Pros: Incredibly natural musical reproduction and good headphone drive, especially with IEMs.
Cons: Big for a portable, bad control and port layout, non-isolated USB makes it PC noise sensitive, doesn't remember volume and input selection.
Rob Watts himself noted different levels of sound quality with different PCs (http://www.head-fi.org/t/766517/chord-electronics-dave/1215#post_12220009) and so Chord went to work on the Hugo TT, intended to be the all-in-one desktop solution that the Hugo doesn’t quite succeed in being. Galvanically isolated USB and a separate, better headphone amp with front outputs and a remote control give the Hugo everything it needs when portability isn’t. That galvanic isolation is critical, as listening to the Hugo through the USB input versus listening through the optical input, there was a subtle, but not unnoticeable hardness to the sound.
Usually with any component, especially digital ones, there is always a compromise of some kind. You can have your ultra-detail, but with a “cold” or “digital” presentation. You can have a rich sound, but it comes through as somewhat contrived, or from a non-over-sampling (NOS) DAC, which exchanges the unpleasantness of digital with degrees of mushiness or a narrower soundstage. The Hugo surprises by giving width, depth, and dynamics I’m used to from regular, high-end over-sampling DACs, but with the kind of musicality I thought only older-style, pre-Sigma Delta “ladder” or “R2R” DACs could deliver.
The "Crazy portable rig" done as a piss-take on the kind of huge portable rigs some members used to carry with them.