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Review and Measurements of Chord Hugo 2 DAC and Headphone Amplifier

amirm

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#21
Thanks for this review.

Can anyone comment upon what the designer is thinking when he says the large filter taps control noise modulation at -200 db and that is audible? Because that doesn't make sense to me.
As I explained, in sighted listening Rob Watts says he hears this even though he knows others would not at all take such comments seriously.

It is very easy to train one's mind that more is better. That is why unbiased testing needs to be done to confirm such things. Until then, as I mentioned, this has become a powerful marketing point for them so I am not seeing them changing this stance.
 

amirm

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#22
Speaking of which.... would love to see you test the RME ADI-2 DAC....
I do too. I don't own one though. And people who do do not want to be without them at the moment. :)
 

amirm

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#23
Hugo 2 is positioned as mobile DAC/headphone amp. On the Chord website you see it connected to mobile phone. You can put it your pocket, together with iPhone and enjoy your music.
I know they position it that way but I just don't see that application. This is a hunky box with sharp corners. It weighs 460 grams/1 pound or more than three times heavier than my Samsung S8 phone! And no way would it fit in any pocket I have. I think it is a "transportable" box, not a portable one. I just can't imagine lugging this around for train, walking, etc. use.

But yes, it is an advantage it has over Exasound. My interest in it was a straight DAC to be used on the desk and in that regard, it is just a bit smaller than Exasound. Its small size is a drawback there with lack of balanced outputs, non-standard S/PDIF input, etc. It is a "tweener" as we call it in the industry. It is not small enough to be truly portable, yet it is too small to be good as a desktop unit.

These are of course my subjective remarks. Folks can ignore them and just go by the measurement data. :)
 

amirm

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#24
As a side note, I think I heard in an interview with Rob Watts that they have sold some 70,000 Chord Mojos!!! Yes that is seventy thousand units! This headphone enthusiast market seems massive compared to high-end audio.
 
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mindbomb

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#25
Simple. I connect the headphone and then measure the output of the DAC (NOT the headphone) with that load in place Compared to a resistive "dummy load" the headphone provides a complex, frequency varying load.

Here is the Benchmark Media white paper on it: https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/12838141-headphone-amplifiers-part-1
So what does a headphone amplifier have to have to do well in this test? Is it just low output impedance and good phase margin?
 

amirm

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#26
So what does a headphone amplifier have to have to do well in this test? Is it just low output impedance and good phase margin?
Same response with all headphones.

upload_2018-2-13_8-53-29.png


As to why, Benchmark says the problem is resonances in low frequencies in headphones. I don't yet have enough data to form my own opinion. :)
 
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#28
As a side note, I think I heard in an interview Rob Watts that they have sold some 70,000 Chord Mojos!!! Yes that is seventy thousand units! This headphone enthusiast market seems massive compared to high-end audio.
The headphone market has exploded over the past 8 or so years. Things really started to take off around the time Monster and Beats electronics started making headphones fashionable. A lot of the people that bought into the Beats stuff found their way to head-fi and years later, are the same ones buying Chord Mojo's and Schiit boxes. lol.
 

Candlesticks

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#29
https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SonyMDRV6.pdf

Look at that impedance.

@amirm it's worth having a headphone with some extreme impedance changes in fr to test with. The Focal Utopia is a good choice but the Sennheiser HD598 is much cheaper if you ever want to sell the Utopia. The change in impedance at the primary resonance of open dynamic headphones is the most significant shift that a DAC or amplifier will see outside of the large impedance changes you get with multi-balanced armature IEMs.




https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/UETF10.pdf
 
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Candlesticks

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#31
THe HD 598 certainly has biggests variance in impedance. I have go debate the cost of it relative to buying yet another DAC. :)
Sure. It's just another headphone that can be used as an alternative to the Utopia in case you decide to sell it.
 

amirm

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#32
To be clear, the Utopia was on loan and it too is gone. For passive headphones I have Sennheisder HD-650, Hifiman HE4000i and Sony MDR-V6. The others were on loan. Question is, do we need more sample points?
 

Frank Dernie

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#33
I bought the original Hugo a few years ago for travelling.
I use a Mac, so it won't become a doorstop for me :)
I have used it as a more powerful and potentially better DAC for my laptop and phone. I didn't mind carrying it in my briefcase for use in hotel or plane, I wouldn't carry it in a pocket, more because the connector location doesn't lend itself than the size of my pockets.
Whilst I have a potentially good mobile system with it I never use it now, preferring the convenience of B&O E8 bluetooth ear buds for the noisy environments I use a portable. If their quality is not that good I don't notice it walking the dog or on public transport.
I am at my daughter's on holiday just now, and brought my Hugo, but haven't used it yet.
 

Candlesticks

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#34
To be clear, the Utopia was on loan and it too is gone. For passive headphones I have Sennheisder HD-650, Hifiman HE4000i and Sony MDR-V6. The others were on loan. Question is, do we need more sample points?
Those headphones are fine to use.
 

Blumlein 88

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#35
To be clear, the Utopia was on loan and it too is gone. For passive headphones I have Sennheisder HD-650, Hifiman HE4000i and Sony MDR-V6. The others were on loan. Question is, do we need more sample points?
Seems too easy to build a dummy headphone load. One you switch and model after several different phones.
 

amirm

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#36
I can build one but people always criticize dummy loads as being too easy or too tough. As much as I hate to risk damaging my headphones, I will probably use them as the loads. Specifically I was thinking of standardizing on Sony MDR-V6 since that is what Benchmark used and is a popular headphone.
 

stalepie

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#37
"At 1.7 ohms, it is very low making it suitable to driving any headphone without changing its frequency response."

I've seen some fans of multi-driver BA IEMs say they need less than 1 ohms ideally.
 

DonH56

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#38
Correct. Stated latency was half a second by Rob Watts for the 100k version.
Thanks, and hmmm... For just normal playback not a big deal. And I realized I don't know the latency of any of the other DACs either. What I find much more vexing is the way my Oppo cuts off the first few hundred ms upon starting a CD (a known issue they cannot solve -- out of their control).
 

Candlesticks

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#39
I can build one but people always criticize dummy loads as being too easy or too tough. As much as I hate to risk damaging my headphones, I will probably use them as the loads. Specifically I was thinking of standardizing on Sony MDR-V6 since that is what Benchmark used and is a popular headphone.
In terms of actual use cases it is open dynamics that people will be typically purchasing as well. So seeing how a DAC or headphone amplifier reacts to a large increase in impedance at low frequencies will be useful. You can see how significant of an affect the Utopia had on the measurements. The Sennheiser HD 650 increase in impedance is not as large but it is broader.

If you can find a Sennheiser HD518, HD558, HD598, HD559, HD579, HD599 cheap then buy one. They are all the same headphone with the same driver and slight changes to the grill. The impedance increase is much more extreme than the HD650 so I'd be interested at some point to see how much of a difference that makes.

A used HD518 is available on Amazon at $75. I don't think it's high priority considering you have a HD650 already.

"At 1.7 ohms, it is very low making it suitable to driving any headphone without changing its frequency response."

I've seen some fans of multi-driver BA IEMs say they need less than 1 ohms ideally.
JH Audio Angie dips below 4Ω at points. It's a niche case where <0.5 Ω is needed for output impedance much like the Hifiman HE-6 is for power required.
 

Sylafari

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#40
Schiit is plug-and play on my Windows 10 Creator's Edition machine as are their other DACs I have tested. If RME ADI-2 needs one, I will ding that just the same. :D

Really the only excuse for having a driver, i.e. Windows support, has gone away. Drivers provide no value for users and only aggravation. The person who loaned it to me said that the drivers he downloaded would not work for him and he had to get a different version after contacting them. Imagine buying a new Windows laptop, going on a plane, only to find out you didn't install drivers.
In the RME ADI 2 DAC user manual, it says it is a UAC 2.0 Class Compliant Device, and doesn't need drivers for Mac OS, for Windows though it says to install its Madisound Drivers though it may work without them (I haven't tested this, though I could later maybe).

Also @amirm how does the Utopia sound subjectively (It is $4000 :eek:).
 
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