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Chord Hugo M Scaler - Stereophile Review (measurements also)

Tks

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#1
Review

Measurements

Conclusions
As David Rich, then with The Audio Critic, wrote in the 1990s, "in the next century, all audiophiles will be listening to will be different digital filters." Chord's Hugo M Scaler illustrates Dr. Rich's point: It replaces the various reconstruction filters used in other manufacturers' DACs with Rob Watts's enormously long WTA filter. That filter does sound superb, and, as a bonus—in addition to upgrading the sounds of older DACs—the M Scaler adds a USB input with Roon compatibility to DACs that don't have one, like my Levinson. At $4795, the M Scaler is relatively expensive; I recommend you audition the M Scaler with your own DAC before getting out the credit card. But "[improve] the recreation of the original music signal," as Chord claims, the M Scaler definitely did, with all three D/A processors I tried.


The front panel offers six of Chord's traditional glass-sphere buttons, which illuminate in different colors according to what the M Scaler has been asked to do. Only four of these are currently functional; the rightmost pair, marked "DX," are intended for a future product design.
One thing I found funny, is this seems to be entry-level device, or the sort of annoying nonsense car companies do these days, where they leave blank-buttons with no function in the cars' dash controls, unless you pony-up for all the options.
For $5,000 and for a device that does what SoX basically does in software. This is HILARIOUS. Imagine this being a design that's going to be recycled into another product. What were they thinking? And what would anyone be thinking getting this in the first place honestly?

As the review goes on, it takes a funny twist

In the promotional literature for the M Scaler, Chord writes, "The Hugo M Scaler . . . takes the digital file and repairs it, adding back the information lost between the samples, then it sends the repaired file to the DAC. . . . With 705,600 samples per second, a huge amount of important information that was lost when creating the 44.1 digital file is now recovered. The more samples, the closer you get to the original analog signal. . . . The Hugo M Scaler in essence places 15 additional new musical samples in between each original musical sample, resulting in an astounding improvement in the recreation of the original music signal."

My eyebrows raised, I kept reading. Referring to the figure reprinted here, the text states that "The Hugo M Scaler takes a rough stairstep CD quality waveform and transforms it into a smooth analog-like waveform. That quantum leap in sampling brings a breathtaking leap in detail, accuracy and realism to your music."



Hmm. The measurements I performed to accompany our reviews of the dCS 972 and Purcell definitively showed that upsampling doesn't add information above the Nyquist frequency—22.05kHz with CD data—of the lower sample rate. So what is the M Scaler doing?

In one of the first articles I wrote for Stereophile, "Zen & The Art of D/A Conversion," which was published in September 1986, I discussed how the recovered analog signal is not directly described by the levels of the digital samples. Instead, the interaction between those samples and the impulse response of a digital low-pass reconstruction filter recreates the analog waveform—not just at the sampling intervals but between them (footnote 3). By processing the incoming data with a low-pass filter featuring an extremely long impulse response, the M Scaler makes it possible for the accompanying DAC to more accurately reconstruct the analog signal. In effect, it replaces the DAC's digital filter with its own, as the DAC's filter is now operating at the higher sample rate, and its cutoff is one or more octaves above the original data's Nyquist frequency.
 

majingotan

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#2
I listened on the Blu MK2 (MScaler with CD player) with DAVE vs DAVE alone (Blu MK2 passthrough) with Headamp BHSE and Dan Clark Voce just a few days ago on a quiet room. Seriously, there's absolutely no audible difference that I detect between Blu MK2 passthrough vs full 768 KHz oversampling with DAVE. Can't even tell if the thing is actually changing something in the signal as I see DAVE's sample rate go up, but no audible sound difference that happens during the oversampling

IMG_1731.JPG
 
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#4
I'm still upset about half the buttons not being functional :-|
1. Those outputs are for the Power Pulse Array digital power amplifiers that Chord will release next year. Digital, because the monoblocks will take a digital input from the M-Scaler, which also provides digital volume control. Until then, those output and controls are not used.

2. What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME. Ain't nobody got time to sit around and upscale their digital library in software, and there is no way of doing that for tracks sourced from streaming services like Spotify or TIDAL anyway. Your argument falls flat on its face.

3. The level of design work and build quality that has gone into the product is worth its price, Rob Watts has gone into the level of detail & work he has put into the scaler, especially in regard to galvanic isolation and RF reduction. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it; stop complaining because in this market if you are looking for something you perceive as value, don't go looking at Chord products, or dCS, or any of those guys.

4. The audible difference was significant from the MTT2 and MDAVE, with the Focal Utopia. It became clear after listening to them for a while, and then switching back to standard non m-scaled. If you can't hear the difference, then oh well? I guess there really are people out there that can't hear the difference between SINAD 70 and SINAD 120. Those people can leave the world of hi-fi and stick to their Apple ipods, because I don't know if its their ears or brain, or the fact they don't really care about sound.
 

Music1969

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there is no way of doing that for tracks sourced from streaming services like Spotify or TIDAL anyway. Your argument falls flat on its face.
Incorrect... I use HQPlayer with both Spotify and Tidal streaming....

What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME.
Used HQPlayer?
 

Sir Sanders Zingmore

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2. What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME. Ain't nobody got time to sit around and upscale their digital library in software, and there is no way of doing that for tracks sourced from streaming services like Spotify or TIDAL anyway. Your argument falls flat on its face.

.
actually a guy on stereonet got up to a billion taps in SOFTWARE.
https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/to...are-upscaling/?do=findComment&comment=4335737
 

Thomas savage

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1. Those outputs are for the Power Pulse Array digital power amplifiers that Chord will release next year. Digital, because the monoblocks will take a digital input from the M-Scaler, which also provides digital volume control. Until then, those output and controls are not used.

2. What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME. Ain't nobody got time to sit around and upscale their digital library in software, and there is no way of doing that for tracks sourced from streaming services like Spotify or TIDAL anyway. Your argument falls flat on its face.

3. The level of design work and build quality that has gone into the product is worth its price, Rob Watts has gone into the level of detail & work he has put into the scaler, especially in regard to galvanic isolation and RF reduction. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it; stop complaining because in this market if you are looking for something you perceive as value, don't go looking at Chord products, or dCS, or any of those guys.

4. The audible difference was significant from the MTT2 and MDAVE, with the Focal Utopia. It became clear after listening to them for a while, and then switching back to standard non m-scaled. If you can't hear the difference, then oh well? I guess there really are people out there that can't hear the difference between SINAD 70 and SINAD 120. Those people can leave the world of hi-fi and stick to their Apple ipods, because I don't know if its their ears or brain, or the fact they don't really care about sound.
Hi ,

Do you work for chord or are you affiliated in any way like maybe a dealer ? Any degree of industry connection has to be disclosed .

I ask because in the 12 months you have been a member you have only ever posted in threads relating to chord products.

Cheers
 
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Incorrect... I use HQPlayer with both Spotify and Tidal streaming....



Used HQPlayer?
1. I know about HQPlayer and it is indeed very good. I've seen arguments back and forth online, but no real comparison when you take the input of a HQPlayer and the input from an M-Scaler and plug it into a Chord DAC like DAVE. The quality of upscaling from the M-Scaler is the best I've personally heard.

If you look at this thread https://community.roonlabs.com/t/hqplayer-vs-chord-wta1/92296

"Quaerit
24 Jan

I ended up buying Chord M-Scaler to pair with my Chord DAVE just before the holidays. I haven’t recently listened to HQPlayer but decided against using it some 1,5 years ago after liking the DAVE better on its own. For me the benefits of M-Scaler are clear, not mind blowing, but definitely there and nice. With HQPlayer it always felt like a bit give-and-take. Probably been some more development since I last experimented with it.
"

2. Secondly, lets forget a PC is your digital source, running the HQPlayer application software. There are always upscaling music servers like Innuos Statement, costing far more than the M-Scaler.

But in the end of the day, the M-Scaler is the closest implementation of Whittaker–Shannon interpolation there is, a perfect audio-band brick wall filter.
 
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Hi ,

Do you work for chord or are you affiliated in any way like maybe a dealer ? Any degree of industry connection has to be disclosed .

I ask because in the 12 months you have been a member you have only ever posted in threads relating to chord products.

Cheers
Not at all affiliated with Chord. I'm just a Chord fan. If you are going to bag something due to performance short falls, fine. But don't bag something because its expensive and name it "snake oil" without understanding what it is. The M-Scaler with the DAVE or TT2 is the best reproduction of digital I've ever heard, especially considering its all plug and play. Though I can't afford that combo, I appreciate the technological drive here.
 

Music1969

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#12
The quality of upscaling from the M-Scaler is the best I've personally heard.
Sure but you've not heard HQPlayer so... "What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME."

HQPlayer is not one filter. There are so many. How do you know one of HQPlayer's filters is not "the closest implementation of Whittaker–Shannon interpolation there is"

You don't...

Respectfully, if you want to say you love M-Scaler, that's fine. No one can object. The rest of your claims have no objective basis....

You are repeating Chord marketing with some claims.
 
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Sure but you've not heard HQPlayer so... "What can be done in terms of upscaling in SOFTWARE is still no match to the level of upscaling accuracy the M-scaler has done in REAL TIME."

HQPlayer is not one filter. There are so many. How do you know one of HQPlayer's filters is not "the closest implementation of Whittaker–Shannon interpolation there is"

You don't...

Respectfully, if you want to say you love M-Scaler, that's fine. No one can object. The rest of your claims have no objective basis....

You are repeating Chord marketing with some claims.
The theory of operation (https://chordelectronics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/The-theory-behind-M-Scaler-technology.pdf, its not written by Chord, but is re-published / quoted on their website) as well as the Stereophile review & measurements, among other reviews and my own listening, are enough for me. But the mathematics and performance measures are there to back up the M-Scaler.

I'll tell you this much. If the M-Scaler and HQPlayer were the same price, the M-Scaler is by far the better upsampling solution. Not just in terms of performance, but in terms of convenience and flexibility as well because its all implemented in hardware. Not everyone wants to be restricted to HQ Player and a PC running application software, consuming tonnes of PC resources. I'd rather have my PC games running on my PC, with audio output to a M-Scaler, or maybe with a home theater system for movies.

Now, in terms of the real price, people who pay the premium for M-Scaler do so because THEY CAN. Just build quality alone is a reason to spend, though secondary to the reasons above. So whats the real reason for this whole damn thread? Nothing.
 
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Tks

Tks

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Now, in terms of the real price, people who pay the premium for M-Scaler do so because THEY CAN. Just build quality alone is a reason to spend, though secondary to the reasons above. So whats the real reason for this whole damn thread? Nothing.
Oh that's simple.. Entertainment.

Though I agree, the build quality and things of that nature are a good reason to buy things you like. The only problem is, I can look over the pond, and look at any of Matrix-Audio's products, and get the same thing, just with more utility, and less audiphool nonsense to support.
 

Music1969

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#16
If the M-Scaler and HQPlayer were the same price, the M-Scaler is by far the better upsampling solution.
We are going in circles with baseless claims again. Just repeating Chord marketing without you know much about HQPlayer's many filter options.

Again, just say you love your M-Scaler and leave it there.

All the other marketing you repeat looks rather silly, especially on this forum (respectfully).
 
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We are going in circles with baseless claims again. Just repeating Chord marketing without you know much about HQPlayer's many filter options.

Again, just say you love your M-Scaler and leave it there.

All the other marketing you repeat looks rather silly, especially on this forum (respectfully).
You keep calling it Chord marketing. That document contains the facts about the sinc(x) digital filtering for audio, maybe you should read it. Different types of filters have different performance and thus sound. But in terms of the mathematics, sinc(x) dominates, and the M-Scaler is the strongest sinc(x) filter implementation (and practically useful) I've ever seen by measurement, upsampling to 16FS, therefore, I don't care about other filters.
 
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Until their/your claims are proven by a double blind test, people in this forum will call BS. If you don't like that, find another forum.
Double blind test? Serious? You understand that test is subjective, therefore doesn't belong on this forum.

Again, the mathematics back up the M-Scaler.
 

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