It looks like few people here favor AK240 + HUGO .
I probably won't disagree
(1) isn't a waste to bypass the "very good DAC/AMP" of the AK240,
A big yes with caveat. First of all AK240 has a very good set of built-in DAC and Amp. Strictly speaking, no one needs to add an external amp or DAC. Blame me for auditioning the Hugo when I was perfectly happy with the standalone AK240, In combination, each musical instrument becomes more distinct and a resultant better soundstage (yes, even with crossfeed off). With crossfeed on, it surprisingly didn't degrade the overall balance, at least to my ears.
(2) with this configuration we loose the option to have Balanced headphone out
Very true, and there is a possibility that a balanced wired headset alone would have given the same improvements. Unfortunately I have yet to find out. (I have pre-ordered balanced cables for my 2 coming ciems from the always reliable Jaben but they have yet to deliver).
(3) with this configuration we loose the option to play native DSD (which I understood is "stellar" with the AK240) !
DSD tracks sound fantastic in AK240 and losing the ability to hear DSD tracks through Hugo is painful!
So, are all those trade off (NO DSD, NO Balanced out)+ Added cost + added bulk... worth'it
The biggest problem with Hugo is the size (not the weight) but this is somewhat compensated by the easy grip in one hand together with AK240, I personally think it's worth it because I can enjoy the sound quality I like better right now. I can't answer this question for any other person. All I can suggest is let the buyer beware! Know all the limitations, go for an audition and see if you think if it's worth it (or better, don't audition and save all the troubles :-))
Is AK240+HUGO really much better than AK240 alone ?
Better, to me personally, yes! Much better? hard to say, perhaps I would say sufficiently better? At this thread, aren't we all just looking for that incremental improvements?
Doesn't HUGO + TOL Portable Balanced amp make more sense ?
I don't know, I haven't audition and don't try to put that idea in my mind :-)
thanks for taking the time to answer so clearly to me.