Switching to my beloved and rockboxed DX90, you can only hook up mojo by Coax (both ends are two-pole connections). I slightly prefer the Coaxial input of the Mojo over the USB-input. It has the same weight body-wise and it is even more musical while maintaining the level of detail and separation from the USB input. The Mojo also matches up great with the DX90 size wise. The DX90 simply still is an awesome DAP and I prefer it over the newer DX80 which we still have to feature on Headfonia.com.
Hooking the Mojo up to my good old Samsung S4 is very easy as you just need an OTG cable and a good app. I myself use the Onkyo app and the USB Audio Player Pro (€5,99?) app to play my music. The difference with or without Mojo is huge, as expected. Mojo was developed with this in mind and it is what Mojo does best: elevate the sound of your smartphone to a level that wasn’t possible before. Size-wise both units of course don’t really match up but sound quality wise I’ll take the combo over the S4 alone any day.
Mojo is dead silent, even with my most sensitive ciems and that’s quite the achievement. At the same time there is enough headroom and Mojo can be set to the lowest of volumes without any channel imbalance: it’s the perfect IEM DAC/AMP in this regard.
The Inear StageDiver SD4 is a very well balanced and fast sounding universal IEM and it sound signature wise fits perfectly with the full bodied yet detailed and clear sound from the Mojo. It’s like as if these were made for each other. The SD4 delivers impactful tight bass, realistic engaging mids with great vocals and enthusiastic inoffensive treble. It’s still my favorite universal IEM, that’s for sure. The new CustomArt 8.2 (the H8P upgrade) is an 8-driver ciem that has a great balance from bass to highs. It has a more linear and neutral tuning with great detail, separation and depth. The synergy however isn’t really there for me as the Mojo seems to take away some of the clarity of the 8.2 and add just a little too much body. It’s not that it’s bad but my ears prefer the 8.2 straight out of the AK70, DX90 and AK380. The new Jomo Samba also is an 8 driver ciem made for the professional. Like the 8.2 it has a more neutral tuning but bass – when called upon – has bigger body. It’s also very detailed and tuned to as reference monitor but the Samba plays extremely well with the Mojo delivering great bass, detailed natural mids and lively treble.
The brand new 250Ohm Beyerdynamic DT1770PRO is a great match for the Mojo. That comes as no surprise as the DT770PRO, which is the 1770’s predecessor, also sounds awesome on it. The DT1770Pro’s bass has good body and is tighter and more detailed. Treble is very lively (it’s a Beyer after all) and the mids are realistic and lively with a slightly smooth delivery with just enough body. While the DT1770Pro and DT770 share as good as the same FR-curve, I do find the newest headphone to be the more detailed and precise one, with upgraded bass. Anyway, Mojo makes it sing. The extremely easy to drive Hifiman Edition-S has a warmer tuning where bass certainly is bigger and more important. Mojo gives the S what it needs although I can imagine some people will find the bass and mids to sound a little too thick straight from the Mojo. It’s quite enjoyable for on the go though. One, well two, of my favorite headphones with the HUGO are the Sennheiser HD800 and HD800S. While a lot of people also love these combined with the Mojo, I can’t enjoy them as much as on the Hugo. The sense of naturalness is a bit low for me, and then I’m talking about the more digital sound of the Mojo compared to that of the Hugo. That being said, Mojo does perfectly manage to drive these headphones and it’s more a question of “personal taste”.
Hugo to me is still a level up from the Mojo, especially with full sized headphones. It has a lighter sound signature with a more analog, easier and slower presentation. Hugo is wider, more spacious and goes deeper with better layering. Where Mojo sounds more digital and compact, Hugo sounds more real and has more timbre and feeling. I have to admit that Mojo pairs up more easily with IEMs than Hugo does. I’m convinced both “DACs” are excellent and it’s most likely the amp part that’s really different. Both units have a lot of inputs and several outputs and they both have an excellent value. The Mojo is the easiest to use as it is most portable and stackable.
Another very popular AMP/DAC combo that easily works with smartphones, DAPs and PC is the JDSLabs C5D. Size wise it matches the AK70 even better but sound wise it to me is under the level of the Mojo. Don’t get me wrong as the C5D is extremely good for only $249, costing half the Mojo. The downside for me is that the C5D only “does” up to 24/96 and that at this period of time is a little limited. It also still uses a mini-USB and not a micro-USB connector, so you will need an extra cable. Sound wise C5D is also very clear and clean but not to the same degree as the Mojo. Detail levels in the Mojo are higher and the sound of the C5D is even more concentrated than Mojo’s. C5D maybe is a little less digital sounding but a part from that Mojo has it beat everywhere. C5D does have 2 gain settings but I have never felt the Mojo didn’t have enough power. The C5D for its price has good sound and is very versatile but Mojo simply plays on another level. Maybe it’s time for a C5D update.
Other easy to pair DAC/Amps are the AudioQuest DragonFly units we looked at just last week. I quite like how both the DragonFly Red and Black perform but if you’ve read the review you’ll remember I liked them most with full sized headphones, especially the Red one. With my IEMs I seem to miss out on something, they just don’t do it for me sound-wise, with IEMs. Mojo was made mostly for IEMs and it clearly performs a lot better with them. Mojo, to be clear, of course is 3 to 5 times as expensive as the DragonFly units.
I planned on keeping this review short but I have failed miserably. The main conclusion for me is that the Mojo is more than just the flavor of the month. Mojo is especially good with poor sources like your smartphone, which is the main reason the Mojo was developed. The great thing about the Mojo is that it plays fine with both full sized headphones as well as IEMs, although it seems to be pickier with those.
Looking at build quality, design and versatility, the Mojo is as good as it gets. It’s small, it feels great, it can take a beating and it pairs perfectly fine with a whole number of sources. While the Mojo certainly is great I do have two issues with it. First of all, I wish it had a little more of the analog sound, spaciousness and layering the Hugo has as Mojo often sounds a tad too digital and compact to me. Second, a lot of people are using the Mojo with perfectly fine sources that depending on the head- or earphone used, even sound better than the Mojo. Those who have been following me on our social media probably noticed that I don’t always say Mojo is the best, and these are the two reasons why.
The Astell&Kern AK380 in example has a great single ended and balanced output and with my custom IEMs I prefer using the headphone output of the AK380 over the Mojo. It’s more detailed, more spacious and has better depth. It’s exactly the same story for the AK70 and the Luxury&Precision L3 where both the single ended as the balanced 2.5mm output sound really great with IEMS (Of course they each have their own sound signature). It’s a different story with full sized headphones as the Mojo, depending on the DAP you compare it too of course, simply has more power. There also are DAPs like the iBasso DX80 and Cayin N5/i5 which tend to be rather noisy with IEMs and for these DAPs the Mojo is the perfect solution. The only thing I ask is to try the headphone-out-line of your source first before you turn to the Mojo.