lol, true that batteries aren't ideal. But all batteries are not created equal, nor are their power stage implementation (the chips ensuring a specific unchanging voltage is being sent to DAC or AMP or other). I could hear cleaner more transparent sound in the DX50 from switching batteries to a Samsung brand one for example (believe it or not).
The Chord Hugo uses two very good custom batteries (very low internal resistance), one to power the DAC and one to power the AMP. Splitting the two power stages is often seen on High end home DAC/AMPs. Also the Hugo uses multiple stages of high emd ultra low distortion voltage regulators to ensure exact amounts of power are going to every chip, whereas current DAPs simply use 1 or 2 regular voltage regulators to regulate the power from the single battery then use regular circuitry to split the power further (transistors etc).
Currently no DAP even comes close to the design and engineering of the Hugo.
Its impossible the Calyx will come close to the Hugo either (limited space), but hopefully Calyx will attempt to be a step above current DAPs. Although with no internal pictures we can't tell whats going on inside the Calyx, hopefully the Calyx isn't as hard to open as it looks.
You clearly know your stuff - very informative.
Going by what we DO know about the M, and also whatever you may (or may not!) know about the AK240, would you say the M is also in competition with the AK240? Or do you think the AK240 is still a step up again?
I know the M is targeting the AK100/120, iBasso DX90/100, and whichever HiFiMan-it-is level, but just wondered if, in the M, we might potentially have something which will also rival something that costs nearly three times as much?
It's clearly described on their website. Chord provides ample description of how the Hugo is built internally, in fact if you read the complete article you'll find a lot of good information on how they came about designing the Hugo.
Now If you are referring to Calyx M beating the Hugo, you need to compare apples with apples (no pun intended), Hugo is an amp/dac and not a player. Further more it's Dac technology is in a different league than the ESS or any other manufacturers hence why they charge so much for it, the R&D that went into it requires that else they would not be able to substantiate and fuel their research. In order to equal or surpass the Hugo DAC or even it's amp stage, it would have to be twice as big as it is now to contain the same circuitry performing at a similar level than Chord Hugo. It's not going to happen anytime soon. So Hugo is on a different level and can easily fetch the price it has, calyx M with its current technology seems to be rightly priced, although this is still something we need to test. D&A has made it clear that they won't release even at a high level the internal amp stage layout. You'll need to open it up and closely study its internals.