iPod Touch 1G & iPhone 6.
Digital Processors: AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC, Auralic Vega, Ayre Acoustics QB-9DSD, Benchmark DAC1 USB and DAC2 HGC, Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS, Rega Research DAC-R, Luxman DA-06.
Preamplifier: Marantz AV7005 in Pure Direct Mode.
Power Amplifiers: Classé CAM 350 monoblocks.
Loudspeakers: MartinLogan Prodigy & BalancedForce 212 subwoofers (2). For desktop & recording monitoring: Emotiva Airmotiv 5s, Velodyne Servo-F Series subwoofer.
Headphones: Audeze LCD-X, Grado HP1, NAD Viso, Sennheiser HD800.
Cables: USB: AudioQuest Victoria (DragonFly) & Diamond, Cardas Clear. S/PDIF: AudioQuest HD6 Carbon (studio to main listening room), Cardas Neutral Reference, XLO UltraPLUS UP4U. Line level: Kimber Kable (various), XLO HT Pro. Speaker: Kimber Kable BiFocal XL.
AC Power: Dedicated 40A line (amplifiers), dedicated 15A lines (digital & analog components).—Jon Iverson

Chord Electronics Ltd.
US distributor: Bluebird Music Ltd.
275 Woodward Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14217
(416) 638-8207

edbudzil's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong, but neither your publication or your major competitor have reviewed the $2,500 Chord Hugo portable DAC. My (paranoid?) theory has been that this universally-praised component is so good, that it would have had your other portable DAC advertisers running scared. I, like many other Hugo owners, are using the device in our main system as a digital front end (in my case, connected by coax to a Rega Jupiter CD player), as well as with headphones/USB computer. While twice as expensive as my most costly purchase, the Hugo is not "twice as good", no, it's exactly what I've been looking for. The little guy squeezes the last ounce of music out of digital recordings- and, it's portable, and beats my analogue sources. Now, a day late and, for the likes of me, several $1000 short, Stereophile reviews the nearly twice as expensive Hugo TT. Chord has ("have", as the British say) just introduced the Mojo, Hugo's smaller sibling at $599. Dare you to be first to review it!

Venere 2's picture

If I read this review right, in the case of DACs, the old adage "Source first" seems to take a big hit...
It seems a DAC costing 4 times the price of another DAC, will offer noticeable, but subtle improvements. All of the DACs in this review seem close to one another (based on the reviewer's descriptions and comments).

Maybe if someone has a decent DAC, and wanted to spend a few thousand dollars to improve their system, speakers or amplification would yield better results? That is what I am getting from this review.

Jon Iverson's picture
I often struggle in reviews with how to put DAC differences in proper perspective.

Once you lock in on how a particular DAC sounds, it is easy to spot from then on (or at least a while). But I find most listeners, even a group of dedicated audiophiles, have a hard time locking in at first. But once they get it, they are pretty consistent under test.

Also, some systems make it easier to hear DAC differences than others, so would seem to reinforce your idea that speakers and amps can be a major, if not bigger, factor here.

One point though, more expensive is not always better.

bfmcosta's picture

I would be really important to say which digital filter was selected in the Auralic for the comparison, as it has 4 (for non-DSD material) that sound very differently, and the differences highlighted to the Chord Hugo TT may just reflect that...