Review: Chord Electronics Hugo 2 – The New Master

Specifications

Materials: Clamshell precision machined aluminium casing with polycarbonate  buttons, acrylic signal window, and glass viewing portal. Available in a choice of two colours – natural silver, and satin black

Battery: 2x Rechargeable custom Enix Energies 3.7v 9.6Wh Li-ion (lithium-ion (2600mAh) batteries*

Tap length filter: 49,152 – 10 element Pulse Array design

Play time: In excess of seven (7) hours

Charging: Nominal four (4) hours via Micro USB at 1.8amps (fast charge) – Nominal eight (8) hours at 1amp (slow charge)

Connectivity (input): Micro USB (White): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit

Coax via 3.5mm Jack (Red): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit

Optical (Green): 44.1kHz – 192kHz – 16bit – 24bit

Connectivity (input wireless): Bluetooth (Apt X) (Blue): 44.1kHz – 48kHz – 16bit

Connectivity (output): 1x ¼” jack headphone output

1x 3.5mm jack headphone output

1x stereo (L & R) RCA output

PCM support: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz.

DSD support: Native playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)

Volume control: Digital, activated in 1dB increments. Last known state saved upon shutdown, with exception of line-level mode

Line-level mode: Activated via dual press of middle ‘Source’ and ‘Crossfeed’ buttons. Line level = 3v via all outputs. Reset by power cycle

Power saving mode: Auto-shutdown after ten minutes of input inactivity

Driver support: Driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, driver required for Windows OS

* Non-user-serviceable batteries are covered by a limited 18-month warranty from initial date of purchase. For full terms and conditions please click here.

 

User Configurable Options:

Filters (Digital):

Incisive neutral (Ultimate reference) (White)

Incisive neutral HF roll-off (High Frequency roll off) (Green)

Warm (‘Smooth’) (Orange)

Warmer HF roll-off (High Frequency roll off) (Red)

 

Crossfeed (Digital IIR):

Off – No Crossfeed

Level 1 – Light

Level 2 – Medium

Level 3 – Heavy

 

Control options:

Manual

Remote control (included)

 

Technical specifications:

Chipset: Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA

Tap-length: 49,152

Pulse array: 10 element pulse array design

Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB

Output stage: Class A

Output impedance: 0.025Ω

THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω

THD and noise at 3v RMS: 120dB at 1kHz 300ohms ‘A’ wighted (reference 5.3v)

Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation

Signal to noise ratio: 126dB ‘A’ Weighted

Channel separation: 135dB at 1kHz 300Ω

Power output @ 1kHz 1% THD: 94mW 300Ω

740mW 33Ω

1050mW 8Ω

Weight: 450g

Dimensions: 130mm (L) x 100mm (W) x 21mm (H)

Boxed Dimensions: 220mm (L) x 122mm (W) x 85mm (H)

 

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

21 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 December 31, 2017

      mehrdad

      Hello, could you tell the sound differences between hugo2 and IFI-Audio Pro iCan? and
      In your opinion which one has better choice . thank you.

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Muataz

      You have to listen to with out external amp, because the external amp will change the sound.
      I had the same issue with my Mojo & Black dragonfly and iFi iCan SE, with sound from iCan SE the difference between Mojo & dragonfly is small, but when compare them with out amp the difference is day & night.

      There is no amp in the world no matter what is the cost will beat chord the built it amp section in pure sound quality

  • 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 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.

      • Reply December 17, 2017

        Tihon

        Oh, that was really nice to hear, thank you! I used to think Chord would have softer treble with all those filter options. Can you say if any of those would sound more “punchy”? I don`t know appropriate english word. I mean any difference in attack or speed (the very first loud moment of any sound) between two DACs. I think it`s more amplifier responsibility (how fast it could go from low to high level), but never had a chance to hear if a good DAC could make any difference in this.

  • Reply January 11, 2018

    Juan

    How does this pairs with the HD800S

    • Reply January 11, 2018

      Linus

      Hi Juan,
      Lieven doesn’t own the 800S, so I took the liberty to answer.

      In one word: Incredible 🙂

  • Reply March 10, 2018

    William

    Isn’t the headphone amplifier section underpowered and weak though? I guess I will need to try it at a headphone bar with different HP.

    • Reply March 12, 2018

      Lieven

      No I wouldn’t say it’s weak, but it of course isn’t a full desktop unit

  • Reply July 20, 2018

    NITISH

    Hi Lieven
    Awesome review!

    Can you share the impressions of the pairing between Hugo 2 & Violectric hpa v281 vs Hugo 2 alone ?

    Is there a issue of double amplification or degradation of SQ of Hugo 2 output when connected to an external headphone amp like the v281 ?

    Thanks

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