Edited by ALRAINBOW - 6/13/14 at 6:16am
The difference may be due to the EQ settings. I discovered that the AK240 default setting are greatly enhanced over flat. This may also be true for the other players depending on the firmware upgrade running.
I understand that your EQ setting on the AK240 is set to off. Even though it's set in the off position it is not +- 0 db or flat. It is enhanced. Try going to setting and take your EQ and set it to flat or 0 db across all 10 bands and then let me know what you think. Little product bugs I guess...
I understand some people choose to keep the EQ setting in the off position. However, people would generally think that "off" implies "flat"! Yes a hardcore audio purist would choose flat
Second point, if someone could please try using several of there transports keeping the EQ setting flat (+/- 0db). I wonder if the sound from the Hugo is any different... My guess it it doesn't matter at all.
My observations after a good deal of experimentation:
1. Vs. Meridian Director, less glare in vocals (a godsend), but more unforced natural detail in the vocal, and vocals do not stand out with artificial highlighting, a typical digital fault. A big step up from the Meridian, can't turn back.
2. Best sound with external headphone amp and run with the volume control bypassed*, especially in the bass control. I never thought my old Headroom Max here could sound so great. (But the internal amp is pretty fine also, actually.)
3. Nice improvement in refinement using the USB 3.0 port from my computer: even less digital glare, a sense of balance with all musical objects in balance and no stress.
4. While actually good with generic USB cable, a better one really helps. I'm using an Audioquest Carbon with their micro adapter.
5. Overall, most of the enthusiasm about this thing has been validated in my testing. Well worth the cost for the DAC alone. A cure for digital stress with very good insight, the holy grail of high end audio. Just sitting back going through my favorite youtube stuff and can't pull myself away from listening.
6. Gripes: lack of a standard full size USB 2.0 port is annoying. You can't even get AQ high end usb cables with micro B plugs! I would much rather have this than the crossfeed stuff. I even question the need for all the optical inputs, most input sources have USB output. I also wish the USB input was on the same side as the RCA output plugs.
It looks like a Medusa with the cables going out from both sides of this thing and looped over my desk.
7. Fine headphone matches: Fostex TH900 (great synergy somehow), Oppo PM1.
8. The sonics get more awesome with break-in for 12 hours or so, in the bass especially.
9. But, despite my gripes, the bottom line is (like the Beach Boys said) I can hear music, sweet sweet music...
10. A few years ago I had a Playback Designs MPS5 and an EMM CDSA and I like this DAC better (no pain, more refined).
*Press+Hold crossfeed button while turning on the unit. Do NOT plug in headphones to the unit in the mode.
OK it's here
Immediate impression (listening to the Hats remaster by The Blue Nile, 16/44) - wow.
Every headphone I've tried sounds great. T1 is a little brighter than I'm used to with the Metrum/Violectric stack but I expected that. Hugo scales up the B&W P7 really well. The S-EM6 right angle jack won't fit in the recessed casing which is annoying, but sounded powerful with an adaptor out of the 6.35mm jack.
You guys weren't lying, this is some piece of kit.
I'm glad you like your Hugo.
We are not trying to justify our purchases.. just trying to spread the word, as everyone actually should experience this level of performance (IMO).
The audiophile is a dying species, and has been for years.. my hope is that products like the Hugo could change that.
The Hugo is for many an expensive DAC/AMP, but compared to what "this kind of performance / enjoyment level" costed a few years ago it is actually pretty cheap (relatively). Earlier you had to be a total nutter and / or ugly rich to enjoy this hobby at this kind of level. With the Hugo it has suddenly become accessible for a lot more people, and it also fits the modern lifestyle as it is also portable.
So spread the word and save your own future as an audiophile!