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Chord Hugo to go (Portable DSD DAC/Amp)  

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Chord Hugo portable DAC/Amp released early next year apparently, £1200 (GBP)


From the Chord website:-


Chord Hugo reference-grade DAC/headphone amp - coming Jan 2014


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of our ground-breaking and game-changing DAC 64, we will be launching something very special in the new year. Based on the same FPGA DAC technology that has helped establish Chord Electronics as an authority in digital audio, the company will be introducing a reference-level portable – a world first in audio history.


Called Hugo (because you can take Hugo wherever ‘you-go’), the new device offers studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability, all from a palm-sized player. Hugo is the world’s most advanced headphone amp/DAC, offering five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus advanced 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback for today’s high-resolution DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) music files.


The new Hugo, which can be used as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a reference-level source component in a static system, brings the renowned digital audio expertise of Rob Watts and Chord Electronics to serious headphone listening, enabling consumers to experience a world of super-high-resolution music via their headphones. It offers unsurpassed performance and technology and is unrivaled in the marketplace, thanks to its bespoke technology, FPGA circuitry and advanced file-playback capability.


Hugo is ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files. It can decode sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM), allowing audiophiles to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. Hugo also benefits from two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz. Thanks to two additional digital inputs, coaxial and optical, any connected component with a digital output will also benefit from Hugo’s advanced technology.


Building on the strengths on the (two-years’-running) What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision ‘Best DAC’ QuteHD, the new Hugo also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry, so even without cables, high-quality music can still be enjoyed.


In addition to 384kHz PCM files, the Hugo can also process DSD 128 data using the latest DSD-over-PCM standard (DoP). Whether using Mac OS or Windows OS, Chord Electronics’ own proprietary driver software is provided, removing the restrictions of current operating system audio playback.


Hugo has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours. Hugo takes no power over its USB input (as this is severely limited with many partnering products) and only takes signal data, therefore, it is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Further features include an advanced reference-grade digital volume control that does not lose bits.


Like all Chord Electronics products, Hugo is built to last. The casework is precision- machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, with a bright silver hard-anodised finish (note: spotlight image shows titanium-finish prototype). Complementing the design is a top-mounted ‘porthole’ that gives users an intriguing insight into the internal circuitry, which changes colour with differing incoming sample rates.


Hugo is based upon Rob Watts’ and Chord Electronics’ famous bespoke DAC technologies and is the latest edition to Chord Electronics’ beautiful high-performance product range.


Specifications Inputs:


• Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable

• RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable

• Driverless USB input 16-bit/48kHz-capable (designed for tablets/phones)

• HD USB input 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128-capable (for computer/laptop playback; requires driver installation on Windows, others TBC) Outputs

• 2x3.5mm headphone jacks

• 1x6.35mm (1/4 inch) headphone jack

• 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output


Technical specs:

• Advanced digital volume control

• Crossfeed filter network

• Battery powered for approximately 14 hours operation

• Input, sample rate and volume level indication by colour-change LEDs

• 26K tap-length filter (more than double when compared to the QuteHD DAC)

• THD: 140dB •


Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load







post #2 of 9

Some impressions and pictures here.


Edited by ThatPhil - 12/2/13 at 3:31pm
post #3 of 9

The design is really not convincing to me...and the casing looks quite cheap...come on, for this price make an effort guys.

post #4 of 9

Mimo, Chord normally mill the casings out of sold blocks of aluminium so will be built like a tank I should imagine, hope there's a nice leather case for it for portable use when strapped to a DAP/iThingy.


ps. should match the ZX1 case at least so think of the positives

Edited by Noble-Geezer - 12/3/13 at 2:17pm
post #5 of 9

Chord sent me some pictures to share with everyone. I've asked to borrow one for review. I hope the RCA sockets aren't recessed as in the pictures. 


post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Chord sent me some pictures to share with everyone. I've asked to borrow one for review. I hope the RCA sockets aren't recessed as in the pictures.


nice one look forward to your review.... those RCA sockets look like a nice snug fit for sure a tad wider opening 2mm(?) would be nice by the looks, I can understand them being recessed as you wouldn't want to damage them on your travels... one thing you will know for certain is that it will have a 'bullet proof' build quality.


I'd love to hear this with my Sony ZX1.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Currawong, any news on when you'll get one for a review?

post #8 of 9

Just wondering but do you guys think this would be a good product to invest in? I'm looking for a top performing DAC and I'm assuming it will need a dedicated AMP to drive LCD-2's but it looks like a nice unit to have at home and also away. 


Will the unbalanced RCA outputs on this connected to an balanced AMP that outputs to balanced headphones work? Or does the source to headphones need to be completely balanced in order to reap the benefits?

post #9 of 9

Hi all,

I wrote up the preview report of CHORD Hugo in my blog section.

This is based on Hugo preview event in Tokyo. John Franks came to show us the proto type.





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