Review: Chord Electronics Hugo 2 – The New Master

Disclaimer: The Chord Hugo 2 was sent to us directly from Chord Electronics for the purpose of this review.

 

Chord Electronics

I published Linus’ Chord Hugo 2 review just last week, and as I won’t be covering the parts he covered already, we really advise to read Part 1 of the Hugo 2 review first, which you can find HERE. I also suggest reading up on the Chord Mojo first, here and here, and of course checking out the original Hugo review is also a good idea as the Hugo 2 will be compared to the original in this second part of the review.

If there is one brand in personal audio that does not need an introduction I believe it’s Chord Electronics. They have been talked about continuously ever since they have brought the fabulous Hugo (you go, get it?) to the market. It was their absolute breakthrough product which has shown us what is possible with D/A converters. Their smaller, cigarette pack sized, Mojo has been, and probably still is, one of the most sold items in this segment and is loved by the whole community around the globe.

Linus’ also included a part of our Chord electronics interview in his review, but you can also check out the Q&A article with Chord’s John Franks right here: https://www.headfonia.com/q-n-a-saturday-chord-electronics/

Hugo 2

I really love the original Hugo and so my expectations for Hugo 2 were very high. At the same time I was a little worried that the H2 would sound more digital like the Mojo, and I wasn’t sure I’d like that. We’ll get back to that later though.

You can find out all you need to know on Chord’s official Hugo 2 web page right here: https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/hugo-2/

Hugo 2 can be used both at home and on-the-go, either with headphones or within a conventional audio system. Its line-level output and full-function remote control adds real flexibility in full-size and desktop systems. I absolutely adore the remote control option. I don’t have a leather jacket for the Hugo 2 yet and as a result I’ve only been using it as a desktop unit up to now. When several sources are connected to the Hugo 2 it isn’t always easy to remember what color/input corresponds to which source but the remote makes it super easy to switch sources. Everything you can do on the H2, you can do on the remote: love it!

The Hugo 2 offers four digital inputs (optical, coaxial and HD USB) plus extended-range Bluetooth, with high-resolution file playback up to 768kHz and up to DSD512 (Octa DSD), via its HD USB input. Analogue outputs include 2x RCA, plus 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone outputs.

A four-function switch filter offers a useful degree of user-selectable frequency-shaping, bringing warm and soft or transparent and incisive presentations, giving additional flexibility and user control. For headphone-listening, Hugo 2 retains the popular digital crossfeed function of the original and offers three operation modes. The system duplicates the effect of listening to speakers and is based on advanced binaural audio research.

Hugo 2 features four spherical control buttons, which illuminate with colour-coding information and control power, input, filtering, plus the unit’s crossfeed functions. Battery playing time is around seven hours and two modes of automatic charging are included using the dedicated Micro USB charging port; an indicator shows charging and battery-charge status.

You can find the full specs of the Hugo 2 at the end of this review on the very last page.

Build Quality, Layout, Price & Looks

The original Hugo was gorgeous but the new Hugo is even more so. Hugo one was smooth and had curved edges, Hugo 2 is more squared and has straight edges. Chord chose to move the controls from the side to the top and that for me is a lot more practical. If you already complained about the Hugo 1’s flashy color system (for the bit rate and such), you probably won’t like the new Hugo 2 as it is all about the colors and what they represent. You however (just like with the Mojo) can dim the lights to a really low level, should you find it too flashy looking.

Build quality wise it is as good as it gets but I do have to mention you easily leave traces and scratches on the black casing. So be careful using it until your new leather jacket arrives. I really can’t complain about anything else really: it looks gorgeous, feels great and it’s easy to use. Linus covered the layout in his review last week, so I won’t going into detail on that again. I do have to note however that if you’re in to “stacking”, you’ll always have to put Hugo 2 on top as the top surface isn’t perfectly flat. The volume dial sticks out and the case has a little bump so it’s impossible to stack something on top of it. The Hugo 2 is a beautiful piece of gear however and it oozes class when displayed on your office desk.

As said, the Hugo 2 for the moment is more transportable than it is portable as I don’t have the handy jacket yet. The Hugo 2 is so versatile (see inputs/outputs above) however, that you’ll carry it to work in a bag with a big smile on your face, knowing you’ll be listening to a top quality DAC/AMP with  desktop performance as soon as you arrives.

Hugo 2 offers you transportability, desktop quality sound, beautiful design and a whole lot of in- and outputs but that all comes with a considerable price tag of $/€2195. You do get a perfect all-in-one unit however, one of the – if not THE – very best on the market. For accessories, etc, check Part 1 of the Chord Hugo 2 review

Click HERE or use the jump below to go to page 2 of the review

Review: Chord Electronics Hugo 2 – The New Master
4.3 (85.71%) 35 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he’s the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he’s always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

13 Comments

  • Reply August 17, 2017

    Marius

    Wonderful, thank you Lieven. It’s a very well crafted review and I’m always impressed how you skilfully translate your listening experiences to words.

    The fact that you dropped your HD800 for this new found love speaks for itself.

    I love, love my Hugo (1), but your raving review leaves me struggling, well, thanks for that! 😉

    Did have a chance to try your HD650 or LCD-XC on the HUGO 2?

  • Reply August 17, 2017

    Martin F

    I had the Hugo 2 for about 2 weeks and listened to it for about 2 hours each day and came to the conclusion that the upgrade from my Hugo 1 was not worth the extra money. While the Hugo 2 is a great DAC-Amp and works great with every source, i just don’t see why someone with a Hugo 1 would upgrade just based on the soundquality. I tested both the Hugo 1 and Hugo 2 as well as my DX90 (as DAC) and could not tell either of these 3 apart from eachother. The Volume was matched to +- 0,5dB and they were all connected to my ifi Pro-iCan. So i could easily switch between Inputs and there was basically no latency between switching the different sources. I also did some blindtesting between the DX90 (as a DAC) and the Hugo 2. Out of testing 20 times, i could tell the Hugo 2 apart on 6 tries. That is less then 50 % which is basically “guessing”. So i couldn’t tell them apart, which is why i returned the Hugo 2.

    • Reply November 8, 2017

      David lucena

      Very interesting!

  • Reply August 17, 2017

    Danni Veng

    Lieven, did you use the dt1990pro or the dt1770pro, as you described it as closed headphone which is the latter.

    • Reply August 17, 2017

      Lieven

      1990pro. Sorry, modified

  • Reply August 18, 2017

    Diego

    Hello, could you tell the differences between hugo2 and V850?
    Thank you
    Best regards

  • Reply September 26, 2017

    Bart

    Hi Lieven, how does it compare to the Hugo TT with the Utopias?

    • Reply September 28, 2017

      Lieven

      I don’t have the TT, sorry

  • Reply November 8, 2017

    David lucena

    Greeting Lieven. Thank you for the great review. I was interested in your opinion between Sony nw-WM1Z vs hugo2.
    I know they serve different purposes, buy in the end of the day, the sound quality is the only thing that matters. I had a very short experience in both, and thought Sony had better dac, and hugo was close but chord better amplification was confounding my judgment.
    Hope to see your valuable opinion.

    • Reply November 9, 2017

      Lieven

      Hi David,

      I would say the opposite, the H2 has the best dac. The other advantage the H2 has is that it can power full sized headphones better than the 1Z can. With the 1Z the balanced output is the best, and with the Sony it’s the amp section that makes it special sound wise.
      I however for full sized headphones would always recommend the H2 unless they’re really easy to drive

  • Reply November 9, 2017

    David lucena

    THANks!

  • Reply December 15, 2017

    Tihon

    Greetings!

    Thank you for the review. Can you share any thoughts on Violectric V850 vs. Chord Hugo 2 comparison? I`m looking for a high level DAC for my Violectric V200 and Fostex TH-900. V850 should be the obvious choice, but Hugo 2 has it`s strong points like HF roll-off filters and crossfed. Unfortunately in my country there are no chances to listen to any of this DACs before ordering. I assume non of these two would be disappointing, but should have different approach to music. What do you think about their dynamics and treble softness?

    Thank you.
    Best regards!

    • Reply December 16, 2017

      Lieven

      The V850 has the softest treble. The Chord Dacs are very detailed and analytical, the V850 is softer. The Violectric DAC also doens’t do DSD and doesn’t have the options the Chord has. The V850 is my desktop DAC but I have to admit using the Hugo 2 more lately as Desktop DAC.

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