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Chord Hugo gets the DAC, Crack, and Sack treatment.

ManBat

Active Member
Chord Hugo gets the DAC, Crack, and Sack treatment.


Approx. $2400


Tech Specs:

Specifications

Inputs
• Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
• RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable
• Driverless USB input 16-bit/48kHz-capable (designed for tablets/phones)
• HD USB input 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128-capable (for computer/laptop playback; see driver details below)

Drivers
• On a PC (Vista, Win 7 or 8) Hugo will playback music up to 384KHz and support both DSD64 and DSD128, but for this you must install the supplied driver which comes in the box and is also available on this product page.

• On Apple Mac OS, iOS for iPhone/iPad and Android, no drivers are required and Hugo will work up to 384KHz and DSD64/128 if your playback software/app can support it.

Outputs
• 2x3.5mm headphone jacks
• 1x6.35mm (1/4 inch) headphone jack
• 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output

Technical specs

• Advanced digital volume control
• Crossfeed filter network
• Battery powered for approximately 14 hours operation
• Input, sample rate and volume level indication by colour-change LEDs
• 26K tap-length filter (more than double when compared to the QuteHD DAC)
• Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load
• Output power – 1KHz 1V sinewave both channels driven 0.1% distortion
• 600 ohms 35mW
• 300 ohms 70mW
• 56 ohms 320mW
• 32 ohms 600mW
• 8 ohms 720mW
• THD – 1KHz 3V output: 0.0005%
• Dynamic Range: 120dB
• Output impedance: 0.075 ohms
• Damping factor >100
• Weight: 0.4kg
• Dimensions: 100x20x132mm (WxHxD)


Full detailed information can be found here:

Products: Hugo mobile DAC/headphone amp


Background


I am on the lookout for a DAC and have been experimenting to see if they made that much of a difference to my system (NAD Master Series). I had previously tried the PS Audio Perfect Wave II, and Rega, Chord Qute HD and Chord QBD76 HDSD among others. I managed to borrow the Hugo from a local dealer and played around with it for a few days, and here are my humble opinions.


The Hugo is classed as a fully portable headphone DAC. It certainly performs this function very well, however I really couldn’t see myself using it in this capacity and therefore didn’t give it the full test in its native outfit.


It can also be used as a stand alone DAC which is how I tested it on this occasion.


From what I understand the DAC uses a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) design with a Spartan chip set. Interestingly enough the same technology that PS Audio are using in their new Direct Stream DAC. This means that the FPGA can be programmable after manufacture. FPGAs have vastly wider potential application than programmable read-only memory chips Wolfson, Sabre, Burr Brown etc. This means DAC manufactures can fully tailor the microprocessors to meet their own needs, and this is very exciting indeed.


I am used to the hi-fi components that are omnipresent obelisks, the traditional hi-fi staple. Back breaking hernia inducing equipment, monolithic amps that weighs over 50Kg etc. Even when there’s a power cut, you can feel their presence…

The Hugo is different, and this is exhilarating stuff indeed, the astonishing size of the Hugo, its power supply (or lack of), and musical output is absolutely cutting edge.


Sound

Base lines and voices, especially when separated from other instruments are more pronounced. Details in mid levels and instrumental percussion pieces are precise. In some tracks the difference was subtle. Where there was a greater degree of difference was music laden with a degree of base, strong vocals, ambience synth, film sound tracks, and strings. These flowed with additional detail and gusto like an extra chili in your curry. However too much chili in your Vindaloo can have its drawbacks. This brings me onto certain DACs that purvey their musicality with an extra boost in the volume level. This maskirovka (deception) can trick listeners into thinking everything is rosy, but is it? Thankfully the Hugo has an illuminated volume control. This allows you to adjust the dB level to match your other equipment. Therefore when testing and switching between DACs, this allows the listener an accurate presentation and comparison.

I played everything from CD’s to HD music of various file types and bit rates.

I used the optical and HD USB which was instantly recognized by the MacBook so there was no reason to install any drivers.

Once on the Mac I used Amarra music player to test out some HD material all the way to 24 bit 192. It all sounded great. Now to be fair the Amarra music player (software that sits on top of iTunes) is very good, and adding this extra ingredient really livened up the party. So I removed it from the equation, as I did with the Qute HD and QBD 76HDSD.


Fink – I played a lot of their music. – Distance and Time – Troubles What You’re In – Blueberry Pancakes – lead vocals became larger and bass notes more prominent – wider soundstage, more 3D in nature.


Dire Straits – Private Investigations – guitar, ambience, synth, and base lines more prominent, all in all a tighter bolder version.


The Dark Knight – Sound Track – Agent of Chaos, The Dark Night etc. – every piece was darker, sinister, with the extra layer and gravitas of synth and base slam that embraced me. This is where the Hugo really shone. At one point this did remind me of the Chord QBD76 HDSD.


The Dar Knight Rises – Sound Track – A storm is Coming – Gotham’s Reckoning – and it certainly was! I can only reiterate the above sentiments. Hugo was made for this soundtrack.


James Blake Unluck – Limit to you love – the added base reverb and vocals were more pronounced.


Apparat – Music for Theatre – Light On – a complex track full of intimate and large-scale music – this sounded more detailed.


Nitin Sawhney – OneZero – Homeland – Cello, tabla, vocals – were lifted and brought to the front with an added presence.


The Thing – Ennio Morricone – Bass lines that gave added presence and atmosphere.


There is no better demo that an A/B comparison in your listening room. Integrating components like ingredients into this Hi-Fi soup lets you listen to the music, understand the nuances, and make the appropriate adjustments that are suited to your needs, and most importantly, your personal taste. Sometimes I think we forget how intrinsically personal sound can be, and the difference a room or piece of equipment can make to this musical chowder.


The Hugo is a magic box of tricks. It performs well; just like the Chord Qute HD. Unfortunately I couldn’t make a direct A/B comparison as the last unit I borrowed had been sold. On a subjective comparison from over a week ago, I am reluctant to say they are similar, this will need further investigation. The Hugo lifts the veil and draws out extra detail in some music. I look forward to testing them both together.

For me the QBD76 HDSD has a sound quality that is far richer, unfortunately so is the price tag.

The Hugo is mind bogglingly different. No huge power supply needed, tiny metal case and just like the Qute, it was a little awkward to place in my set up.

I found it slightly messy. With the Qute at least all the input/outputs are on the rear of the unit. The Hugo has them at both sides, so with a full DAC set up in a traditional hi-fi you have cables coming out in both directions. The Optical port is smaller than some traditional cables. My Chord Optical cable didn’t fit (the port is not a standard size) so I used the one that came with the unit. (Thank you) USB cable is also supplied but not long (around a meter). This could also be an issue with real-estate space, with some cables connectors being too large for the holes, or the gaps between the connections being too small.


My optical cable didn’t fit.

IMG_0996.jpg
IMG_0998.jpg
IMG_0992.jpg
IMG_0996.jpg
IMG_0998.jpg
IMG_0992.jpg


As you can see from these pictures, things can get a little tight if your using this as a dedicated DAC in your system. Additionally the input/power switches are fiddly if you have sausage fingers.


Again space is a premium on the right side of the unit.

The actual picture (above) of the viewing windows is upside down, as the volume control is situated on the right when viewing the unit from the front. The viewing port isn’t going to be as good as the Qute HD as it’s not as big. Neither was the ambient lighting that changed colour dependent on the quality of the file. From an aesthetics and connectivity point of view I did prefer the Qute HD.


The instruction manual can be found here:

http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/files/Hugo manual (1).pdf


The Hugo is neither warm nor overly detailed to say it was in any way harsh. It was subtle in certain music, lively in others and with a magnificent sense of dark brooding ambience in particular film sound tracks. With assimilating any component into your system it has to complement your set-up. I believe the Hugo will do this in most systems with ease, giving the strength of its neutrality makes it an accommodating proposition. Yes its not cheap, but neither is what it does.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Over at the B&W CM10 thread, we are risking turning it into a Chord Hugo appreciation page so I thought we should continue discussions on this dedicated thread.

I have to say, as it was positioned as a headphone DAC/amp, it flew under my radar. Most infor and discussion, including contributions from Rob Watt himself can be found at head-fi.org

I thought we should focus more on its use as a desktop DAC.

After trawling through iterviews, presentations and discussion, here's my take on the Chord Hugo.

From a signal processing point of view, the ultimate objective of a DAC is to recreate analog sound.

by standard Nyquist theorem, the sampling rate has to be at least twice that of the captured frequency. Hence the standard CD 44.1Khz which should cover up to 22khz. 2Khz beyond what is widely accepted human hearing.

In theory, 24/44 should more than enough cover a human's audible range both in volume and frequency.

however Chord's Rob Watts looked at another aspect. What conistitutes realistic sound? He decided that it has to do with time domain. the human brain samples sound every 4 microseconds. at 44.1Khz the sound sample arrives every 22 microseconds. The problem is while the frequency is correct, minor nuances, timing of the different timbres are slightly off. ie the brain perceives the the sound wave as jagged rather than smooth. By using his own upsampling algorithms, and super long tap-length filters (by current DSP standards), the idea is to reconstruct the wave to such fine degree as beyond the brain's ability to tell the difference.

Chord DACs employ FGA, which are basically multipurpose programable chips. As such Watts is able to implement his own custom DAC design quite apart from the usual ESS, Woflson, TI, Burr Bronw, CL varieties. The Hugo is the most advanced of his FPGA arhictecture.

The other aspect is to eliminate noise from the signal. Normally, the white noise goes up and down in pitch and volume with the signal. As such when combined, it changes the sound and makes it unnatural. The noise suppression means the instruments sound the way they're supposed to be sound.

And that's basically what the hugo first and foremost is about. Accurate reproduction of sound and music not just in pitch and volume, but time and timbre.

Other things are tacked on which shows off the versatility of the FPGA design. It can run off DC and rechargeable batteries. Without a noise transformer and powerful AC next to the sensitive circuits, the noise is further suppressed. He can add on a preamp section, digital volume, SPDIF inputs, Bluetooth ApTX without breaking a sweat.

In some ways,, the Hugo is hard to understand. But my guess is it is a techincal exercise; mainly in the signal processing. Other than that, its pretty bland. Nothing to really make it stand out. Even the sound does not initially capture attention as its the naturalness and musicality which makes it stand out.

Perhaps because of that, they marketed it as a headphone DAC to appeal to a community that is perhaps more willing to embrace new technology and concepts of jitter etc. At the same time, they don't necessarily want to take sales away from the Qute HD whcih is still a very good DAC in its own right.

Its a very basic product with a very high end sound. Perhaps from a pricing point of view, its difficult to slot into any existing niche. Its not quite a deck amp. No display, remote etc. Can't be as cheap as a box-type DAC. So why not slap on some headphone jacks on the analog preamp section and call it a headphone/DAC?

I have no doubt that the FPGA in the Hugo will form the basis of the successor to the QBD76.

So what's missing are perhaps AES inputs and balanced outputs to improve dynamic range and frequency extension. Maybe it will embrace ethernet IP and use i2S internally?

But it all comes down to the listening. And so far the feedback has been great.

I will be arranging a home demo in the next few weeks and comparing it to my Linn Majik DS.

Let's see what it can do.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Semi toroidal transformers I believe!
 

ManBat

Active Member
Over at the B&W CM10 thread, we are risking turning it into a Chord Hugo appreciation page so I thought we should continue discussions on this dedicated thread.

I have to say, as it was positioned as a headphone DAC/amp, it flew under my radar. Most infor and discussion, including contributions from Rob Watt himself can be found at head-fi.org

I thought we should focus more on its use as a desktop DAC.

After trawling through iterviews, presentations and discussion, here's my take on the Chord Hugo.

From a signal processing point of view, the ultimate objective of a DAC is to recreate analog sound.

by standard Nyquist theorem, the sampling rate has to be at least twice that of the captured frequency. Hence the standard CD 44.1Khz which should cover up to 22khz. 2Khz beyond what is widely accepted human hearing.

In theory, 24/44 should more than enough cover a human's audible range both in volume and frequency.

however Chord's Rob Watts looked at another aspect. What conistitutes realistic sound? He decided that it has to do with time domain. the human brain samples sound every 4 microseconds. at 44.1Khz the sound sample arrives every 22 microseconds. The problem is while the frequency is correct, minor nuances, timing of the different timbres are slightly off. ie the brain perceives the the sound wave as jagged rather than smooth. By using his own upsampling algorithms, and super long tap-length filters (by current DSP standards), the idea is to reconstruct the wave to such fine degree as beyond the brain's ability to tell the difference.

Chord DACs employ FGA, which are basically multipurpose programable chips. As such Watts is able to implement his own custom DAC design quite apart from the usual ESS, Woflson, TI, Burr Bronw, CL varieties. The Hugo is the most advanced of his FPGA arhictecture.

The other aspect is to eliminate noise from the signal. Normally, the white noise goes up and down in pitch and volume with the signal. As such when combined, it changes the sound and makes it unnatural. The noise suppression means the instruments sound the way they're supposed to be sound.

And that's basically what the hugo first and foremost is about. Accurate reproduction of sound and music not just in pitch and volume, but time and timbre.

Other things are tacked on which shows off the versatility of the FPGA design. It can run off DC and rechargeable batteries. Without a noise transformer and powerful AC next to the sensitive circuits, the noise is further suppressed. He can add on a preamp section, digital volume, SPDIF inputs, Bluetooth ApTX without breaking a sweat.

In some ways,, the Hugo is hard to understand. But my guess is it is a techincal exercise; mainly in the signal processing. Other than that, its pretty bland. Nothing to really make it stand out. Even the sound does not initially capture attention as its the naturalness and musicality which makes it stand out.

Perhaps because of that, they marketed it as a headphone DAC to appeal to a community that is perhaps more willing to embrace new technology and concepts of jitter etc. At the same time, they don't necessarily want to take sales away from the Qute HD whcih is still a very good DAC in its own right.

Its a very basic product with a very high end sound. Perhaps from a pricing point of view, its difficult to slot into any existing niche. Its not quite a deck amp. No display, remote etc. Can't be as cheap as a box-type DAC. So why not slap on some headphone jacks on the analog preamp section and call it a headphone/DAC?

I have no doubt that the FPGA in the Hugo will form the basis of the successor to the QBD76.

So what's missing are perhaps AES inputs and balanced outputs to improve dynamic range and frequency extension. Maybe it will embrace ethernet IP and use i2S internally?

But it all comes down to the listening. And so far the feedback has been great.

I will be arranging a home demo in the next few weeks and comparing it to my Linn Majik DS.

Let's see what it can do.

Thanks Lokyc - great write up.
I am hoping CHORD release a new version of the Qute HD, with the same technology at a reasonable price point. I did like the Hugo - but it did not fit into my particular set up, either aesthetically or functionally. The DAC market is currently littered with choice with a myriad of connectivity options and price points to suit most buyers wants and needs.
I am still on the lookout for that “DAC" and would like to hear your thoughts and comparisons with the Lynn system. Cheers
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
The desktop successor is already in development and has been for a while. Just need to know where to read
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Please enlighten.
 

Member 566779

Active Member
There's always lots going on at chord electronics :). Do you have any links to threads on the desktop Hugo would be interested to read them... Will make sure I bug them on Monday!! Should be receiving our first batch of black hugos as well... Still prefer the silver personally but always good to have a choice.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
An Interview With Rob Watts - Chord Hugo DAC Designer

Not quite an expose on the refernce DAC, but RW did hint at the direction it is taking.

Sounds interesting, and also very expensive. Likely to be a pure stereo product.

But seems like the Hugo's the benchmark now.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Haha, looks like its a North-South divide when it comes to hifi in the UK. Scottish ve Southern England. Naim, Chord, B&W!

Been reading more on the Hugo. Problem with Hugo is even Rob Watts himself isn't exactly sure why it sounded as good as it is. Perhaps because of that, it actually quipped my curiosity to read more about digital music and signal processing; not that I know the complex mathematics.

But the more I learn about the Hugo, the more it seems simple to me. Not in a bad way.

For all the rave reviews, there isn't really much snazzy or novel technology involved. Looking at the design speces, its like "no-way, no way it can sound THAT good". No fancy timing algorithms. No balanced signal processing. Shouldn't decent DAC systems have at least 2, even 4 DAC chips? And worse, its a bloody headphone amp running on batteries!

But the Hugo proves it doesn't need to complicated. Its like a good mathematical formula. Simple, elegant, but explains everything.

In terms of signal processing, the Hugo does everything which DACS have been doing. But doing more of it where it truly matters.

Oversampling, noise shaping, PLL. Most important of all, focusing on tap lengths.

By having much, much longer tap length filters, the reconstructed signal is much, much smoother and closer to analogue. This has nothing to do with sampling rate of the material which simply captures the frequency of the analogue sound.

Oversampling helps with the time domain and smoothing of the waveform. It also means the standard noise shaping and jitter reduction phase lock-loop algorithms perform at a much high level that no further fancy algorithms and technique is required.

And as we know, in audio, its all about transparancy. the simpler, less processing/manupulation, means less adulteration and higher fidelity.

What was surprising in the Hugo, is that by simply doing more of what they have been doing in the Qute (thanks to the availability of more powerful FPGAs), a threshold in pyschoaccoustics was born.

Our brains are finally tricked into believing we are listening to analogue.

Its like in Blade Runner, what makes a Replicant and Human? (will go out with Sean Young's Rachael any day!)
 

windhoek

Well-known Member
I'm almost certainly going to buy one, although I'd prefer an in situ version. Thanks for posting a link to the interview because it sounds like it just might be coming, perhaps as an updated Qute so it's probably worth waiting till early 2015 in case such a version is announced.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
RW was referring to a reference DAC though. I think that might possibly be for next year. An updated Qute probably not later next year if not 2016.

I suppose a display would be useful.
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
Oooh a new reference DAC? On a similar note, has anyone heard Exasound DACs? According to a thread on PFM their top of the range DAC is better than the Hugo. It wants to be though as it is twice the price! No dealers over here though. They do offer a 30 day trial but that would be a PITA over here with customs and couriers. Another Canadian company Lokyc!
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Taking a cursory glance at their flagship E22, its similiar in design to the Simaudio 380DAC DSD. The latter uses a quad ESS DAC layout for a fully balance, left-right channel signal path.

But its not the only DAC to be better than the Hugo. There was a comparison made with the Aurelic DAC. Even RW will agree the QBD76 sounds overall better than the Hugo.

In comparing different grade DACs, the term which seem to be most useful is "hearing more sound".

From what I can gather, the Hugo isn't the DAC which lets you hear "the most sound". But the most "natural" sound.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Of course, I could go all 360 if it doesn't sound all that great on testing in a few weeks!
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
Yeah I just wondered if anyone on here had heard it. The Auralic is a bit easier to get hold of for a listen!

Anyway I am getting ahead of myself. I have a DAC I am happy with for now and a Geek Pulse X with Femto Clock upgrade coming in a month or two when its made. Don't normally buy stuff like that on a whim but liked the idea of crowdfunding hifi gear.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Auralic was at national audio show and definitely on my "explore further" list: Headphone Diary Thread

Msb DAC was also at the show but sadly the room was packed :/

Rob Watts has posted on an internet forum he is working on the qbd successor and they will implement all the advances of last 7-years. Balanced outputs and remote
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Ok, finally got my hands on this much vaunted Chord Hugo last weekend for 14 day home demo. Have been out late so didn't have many chances to make back to back comparisons until yesterday.

So first impressions. I think there are enough pictures etc. But I can tell you, its not great. Not one of those package-philias, I took unusual care in preserving even the bags. Because frankly, I felt I would return it.

Sure, its a solid case of alumnium. But it kind of reminds me of those tacky Taiwanese PC control boxes in the early noughties. Bewildering, unlabelled little plasticky buttons/switches and cheesy LEDs don't help. And rubber bands? The worse were the RCA plugs. My Mark Grant G1000HD wouldn't fit securely on it. In fact I have to support it the left cable else I get a ground loop noise. I paid more than 1k for this piece of junk? Really? Its a far cry from the Linn Majik DS which is just marginally more.

But hey, I was looking forward to this. So I presevered. and got it working.

Test system:
Chord Hugo
Linn Majik DS as streamer; coaxial (Lsound Interlink 1)
Simaudio Moon Neo 350P preamp, balanced out to:
ATI 6005 fully balanced power amp.
B&W CM10.
All other cables from Mark Grant.

Given the Hugo's much vaunted "piano key strike" qualities, The test material I chosed was Vladimir Ashkernazy's performance of Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 2 in C minor with the LSO, at the Kingsway Hall in 1970/71 in 16/44 FLAC.

Despite being a noisy ADD recording dating back more than forty years, it remains my favourite recording (including Classic FM). Ashkernazy's ability to move the listener makes pretenders of latter day renditions sound vapid and sterile.

Nevertheless, ironically enough, I have to admit as my system got more sophisticated, I actually enjoyed it less. The background noise was ever more intrusive. With the Linn Majik DS, everything came across as a messy din. I could ot bear listening to it for more than a few minutes.

Surely, the uber DAC Hugo's just going to make it worse.

So the first movement starts. the familiar crackling of a noisy recording ushers in the quiet beginning passage; a crescendo of pondering piano chords, reflecting Rachmaninov's heavy heart as he frets over the poor reception to his first Piano Concerto (can't f*** the second one up!). Then a quick succession of bass notes as he hits rock bottom; Ashkernazy's fingers sprang to life as dammed up emotion came flooding out.

The next 30 odd minutes, can only be described as, breathtaking. I had fallen in love with it again, more than ever.

Sure, this analogue recording can never match the low noise floor and sheer dynamic range of latter day pure DDDs, such as B&W's Society of Sound's 24/96 Studio Master offerings. But none has its ability to excite and entrance; have you swooning one moment and convulsing in air piano next.

How? Isn't the emotional content of music to do with dynamic range? Or simply, the variations of loudness, of db?

Isn't piano playing about striking the right keys, at the right time with the right force?

I recall my childhood piano lessons, where my strict teacher would clobber my fingers whenever my hands tense up. She didn't need to see it. She can hear it. Whether I'm using finger, wrist or arm pressure.

Anyone who took music lessons would be familiar with the metronome to help keep time. I was never the most technically accomplished, but at the end of each lesson, my teacher would let me loose without the metronome, and tell me to play "with feeling"; because she enjoys hearing it (a fact my mum agreed and was proud of).

Why? It didn't matter the wrong note was struck, or I wasn't as ham fisted as the other students. What stood out was rhythm. Or in signal processing terms, timing.

From how each note was played, from striking to release, to the time interval between notes and accompaniment (ie left and right hands). Those gentle undulations and variations were the key to that depth of feeling.

And perhaps, that is the reason those 0.4 microseconds Rob Watts bang on about are so important.

Why do I find latter-day performances sterile? Because they all sound like they're playing to a metronome! Accurate to a fault as to be robotic.

And Ashkernazy has depth of feeling in spades. From those ponderous first chords, to the explosive running notes after. To the slight mistiming between the arpeggios of the beginning of the second movement with his accompanying bass chords. From heavy lament to gleeful tickling of the keys. Every note struck, full of intent and meaning. You are on an emotional roller-coaster with him in the driving seat.

But its not just the piano which astound. Everything sound richer, smoother, fuller.

the first thing I notice about different quality DACs is the difference in the amount of "sound" they put out.

Between the MDS and Hugo, I can't say there is much of a difference. But perhaps it is the oversampling, or the long tap length, or the Watts algorithm; but the Hugo makes every note sound more natural, more analog.

Perhaps it is these minute temporal differences in frequencies that make evident the detail of each note being reproduced. From the scraping of bows on strings to the buzz of reeds on the oboes and clarinets. Twang of pizzicatos to metalllic flare of brass. I could go on. The Hugo shows off the grandeur and panache of a Symphony Orchestra in full pomp.

I suppose the sum of these properties is what we term, "musicality".

The sweetness of the Hugo in my system reminds me of the Klimax DS I heard at Grahams, piped through the B&W Nautilus driven by 8 Linn Klimax Solo monoblocs. Case in point, a pair of those monoblocs will pay for my whole 5.1 system with change to spare for cables.

Nevertheless, £1400 RRP is still a lot of money for a rather innocuous bolt-on DAC. One would expect a better user interface and better connections rather than having to turn it on and off manually.

Instead, we have what looks like Robb Watts' school science project. It feels like an unfinished, raw prototype that does everything you throw at it that is more at home on the laboratory bench than your hifi rack.

Having said that, there aren't that many standalone DACS at that price point that I know of other than the Naim DAC V1.

Looks aside, the sound is truly revolutionary. Its is like listening to a flawless turntable.

All this without resorting to balanced circuitry etc. I can only imagine how the good the reference DAC is going to be.

But for now, the Hugo has lived up and surpassed all my expectations. I think everyone should use it's sound as a reference to compare source components at the 1-2k price range.

It may only be a few nights of low volume listening, but quality products stand out immediately.

Home demo over. Its a keeper.

ps. Thanks to Roger and Adam at Nintronics for accomodating my odd visiting hours. Brilliant conversation as always.
 
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TomScrut

Well-known Member
I'll have to have a listen to one of these......

On another note, I aren't sure that the Linn/B&W combination you mentioned is necessarily a good reference is it? Certainly not value for money anyway! The KDS is good (well excellent really but can be bettered for less IMO) but the solos are overrated (amongst Linn heads anyway, they probably wouldn't worry your ATI) and the Nautilus, despite them still being made is probably not the best sounding speaker B&W make! But yes with the KDS at 13 grand, solos at 8 grand each, nautilus at about 70 grand, it's an expensive system!

How is the ATI? My new CA-2300 is pretty awesome! Just effortless, even more so than the 5200!
 

windhoek

Well-known Member
Excellent post lokyc, I'm more sure than ever I want one now; just need to sell some speakers first and I'm in :)
 

TB303

Active Member
Hello Chaps,
not directly related but still very interesting, Mr. Rob Watts has shared his own 'recipe' to IC cables!

Check it out:
Chord Hugo - Page 568

I wish I had the tech skill (and understaing0 to be able to make one...
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Is that an accolade or criticism? :rotfl:
 

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