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CHORD M-Scaler Review (Upsampler)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 318 90.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 8 2.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 7 2.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 19 5.4%

  • Total voters
    352

Jomungur

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Did you not consider testing the higher sampling rates? The review seems incomplete and ideally would have been done with a TT2.
Sorry, I am not following the TT2 part.

The M Scaler can output 768hz to the Hugo2, and the Hugo2 can handle this. From Chord's website:

The Hugo M Scaler is a highly advanced standalone upscaler capable of redefining sound quality from digital audio. It uses Rob Watts’ (our Digital Design Consultant’s) unique filter technology, the most advanced in the world, to upscale standard 44.1kHz digital audio up to 705.6kHz (16x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution), ready to be passed to a suitable DAC; Hugo M Scaler extends its upscaling performance to 768kHz (from 96kHz input data) for our dual-BNC-input DACs: Qutest, Hugo 2, Hugo TT 2 and DAVE.
 

sarumbear

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That's one of a reason Network based audio is gaining momentum i think, it allows that. Sure there would be ways to get that with USB as well but it's not. The USB Audio Class 2 protocol has ressources to detect errors, for developpers error rates can be monitored but not corrected, a sample with error in it will be converted with them.
Where will errors happen in a USB transport?
 

spooky

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That testing "misses something" is always a possibility. But appealing to unknown possibilities is a common audiophile fallacy. Perhaps results would have been different had Amir used cryogenically treated power cables with his analyzer?
I'm not sure how you can call a possibility a fallacy. Sarcastic comments about cryogenically treated power cables don't exactly further the discussion.

Again, my original comment was intended to question why he only used 2x upsampling for the listening test. Full upsampling would have been useful as well to provide a full test. I don't see the need to expand this to encompass discussion about measurements, etc, etc.
 

Ritz

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I can see a big management meeting @ CHORD occurring over this review! Justly so... :facepalm:

Doubtful. This is a brand/lifestyle purchase. I suspect that even with a glowing review, there is already a very limited audience for something like this and those folks probably already have one or something similar. So while I'm sure they would have enjoyed a positive review, I suspect "management" is likely rather unconcerned. The unvarnished true reviews based on actual scientific measurements are a breath of fresh air.

Best,
 
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spooky

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Sorry, I am not following the TT2 part.

The M Scaler can output 768hz to the Hugo2, and the Hugo2 can handle this. From Chord's website:

The Hugo M Scaler is a highly advanced standalone upscaler capable of redefining sound quality from digital audio. It uses Rob Watts’ (our Digital Design Consultant’s) unique filter technology, the most advanced in the world, to upscale standard 44.1kHz digital audio up to 705.6kHz (16x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution), ready to be passed to a suitable DAC; Hugo M Scaler extends its upscaling performance to 768kHz (from 96kHz input data) for our dual-BNC-input DACs: Qutest, Hugo 2, Hugo TT 2 and DAVE.
I've not used a Hugo2. As it allows dual-BNC, why was full upsampling not used for the tests when the option was available to do so? This seems even more odd than I had thought.
 
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A Surfer

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So either the people who find audible improvements are all wrong, the improvement detected isn't really an improvement or it's doing something that isn't being measured.

....

I'm not sure that it's reasonable to say the M-Scaler does nothing when the higher settings were not tested.
It is very, very likely that the people who find audible improvement are all wrong, extremely likely actually. It is already a very small sample group of people who can afford the M-Scaler, as but one example. Next, I would wager my life via a slow painful death that each and every M-Scaler owner went into the research phase with great expectations and hopes. Why else would they have bothered? They must have been wondering what else they were missing and that their disposable income could find.

This is how a sample can be biased. Nobody spends that kind of money without an expectation of some positive difference. You are now surprised when they all hear the difference?
 

Jimbob54

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So either the people who find audible improvements are all wrong, the improvement detected isn't really an improvement or it's doing something that isn't being measured.
Agreed
I would have liked to have seen it tested using the higher upsampling settings. If that was not going to be done then the review should state that no difference was detected by the reviewer using the lowest setting but he did not have the opportunity to try the higher settings and therefore cannot draw a conclusion about how those settings might perform.
He measured at 2 and 4x, he listened at 2x. No differences measured, no differences heard The measurements show no difference at 2x and 4x- why would there be audible differences between 2x and 4x when the measurements show none?
I'm not sure that it's reasonable to say the M-Scaler does nothing when the higher settings were not tested.
It measurably does nothing. See above.
 

spooky

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It is very, very likely that the people who find audible improvement are all wrong, extremely likely actually. It is already a very small sample group of people who can afford the M-Scaler, as but one example. Next, I would wager my life via a slow painful death that each and every M-Scaler owner went into the research phase with great expectations and hopes. Why else would they have bothered? They must have been wondering what else they were missing and that their disposable income could find.

This is how a sample can be biased. Nobody spends that kind of money without an expectation of some positive difference. You are now surprised when they all hear the difference?
Why are you phrasing this in absolute terms? Who said they all hear a difference? They do not all say they hear a difference. Even in this thread I have stated that I do not notice a difference with my DAVE whereas I did notice a difference with my TT2 (but only when using the two higher upsampling rates and not with the lowest upsampling rate).

Irrespective of the above, I didn't post on here to discuss any of this - I simply wondered why the higher upsampling rates were not used. It seems from what I have been told that the highest rate was not measured despite having a dual-BNC Qutest available and only the lowest upsampling rate was used for a listening test.
 

spooky

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Agreed

He measured at 2 and 4x, he listened at 2x. No differences measured, no differences heard The measurements show no difference at 2x and 4x- why would there be audible differences between 2x and 4x when the measurements show none?

It measurably does nothing. See above.
He measured what he measured at 2x and 4x. There's no point in having a discussion about measurements on this forum. ;)

Edit: It looks like he measured with dual-BNC but only listened with 2x. Odd.

I find it curious that he did not conduct a listening test with the higher settings and instead only tried the 2x upsampling option. It seems that trying the higher two settings was an option so I wonder why they were not tried. It just seems odd to me. Once he tried the 2x setting and found no difference surely he would have proceeded to try 4x and 16x? Would you not have done so, if out of nothing more than curiosity and being thorough?

There's no sense in going around in circles, it just seems a bit odd not to have tried those higher settings when conducting the listening tests.
 
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Dogcoop

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I've not used a Qutest. As it allows dual-BNC, why was full upsampling not used for the tests when the option was available to do so? This seems even more odd than I had thought.
Until you do a blind listening test and post your opinion based on the results of that test, there is no way for your opinion to be more valuable than any other poster. It is just an opinion; @amirm uses measurements to validate his subjective opinion in listening tests.

In my opinion, as a previous owner of a DAVE and M-Scaler, my current Topping DAC provides me as much musical pleasure as the Chord equipment did. Can you refute my opinion? Is my opinion not as valid as yours?
 

Jimbob54

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He measured what he measured at 2x and 4x. There's no point in having a discussion about measurements on this forum. ;)

Edit: It looks like he measured with dual-BNC but only listened with 2x. Odd.

I find it curious that he did not conduct a listening test with the higher settings and instead only tried the 2x upsampling option. It seems that trying the higher two settings was an option so I wonder why they were not tried. It just seems odd to me. Once he tried the 2x setting and found no difference surely he would have proceeded to try 4x and 16x? Would you not have done so, if out of nothing more than curiosity and being thorough?

There's no sense in going around in circles, it just seems a bit odd not to have tried those higher settings when conducting the listening tests.
He doesnt listen (or at least doesnt report on) DACs reviewed either. Is that odd too?
 

balletboy

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These type of comments are really interesting. My experience is it's not quite like this.

Let's say you are in a position where you have enough disposable income so that for you personally, time is more important than the money needed to buy a high end audio system. Let's say that you like audio but don't have the time or knowledge to put lots of pieces together and test components in isolation. It's also impossible to tell from reviews because they are all over the place. Let's say you can hire someone who designs complete audio systems, the kind of person who will go to your house/apartment, do an acoustical test and configure everything. You give them a budget of $100-$150k to get a system for you. Person has been recommended to you from a friend.

You go to his/her studio and listen to various speakers and set ups. Different speakers do sound different. There's no pressure, actually, you can come back and listen several times on different days to be sure.

You are not being an idiot. You don't have time to really care about each individual component, and you know you are probably buying unnecessary things. That's understood. You also know that some of the cost is made up because the consultant gets discounts and you don't pay list price on anything (easy to check). It happens to be the M Scaler is part of the set up, but is about 3-5% of the total cost of the set up. You don't have time or really care about each individual component. Since you know you like how it sounds as a whole you go for it. System set-up and you are happy.

Is it a waste of money? Sure, on some level. If I did it again I would leave out the M Scaler as part of the package. But it's not irrational. Just depends on your personal valuing of time vs. money. It's a lot of work to test audio components, assuming you have the know-how. One of the reasons the M Scaler stayed in my system despite my doubts is it didn't seem to hurt, and I'd rather listen to my system than swap cables which are admittedly in an inconvenient spot for me (out of sight).

I only found this website this year. And as I get into the technical aspects audio more and more, I am curious about what each of these parts do, if anything. And I've frankly been a little shocked at the lack of transparency of the industry, and in particular the audio reviewing industry. I have to think that if a company provides you with a review model, it will bias you a bit because you want the next one, right? You need products to review, or your website will never take off. So if you have a positive evaluation of a company loaned product you will post it, but if you have a negative evaluation, you have every incentive to simply not post the review rather than give a negative review. Hence my support of what Amir is trying to do.
I know exactly where you are coming from. I know enough people whose time is worth more than money when it comes to audio equipment, all they want to know is how to ue it, also dealers who have many clients like that. Some don't even give a budget, just say "give me the best".

Contrary to what others have suggested, these are not new technology, D/D converters have been around for 25 years, just very few and far between. The principle is to feed the D/A converter with data at its native processing speed.

The ones I know of are designed for their own D/A converters, usually with a proprietary optimised connection here 2xBNC connection (this is stated on the product website). dCS (also I think MBL) use 2xAES/EBU, Denafrips use I2S, etc. It does not appear to be a matter of substituting the built-in filtering of a standard DAC chip because Chord and other makers of D/D converters like dCS don't use standard DAC chips, they usually use proprietary FPGA D to A conversion, or a ladder DAC like Denafrips.

I assume the jitter is because these devices have very powerful processors that will be inherently noisy. This is not a problem using a Chord DAC, which are famed for jitter rejection. I suspect that D/D conversion done with HQPlayer software on a desktop computer produces a lot of jitter as well.

The measurements here and elsewhere show the upsampling/filters do what they are meant to do, the issue is audibility. Maybe not with the Hugo 2 as it does not have the 2xBNC input because it is designed to be be portable. I've heard the Dave DAC in a system and was very impressed. I wonder how far it can be improved with separate upsampling. Maybe the benefit of this product, if there is any, is more in the midrange units with 2xBNC, the Hugo TT2 and Qutest.

I hope you are enjoying your new audio system!
 

spooky

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Until you do a blind listening test and post your opinion based on the results of that test, there is no way for your opinion to be more valuable than any other poster. It is just an opinion; @amirm uses measurements to validate his subjective opinion in listening tests.

In my opinion, as a previous owner of a DAVE and M-Scaler, my current Topping DAC provides me as much musical pleasure as the Chord equipment did. Can you refute my opinion? Is my opinion not as valid as yours?
I have no idea why you are taking that position. I've not put anyone's opinions down so why ask if I think your opinion is less valid than mine? Weird...
 

spooky

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He doesnt listen (or at least doesnt report on) DACs reviewed either. Is that odd too?
That doesn't answer the question of why only the lowest upsampling setting was tried when the other two were a push of a button away. He conducted a listening test but decided not to listen to the middle and highest upsampling options available. That is what I find odd.

As an aside, I seem to recall him listening to a Vega, saying it sounded great but not recommending it because of the price. The Vega is a DAC, albeit one with a streamer built in.
 

voodooless

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I suspect that D/D conversion done with HQPlayer software on a desktop computer produces a lot of jitter as well.
Assuming USB audio, It does not! It's the USB DAC that dictates the pace of the audio samples, not the source (the PC running HQPlayer).

The amount of jitter for such a device is simply inexcusable. Powerful CPU be damned, it's just a non-sense excuse. You can't claim that filter differences 300 dB down are relevant, and then come up with a device with this amount of jitter.
 
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gvl

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Assuming USB audio, It does not! It's the USB DAC that dictates the pace of the audio samples, not the source (the PC running HQPlayer).
Not to mention it can upsample to much higher sampling rates over USB. I don’t know if 4x upsampling is enough to bypass additional filtering in all DACs, for non Chord ones I mean. There’s also HQP embedded that can use an external USB interface as input, so you can use it with spdif sources same as the M-scaler. I’m surprised ther M-scaler doesn’t have an I2S output, it’s such a desirable feature in the audiophile circles, and here it could actually be useful in a sense that you could send higher sampling rates to third party DACs.
 
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Dogcoop

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I have no idea why you are taking that position. I've not put anyone's opinions down so why ask if I think your opinion is less valid than mine? Weird...
you misunderstand…..I am not saying that you are putting anyone’s opinion down……I am questioning your opinion….. @amirm only used 2x upsampling so he could instantaneously switch from no upsampling to upsampling active. You cannot go instantaneously to 4x or 16x….
 

sarumbear

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If you believe that everything that should be measured is being measured or can be measured then that's rather a big assumption, and you know what they say about assumptions. I like to keep an open mind. I have not said that the testing done here misses something - I have simply suggested that this is a possibility.

You might like to note that I stated earlier that I perceived an improvement with the middle upscaling setting when combined with a TT2 but I do not perceive much, if any difference, when used with my DAVE. I have expressed mixed results depending on the DAC used. Rob Watts hasn't told me to trust him and my conclusions are based on having tried it with different DACs to satisfy my own curiosity. I also would not entirely trust someone taking some measurements and telling me what is going to produce the best sound. My buying decisions are not based on measurements or on what other people tell me, regardless of what you might believe.
You may find it helpful if you read this post before wasting to much keystrokes.
 

Jomungur

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That doesn't answer the question of why only the lowest upsampling setting was tried when the other two were a push of a button away. He conducted a listening test but decided not to listen to the middle and highest upsampling options available. That is what I find odd.

As an aside, I seem to recall him listening to a Vega, saying it sounded great but not recommending it because of the price. The Vega is a DAC, albeit one with a streamer built in.
OK, I think I see your point. Sounds like had the reviewer posted a 16x upsampled file to listen as well as the original sample for comparison it would address your issue.
 
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