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Bryston BDA-3 & Chord Hugo 2 TT

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#1
Currently, I am using a Topping D90, but I wonder whether I can do better. Two units have caught my eye:

1) Bryston BDA-3: all the IO that I could need, including HDMI for SACD playback, from an engineering organization of solid reputation
2) Chord Hugo 2 TT: has received consistent positive opinion-based reviews (to which I pay passing attention) and measurement-based reviews that include listening observations. (I tacitly accept that gratuitous design addes to the cost.)

Both units benefit from domestic support and can be had from sources that offer audition periods of one kind or another. Other than advice about ABX testing, I am interested in enlightenment on these two units.

thanks
 

Veri

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#2
Currently, I am using a Topping D90, but I wonder whether I can do better.
Objectively speaking, there is no reason to believe there is even one thing the D90 does not reach for transparent audio playback.
if you are buying any of the above you are entering the world of unnecessarily expensive hi-fi, tread with care.

if you want to "do better", I would investigate improving your driver, room or amplification for an upgrade.
 
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mcdonalk
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Thread Starter #3
I am aware of the cost of these two units and am specifically interested in experience regarding their performance.
 

pos

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#4
The Bryston is interesting if you need the HDMI extraction and selection functionality, but sound/measurement-wise it is probably not better than the D90.

The Chord on the other hand is a very different design, and potentially better. If you want to be sure then get the Chord and send it over to Amir for a review! ;)
 

kn0ppers

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#5
I'd love to see a Hugo TT2 measured actually. Not because I would ever buy one, but because I love Chords industrial design and Rob Watts surely is a very capable designer. But I doubt we will ever see the Chord tested here. The people who buy those things probably frequent other forums.
 

majingotan

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#7
I'd love to see a Hugo TT2 measured actually. Not because I would ever buy one, but because I love Chords industrial design and Rob Watts surely is a very capable designer. But I doubt we will ever see the Chord tested here. The people who buy those things probably frequent other forums.
We already have the Qutest (same as Hugo 2), Hugo 1 and Mojo tested here. IMO, Chords products aren't bad, but I don't see anything special with their performance to be honest given the price that they are being sold. Mojo's performance is also subpar given that there are a lot of DACs that outperform its measured performance at a much lower price point. I have the Mojo on my collection and have heard the DAVE with BluMK2, Hugo2 TT with MScaler, and they sound just identically the same as those well performing DACs from other manufacturers and also identically with the terrible measuring Schiit Bifrost 2.
 

Blumlein 88

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#8
The Chord is odd ergonomically. Interfacing with the user isn't great. I suppose you get used to it.

Let me grant that maybe, just maybe there is a tiny difference in sound quality of these vs the D90 you have. Unless you have some rarified very high quality amps and speakers it is a near certainty spending the money these DACs cost instead on speakers would generate a certain large noticeable improvement in your sound quality.

$700 DAC plus $6000 speaker and amps will be much nicer than $6000 DAC plus $700 speaker and amps.

Or if you already have $6000 speakers, $700 DAC plus $12,000 speakers and amps will be much nicer than $6000 speakers and $6000 DAC.

So I don't know what speakers or headphones you have. Spending this kind of money is much better spent on that end than on the DAC vs the already very high performing D90 you have.
 

kn0ppers

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#9
... have heard the DAVE with BluMK2, Hugo2 TT with MScaler, and they sound just identically the same as those well performing DACs from other manufacturers and also identically with the terrible measuring Schiit Bifrost 2.
See, I never questioned the Chords being vastly overpriced. But, and please forgive me if this sounds rude, but your observations from listening to these different Chord DACs are of no value to me. I'd like to tee if Rob Watts can squeeze more performance out of his approach. That is what I am interested in, not how it sounds. I thought we established those listening impressions are basically worthless if not performed in a planned and controlled environment with level matching etc. So Yeah. I don't really know what you wanted to tell me, but you pretty much told me nothing that wasn't already obvious and added some personal impressions.
 

Jimbob54

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#10
See, I never questioned the Chords being vastly overpriced. But, and please forgive me if this sounds rude, but your observations from listening to these different Chord DACs are of no value to me. I'd like to tee if Rob Watts can squeeze more performance out of his approach. That is what I am interested in, not how it sounds. I thought we established those listening impressions are basically worthless if not performed in a planned and controlled environment with level matching etc. So Yeah. I don't really know what you wanted to tell me, but you pretty much told me nothing that wasn't already obvious and added some personal impressions.
But....going back to the OP...... they are "interested in experience regarding their performance." I dont know what that means, but @majingotan jumped off from your post into something akin to what I think the OP is after.

Now, I actually think the OP wants a number of users' subjective opinions on the 2 DACs they are considering to give them a steer on which way to jump. Which isnt really the point of the site full stop, but hey, lets roll with what comes up.
 

kn0ppers

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#11
jumped off from your post into something akin to what I think the OP is after.
I still don't see how this reply would be of any value to me when I am obviously mainly interested in the limits of Chords FPGA approach to A/D conversion and if they can keep up from a measurement standpoint with AKM,ESS or Cirrus Logic implementations.

If he just wanted to let the OP know his listening impressions, why quote me? I don't get it.
 

Veri

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#12
If he just wanted to let the OP know his listening impressions, why quote me? I don't get it.
Maybe he simply mistook you for OP? Anyway why are you hijacking the thread to what is of value "to you". Everyone so far has given sensible answers, really...

You say "I'd like to tee if Rob Watts can squeeze more performance out of his approach" but what quantifies "performance" here exactly? Chord continues to come out with some new product with an even longer tap length in its filter, does that mean there is better performance? Jury's still out on that one. At some point his "approach" is no longer innovative but rather more of the same.
 

Blumlein 88

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#14
See, I never questioned the Chords being vastly overpriced. But, and please forgive me if this sounds rude, but your observations from listening to these different Chord DACs are of no value to me. I'd like to tee if Rob Watts can squeeze more performance out of his approach. That is what I am interested in, not how it sounds. I thought we established those listening impressions are basically worthless if not performed in a planned and controlled environment with level matching etc. So Yeah. I don't really know what you wanted to tell me, but you pretty much told me nothing that wasn't already obvious and added some personal impressions.
So buy one and ship it to Amir. We already have measurements of several Chords. That should give you an idea of what the performance is.
 

kn0ppers

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#15
So buy one and ship it to Amir. We already have measurements of several Chords. That should give you an idea of what the performance is.
I actually agree that potential improvements in current and future iterations of this approach are likely to be very incremental in nature, but I am still interested in seeing improvements. The measurements of Qutest showed some mains hum and almost no harmonic distortion apart from it's second harmonic, the TT2 on the other hand has balanced outputs and Rob Watts claims the distortions are lower as well. If I was an oil prince I probably would have sent one to Amir a long time ago, but sadly I am only a poor student.

Also I wasn't going to hijack this thread, I just expressed some interest in the same product as the OP. Yeah we have seen Chords tested, but some of the same people telling me that have little trouble getting excited over the 10th ESS or AKM implementation from the same companies and praise incremental improvements elsewhere. So yeah.
 
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mcdonalk
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Thread Starter #16
Just to clarify my intent: although I welcome all helpful comments, I am primarily interested in direct experience with these units, or references to reviews that you consider reliable. My situation is that it is possible that I have the last amplifier that I will ever buy, and I have the last speakers that I will ever buy, and I like it that way. Similarly, I am interested in having a DAC that I will not feel the need to upgrade for many years. Maybe that is not possible with a digital component amidst evolving standards, or maybe the D90 already fills that role. I don't know, hence my original query and appreciation of your replies.
 
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mcdonalk
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Thread Starter #17
Having said the above, I do find kn0ppers last post to have made a very good point.
 

VintageFlanker

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#18
Similarly, I am interested in having a DAC that I will not feel the need to upgrade for many years.
Good. Then, the D90 is definitely one of them. Pure SOTA gear in all regards. :cool:
Just to clarify my intent: although I welcome all helpful comments, I am primarily interested in direct experience with these units,
About what? Features? Ease of use? Design? Support etc? You already know this isn't the good place for uncontrolled subjective listening impressions... ;)
or references to reviews that you consider reliable.
None reviews are reliable unless reviewers provide measurements or blind listening tests. Etc etc. Which don't happen very often, if never.

I'd say: if there is no room for improving your amp or speakers, then, just save your money for something else! :)

Edit: You may also be seeking for other factors, like prestige/luxury. It may be better for consistency (or social recognition :p), to have an entire high-end system: with an high-end DAC to feed it. I'm 100% sure there is not any chance that either of these DACs would sound better than the D90. Still, It may be a matter of peace of mind and I would respect that...
 
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Veri

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#19
Similarly, I am interested in having a DAC that I will not feel the need to upgrade for many years.
Perhaps consider the Mola Mola DAC? On paper it is hardly better than the D90 though. That's the thing, the world of DACs is pretty solved so it's hard to say which item will satisfy you for many years to come, as in my opinion the D90 is already right there.
Perhaps in your case it will take a Chord. But then Chord will also come up with new updates over the years :p hence my recommendation of the Mola Mola.
 
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mcdonalk
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Thread Starter #20
Veri: I had never heard of this DAC, so I checked out its web page. There are a number of reviews there, and I scanned a few, and they seemed not much different in quality that I would expect from a Darko or Guttenberg. Also, even if I decided to pursue this, the only US dealer in in New Jersey, making doing business impractical unless they have a very liberal remote audition policy (I am in AZ, USA), which I highly unlikely. Do you have any experience with the Mola Mola DAC?
 

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