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Chord Electronics Hugo Mobile DAC/Headphone amp review

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Ed Selley, Jun 20, 2014.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. dante01

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      Well worth a punt for just £1!

      [​IMG]

      :)


      I think the Hugo actually retails for something close to £1,400?
       
    3. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      Sorry- force of habit from print is I put a comma in which our CMS takes umbrage with. Now corrected
       
    4. TB303

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      Hello People,
      I got the Hugo ahead of a new Hifi set up I'm building - to use as a source.

      In the meantime I get to use it with my iPhone (Playing mostly 16/44 FLAC as source via the CCK) and AKG K551.

      I have to say the difference in sound between listening with the Hugo to just directly off the iPhone - with eh AKG is really minimal and I'm struggling to hear much of a difference... This is with a wide range of music. Sure, sometime some details 'jump out' but overall this set up has made me appreciate how good the iPhone 5 dac sounds...

      I have to say that plugging the hugo into my car's system (Morel Hybrid speakers and Sinfoni tempo allegro amp) did make an audible difference, at least more easily discernible.

      I wonder if I should upgrade my headphones perhaps the AKG 701 or the B&W P7s?

      Thanks!
       
    5. Steven

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      Yes you would be better off upgrading the headphones and get more apparent bang for your spend.

      To what is a different discussion. The AKG 701 is a home headphone. The P7 is a portable headphone. You are pulling in different directions.

      Don't sweat it with the iDevice dac and built-in amp. Plenty use expensive in-ears with it. That is not to say a better source is not worth the expenditure but your headphones are currently the limiting part of the chain.
       
    6. TB303

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      Thanks mate,
      I realise the difference between the headphones - I usually listen at home but use my iPhone 5 as source and like walking around so mobile headphones with a shorter cable are more comfortable for me...
       
    7. Steven

      Steven
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      I own Sony MDR-1R MkII (EU still MkI) and also the P7. Honestly I think the sound is on same level and it is matter of preference as to presentation differences. Fact that Sony much cheaper may be relevant to some.

      If all you intend to do is walk around the house with a transport and the Hugo you should probably go home headphone as more bang for buck versus portable can
       
    8. Jaunty

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      "the same size as an Observers field book or a NES cartridge depending on your age" - hmm means nothing to me - a photo with a real life familiar object would seem an obvious thing to include in the review, for scale. Good review though thanks.
       
    9. TB303

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      I think the writer was showing his inner-poet (all reviewers are artists), rather than describing the size of the unit...

      I for one, vaguely remember the size of a NES cartridge - they were a bit smaller than the Hugo
       
    10. invisiblekid

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      I got all excited about this maybe being a posh upgrade for my Fiio Mount Blanc, until I noticed the price! I'd spend more than have done, but I don't think with an iPod Classic and a pair of P7's I'm going to hear 10 times the performance.

      Ultimately it's more than just a portable amp, but is someone with equipment to benefit from a £1400 DAC really then going to unplug it all and use with a smart phone? Maybe there is people that will. I'd guess at snobbery and reluctance to even try this will mean the large hifi equivalent from Naim etc will still sell inplace of this.
       
    11. TB303

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      BTW
      I got the HD600 headphones and they sound amazing with the Hugo!

      Now I clearly hear the difference.

      PS
      I do intend to take it with me on longer holidays etc, even if it'll be mainly used as a source in a static system.
       
    12. mainaman

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      I guess it would make more sense as a small factor DAC for a full scale lounge setup,than a digital headphone amplifier,unless we are talking not too power hungry high-end cans for well over 300 pounds.Apparently it is even better than the QuteHD as a DAC and that was praised as probably the best PCM DAC for a grand,but the (tacked on)DSD performance was deemed inferior to the cheaper Teac.This is designed from the ground-up for DSD and DXD support,though.

      I guess that the ultimate small form high-end setup for real world outlay would be the Hugo between a PC or laptop and a pair of Temple Audio Monoblocks(350 pounds,going by hype),driving compact floorstanders.Or this straight into active bookshelves.

      Really it does everything and apparently is "master of all".But while great value considering,1400 pounds is strictly for the relatively minted enthusiasts and i guess they are not expecting to produce it in very large quantities.BTW,the QuteHD was replaced by the QuteEX,so if you dont need some of the functionality of the Hugo you can save 400 pounds and probably get the same sound.
       
    13. probedb

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      I'll stick with my FiiO E7 and spend the rest on music.
       
    14. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      In my defense, I did put the exact dimensions in the specifications tab.

      I think the portable element of the Hugo is important. The nature of audio systems is changing and the small but significant number of people who are younger than the 'golden age' of CD and now buying systems don't follow anything like the same conventions in size, component function and the fact that the Chord also works as a mighty portable headphone amp is important.
       
    15. Steven

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      It has been strongly hinted that the upcoming desktop DAC will be based on fpga too so if you have no need for portability and prepared to wait...
       
    16. TB303

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      Though I bet with a proper desktop power supply - we will be looking at at least twice the price, with no mobility advantage...
       
    17. Steven

      Steven
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      Am getting a Hugo to demo and hope I do not like it [too much] as visiting Sydney is an ambition. A battery dac is perfect for my lifestyle and already do rock an Algorythm Clas -dB rig
       
    18. Jota180

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      What do the forum maths/physics bods think of the claims of Hugo designer Robert Watts?

      Timing issues, however, have been intelligently addressed by Rob Watts using his advanced algorithms within the now-famous Robert Watts’ WTA filter. Watts says: "If you are sampling at 44.1kHz and you have 22ms in between each sample, the original transient might be in the middle of the 22ms, so you have to reconstruct that." The ear is highly accurate in this respect, it can detect delays of 4ms between one ear and the other...///...

      Watts: "The 24-bit/384kHz format is the ultimate, it is the future. It is superior to DSD. In comparison, DSD could be said to lack fine resolution and detail." However it must be noted firmly that 384kHz recordings are very rare at this time, although this may change in future.”

      With the increasing availability of high-resolution music files and Rob Watts’ brilliant design skills, Chord Electronic equipment is perfectly placed to reproduce studio-master-tape-quality music with unrivalled accuracy and fidelity.


      Basically he's saying only Hi Rez can give what Red Book can't.
       
    19. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      On a technical level he might be right. Back on Earth, it is this endless unicorn chasing that means we don't have much 24 bit material full stop as there is always an argument to go ever further down the rabbit hole.
       
    20. Jota180

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      In my view the biggest difference we could have in sound quality comes from recording and mastering. I have some CD's that are just unbearable to listen to while others are gorgeous.
       
    21. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      I don't disagree. I think that hi res is an answer to this in part because as a premium product for enthusiasts, more attention will be paid to mastering and less to how it sounds when ripped to 128k MP3 rather than any innate argument for 24 bit.
       
    22. Steven

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      Hi. I recently had the Hugo and AK240 to demo for purchasing research and also took photos for a review:

      Chord Hugo and Astell&Kern AK240 - an album on Flickr
       
      Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
    23. Member 266567

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      We love the Hugo here!

      It is pricey, but if you're after the best sound quality then I can't see you getting any better from a portable device :)
       
    24. Keng Yuan

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      But if you look from the other way round, a new DAC gives your entire digital music collection new life!
       
    25. Member 266567

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      That is so true! With the Hugo it will feel like you are rediscovering you entire music collection :)
       
    26. probedb

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      Unless there was something wrong with my existing DAC it'll sound exactly the same, I'll just have paid more money for it.
       
    27. Steven

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      What is your chain?
      Have you heard the Hugo or what other DACs have you demo?
       
    28. probedb

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      A variety of USB DAC/headphone amps beforehand. PC->DAC->Westone UM3x. I can't hear a difference so there's no point spending more money. Just because one DAC measures better than another in a particular area it's of no use to me if it's inaudible.

      I just don't see any point in spending money on something which company X tells me is awesome because it's super expensive and they've got a great marketing department if I can't hear a difference. A company that sells a £1600 ethernet cable and a £750 USB cable and claims they make a difference to sound of other components has an incredibly good marketing department if anyone actually buys them.
       
    29. Steven

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      Quite agree. Enjoyment of music should be the goal, regardless of budget and circumstance.

      It is good that you enjoy your current rig and if you are happy or have not perceived a difference against other reference points why change indeed.

      It is not however appropriate or fair to evaluate a DAC you have not heard.

      Chord Electronics are not to be confused with The Chord Company. One manufacturers audio HiFi. The other manufacturers cables.

      I hope you can overlook the unfounded prejudice and demo the Hugo one day. It is widely stocked at independent dealers. Internet forums in the majority are full of reports of people being impressed. Some approach with a different form of prejudice of being sceptical about non full size source. Chord have been taken by surprise and even now there is still several weeks lead time on new stock. They are selling as fast as they can manufacture.

      Thanks.
       
    30. Member 266567

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      I personally find it hard to justify spending more than £100 on a piece of audio equipment.

      Saying that I can definitely tell when something is worth the money and in the current market there is nothing better than the Hugo for what it does - if you want the best you have to pay for it.

      In this instance it isn't clever marketing - it's clever engineering :)
       

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