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Chord Hugo 2 Review (Portable DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 78 25.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 112 37.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 88 29.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 25 8.3%

  • Total voters
    303

JSmith

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What is fact, and has been shown as such, is that, Hugo2 has no USB noise issue, Since Amir has shown us on Audioquest cable review.
This is not correct as the generic cable during that test showed the same results... what has been shown in the test of the Hugo2 is that it can have problems with USB.
That it can behave as good as optical, if ground loop noise issue is addressed properly.
Why would I buy this unit for this kind of money knowing it may have intermittent or random problems with USB, when many others tested here don't? No thanks...


JSmith
 

Palladium

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Thanks for the review Amir. This thing is so overpriced, it's ridiculous. You could get a SOA desktop and portable DAC (and headphone amp) for about a third of the price of this thing. I never liked the look of CHORD products but if they were finished exquisitely then I could understand why some fool might want to buy one, but I've seen products finished better than this for a fraction of the price. This thing might sound okay, but it's looks and finish are terrible considering the cost.

It's such a bad joke when I my Fiio BTR5 is $65.
 
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amirm

amirm

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What is fact, and has been shown as such, is that, Hugo2 has no USB noise issue, Since Amir has shown us on Audioquest cable review.
There is no such "fact." As I explained in that thread, USB noise is system/condition dependent. It clearly manifested itself when I perform the review. But later did not.

FYI, I have updated the review here with the measurement from the USB cable test. I also clarified that all the measurements in this review were with Toslink so not impacted by USB noise. In other words, I gave the Hugo 2 the benefit of doubt and let it perform its best using Toslink.
 

Geert

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What is fact, and has been shown as such, is that, Hugo2 has no USB noise issue,

The Hugo 2 has a very poor USB input in my experience and will exhibit ground noise during playback; depending on the source, what charger is used, how close your phone is to the base, how long is the usb cable, is the WiFi router near the device/computer or how well the cable is made. It could be that the issue is mainly due to micro usb convention. Over the years many consumers begged the designer to change to either USB B or type c. He still kept micro usb on the Mojo 2.

The amount of background noise varied too much for me to justify keeping the device at the price point.
 

Ken Tajalli

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There is no such "fact." As I explained in that thread, USB noise is system/condition dependent. It clearly manifested itself when I perform the review. But later did not.

FYI, I have updated the review here with the measurement from the USB cable test. I also clarified that all the measurements in this review were with Toslink so not impacted by USB noise. In other words, I gave the Hugo 2 the benefit of doubt and let it perform its best using Toslink.
Thank you for replying. Noted all.
It seems the same device in the same test rig, can at times have as much as 10db noise, and at times not, so it is a random situation, am I right?
If I am right, then wouldn't it be prudent, to include two noise tests on USB input, one with an isolator and one with deliberate noise injected, to see how the device behaves under those conditions.
Again, if I did get it right that phenomena is random, then one can not be sure, if a device being tested got lucky on the review day!
Hugo2 is primarily a portable device, and as you correctly mention in the review, it is excellent at it. Hugo2 is single ended, and does not have isolation on USB, does any portable DAC/amp do?
Can any single ended DAC without isolation on USB, combat ground loop noise, if it gets unlucky and be exposed to a large noise?
I suppose, Chord could be more clear about that and suggest the use of a USB isolator, if being used with two grounded external devices. Or, simply use optical.
Also the 1kHz sidebands on jitter test look curious, what could cause that? exactly 1kHz! anything on USB architecture with a 1 kHz .... whatever?

Also, for clarity, do you think it is prudent to show that the Audioquest cable, is also ineffective in a noisy situation?
If it can be shown, when noise does exist using a generic cable and then no changes with another cable, the point is clearly made.
Personally I doubt you would get a different outcome, but I felt that before you even tested it, however, the point was to discover, one way or another.
As I said in a previous post, if one does not have a headache, he can not claim ibuprofen is snake-oil, because it cures nothing!
 
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AudioSceptic

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I also recall images of an Apple store fitout aligning expansion joints in the concrete footpath outside to the internals. Not many companies can do that.
I've not heard of that before. Do even any of the Bond Street jewellers and fashion boutiques do that?
 

AudioSceptic

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Funny that.
In Nov. 2020

Just scroll down till you get to this:
View attachment 224229 View attachment 224231 View attachment 224232
I quite enjoyed reading about your mods to improve the Mojo's heat management, but don't you think that, for such an expensive device, this should have been done by Chord themselves when they made the thing?
 

Ken Tajalli

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I quite enjoyed reading about your mods to improve the Mojo's heat management, but don't you think that, for such an expensive device, this should have been done by Chord themselves when they made the thing?
Ha Ha
I thank your faith in me, and my DIY tinkering! You are assuming that the Mojo actually needed my mods, right? and then question why it wasn't done by Chord in the first place!
Assumptions, assumptions ...
Rob Watts somewhere commented on that.
His explanation was that, Mojo has three thermal sensors, so it adjusts itself not to produce too much heat to affect the battery life, which is the prime consideration here.
By insulating the battery from the heating chips by means of a sponge pad and connecting the battery to the top shell, which happens to be the coolest part of the assembly, the battery is saved from too much heat. So he had considered the matter and put remedies in place.
I just thought, I take it one step further, and use the bottom shell as a heatsink.
 

bracko

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This product is a joke. Both performance and the build quality are not worth a product costing 1/10th of the asked price. Unbelievable.
 

Alfy

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This is exactly what I think of the head-fi style of Chord owner posts on the various unique sonic qualities: less than worthless.

The owners could be honest and say that they bought it for various reasons like style, service, pride of ownership, for their usage, status signaling etc. Instead they engage in magical thinking about performance to justify their purchase.

Chord, as a company, preys on this, of course. An excellent reason for me to not have anything to do with that company.

So the implied demand that only owners or users should vote is in line with deceptive, manipulate and dishonest marketing.

Here are last you’re showing your true colors.

As an owner of a Hugo2 and a 2Go to boot, I was having fun reading this thread then saw this post. I just wanted to say I don’t engage in magical thinking…

I bought it because at the time of its release I had a decent paying job, could afford it, and frankly, didn’t know any better. People on this forum seem to take a lot of pride in making fun of “audiophools”, but the reality is that a lot of people, when then they want to switch to better equipment, will go to the “big” websites. You can make fun of them if you want, but that’s how pervasive marketing works. I bought it because it was advertised as the new big thing, a certain price seemed to be required for decent quality, and I happened to be able to afford it.

I‘m not unhappy with the Hugo2 by the way. It’s portable in the way I need it to be - i.e: I don’t need it to fit in my pocket, but I travel a lot and it’s great to have a DAC when I’m stuck in a hotel room. I listen exclusively with headsets, and even with more experience now, I still absolutely think the Hugo sounds fine, in fact it’s still my go to DAC for the road.

Is it overpriced? Oh my god yes, it very much is. And the colored balls in lieu of a proper interface lost their charm about five minutes after I bought it. And I wouldn’t advertise the 2Go to my worst enemy, I don’t think Chord could produce a half-decent bit of software if their lives depended on it…

But anyway, I thought I’d give a hello from I hope an honest owner.
 

AdamG

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As an owner of a Hugo2 and a 2Go to boot, I was having fun reading this thread then saw this post. I just wanted to say I don’t engage in magical thinking…

I bought it because at the time of its release I had a decent paying job, could afford it, and frankly, didn’t know any better. People on this forum seem to take a lot of pride in making fun of “audiophools”, but the reality is that a lot of people, when then they want to switch to better equipment, will go to the “big” websites. You can make fun of them if you want, but that’s how pervasive marketing works. I bought it because it was advertised as the new big thing, a certain price seemed to be required for decent quality, and I happened to be able to afford it.

I‘m not unhappy with the Hugo2 by the way. It’s portable in the way I need it to be - i.e: I don’t need it to fit in my pocket, but I travel a lot and it’s great to have a DAC when I’m stuck in a hotel room. I listen exclusively with headsets, and even with more experience now, I still absolutely think the Hugo sounds fine, in fact it’s still my go to DAC for the road.

Is it overpriced? Oh my god yes, it very much is. And the colored balls in lieu of a proper interface lost their charm about five minutes after I bought it. And I wouldn’t advertise the 2Go to my worst enemy, I don’t think Chord could produce a half-decent bit of software if their lives depended on it…

But anyway, I thought I’d give a hello from I hope an honest owner.
Welcome Aboard @Alfy ! I feel your pain, we all have felt your pain to one degree or another. This place can be too much of an eye opener. But your here and posting so you have accomplished the first step of Audiofool anonymous recovery. You are not alone and you won’t be the last. We welcome all in the hope that our passion for exposing the underbelly of the unethical Audio world will be a awaking experience. A journey we are all on together. :cool:
 

Ken Tajalli

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As an owner of a Hugo2 and a 2Go to boot, I was having fun reading this thread then saw this post. I just wanted to say I don’t engage in magical thinking…

I bought it because at the time of its release I had a decent paying job, could afford it, and frankly, didn’t know any better. People on this forum seem to take a lot of pride in making fun of “audiophools”, but the reality is that a lot of people, when then they want to switch to better equipment, will go to the “big” websites. You can make fun of them if you want, but that’s how pervasive marketing works. I bought it because it was advertised as the new big thing, a certain price seemed to be required for decent quality, and I happened to be able to afford it.

I‘m not unhappy with the Hugo2 by the way. It’s portable in the way I need it to be - i.e: I don’t need it to fit in my pocket, but I travel a lot and it’s great to have a DAC when I’m stuck in a hotel room. I listen exclusively with headsets, and even with more experience now, I still absolutely think the Hugo sounds fine, in fact it’s still my go to DAC for the road.

Is it overpriced? Oh my god yes, it very much is. And the colored balls in lieu of a proper interface lost their charm about five minutes after I bought it. And I wouldn’t advertise the 2Go to my worst enemy, I don’t think Chord could produce a half-decent bit of software if their lives depended on it…

But anyway, I thought I’d give a hello from I hope an honest owner.
Since I was involved in the original back and forth, I got notified of your reply, and I think I should reply to you.
Is Hugo 2 expensive?
Yes it is, very much!
But I got mine with some fancy cables (which I sold off), in pristine used condition, which ultimately cost me £800. For that, I am not complaining. For the portability, the sound quality and power, if I was to look for something today, I would still pick it, against all else. As a portable device is among top three.

Is 2GO worth the money?
No!
2go is not a practical device. Think about it, if you use the DAC as a portable, all that a 2go would afford you is the elimination of one USB cable, that's all.
You still need your phone, your headphones AND the headphone cable! So you save of a few grams of a USB cable, but are bundled with a bulky, powered device, that also needs charging. Not a good trade-off.
Some people say, it saves you from the phone's RFI noise. No it does not, keep the phone not attached to the DAC (any DAC) and you are golden.
If you are using the DAC as a desktop, then something like Wiim mini does the same job for me and soon it will be Roon compatible (won't concern me, not a Roon lover). It works like a dream, costs £80. I don't have to carry it with me, but if I wanted to, I could, it is small enough.

Now if for one second, we just look at the merits of the device, and forget about Rob Watts and his claims, if one can pick up a Hugo2 for less than a ton, it is a worthwhile buy. The competition is very much a short list.
I wouldn't have bought one at £1800.
 

JSmith

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that’s how pervasive marketing works
Indeed it is... and Chord are very good at it.
colored balls
UglySourJackal-size_restricted.gif

Welcome to ASR too. :cool:


JSmith
 

Ken Tajalli

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I like to add that I wasn't a fan of the coloured marbles!
There are a lot of faults I can pick at the them.
But trust me, in a dimply lit room, once you master the colours, at a glance, you can tell what's what!
Specially, if like me, you like a drink or two while listening.
With my failing eyesight, I find it difficult to read LCD readouts, but colour balls? Even from across the room, I know what's what.
It's kind of retro, and practical.
Also, when you are selling an £1800 portable hifi gadget, an odd look, can be eye catching.
 

pablolie

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...

I bought it because at the time of its release I had a decent paying job, could afford it, and frankly, didn’t know any better. People on this forum seem to take a lot of pride in making fun of “audiophools”, but the reality is that a lot of people, when then they want to switch to better equipment, will go to the “big” websites. ...

Great post. My take is that in here, the "audiophools" are those who come and claim they can *hear* differences and claim their stuff is *better* unconditionally. Be that person and be ready to receive some flak.

That said, I think we don't attack "measurement-data-phools" enough - it's just as irrational to claim some marginally better measuring stuff is the greatest and latest thing that everybody should jump on ["OMG the SINAD of this thing is 0.5dB better hence it *must* sound better and my old stuff is unlistenable, and I need this"].

To me irrationality cuts both ways.

I remember when I got the Benchmark DAC2HGC many years back, I was questioned "why?" even though I clearly stated it was the flexibility and the number/type of inputs-outputs that made me pick it at the time, because it made it a very flexible choice. And to be quite honest, $2k is not a lot of money to me, and there is far more expensive gear out there. These days, with Dirac and stuff like that around, I would never consider a marginally better measuring DAC with the exact same interfaces and functionality. My conviction is that good gear in audio performs its intended function for you for a very long time - it's the requirements that mostly change, the SQ... not that much, IMO.

The day I claim a DAC with a SINAD of 125 sounds clearly better than 110... please shoot me... :-D
 
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Alfy

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Since I was involved in the original back and forth, I got notified of your reply, and I think I should reply to you.
Is Hugo 2 expensive?
Yes it is, very much!
But I got mine with some fancy cables (which I sold off), in pristine used condition, which ultimately cost me £800. For that, I am not complaining. For the portability, the sound quality and power, if I was to look for something today, I would still pick it, against all else. As a portable device is among top three.

Is 2GO worth the money?
No!
2go is not a practical device. Think about it, if you use the DAC as a portable, all that a 2go would afford you is the elimination of one USB cable, that's all.
You still need your phone, your headphones AND the headphone cable! So you save of a few grams of a USB cable, but are bundled with a bulky, powered device, that also needs charging. Not a good trade-off.
Some people say, it saves you from the phone's RFI noise. No it does not, keep the phone not attached to the DAC (any DAC) and you are golden.
If you are using the DAC as a desktop, then something like Wiim mini does the same job for me and soon it will be Roon compatible (won't concern me, not a Roon lover). It works like a dream, costs £80. I don't have to carry it with me, but if I wanted to, I could, it is small enough.

Now if for one second, we just look at the merits of the device, and forget about Rob Watts and his claims, if one can pick up a Hugo2 for less than a ton, it is a worthwhile buy. The competition is very much a short list.
I wouldn't have bought one at £1800.

I fully agree on the merits, or rather lack thereof, of the 2Go; in my defense, I did not buy that one myself! The only redeeming feature for me was the SD cards, and thus the ability to carry all my music even when I’m without my computer. But even that mostly fails: the GoFigure app is bugged and mostly useless to play music, and a DLNA app requires wifi to recognize the 2Go as a valid output (you can see the tunes in Bluetooth only, but can’t select the 2Go as an output). On the go, you CAN turn on the 2Go’s own wifi hotspot as a solution to this, but that drains the battery really quickly.

Everything about it seems to be poorly thought out and poorly designed. A cheap player with enough memory would have been a much better alternative for my needs.
 

Alfy

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Welcome Aboard @Alfy ! I feel your pain, we all have felt your pain to one degree or another. This place can be too much of an eye opener. But your here and posting so you have accomplished the first step of Audiofool anonymous recovery. You are not alone and you won’t be the last. We welcome all in the hope that our passion for exposing the underbelly of the unethical Audio world will be a awaking experience. A journey we are all on together. :cool:

Thank you for the kind welcome!
 

Ken Tajalli

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I fully agree on the merits, or rather lack thereof, of the 2Go; in my defense, I did not buy that one myself! The only redeeming feature for me was the SD cards, and thus the ability to carry all my music even when I’m without my computer.
On that front, this was my solution:

IMG_20220811_2224122.jpg
IMG_20220811_2239132.jpg


A 1 meter, thin and soft USB cable, with tiny plugs.
Also, if you look closely, built on the cable is a ferrite core, wired in a common rejector and a tiny square enclosure of about 20mmx15mmx7mm.
Within that enclosure, there is a 2 port USB hub, and a 500GB storage.
Plug the USB-C end into any device (windows, Android . . . ) and the storage is detected, you can read and write to it. Plug the other end into a DAC (Hugo2 in my case) and the DAC is detected too, works fine upto 768kHz.
I carry this cable with me instead! be it my phone or my laptop, or someone else's phone or laptop - I carry my music with me (a good portion of it).
Requires no software, but a simple file explorer to function.
 

Geert

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That said, I think we don't attack "measurement-data-phools" enough - it's just as irrational to claim some marginally better measuring stuff is the greatest and latest thing that everybody should jump on ["OMG the SINAD of this thing is 0.5dB better hence it *must* sound better and my old stuff is unlistenable, and I need this"].
Where are these people hiding?
 
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