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Chord Electronics Mojo

Rating:
4.66667/5,
Tags:
  1. Ike1985
    Mojo on the Go: A Review of Mojo and It's use from a Portable Perspective
    Written by Ike1985
    Published Oct 7, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Small, Natural/organic reproduction of sound, Incredible resolution and detail
    Cons - Lack of included adapters, Lack of case, Battery Issues (I had a warranty replacement)
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    Review Contents
     ​
     
    Introduction
    Review Approach
    Technical Specifications
    Under the Hood
    Hands On/Operation/Aesthetics
    Charging/Battery
    Sound Quality
                Signature
                Depth
                Sound Stage
                Resolution
    Mobile
                Mojo’ing on iOS
                Mojo’ing on Android
                Mojo’ing on Mac
                Mojo’ing on DAPs
    Protecting Your Mojo
    Conclusions
     
    Introduction
     
               I am both a stereophile and an audiophile.  I am an audiophile so as to further my enjoyment of the music I consider essential in life.  Life without music isn’t much life at all, when I’m able to hear details I couldn’t hear before in a song I’ve heard hundreds of times or said song is brought to life even more via better reproduction, the reason for seeking higher sound quality and reproduction becomes self-evident.
     
               I have had Mojo since it was released in October 2015-approximately one year ago.  I listen to the Mojo around 5-8 hours a day, everyday.  I have been able to hear deep into the Mojo, I hope you’ll gain some insights into whether Mojo is right for you from my review.
     
    Review Approach
     
               I listen to Mojo using either my “old school” 2011 Macbook Pro or my “new school” Samsung S7 Edge.  I used iPhone 5 before I got my S7E, therefore I can speak to using idevices with Mojo as well.  When listening with my Macbook Pro I use Jriver Media Center 21 and a micro-USB to USB cable.  With the S7 Edge I use a micro-USB to micro-USB OTG cable and the excellent UAPP app(purchasable in the Play Store).  I prefer portable setups and use IEMs exclusively, in this review I’ll be using the ADEL A12 CIEMs.  You will find everything you need to know about using Mojo in a portable capacity in this review.
     
     
    Technical Specifications:
     
    Dynamic Range: 125DB
    THD: 3v – 0.00017%
    Power Output: 1kHz
    Amplification: 600ohms 35mW, 8ohms 720mW
    Output Impedance: 0.075 ohms
    Plays: Up to 768kHz & DSD256
     
               In my opinion the most important specification for you as an average user is output impedance.  Ensure that your headphones/IEMs match up well with the low impedance Mojo.  Audiophile level sources are low impedance for good reason, per Rob Watts:
     ​
    “…It’s much better if fed with a low impedance source - damping is better, giving a tighter and faster bass, and frequency response variations due to impedance change are better controlled.”​
     
               If your IEM’s sound better with a high output impedance source, I suggest you DO NOT look beyond Mojo but instead look to an adapter like the Ultimate Ears Buffer Jack($~10 via UE) or similar adapters that will increase output impedance.  The majority of audiophile level IEMs/headphones will pair well with Mojo-needing no impedance adapter.
     
    If you want to geek out, here is a link to detailed measurements/technical specifications:
     
    http://ohm-image.net/data/audio/rmaa-chord-mojo-24-bit
     
    Under The Hood:
     
               Mojo was designed by Chord as a programmable FPGA, per Rob Watts:
     
    "...an FPGA is not a DAC chip, it’s a sea of gates that you can connect together to make any digital device you like. You could make a PC processor out of an FPGA, or a device that controls a rover on Mars, or the digital parts of a DAC. I also create IP and designs for audio to make silicon chips. And my designs could be used to make a dedicated DAC chip, or it could be used to program an FPGA. The benefits you have using an FPGA are considerable, as you can have thousands of times more processing power than is found inside high end audio silicon chips. Indeed, Mojo has 500 times more processing power than conventional high performance DACs."
     
    It was designed to have as few components as possible as each component can color/influence sound quality.  Much of the magic of Mojo is in the programming utilized in the FPGA.  This programming creates the unique signature of Mojo and the type of sound people familiar with Chord products call the "Chord sound".  Central to Chords sound and indeed the main focus of their products is addressing the timing of transients.  According to Rob Watts, transients are responsible for pitch, sound stage, timbre and the timing (stopping and starting) of notes. Immense computational power allows Chord to address these timing issues and as a result Mojo sounds more lifelike than anything I've heard before.
     
               It wasn’t until recently that it was even possible to build a device as small and powerful as Mojo, the technology didn’t exist.  When the Xilinx Artix 15T 28nM was released, Chord turned their attention toward completing Mojo.  Mojo is a computational monster, upsampling 2048 times-that’s ~16 approximately times more than their competitiors.  Upsampling eliminates RF noise, noise floor modulation and jitter is eliminated by a factor of 64.  This creates an inky black background unto which Chord creates their signature sound.
     
               Mojo has a discrete transistor output stage, this means it can drive just about any power hungry headphone.  Chord had a battery custom made that could meet the unique requirements of the Mojo.  Using cutting edge chips, customizable programming and innovating where necessary is a hallmark of Chord.  This has allowed Chord to offer novel solutions to recreating a digital signal in analog form; improving sound quality by addressing the timing of transients, THD, noise floor and other technical aspects which cannot be addressed as effectively using traditional industry technology and methods to the extent Chord have using their proprietary progamming and FPGA approach.
                 
    Hands On/Operation/Aesthetics
     
                Mojo is very small-smaller than a pack of playing cards in fact-yet it is quite heavy: 6.1oz.  Holding it in my hand and pressing down on it with a good amount of force produces no bend or give anywhere in the high quality aluminum housing.  Eight tiny screws hold the case together into a solid block and four solidly-glued bumpers keep the device in place on your listening surface.  None of the bumpers have come off in a year of daily use, that's some serious adhesive!  Holding Mojo gives an impression of durability and quality not found in the hardware of other mobile devices.
     
    20161007_104126.jpg
     
     
    20161007_104158.jpg
     
               Mojo was designed such that it can charge while in use (even from total battery depletion) as there are separate data (middle left in the first image below) and charging micro-USB ports (middle right in the first image below).  This is an excellent feature as you never run out of sound so long as you can plug Mojo in.  The optical port is on the right and the 3.5mm coaxial on the left. 
     
    20161007_113951.jpg
     
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     Dual 3.5mm headphone ports are on the other side:
     
    20161007_104834.jpg
     
               Plugging into and out of the headphone port creates a solid reassuring click.  The micro-USB ports are also solid but care should be taken to avoid stressing them.  Invest in right angle micro-USB cords and avoid putting pressure on these connections, such as putting Mojo in your pocket while in use.
     
               I’ve recoiled in horror when dropping Mojo or believing I've scratched it, only to find it unscathed.  Rubbing a finger on the hairline scratches caused them to vanish and the solid metal body prevented any damage from the fall.  The finish and overbuilt design are very satisfying. I suspect Mojo is a device you’ll be able to listen to decades from now.
     
               Chord realized many of us will be stacking, thus they cut notches into the corners of the aluminum body creating grooves into which rubber bands can clasp Mojo more securely when stacking.  Stacking will increase RF/EMI interference, I suggest using ferrite devices (discussed later) or to eliminate RF/EMI completely use airplane mode when stacking.  When I'm listening at a desk and cannot use airplane mode I'll attach ferrite chokes as seen below and position Mojo as far away from the phone as possible.  Restricting background data to essential apps only like (text messaging, email, etc) will help reduce RF/EMI as well.
     
               Three buttons sit atop Mojo recessed into the aircraft grade aluminum case.  The lone orb is the power and sample rate indicator orb, the other two are the volume orbs.  The orbs do well to remind you of your listening settings.  Mojo will remember the last settings you were using when you shut it down so you don't have to scroll to your desired setting everytime you use Mojo.  The power orb indicates the sample rate of the music you’re listening to.  Note that the correct light will not be displayed unless the software you’re using is properly configured to output bitperfect data.  Scroll down to the Mobile section to see how you can do this on Android, iOs and Mac.
     
    untitled.png
     
    Charging/Battery:
               
                When Mojo arrives, open it and charge it immediately with a powerful wall plug charger (1A+).  If charging correctly Mojo will display a solid white LED below the charging port.  If charging incorrectly this LED will blink with a white light.  If it blinks switch to a more powerful wall plug.  Charging will take excessively long with a low powered (.5a and below), for example: Apple iPhone square block chargers or laptop USB ports.  When the charging light shuts off, Mojo is fully charged, taking approximately 4 hours.  Mojo may get hot while charging and playing at the same time, this is not cause for concern per John Franks:
     
    “Yes. The Mojo uses 1.7W of power, so it will get comfortably warm during use, and has thermal cut-outs that prevent it overheating, even if charged at the same time.”
     
               Mojo has a built in auto-off feature that automatically shuts it down when a certain temperature is reached.  This has never happened to me and I charge and listen with 12 driver CIEMs everyday, you shouldn’t worry about Mojo shutting down on you.  Mojo indicates battery status via LED under the charging port: blue is fully charged, green is 75% charged, yellow is 50%, red is 25%  and blinking red means the battery is critically low.
     
    900x900px-LL-821d3119_image.jpg
     
               My first Mojo had to be sent back for warranty because I was getting 3-4 hours of use from a fully charged Mojo.  The Mojo I received back is getting 8-10 hours from a full charge as advertised.    Some have reported a buzzing/whining sound while charging Mojo, I have never heard this sound and I’ve used many chargers and cables.  This buzzing/whining was an issue with early run Mojo's that Chord addressed and remedied within a few months of release.
     
    Sound Quality
     ​
    Signature
     
                If you look at the website I linked under the Technical Details section you will see from the graphs provided there that Mojo has a neutral/flat signature with the highest highs slightly rolled off.  This echoes what my ears are telling me, Mojo sounds neutral with a hint of warmth.  Very slightly rolling off the highest high’s means your ears won’t get fatigued.  I can still clearly hear the highest notes without attentively searching for them-none of the detail is lost.  I can find no dips or peaks in the Mojo’s signature except the aforementioned sparkle roll off and it is very subtle.
     
                Sub-bass extends quite a long time, doesn’t bleed into mid-bass and punches fast and tight.  It hits with authority when it’s called for and takes a back seat when it isn’t.  There is no mid bass bloat or bleed to speak of.  Mid-bass is easily discernible even while the sub-bass is punching hard.  I can focus on the bass guitar and pick it out of the mix and follow it through the whole song without ever losing it.  The mids as a whole are full, rich and exceptionally clean.  Mid-highs standout nicely from the mid-bass.  Everything is balanced with an ever so slight emphasis toward the mids.  High’s sparkle without being harsh, grating or fatiguing. 
     
                Mojo produces the most natural realistic sound I’ve ever heard.  Upon hearing Mojo for the first time I said to myself:  “Studio recordings sound live! All my music sounds live!”  In my opinion it is the timbre and tone of the instruments as reproduced by the device that creates realism.  Mojo is off the charts with regard to realism.  This high level of realism adds transparency-the sensation of having everything else disappear and only the music remains.  If Mojo sounded unnatural, we would constantly be reminded of using it while listening.  This realism adds an energy and live-ness to the sound that other portable DACs/DAPs I’ve heard do not have and as a result the music produced by these other devices can sometimes feel tired and clinical.  I never get this feeling with Mojo, the energy is always there.       
     ​
    Depth
     
               Perhaps the most striking feature of Mojo is its’ depth of sound.  The layers and complete separation of each instrument is astonishing.  You can sit back and let the naturalness and effortlessness of the song wash over you or you can change powers on your mental microscope and peer into the layers of a song, hearing micro details and sometimes even layers you never heard before.  I have never heard anything like this before; total layer separation without a clinical, harsh or bright signature.
     
               Consider how a dog’s nose functions as compared to human nose.  When a dog smells a vegetable soup it smells every single ingredient separately.  The dogs' nose will single out every single ingredient as its’ own unique smell.  A human nose will smell the soup as one smell we call “vegetable soup”.  This is one of the strongest selling points of Mojo, its’ ability to single out every layer, place it accurately in-stage and get out of the way so you can enjoy the music.  You don’t have to try to separate layers, it’s there for you the same way a dog smells yet instruments won’t stand out and say LOOK AT ME in a distracting way instead they’re presented as “vegetable soup”; naturally and effortlessly with incredible separation imaging and resolution.  I suspect the inky black and utterly silent background in addition to Mojo's impressive computational power and Chords FPGA programming are the reason for this separation effect. 
     
    26597148_4477504001_6777d485e5_b.jpg
     
     
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    Sound Stage
     
                The stage isn’t extremely wide or tall in an artificial way.  It’s a moderate stage except for depth which is spectacular.  To me this is perfect as I don’t want an artificially wide stage that is pulling me out of the experience of the music and distracting me, reminding me that I’m listening to a song instead of hearing and feeling it in the moment.  Yet I can still be treated to a good stage when I want to hear it.  For example, when I listen to a track with good sound stage width, it sounds as though the sound is coming from 1”-3” (depending on the track) outside my A12 CIEMs as it journey’s into my head.
                The imaging/separation discussed earlier aids in pinpointing the position of the instruments in the room.  I can tell the drum player is sitting on the back right of the stage or the singer is performing to the upper left front of the stage.  These effects don’t stand out and say LOOK AT ME but they are there as part of the experience and the extremely high resolution and separation of Mojo allows me to laser-beam focus on them if I wish. 
     
    Resolution
     
                Due to its’ immense computational power Mojo is able to produce a higher quality image than the competition.  Consider a massive uncompressed image, now imagine compressing it down into a 300x300 cover art image.  When you zoom in and look at the compressed image you will notice much of the detail is gone and the much larger image is much more resolute.  This is quite the accurate analogy for how Mojo renders sound.  You will hear things you’ve never heard before.
     
    Mobile:
               
               When using Mojo with mobile devices there three things important points to remember:
     
    1. Ensure data is being sent to Mojo bit-perfect (covered in Mobile section)
    2. Address RF/EMI interference
    3. Choose cables for the right reasons
     
               First when it comes to micro-USB cables, it would seem logical to purchase expensive audiophile cables, but as Rob Watt’s says this can often be counter-intuitive:
     
    “Does this mean that high end cables are better? Sadly not necessarily. What one needs is good RF characteristics, and some expensive cables are RF poor. Also note that if it sounds brighter its worse, as noise floor modulation is spicing up the sound (its the MSG of sound). So be careful when listening and if its brighter its superficially more impressive but in the long term musically worse. At the end of the day, its musicality only that counts, not how impressive it sounds.”
     ​
    and
     ​
    “A lot of audiophile USB cables actually increase RF noise and make it sound brighter, and superficially impressive - but this is just distortion brightening things up. Go for USB cables that have ferrites in the cable is a good idea - it may also solve any RF issues from the mobile that you may have too.”
     
               In my opinion, it’s best to purchase cables for connecting to Mojo based on:
     
    1. “Does the cable eliminate the need for a second cable?” (increasing transparency)
    2. “Does the cable have better durability and reinforcement than cheaper cables?”
    3. “Does the cable address RF/EMI interference?” (RF/EMI reduction can also be done by adding ferrite chokes to an un-choked cable)
    4. “Will the cable reduce stress on device ports by utilizing a right angle configuration?”
     
               I recommend not putting the Mojo in your pant pocket but instead using a belt holster and rubber bands if you wish to use Mojo on the go and don't want to hold it in your hand, this prevents you from putting pressure on the ends of the cable and more importantly the Mojo ports.  You can even use Mojo at the Gym easily if you’re so inclined:
     
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               Other than bit-perfect-ness, RF/EMI is the biggest factor that can affect the sound quality of your Mojo setup.  The simplest and cheapest way to completely eliminate RF/EMI is to put your device in Airplane mode.  The next best thing is to put ferrite chokes to the data cable feeding Mojo, making sure to get them as close as possible to the Mojo as you can as seen below:
     

     
               Some report differences between using a DAP or a phone to feed Mojo, I do not hear any differences.  In my opinion Mojo + android running UAPP is top tier mobile sound quality at an excellent value.  If you use a phone to feed Mojo you don’t have to carry around a third device.
     
    Mojo’ing on iOS:
     
               In order to connect Mojo to an idevice such as the iPhone you have two choices: an Apple CCK cable, see below:
     
    Apple-Premium-Bundle-CHORD-Electronics-Mojo-portable-DACHeadphone-Amplifier-and-Mojo-Black-Leather-Case-and-Apple-Lightning-to-USB-Camera-Adapter-CCK-6.jpg
     
    or a simpler single-cable approach.  Lightning to micro-USB cables eliminate the need for two cables thus increasing transparency, they can be purchased from forum vendors.  You’ll also need to download Onkyo HF from the App Store in order play HD (FLAC or higher quality) music on an idevice.  You will need to buy the HD version of the app in order to play these HD files.  Once you have Onkyo HF HD, configure the settings accordingly to enable bitperfect output:
     
    900x900px-LL-f76b3448_image.jpg
     
               Now connect the device to your Mac computer via your phones USB charging cable, open iTunes, select your phone and navigate to Apps, select Onkyo HF.  Open a new Finder window, navigate to your HD files and drag and drop them into the box as seen below:
     
    Screen20Shot202013-11-1020at2011_58_1120PM.jpg
     
               If you’re importing Mp3’s or similar non-HD music onto your device simply drag and drop them into iTunes as you normally would and Onkyo will recognize them and store them under the iPod header inside the app. 
     
               Onkyo HF often has difficulty displaying cover art.  I suggest naming cover art as cover.jpg, keeping files below 500x500 pixels for best results and keeping it in the same folder as the music files.
    Onkyo HF allows you to send data to Mojo bitperfect, which is essential if you want maximum sound quality.  I don’t use EQ but in playing with the EQ in Onkyo HF I have found it adequate.  Onkyo HF should sound no different than UAPP on Android since they are both sending data bitperfect to Mojo but to me Onkyo HF sounds slightly less alive and a bit more veiled/low energy than UAPP.  Onkyo HF is also quite inferior to UAPP in regards to features and capabilities.  Unfortunately on an idevice-at this time-you are stuck with Onkyo HF.  There are a few other choices like JetAudio or Capricio, but I find Onkyo to be the most neutral and it comes recommended by Chord.
     
    Mojo’ing on Android Phones:
     
                If you don’t have a micro-USB to micro-USB OTG cable for your Android device, you will need to use an adapter-again forcing you to use two components.  I use cheap micro-USB to micro-USB OTG cables purchased from Amazon and attach a few ferrite chokes to them as seen above.  I believe this is the best setup you can have with Android.  I have tested many Android music apps with Mojo and there is a huge gulf between the quality of these apps and UAPP.  UAPP is the undisputed king of mobile audio on Android in my opinion.  The sound it produces is neutral like Onkyo HF but sounds more alive.  There’s an excellent 64 bit equalizer and a purchasable parametric EQ as well as a plethora of tweaks, features and capabilities.  You can even link it with some streaming services.  It nearly always recognizes cover art and adding files to it is as easy as dragging and dropping into the MUSIC folder on your Android phone using Android File Transfer as seen here:
     
    Screenshot2016-10-07at5.26.38PM.png
     
    To setup UAPP to send bitperfect data to Mojo simply enable the following settings:
     
    Screenshot_20161007-131941.png
     ​
    Mojo’ing on Mac:
     
                I have experience on Audirvana, Jriver and iTunes.  For me, Audirvana was the most intuitive, but lacked a good library-like experience.  Jriver has a steeper learning curve but offered the best sound quality as well as library like experience.  iTunes was my least favorite, being stuck in the Apple jail unable to use FLAC and other formats without conversion was annoying.  Audirvana and Jriver can produce bitperfect output to Mojo and will play anything you can throw at them.  In my opinion the best experience with Mojo on Mac can be had with Jriver Media Center, here are the settings you need to get bitperfect output to Mojo in Jriver irrespective of file format:
     
     
    900x900px-LL-ec36abca_Screenshot2016-02-21at2_10_40AM.png
     
    900x900px-LL-78c28054_Screenshot2016-02-21at2_10_16AM.png
     
    900x900px-LL-3be8aadb_Screenshot2016-02-21at2_09_51AM.png
     
    Regardless of which program you chose to utilize with Mac, you will need to configure your Mac’s audio settings as follows:  
     
    Screenshot2016-10-07at5.27.21PM.png
     
     
    Mojo’ing on DAPs:
     
               If you want to connect your Mojo to a DAP you’ll need an optical or coaxial cable, because I do not use DAPs I cannot comment on them.  I have heard them paired with Mojo on occasion and see no use in using them as my Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung S7 Edge sound just as good if not better (assuming all the devices are transmitting bitperfect data).  Choosing a phone instead of a DAP means you don’t have to lug around a third device.
     
    Protecting Your Mojo:
     
                Chord now sells official cases for Mojo and they look very nice.  I just use an old camera case I had laying around, many others are using pelican cases and the official Chord case.
     
    Conclusions:
               
                Mojo may seem expensive but it is outperforming desktop and mobile setups that cost multiples of what it costs.  I do not think you will find a better price to performance ratio at this time in the audiophile industry.  I have had Mojo a year now and feel no need to upgrade to a more expensive DAC or DAP. 
      Khuramb, jsplice, bidn and 11 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Ike1985
      Thanks Guys!
      Ike1985, Oct 8, 2016
    3. Shini44
      this review should be taught in universities :wink: but seriously thanks for this super guide ^^
      Shini44, Oct 8, 2016
    4. bancanus
      @Ike1985 Thank you for the great review! I am new to head-fi and just got a mojo, I wish I discover mojo earlier because I really like its sound! I am using Onkyo HF player, and the current version is slightly different from your screenshot. Should I turn on the "real-time DSD Conversion" to get the bitperfect sound?
      bancanus, May 23, 2019
  2. peter123
    Amazing sounding all in one unit!
    Written by peter123
    Published Aug 6, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Versatile, excellent sound, build quality, internal battery
    Cons - Design, no analogue input, gets very hot when connected to a PC for longer time
    The Chord Mojo was loaned to me by fellow Head-Fier @kvad. Thank you very much for giving me the chance to me hear it!
     
    IMG_3874.jpg IMG_3876.jpg
     
    IMG_3877.jpg IMG_3878.jpg
     
     
     
    The Chord Mojo is available from Penon Audio and numerous other online and domestic (most places) resellers. The price at the time of this review was $599: 
     
    http://penonaudio.com/Chord-Mojo,
     
    For more information about the Mojo you can also visit the Chord Electronics website:
     
    http://chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/
     
    I’m not in any way affiliated with Penon Audio or Chord Electronics.
     
    Short introduction to Chord Electronics:
    Chord Electronics was established in 1989. It’s a British based company known and appreciated for their upper end audio products for both professional and home usage.
     
    This is what they say about themselves and their technology on their website:
    Chord Electronics was founded in 1989 by John Franks who had previously held Directorships with Astec, the world leader in high frequency power supplies, Raytheon and AT&T. A thorough mix of graduate level intellect, design experience and dedicated craft persons embody Chords production team, with our sales being achieved through a reputation of technical excellence, reliability and superb sound quality.
     
    Years of research and innovation have been invested in the Chord range. From the outset, when Chord started applying the technologies that lifted products from the mainstream, the company has been leading the field. With the watchwords of innovation and uncompromised audio quality, we have consistently invested our products with precision engineering and attention to detail. This is as true for our professional products as the astonishing hi-fi portfolio that continually wins the hearts and minds of listeners and reviewers alike.
     
    About me:
    I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
     
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
     
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
     
    I tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
     
    I do not use EQ, ever.
     
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
     
     
    Built, accessories and functionality:
    The Chord Mojo is a DAC with a variable line out that's designed to drive IEMs and headphones.  
     
    The Mojo is available in one version in the color black.
     
    Output power is rated to 720mW@ 8Ohm and 35mW@600Ohm, I’ve also read about measurements rating the output to 680mW@16Ohm (@50Hz) but this is not official so take it with a grain of salt. Output impedance is rated at a very low 0,075Ohms.
     
    The Mojo is very solidly built at has a good weight to it making it feel very durable. The chassis is covered my some paint like material making it less prone to scratches than bare metal. The physical controls available on it doers also feel very reliable and not loose in any way. Personally I would have preferred a thinner form factor with a larger footprint (if necessary) for easier stacking with a phone or DAP but I can also see the advantage with the currant design for home usage.  The overall impression of the Mojo is still that it’s a very well built and thought through piece of equipment.
     
    The Mojo offers one micro USB digital audio input and one separate micro USB power input. It also offers both coaxial and optical inputs. For the output there are two 3.5mm outputs for headphones making it possible for two persons listening at the same time or very convenient when comparing headphones or IEM’s.  I’d like to have an analogue input as well to be able to combine it with other, non-digital sources.
     
    The Mojo works very well with Android when connected with an OTG cable and using USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) as music player. Although Android and sound does not have a great reputation the Mojo have worked with every Android device I’ve tried it with (sometimes with the help of UAPP). The internal battery does eliminate the need for power banks or other external power when using it with a phone or tablet, it does also help with power drain that is much less from the hosting device than when using a product without internal battery. For further information about the complex relationship between Android and DAC’s I highly recommend visiting this excellent thread:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs
     
    The Mojo is also supposed to work with Apple devices using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) but I haven’t been able to test this myself.
     
    The biggest advantage of the Mojo may also be its biggest downfall in my opinion.
     
    The Mojo support all popular file formats for audio up to DSD512 and 32bit/768kHz files.
     
    On the top of the unit you’ll find physical buttons for changing the volume up/down. These have the same design as the indicator showing what sample rate is played (by showing different colors) giving a very neat visual presentation.
     
    The accessories included are:
    1 USB cord
     
    IMG_3870.jpg IMG_3880.jpg
     
    IMG_3893.jpg IMG_3875.jpg
     
    The specs:
    1. Micro USB 768KHz/32bit capable
    2. 3.5mm jack coaxial 768KHz/32bit capable
    3. Optical Toslink 192KHz/24-bit capable
    4. Output Power( at 1kHz):
    5. 35mW@600Ohm
    6. 720mW@8Ohm
    7. Output Impedance: 0.075Ohms
    8. Dynamic Range: 125dB
    9. THD( at 3v):0.00017%
    10. Size:82x60x22mm
    11. Weight:180g
     
    I’ve used the Mojo for the last eight days and my unit arrived already burned in.
     
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Björk - Moon
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
     
    Sound impression:
    I’ve got to be honest and admit that I find it pretty difficult to describe the sound from an amplifier. To me the sound of headphones/IEM’s is more easy to describe than that of amplifiers and DAC’s but I’ll do my best and hopefully the comparison section will also be of help.
     
    The first thing that I noticed when I started to listen to the Mojo was the amazing amount of air and space it produced.
     
    Bass extension and quality is very good and I don’t feel as if there’s any noticeable roll off in the lower frequencies. Mid- and upper-bass is more subdued contributing to the great sense of space and airiness that the Mojo produces.  Although the impact of higher bass is quite low the Mojo never sound thin in its presentation but rather airy and relaxed.
     
    The midrange is liquid and smooth with plenty of details. The Mojo sounds very linear through all frequencies and the midrange is no exception. Nothing stands out and it sounds very natural and makes a very relaxing listening experience.
     
    The treble is very well extended, airy and smooth. It adds further to the liquid non-fatiguing and natural overall sound. As a matter of fact I think the treble reproduction is the best part of the Mojo’s sound. I find it really good and it has an almost hazy character (in a very good way) while stil keeping all the details.
     
    The overall presentation has great soundstage in all directions and layering is very good as is the amount of air between the instruments. The background does also feel very close to perfectly black. Transparency and dynamics is also easily noticed. The timbre on instruments is also quite good and vocals sound very seductive and intriguing.  All together I’d describe the sound of the Mojo as natural and airy.
     
    Comparison:
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
     
    In these comparisons I’ve been listening through my AKG Q701’s.
     
    Both units was connected to a simple switch box through their respectively headphone outputs. This way it’s very easy to switch between the sources in minimal time. I also use a simple Android app to volume match the amplifiers so although maybe not perfectly scientifically the result should still be pretty correct.
     
    I’ve been comparing the USB input on both units. Both has been hooked up to two different phones both running UAPP which bypasses the Android sound management.
     
    IMG_3871.jpg
     
    Burson Audio Conductor V2+ (1,499) vs Chord Mojo:
    The V2+ is the heart of my main system and I really love both its features and sound.
     
    Compared to the Mojo the V2+ has slightly less airiness in its presentation while soundstage width is quite similar. The V2+ has better bass presentation with both better impact and higher quality (better layering) this is actually quite easy to hear with the Q’s.  The greater bass quality, I don’t feel that the V2+ adds bass in any way but I do feel that the mid- and upper-bass on the Mojo is a bit subdued, makes the V2+ more dynamic sounding and with better definition while the Mojo is more airy in its presentation. Both are top notch when it comes to detail retrieval. In short I’d say that the V2+ is more dynamic and engaging while the Mojo is more laid back and relaxed.
     
    The V2+ of course has some other advantages such as significantly higher power output (4W @32Ohms compared to 720mW@8Ohm on the Mojo), two analogue RCA inputs and both pre-amp and DAC direct RCA outputs. In addition it also has a great quality remote control. The mojo on the other hand has internal battery, is portable and generally MUCH smaller making its usage field larger.
     
    Although both these are excellent offerings the overall built and larger amount of connections definitely makes the V2+ the more suitable in a home system. Sound wise it may be more up to personal preference but I’d put the V2+ slightly ahead here as well. The V2+ is a 7 kg brick costing 2.5 times that of the Mojo though.
     
    Audinst HUD-DX1 ($399) vs Chord Mojo:
    Compared to the Mojo the Audinst has a fuller but also less refined sound. The Mojo feels more effortless and has a wider soundstage with more air in the presentation, the Audinst definitely the warmer sounding of the two. The Audinst unit also has the most bass presence of the two but the bass on the Mojo seems better controlled and bath reaches equally low on both of them. The Mojo has better detail retrieval and is also the more natural sounding of the two while the Audinst offer more energy and attack while still maintaining warm and smooth. The treble on the Mojo is more airy, detailed and natural to my ears.
     
    Feature wise the Mojo offers both coaxial and optical inputs in addition to the micro USB input. The Auidinst has an old school USB type B sound input in addition to an optical input. The Audinst also has both optical and RCA line outputs while the Mojo has only the dual headphone out as its only outputs. The Audinst does actually also offer dual headphone outputs but instead of two 3.5mm ones it has one 3.5 and one 6.3mm, this is actually very convenient and you won’t have to fiddle around with adapters. The Mojo also has an internal battery making it more versatile when used with phones and tablets on the go but less so when paired to a computer due to the fact that it runs quite hot in such applications. The footprint of the Mojo is much smaller. Build quality feels very solid on both units with a small advantage to the Mojo.
     
    Burson Audio Conductor Air ($499) vs Chord Mojo:
    I’ve also compared the Mojo the Burson Audio Conductor Air in my review of that unit posted just a little while ago so instead of doing the same again making it boring for those who might have read both reviews I’ll leave the link for it right here, just scroll down to the comparison section:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/burson-audio-conductor-air/reviews/16536
     
    IMG_3866.jpg
    Size comparison Mojo and Air
     
     
     
    For even further comparisons feel free to visit this thread for breakdown between more $250+ amp/DAC units (this is a work in progress and several other units will follow in the near future).
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/816410/peter123s-250-amp-dac-combo-comparison-thread
     
    Matching:
    The output impedance of the headphone out on the Mojo is rated to 0.075Ohm. This means that it could pretty much be paired with any IEM’s or headphones out there without concern.
     
    In this section I’ve tested how some of my favorite headphones but also one earbud and one pair of IEM’s pairs up with the Mojo.  
     
    AKG Q701 ($300):
    The Q’s pairs up very nicely with the Mojo. The neutral relaxed sound actually suits the Q’s surprisingly good. The Mojo has no problem at all to power the Q’s to louder listening levels. I was kind of expecting the signature of the Mojo to make the Q’s a bit unengaging but that’s certainly not the case. The treble quality of the Mojo really shines in this pairing and female vocals sound as good as I’ve ever heard them as a matter of fact the Mojo really gives the V2+ a run for its money with them.
     
    Philips Fidelio X2 ($300):
    The X2’s is also a great match with the Mojo. The full sound of the X2’s pairs very well with the clean, clear and airy presentation of the Mojo. Although the Fidelio’s pretty easy to drive they really scale with a good source and amp and the Mojo gives it enough low end hump without adding any extra unwanted mid-bass.  This combination is really fun to listen to and has a great drive to the music that really makes me forget all about analyzing the sound and rather just enjoy the music.
     
    VE Zen 2.0 ($138):
    The Zen 2.0 is a 300Ohm earbud that I like a lot and tend to use instead of closed headphones.
     
    The soft and smooth signature from the Zen 2.0 works pretty well with the relaxed presentation of the Mojo. The Zen 2.0 sounds very wide and airy when driven from the Mojo but I’ve heard them perform better from sources with a more dynamic presentation. I can help feeling that they lack some dynamics and drive when driven from the Mojo. Not a bad pairing but I’ve heard better ones.
     
    Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS ($500):
    The ASG-1PLUS is an 11Ohm hybrid IEM (1 DD + 1 BA).
    The 1PLUS, being one of my all-time favorite IEM’s, was the first thing I hooked up to the Mojo for an initial listening when it first arrived.  To be honest I was pretty underwhelmed from the experience and although it didn’t sound bad I felt as if I was expecting more after all I’ve read about the Mojo. The presentation of the 1PLUS is actually very similar to that of the Mojo: relaxed, smooth, airy and with a bit subdued upper bass presence. Together this became a bit too much for my preference resulting in a sound that was a bit unengaging and lacking in drive and dynamics.  Like I said: not bad, but certainly not the best pairing either. 
     
    Super Audio 6 ($250):
    The Super Audio 6 (SA6) is a six BA driver Chinese DIY offering. It has a warm, smooth, intimate and mid-centric overall presentation.
     
    The combination of these two makes a stunning listening experience, probably one of the best I’ve ever had with a pair of IEM’s. The full and lush presentation from the SA6 seems to be a perfect match for the amazing sense of space and air that the Mojo offers. The smooth and warm nature of the SA6 is not super revealing and can get a bit overly creamy with a warm source but with the Mojo it’s has more detailed and airy than I’ve ever heard it before.
     
    To sum up the matching section the signature of the Mojo does make some of my headphones and IEM’s sound better than I’ve ever heard them before, with some (a clear minority) I do find it to lack a bit of dynamics and drive though. The very low amount of hiss as well as enough power for all my full sized headphones does still make it very versatile in practical use.
     
    Summary:
    The Chord Mojo is indeed an excellent product. It packs a lot of features such as internal battery, small size, several connection options and combines it with excellent sound quality. It has a relaxed and laid back presentation that works very well with most headphones and IEM’s but not all. Despite being able to do the work in a home system replacing units much larger and potentially more expensive than itself I can’t help feeling that it is an easier recommendation for portable usage. The reason for this is that it does get very hot when being permanently connected to a laptop or computer (which I would believe would be the most common use of it in a home system) combined with the fact that constant charging might not be the best thing for the battery. I’ve also read several complaints about unwanted shut down while connected to a laptop for longer times and although this has never happened to me in the time I’ve had it I’d still be careful with using it in such a configuration.  Ironically enough the same battery is also one of the major reasons why it’s probably one of, if not the best product I’ve tried so far for portable use.
     
    Actually the Mojo is the best amp/DAC combo that I’ve come across so far for portable usage.
     
    Audio Quality: 5
    Design: 4
    Quality: 4.5
    Value: 5
    Features: 5
     
    IMG_3879.jpg
      H20Fidelity, kvad, RedJohn456 and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Dionysus
      Excellent review great work. Btw that package is definitely different than the plain white box I received, when I got mine months ago here in the states.
      Dionysus, Aug 6, 2016
    3. PleasantSounds
      Peter, you may have not experienced this but many users report unacceptable level of interferences when used with a mobile phone. For a device like mojo that is designed as portable, I consider this a pretty serious issue.
      Just thought I'll mention this as the potential buyers should be aware of such things, and the mojo thread is moving too fast for any human that has a life to follow it.
      PleasantSounds, Aug 7, 2016
    4. Traveller
      Nice work, sir! T4S!
      Traveller, Aug 7, 2016
  3. EagleWings
    Mojo Brings the Best Out of My IEMs
    Written by EagleWings
    Published May 23, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality, Technical Capabilities, Resolving yet Smooth, Build and Design
    Cons - Better Battery Life Would Have Been Nice, Orbs Can Get Dirty
    PRODUCT INFO:
    Following their success with the Hugo DAC, Chord Electronics released a much more portable solution, targeted at mobile users, called the Mojo. MoJo stands for Mobile Joy. It retails for $599.
     ​

     
    INTRODUCTION:
    Just within a few months, after I bought a set of Sennheiser IE80 and a Fiio X3ii, I wanted to upgrade to a High-End setup. I demoed and bought the 64-Audio A-10. When I demoed the A-10, I felt the A-10 was not performing to the best of its capabilities. Twister6 who owns a 64 Audio U-12 (Universal form of the A-12 which is just a darker version of A-10), brought to my attention, that the X3ii was an average source for these IEMs and, I would benefit from a better source. I did not want to spend more than $800. I started looking around and, there were close to 10 options, but I kept coming back to, these 3 options: Chord Mojo, Onkyo DP-X1 and Fiio X7. 
     
    MY LISTENING SETUP AND USE-CASE:
    99% of my listening is done indoors, at my desk at the office or home. To shuttle my gear between the office and home, I prefer a very portable setup. I only own and use IEMs for portability and ease of use factors. Similarly, I prefer a portable source gear. Fiio X3ii for music I own and iPhone 6 for streaming works good enough
     
    WHY I CHOSE CHORD MOJO OVER OTHER DAPs:
    Although a dedicated DAP would have proved to be more practical based on my above requirement, I did not want to deal with issues regarding UI, when I already owned 2 devices (iPhone 6 and Fiio X3ii) with excellent UI. If I was buying the Mojo, the trade off would be to carry an additional device and the corresponding cables. I weighed the options and decided to get the Mojo.
     ​
    **Since the Mojo has been around for quite some time and, there is a lot of information out there, I am just going to dive straight into the Sound aspect next**
     ​
     

     ​
    SOUND:
    IEMs: 64-Audio A-10  |  MUSIC GENRE: Multiple and Varying  |  FILE FORMAT: 16/44 FLACs and 320 kbps MP3 (16/44)  |  FILE SOURCE: Macbook, Windows 7 PC
     
    In short, I would describe Mojo's sound as highly resolving yet smooth, with great clarity, musicality, natural tonality and a 3-D presentation. The sound quality of Mojo as a whole, is truly impeccable.
     
    This review is based on Mojo being paired with my 64-Audio A-10 Custom IEM. Mojo and A-10 go hand in hand in exposing each other's strengths. Mojo arrived a few days after my A-10 was delivered. During those couple of days, I was using my A-10 with Fiio X3ii and iPhone 6. I was a little underwhelmed with the performance and, was a little anxious on, what kind/level of improvements, Mojo would bring to the A-10. To my delight, the improvement was significant.
     
    The first thing I noticed was the un-real (or should I say very realistic) imaging, instrument separation and layering. This is one of the strengths of the A-10. And Mojo makes sure it provides every ounce of juice, A-10 requires to display those strengths. This combo sounds so good, in this aspect that sometimes, I just lose concentration on the musical aspect of the track and, start observing the instruments. I am able to point in the direction, where an instrument is played. I was not able to do the same on the Fiio X3ii. The sound-stage width seems to be the same between Mojo, X3ii and iPhone 6. I was not too impressed with A10's soundstage depth initially. But the depth in the music presentation that Mojo renders, offers a sense of increase in sound-stage depth. The transparency and timbre were improved as well. It is amazing how Mojo can be very resolving and, yet manages to sound very smooth. The dynamics is also very good and a step-up over the Fiio X3ii and iPhone 6. 
     
    To my ears, the tuning seems to be neutral, as it does not enhance any particular frequency. People in the ADEL IEMs thread were talking about hearing textured bass. When I demoed the A10, I certainly did not hear this texture, nor did I hear it, when my A10 first arrived. Then comes Mojo and I can hear this texture. It adds a lot of natural tonality to the mids, that the instruments and vocals sound very natural. It maintains a good treble quantity on the A10 and,, does not have the tendency to make the sound bright to give an impression of more sparkle. It basically shows what is in the track and presents it in a natural way. 
     
     
    IMG_0446.jpg
     

     
    POWER & HISS:
    Given that I only own IEMs and do not own any hard-to-drive headphones, I do not need too much power and am not able to test it either. As far as hiss goes, I can hear a very slight background hiss on my A-10. But it is not bad given the fact that the A-10's impedance is 18 Ohm and has a sensitivity of 117 dB. Now the problem arises when I start thinking about IEMs that have a lower impedance rating and higher sensitivity.
     
    BIT-PERFECT SIGNAL:
    Ok, this is a very critical aspect. For Mojo to perform its very best, it needs to be fed a bit-perfect signal. These days, manufacturers of consumer electronics, seem to be keen on up-sampling the digital signal. Up-sampling refers to taking the original signal and increasing the bit depth and frequency. Bit-perfect refers to feeding the original signal as it were without modifying it.
     
    So if you are planning on using your Mojo, with your PC or Mac or Smartphone or iOS devices, please make sure you check the Mojo thread on Head-Fi, to research how you can get bit-perfect signal out of your device. This is where DAPs have a certain advantage (except the DAPs running full version Android and do Digital Out through USB). DAPs like Fiio X3ii/X5ii, iBasso DX80, AK models can act as a reliable transport to carry your music with you in a potable package, at the same time, not having to worry about up-sampling as these devices do bit-perfect.
     
    COMPARISONS:
    FiiO X3ii & iPHONE 6: Fiio X3ii and iPhone are pretty much on the same plateau, when it comes to Sound Quality. Mojo when fed bit-perfect and used with a High-End IEM, displays clear improvement in all areas. Especially the technical capabilities and presentation. The imaging, instruments, tonality, transparency and timbre are on a level above. The soundstage width seems to be the same on all 3 devices, while there is an improvement in the depth on Mojo. The whole presentation itself seems more 3-Dimensional on the Mojo, while it sounds a bit flat on the iPhone and X3ii. Mojo presents sound in a natural analogous way, while X3ii and iPhone sound more digital.
     
    IMG_0435.jpg
     

     
    CONCLUSION:
    Mojo is truly an amazing device that can bring the best out of your IEMs and headphones (as long as they are not too difficult to drive). You can get better results out of it if you could invest in better set of IEMs/Headphones. But the most critical factor is the bit-perfect signal for the Mojo to perform to the best of its capabilities. It is small, portable, easy to use and does exactly what it is meant to do.
     
    The device is Built Like a Tank, Crafted Like a Jewel & Performs Like a MarvelI set out on getting an End-Game-For-Now setup. And that is exactly, what I have got with the Chord Mojo and the 64-Audio A-10 combo.
     
     
     ​
     ​

     ​
    I WOULD LIKE TO THANK:
    @twister6 who encouraged me to purchase a good source for my IEM and few other members who pointed me in the direction of Mojo and answered my questions that helped me in the purchase.
     
    - Members on Mojo thread, especially @Mython and @x RELIC x , whose helpful posts helped me a great deal in getting the maximum performance out of my Mojo.

    ---THE END---
      Khuramb, snellemin, bolmeteus and 6 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. EagleWings
      The dark side of the moon is also a treat with the Mojo+A10 combo. 
       
      I see. Need to read more about this ROOMFEEL technology..
      EagleWings, Jun 5, 2016
    3. linux4ever
      Does anybody have experience with Mojo + U12 combo? How does it pair up? Good? Great? Okay? Bad? Terrible?
      linux4ever, Jun 5, 2016
    4. EagleWings
      You can PM @Ike1985 and @Sound Eq . They've had experience with the combo. ike1985 have mentioned that he loves the combo(A12+Mojo) with the B1 Modules.
      EagleWings, Jun 6, 2016
  4. ShreyasMax
    The Mojo. Get Inside Your Music.
    Written by ShreyasMax
    Published Apr 24, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Brilliant Natural Sound, Detail Retrieval.
    Cons - No Volume Knob :)P), Lack of accessories & interconnects
    Intro >
     

    For all head-fi users and visitors, it'd be a surprise for me if they haven't come across the Mojo ever, in the last six months or so. The amount of threads and discussion on this one device has been huge.
    For the uninitiated though, the Mojo is a portable DAC/amp by Chord Electronics that takes digital audio input from your smartphone, computer or DAP (Digital Audio Player) and outputs a superior quality audio signal to two 3.5mm headphone jacks. The digital inputs are USB and Coaxial, and there's a line level output option set by jointly holding down both volume buttons when powering on the device. The technical specifications are available on many a website, including Chord's own, and I shall avoid describing them again here.  

     

    But do read through all the research and development involved in the custom DAC implementation based on FPGA programming done by its creators, as it’s a very interesting and informative discussion in itself. 
     
    Yours truly was provided with the Mojo by my good friend @raghavsomani of Headphone Zone (India) for a couple of weeks; I duly picked it up from their office in Mumbai, and spent the two weeks of my holiday at my hometown in Kerala in blissful happiness.

     
    So big thanks to them for giving me the opportunity to listen to this wonderful piece of gear in exchange for my honest opinion and thoughts.
     

     

    Build/ Size >

     

    This is a diminutive little device, all 'aircraft grade' aluminum, and is truly bulletproof, in my humble opinion. Not that I've tested it, but I certainly feel so, and invite you to take out that shotgun, and fire one into the Mojo. Okay, please don't. It still might survive unscathed though.
     
    WP_20160402_15_27_41_Pro_LI.jpg WP_20160405_16_01_17_Pro.jpg
     
     
    Above: The Mojo hooked to my FiiO X3 1st gen using the L16 interconnect via coaxial. Listening done mainly with Fidelio X2.
      

     

    Moving on, it fits very comfortably when held in one hand, and is a welcome departure from the usual rectangular brick shape for dacs that has become now commonplace, barring the Sony PHA series, and maybe a couple others. The 'Made in England' label is an added reassurance of the build quality. 

     

    The most striking feature, apart from the glowing orbs of course, is that it has all subtly rounded corners, and the matte finish adds to a surface that is very touch friendly in my opinion. I wish Chord included some sort of a case in the box, but there are a few available for purchase separately. 

     

    As far as looks go, it's a no-holds-barred approach that Chord have adapted, sticking to their tradition, and I personally find it attractive. YMMV though. 

     

     
    Sound >

     

    Now for the all important aspect, that outweighs all other features as far as I'm concerned. Put simply, it sounds, wait for it, just brilliant.  

     

    What makes it brilliant for me are a combination of many different aspects of the sound that when compared to other devices in its class, it just edges ahead in my opinion.  

     

    The Mojo has a slightly warm sound signature, meaning that the mid range frequencies and sounds get that slight preference, if one may call it that, ahead of the lower and treble frequencies. But this isn't to say the bass or treble regions are recessed by any means. On the contrary, the bass and treble sounds have class leading extension and definition, to my ears. And for me the winning feature in favor of the Mojo is, in one word, natural.  

     

    My continual quest for the best sound possible at the best price has begun to define itself more clearly after using the Mojo. I've realised that rather than looking for the most detailed, most resolving, and most 'fun' sounding devices or combinations, my ideal target sound is making me look for the most 'natural' and 'realistic' sounding device or setup. This is my goal. But this statement has an inherent and fundamental problem; what exactly is the natural sound of an instrument? How 'real' can one get in terms of an instrument or voice? The word 'timbre' is used to describe the tone of an instrument as heard, compared to when its played live in front (or side, depending on recording of course) of the listener. 

     

    Earlier when I had the FiiO X7 for review I had thought that its timbre was the most realistic I had heard up till then. Added to this its slightly enhanced treble made acoustic guitars among others sound as natural as I'd heard. But there was that slight enhancement in the treble that still retained the X7's 'digital' roots, if one may call it that. 

     

    Recently I purchased the iBasso D14 'Bushmaster' dac-amp, and have been running it through coaxial out of my FiiO X3 1st gen. I'm thoroughly satisfied with its sound; detailed, uncolored, fairly neutral IMO. But having the Mojo made me realize that the D14, in spite of being very detailed, clear, and uncolored, was still not as natural sounding. Though there was no flaw or lack of detail in the D14 that I could pick, it just wasn't that 'involving' as the Mojo. The D14 though, at its current price of 199$ US, is a brilliant performer by itself, and its no surprise that its preferred by many over the sound of the DX90 DAP. 
     
    WP_20160226_19_46_14_Pro.jpg WP_20160305_16_20_41_Pro.jpg
     
     
    The iBasso D14 'Bushmaster' is no slouch

     

     
    The Mojo, on the other hand, retails for a higher price of 600$ US, and is almost on par pricewise with the FiiO X7.  Comparing these two, I believe the Mojo has better matchability with a higher number of headphones and IEMs with varying sound signatures, whereas the X7 would suit listeners who prefer their sound to be slightly enhanced in the treble, or those looking to balance out overly warm headphones.  

     

    But to my preferences,  the Mojo is the winner, because every little detail seems effortlessly retrieved,  instruments and vocals sound more 'real', and it has gotten me that bit closer to, what is to my ears, that ideal sound reproduction.  

     

     
    Value/ Conclusion >

     

    At its price, I feel that currently it is the best value for a portable source device in terms of sound quality alone. And to get an even better sense of realism than that offered by the Mojo, I would think one's wallet would have to start getting unreal, real soon. 
     
    WP_20160405_21_20_05_Pro.jpg WP_20160407_09_40_06_Pro.jpg
     
    Thanks for reading, folks.
     
    Cheers & happy listening.

      salla45 and jatergb like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ShreyasMax
      @TomNC - Thanks for your comment; you're welcome.
      ShreyasMax, Apr 24, 2016
    3. xEcuToR
      Good stuff. How long does Mojo run with one full charge? 
      xEcuToR, Apr 24, 2016
    4. ShreyasMax
      @xecutor - Thanks for the compliment; appreciate it.
       I didn't do a proper battery run down test as I was continually travelling throughout the time I had the unit with me, but I can tell that it does last the stipulated 8 hours or so on continuous usage. I used to charge it out of USB on my laptop for about a couple hours every other day or two, and it never went down to zero battery; it got till red on the charging LED only once. 
      Hope this helps, cheers
      ShreyasMax, Apr 25, 2016
  5. vaibhavp
    Excellent dac
    Written by vaibhavp
    Published Apr 22, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Class leading dynamic clarity, clean transient response, excellent overall sound quality with easy to drive hps
    Cons - sound stage on smaller side, not best for demanding hps
    Disclaimer : I received Chord Mojo for review purpose from www.headphonezone.in . I would like to thank Raghav Somani and rest of headphonezone.in team for this opportunity. I used it for a week and its already been handed over to next person in que for review purpose. I am not affiliated to either Chord Electronics or headphonezone.in and will try to present my thoughts on mojo in unbiased way as possible.
     
    I have broken this review in sub headings of what I wanted to discuss about mojo. I will mostly be discussing about sound quality after introduction and build. Feel free to jump to headings as you please.
     
    Introduction
     
    Chord mojo is portable battery powered dac/amp that you can use to power your hps. It has excellent connectivity options, all in digital domain 3.5 mm coaxial, optical and usb. Another port is provided for charging mojo. If you happen to own laptop, mobile or a dap with digital out, chances are you can, with right cable and software use it to feed mojo. Accessories that come with mojo are a bit sparse and all you get is usb cable which you most likely already have in desired length. I used fiio x5 classic out of coaxial port to feed mojo and it was mostly flawless experience. It was not a plug and play affair with my android phone like some other portable dacs. I mostly need a software but since I dont plan to use my phone as source, I dont plan to buy software any time soon.
     
    I used Sennheiser HD700, AKG K550, Sony XBA A1 for review purpose. It is a mix of hps with different sensitivities and give good idea of mojo's driving prowess. I compared it X5-E12, X5-Ican, X5-Project solstice during review period to see how it stacks up with other portable and desktop systems. I also used it as dac in my system.
     
    DSC_0009.jpg
     
    Build
     
    Mojo is build out of single block of Aluminum and has a rubbery coating on its entire surface. Its stylish looking hardware with plastic orbs for controlling all its functions. It has 3 orbs for power and volume up and down and is very easy to use. Input selection is automatic with usb taking priority. Its rather on smaller side as you can see in pic, even smaller than fiio x5. Overall it looks tiny and cute but has a robust build. Its orbs rotate in their sockets and I like playing around with it when listening to music.
     
    Frequency Response
     
    Subjectively to my ears, mojo sounds neutral with warm tilt. Warmth is easily noticeable with my hps. Mids and treble have very smooth transition and I cant pin point where one starts and other ends. Bass impact is good with right hps. Both mid bass and little bit of sub bass is present and it does not tilt too heavily in one direction. Overall sound is smooth from top to bottom with treble showing some wetness and easy to listen to even on sennheiser hd700. Overall frequency response sounds very linear with no peaks or dips noticeable.
     
    Dynamics 
     
    Dynamics on mojo are top notch. Some of the best I heard. Using hd700 which is also having very good dynamics, I dont think it masks any dynamic shift that mojo is able to unearth. Mojo sticks to the tune of instrument being played with great dynamic clarity and lets you hear all push pull effects between instruments happening onstage. With hd700 having a good depth, it gives you a clear view of entire stage in one glance, such interactions between instruments are very easy to hear. In this sense its a great match.
     
    Transient response
     
    Mojo has very effortless transient response and sounds very clean. hd700 also has it as a strong point and detail pop out of blackness in stage very smoothly and effortless manner. Instruments fade out again cleanly without disturbing black background at all leaving no trace of noise. This makes the detail pop and more obviously noticeable.
     
    Timber
     
    Timber on mojo is rich and separates colours of instruments very well. Tone of different instrument is varied and vibrant. I think it has one of best timber I have heard in solid state dacs/amps. My tube amp, project solstice is only piece of equipment that betters it in terms of variation of tone and richness if sound. When I first heard it, X5 sounded poitively dull and lifeless in comparison cause of more traditional solid state sound. After I got used used to mojo's timber it was more even comparison on subjective level. It is very similar to my tube amp in that aspect.
     
    Detail 
     
    Detail retrieval on mojo is very good with excellent dynamics, both macro and micro, small details in timber and sound of instruments. I think compared to X5, mojo takes listener one step closer to mic feed. However there are no new instruments I could detect. Same no of music strands were present on both. With mojo you get a added sense of clarity and detail on instruments themselves. Tonally both X5 and mojo are neutral with warm tilt. When I compare x5 to its sabre based elder brother fiio x7, I could hear new instruments. Example On a hindi movie song, d se dance from Humpty Sharma ki... its a very busy song with a smattering of tiny little detail, I could hear murmuring in background on both x5 and mojo. On x7 I could clearly hear what they were saying. Overall I think some tiny details get lost on mojo due to warmth compared to focus on clarity on x7. While x7 looses on dynamics and clean transient response.
     
    Soundstage
     
    Soundstage on mojo is on intimate side. I think my portable rig fiio x5-E12 offers similar size with slightly more width while mojo offers more depth. I was initially disappointed with E12 soundstage but I think its par for the course and this much should be expected from portable gear with full size hps like hd700. All desktop amps I tried had bigger soundstages.
     
    Driving power
     
    Mojo offers good driving power for variety of cans. I tried following hps to see what it can do
     
    Sony XBA A1: Its an entry level hybrid iem in $100 range. Mojo drove it very well with no background noise and excellent detail as iem was able to bring out. I must admit I am not much sensitive to background noise and use and love a tube amp with full sized cans. Overall with average iems and sensitivity of listener mojo should pair well with iems.
     
    AKG K550: This is a very easy to drive hp with 32 ohm impedance and 114 db sensitivity. Mojo drove it very well with even frequency response and good detail retrieval. On subjective level, I like pairing warm and very relaxed sounding amps with k550. Otherwise it sounds overly busy and confused. Mojo has warmth but is not particularly relaxed sounding. Thus I prefer Fiio X5-E12 combo for k550 which imo is relaxed and sublime pairing.
     
    Sennheiser HD700: This I think is tipping point for mojo where it starts loosing control over drivers a bit. For testing I was listening to Eric Clapton Complete and Fleetwood Mac Best of, my 2 favourite compilations. Eric Clapton sounded sublime with mojo hd700 with detailed guitar solos and overall great music. Upon starting Fleetwood Mac, as you may know, their music has prominent basslines. Both Fleetwood and Mac are bass players with bass guitar and drum. On songs like "Go your own way", bass was a little behind midrange. Not as prominent or grippy. I thought this was character of mojo and switched to Akg k550. Here I found a perfectly balanced sound with prominent bassline and with more detail to boot. I found this to be odd as on all system I tried, hd700 offers more detail. So I concluded mojo has some difficulty in driving hd700 with changing frequency response and slight lack of detail. I think this is odd cause on volume I go till orange colour on orbs for hd700 which is in lower one third of volume range. Also I thought dynamics were excellent.
     
    Comparisons
     
    In my opinion mojo is a little exotic sounding gear with unique qualities like very clean transient response and excellent dynamic clarity. I compared it with my portable rig X5-E12 as well as ifi ican and project solstice all fed by fiio x5. In all comparisons I found mojo to have same set of strengths and weaknesses. Mojo offers a better holistic presentation with excellent push and pull between instruments and sticks to tune of instrument played best. Best use hps that offer comfortable view over soundstage at a glance instead of very wide stages that let you focus on individual instruments. It also was dynamically very transparent.
    In comparison, E12, Ican and solstice take you little in the stage with focus on individual instruments being played. Consequently they offer much relaxed presentation where each note is more spaced and played little more dynamically. All three offer slight better grip over harder to drive cans like hd700 while mojo offers slightly more detail.
     
    Conclusion
     
    As a portable dac amp at $600, I think mojo is great. It has unique qualities you wont find easily in regular dacs and you can also add an amp to tailor it further to suit your needs or taste. It comes with complete set of connections and can be used in any system. Overall I am very pleased with mojo and urge you to give it a try.
    1. TomNC
      A nice review. Your assessment is in good agreement with mine. Mojo is a great little device.
      TomNC, Apr 22, 2016
  6. silvrr
    Chord Mojo Review
    Written by silvrr
    Published Mar 25, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small, portable, great sound
    Cons - May run out of juice on power hungry headphones
     
    Introduction:
    I made some changes just before I was sent the Mojo for review that really made this review into a David vs. Goliath and old vs. new matchup.  The mojo is the latest technology, fits in the palm of your hand and runs off a battery.  My Zdac and Lyr 2 setup is big, hot, sucks power from the wall and relies on older technology.  The Zdac was released in early 2013 and the Lyr relies on tubes which have been around since the beginning of the 1900s.
     
    I really enjoyed my short time with the Mojo and want to say thanks to Todd for putting this review tour together.    
     
    Disclaimer:
    I was sent a Mojo in exchange for my review by Todd The Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ).  I have no connection to TTVJ or Chord other than receiving the Mojo for review.  It went on to the next reviewer after my week with it. 
     
    About ME / My Listening Style:
    I am not a critical listener; I don’t find enjoyment in listening to music and trying to listen for every last detail.  When I listen to music I generally am sitting in a comfy chair, or in bed, and relaxing and enjoying the music.  I appreciate detail and accurate reproduction but tend to lean towards a warmer more laid back sound.  In the past I have had a pair of DT880s which while very technically competent were just to bright and aggressive, I much prefer something like my ZMFs or the HD650. 
     
     
     
     
    Hardware & Specifications:
     
    Packaging/accessories**:
    Packaging is pretty simple, the Mojo comes in a two part box with a bit of foam to cushion in transport.  No frills.  The side of the inner box displays a road map of sorts to the color indications for the bit rate display.  The only accessory is a USB cable to hook the Mojo up to a source and/or power for charging. 
     
    You do not get a power adapter, and you will need one.  Chord recommends 1A output form a 5v source to charge the Mojo.  Many USB ports will not provide the needed power to charge the Mojo (it will charge, but take forever).   I used a iPad charger that I had as a spare.   The iPad charger puts out 2.1 amps at 5v and charged the Mojo overnight.  I put the Mojo on the charger each night and in the morning it was charged and ready to go (as indicated by the charging light not being illuminated)
     
    **This was a review sample, it had been passed to 5-6 other reviewers before I got it, so your results may vary.
     ​
    Technical Specifications:
     
    These are pulled from Chord’s site at: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/
     
    General:
    Works with Android, iPhone, Windows and Mac
    Charges in just 4 hours to provide up to 10 hours use.
    Compatible with headphones from 4Ω to 800Ω
    The case is machined from a single solid block of aluminum.
    DAC:
    Three digital inputs - USB, Coaxial, and Optical
    Plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz and even DSD 256
    AMP:
    Output Power @ 1kHz (600 ohms 35mW) (8 ohms 720mW)
    Output Impedance: 0.075 ohms
    Dynamic Range: 125dB
    THD @ 3v - 0.00017%: 
     
    A few specifications I didn't find on Chords site:
     
    Size:
    For Americans: 3.23” W, 2.44”D, 0.85”H
    For the Rest of the World: 82.8 W, 62D, 21.5H
     
    The tiny feet on the bottom add a bit to the eight but its not much. There is also a picture below comparing it to my iPhone 6s.
     
    Weight:
    6.1 Ounces
     
    Objective Measurements:
    For a good summary of the objective measurements of the Mojo see the link below:
    http://ohm-image.net/data/audio/rmaa-chord-mojo-24-bit
     
     
     
    Using the Mojo:
    I would recommend reading the manual while your mojo is charging for the first time.  There is some good info and its brief but provides some important details on use.  A lot of people are suggesting a 10 hour minimum first charge, not sure where it came from but seems to be going around, the manual is silent on it. 
     
     http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/manual/Mojo-User-Manual.pdf
     
    Build
    The Mojo’s chasis is two pieces of aluminum held together by 8 screws on the bottom.   It is a really solid piece and should last a long time. After going through the hands of a number of other reviewers and being shipped all over the country it looked like new to me, no scratches and finger prints wipe off with a t-shirt. The little orbs/balls are actually free floating in the holes and can spin around.  Not sure if anything can get behind them and cause an issue but as long as you keep your hands relatively clean I cannot see it being an issue.  All the jacks feel solid and don’t provide any wiggle or feel loose. 
     
    Features
    Most of the Mojo’s external features are pretty self-explanatory.  There are two headphone outs which is unique but everything else is pretty normal, except for those glowing orbs. 
    [​IMG]
     
     
    Those little orbs tell you a few details during playback, and perform there functions as noted in the picture above. 
    The power orb displays the sampling frequency being fed to the DAC by your player of choice using the colors below:
    [​IMG]
    The volume buttons also display a range of colors depending on the volume settings in use.  There appears to be three stages of the volume indication.  From zero the Mojo runs through the color field above quickly and then starts back over at red and moves to light purple.   There is a final stage where only the + volume button will change colors.  I found with my headphones I was always in the second section of volume indication and typically was in the dark blue range with my ZMF’s.  With the M6 Pros I was in the second volume section but stayed below the yellow/green range.  When just wanting some background music I was in the first section in the light purple.
     
     
     
    Use
    I scrolled through the user’s manual before the Mojo was sent to me and got a basic understanding.  Hold the power button for two seconds to turn on and wait for the faint click and its ready to go.  The power ball cycles through the colors as it starts up. 
     
    To use the Mojo as a DAC only and provide a 3V line out output you just click both volume buttons right after the Mojo powers on. 
     
    I found coarse volume adjustments to take too long either by clicking the ball or holding it down.   However, I found fine adjustments to work nicely by giving the ball a few clicks.  I tend to flip the volume down if I need to talk to someone rather than pause a track so a quick dial is my preference, or a mute button.
     
    Via USB on the Raspberry Pi it was plug and play.  RuneAudio recognized the Mojo and displayed Mojo in the list of output devices.  On all of my Windows PCs the drivers installed without issues (Windows 7 and Windows 10). 
     
    Optical was plug and play also, once I remembered to enable my optical out.  24/96 content played with no issues and was reported correctly by the power balls color.  24/192 gave a subtle click/pop in my left ear each time I started the song.  I don’t have another optical source to test so this may be the fault of my motherboard.      
     
    How does it sound?
    I used the following gear, other than the Mojo, during this review:
     
     
     
    [DAC] Parasound Zdac: http://www.parasound.com/vintage/zdac.php
     
    [AMP] Schiit Lyr: http://schiit.com/products/lyr-2 (General Electric 6BZ7 tubes)
     
    [Headphones] ZMF Master Model V1 (Fostex T50RP base): http://www.zmfheadphones.com/
     
    [IEMs] Mee Electronics M6 Pro: http://www.meeaudio.com/M6PRO-CL
     
    [Source 1] Raspberry Pi running RuneAudio: http://www.head-fi.org/t/795895/a-70-bit-perfect-audio-player
     
    [Source 2] Desktop PC via optical running Foobar/Wasapi.
     
     [Source 4 – Work Laptop] Lenovo X240 (Windows 7 Playing Pandora/Tidal)
     
    Music is ripped from a CD in either ALAC or FLAC at 16/44.1 unless otherwise noted.  Player and setup is noted above in each source listing.  
     
     ​
    I received the Mojo on Saturday and did some general listening over the weekend.  I spent a lot of time on the Mojo and found it worked nicely as a portable solution.  With one power cord (Pi power source) I can move my entire listening rig up to the bedroom or into a quiet room in the house.  The battery lasted through each session (up to 4 hours).  Initial impressions going back and forth with the Zdac/Lyr stack is the Mojo is a bit more controlled and the stack doesn’t have the same snap/control to the sound.  The tubes in the Lyr were brand new and only had ~10 or so hours run time.  They were left on over the weekend and by Monday things seemed a bit more evenly matched. 
     
    Steeley Dan – Aja: I went back and forth a number of times on this one trying to hear differences.  I ‘think’ I could hear a very slight difference in the drum stick click Steve Gadd makes around the 5:00 mark.  After a number of times back and forth the Mojo has a more realistic click to me, that is splitting hairs though.  Overall the two systems are pretty evenly matched using this sample.  I had to look over and see which device I was plugged into twice during this stint so that tells you how close the two setups are.
     
    Steely Dan – Deacon Blues: Concentrating on the saxophone after around the 4:00 mark my preference is the Zdac/Lyr stack, I think the stack is just a bit smoother and more pleasant to listen to.
     
    Beastie Boys – Slow Ride: Listened to the first ~25 seconds of this song over and over again on both setups.  I call this one a draw.  The Mojo is really impressing me here as I turn both setups a bit so see how bass is handled.  There is a heavy bass line after the initial percussion intro.  The Mojo holds its own even as I push the volume.
     
    Dire Straits – Money For Nothing: This is a quieter track overall when it comes to recording level and I like to listen to it pretty loud.   The Mojo struggled on this one; it was pushed into the light purple/white volume levels and couldn’t produce the bass the Lyr was at this volume level.  The Lyr is just really hitting its stride and sounds fantastic, switching to the Mojo and the bass suffers and overall things are sounding a bit harsh.  The Lyr is capable of putting over 5 times the wattage into the ZMFs as the Mojo, I was surprised it took this long for me to run into a test where the Mojo ran out of power compared to the Lyr, really says something about the Mojo.  
     
    Eagles - Hotel California (Hotel California): The Mojo is lacking in bass during the intro.  The Lyr is big and full on the bass line but the Mojo is losing the bass behind the rest of the song as the volume goes up.
     
    Fleetwood Mac - The Chain (Rumors): This is another song with a lower recording level.  The Mojo is getting pushed into the third volume stage if I want to turn this one up.   The Mojo and the ZMFs do not pair well as you push the Mojo, it becomes a bit shrill and the bass and mids really suffer. Turning it down the Mojo pulls ahead, I'm liking the Mids from the bass guitar better. Although very close I would say the Mojo is keeping everything separated a bit more.
     
    Eagles - Hotel California (HD Tracks 24/96):  I call this one a draw.  I really pulled this track up to listen to what I assume is a brush on the snare drum at a few points in the song.  It's in the lower back of the left ear on both setups. Both setups were equal to my ears in placing it and separating it from the rest of the track.  That placement that is almost behind your ear is something I first noticed with the Zdac, when I had my Modi, it was there but didn't have the same placement and desperation.
     
    Daft Punk - Get Lucky (256 AAC) I focused in on the claps in this song.  The have a good presentation in both width and sound on both setups, I'm calling this on a draw.
     
    After running into the power issue on the Mojo I remembered that you can set it to a DAC only mode and get a 3V line out.  I set this up to take the amp out of the equation and ran both the Zdac and Mojo through the Lyr.  
     
    I spent a lot of time switching between the two while listening to Hotel California (Hell Freezes Over) and a few tracks from Rumors by Fleetwood Mac.  I would think the Mojo was pulling more detail and the Zdac had a bit of a veil but then I would switch back and hear the same from the Zdac.  I tried both longer listening sessions and rapid switches and came to the conclusion that any differences are so small that I would never be able to blindly say this is the Mojo and this is the Zdac.  That result really goes for the whole review I did, except when the Mojo runs out of power and the differences become very evident.
     ​
     
     ​
    Conclusion:
     
    I really enjoyed the Mojo, for its size and the fact that is runs off battery it really punches above its weight.  Being able to move my entire listening rig up to the bedroom by unplugging one cord and carrying it all in one had was pretty nice.  However, I think for power hungry cans or inefficient cans I would be sure to get a demo and compare it to a desktop setup.  During my listening tests, when combined with a track with a lower recording level the Mojo would struggle.
     
    When I didn’t run into power issues the Mojo was wonderful sonically.  There is a lot of detail and a smoothness that I really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a portable setup.  I held its own against a power hungry desktop setup and only rarely ran out of power and started to struggle.  
     
     
     
    Other Reviews:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/chord-mojo
     
     
    Other Reviews from me:
    http://www.head-fi.org/users/365069/reviews
     
    Long Term Update (12/14/2016):
     
    I sold my Mojo last night and figured I would post up in my review on why I sold it.  
     
    The first really isn't the Mojos fault but something to think about when buying one.  I constantly ran out of battery and/or found it dead.  I would have it on and forget to turn it off and come back to find it dead.  Again, not the Mojos fault at all, however, from a dead state you have to wait for a small charge before the Mojo will fire up and let you listen.  I had it fire up a few times and then die until it had a better charge.  This is with a 2.1 amp Apple iPad charger too, so no lack of current.  This and over extended absences the Mojo will self drain and you end up with short listen times or it can be completely dead.  
     
    Second was the static.  I beleive this is linked to the lack of galvanic isolation on the board (which was done to save battery life).  So when next to my iPhone 6s or next to a Raspberry Pi with Wifi, (both of which I use as a source) you could get static from the EMI.  Using longer cables and getting the Mojo away from the device can help.  I would also get the same result on Optical when charging, which I assume is for the same reason.   
     
    I still think the Mojo is a great product, however, I didn't end up using it in a mobile application as much as I thought I would and that combined with the annoyances above let me to move on.  I think Im going to stick with a all in one product for the ease of moving around my house, however, it will be powered by mains and not a battery. 
      Light - Man and Onny Izwan like this.
    1. Rob49
      A good honest review, that highlight's the flaws....when reading the Mojo thread, you would think it's "the second coming" !
      Rob49, Apr 1, 2016
    2. silvrr
      Thanks for the feedback.  The Mojo is pretty good when you consider its size and that it runs off a battery.  During my initial listening I got the impression that the Mojo was pulling a lot of detail and had a great presentation of the music, and began to think there was something well above and beyond what my lyr/zdac was providing.  However, when switching back an forth for longer listening sessions and later quick A/B tests the two setups were revealed to be very closely matched.  I do think there are differences between the two, however, in a blind test I do not think that I could say which is which.  I wonder if "the second coming" people are comparing the Mojo to a known standard and believe that the differences are so night and day that they could pick the Mojo in a A/B comparison easily.   
      silvrr, Apr 1, 2016
    3. crazydeep
      Great review!!
      crazydeep, Apr 29, 2016
  7. Peter Hyatt
    Fulfillment of Foolish and Overwrought Expectations
    Written by Peter Hyatt
    Published Mar 18, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful Sound, Small Size, Fascinating and Useful Design
    Cons - None
    Reviewers often give backgrounds so that the reader is privileged to have a reference point for the reviewer's opinion.  Many are experienced audiophiles familiar with the language of such, which is often not only unique to its own, it is often indiscernible to the non-audiophile.  
     
    I am a non audiophile and understand only a portion of the language but do know what I like and what I have hoped for. 
     
    Going from average consumer headphones to Beyerdynamic T1 was a "wow!" moment where the product's impact upon me was overwhelmingly positive.  The T1's exceeded my expectations on what quality could come from headphones, and the 2nd generation's removable cable was a great upgrade.  Having raised a large family, I know what can happen to headphone cables wherever children are and this 'security blanket' means that even grandchildren's small feet could cause a tug in the wrong direction, but the headphones will survive.
     
     The sound of the T1 was the "wow!" moment I had hoped for while investing such money into headphones. 
     
    Thus began my search for the appropriate amp and dac. I began by "rounding up the usual suspects" particularly using Amazon Warehouse Prime, allowing for open box testing and free shipping both ways.  
     
    The Beyerdynamic A20 amp was the best I had heard in the amps, and the Schiit Modi 2 uber bested the Bifrost  4490 for sound quality.  The A20 amp was clearly a well constructed and neutral sounding amp that seemed to go well with the T1.  This was my hone set up and for travel, I simply used the Monte Blanc from Fiio; a good, solid and strong portable amp. 
     
    Yet, I was nagged by the Mojo reviews.  How could any product be that good?  If the reviews were to be believed, the Mojo was consistently described as better than anything described costing 4 times as much as the Mojo, with some describing it as good as DACs costing upwards of $5,000 US.  The reviews came in from all over the US, UK, Australia, and the far east and the consistency throughout was note worthy.  Professional reviewers and amateurs alike raved about it.  
     
    I had to give it a try.  
     
    I knew that my expectation was too high from the reviews; foolish, in fact, because there is really no place to go but down.  The Modi 2 and Bifrost are good DACs and people love them.  The Beyerdynamic A20 amp comes through with beautiful clarity.  Yet, the reviews of Mojo set the bar much higher.  I have gone to movies where people have raved so much about the movie that my expectation meant one thing:  disappointment.  
     
    I considered that there could be no possible "wow!" moment for me, as I am at a very good place with my current set up. 
     
    I was stunned the first time I heard the Mojo.  
     
    Stunned.  
     
    The jump in quality from my set up was like nothing I expected or could have predicted.  I was stunned and overwhelmed at what my ears were hearing, and what was being 'thrown at me', so I decided to go to my old favorites; that is, music that I no longer listen to because I have heard it too often for 4 decades.  This included Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."  I also decided to test some of the more modern Dylan, particularly the vocals from "Modern Times" and "Oh Mercy" with Daniel Lanois' production.  Then, I added Swan Lake, and from another Mojo reviewer, Amber Rubarth's "Sessions" album, with its incredible soundstage. 
     
    Wow.
     
    The Mojo gave me detail that I have not heard before.  My brain was so accustomed, for example, to every note on "Blood on the Tracks", having heard it and played it on guitar, that I did not think I could ever hear anything new on it.  
     
    Stunning. 
     
    I heard things on Sgt. Pepper's that I did not know existed.  
     
    It was that Mojo brought back my entire music catalog from retirement.  
     
    I found myself checking back those reviews, listening for what the reviewer said had most touched him, and sure enough, the scratch of a guitar, the edge of the rim of the snare drum, and the highs of even a flute, were all there, just as marvelously described by both professional and amateur audiophile.  
     
    In sharing Mojo with my wife during the day, I  have reached a point where not using the Mojo is disappointing and a bit discouraging; such as, 'maybe I will put the news on for a while rather than listening to music' since she had the Mojo instead of me.  We will get a second. 
     
    Chord Electronics has given me and my wife a wonderful gift and something that we could afford.  I do not know how this will work out for them, and how it will impact its sales of Hugo, and I know this must be impacting some other fine high quality companies, too.  
     
    For me, I no longer own the desktop amp, the desktop DAC, nor the portable amp.  
     
    Something as tiny as the Mojo has replaced all my equipment.  
     
    I take it everywhere I go, just as I do my iPhone, just in case I get a spare few minutes and slip on the in-ear headphones.  It is this good. 
     
    What has Mojo done to "Pet Sounds"?  
     
    Berlin Philharmonic?
     
    Southside Johnny's aged bluesy voice on "Soultime"?
     
    The Mojo has not only brought my entire music catalog out of retirement but the Mojo reviewers have inspired me to look into new music, and we are like two teenagers, challenging each other to listen to this singer, or that band, and, oh, you must hear this song...as my wife and I share the Mojo back and forth until we end up purchasing a second. 
     
    As others have said, it is a real "game changer" product and something that listeners think is 'burning in' and 'improving' over the months, whereas the truth is that our brain's are interpreting new data for us, furthering our musical experience beyond what it was pre- Mojo.  
     
    It is now lossless music streaming through the Mojo to beautiful and well built headphones, through a lap top or iPhone.  
     
    Chord Electronics has done what it set out to do, and then some.  They may have made it possible for the average iPhone or Android phone owner to hear what only high end, expensive audiophile fans have experienced, at an incredible bargain.  
     
    The lights?  Perfect.  I already know what color my wife's level should be, and can even make adjustments in the evening darkness, and it is ergonomically perfect for my hand. I look forward to the modules, especially blue tooth, and to the release of a leather case, though it is made strong enough to withstand anything I may inadvertently throw at it. 
     
    Pros?  It gave me the "wow!" effect that I did not think my extreme expectations would have realized.  30 years of Chord research reduced to affordability.  Definition.  Soundstage.  Definition.  Beauty.  Resuscitation of entire music catalog.  Dynamic, living sound.  Dylan in my living room, singing for me.  Orchestra highs, and chest thumbing bass.  Accuracy.  
     
    Cons? 
     
     I am simply too thankful to consider any.  
      Windseeker, Jawed, cpauya and 9 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. RedJohn456
      That was a fantastic review and an even more enjoyable read! Thank you for sharing the personal stories, was one of the best and heartfelt reviews of the Mojo I have read :)
      RedJohn456, Mar 18, 2016
    3. ShreyasMax
      Great write up, very well written, cheers!
      ShreyasMax, Mar 20, 2016
    4. x RELIC x
      Peter, one of the most relatable and enjoyable reviews I've read on Head Fi. Great job!

      I feel this is front page material as it certainly applies to everyone.
      x RELIC x, May 23, 2016
  8. RedJohn456
    Desktop Capable and Wholly Portable, A swiss Army knife in all but name!
    Written by RedJohn456
    Published Mar 13, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Robust build quality coupled with a portable friendly design, Price, Drives everything from sensitive iems to power hungry planars, Black background
    Cons - Light on accessories, volume buttons prone to scratches and trapping dirt
    Chord Mojo - A cure for those suffering from Upgraditis
    “Desktop Capable and Wholly Portable, A swiss army knife in all but name!”
     
     
     
    Disclaimer:
    As part of the Canadian tour I had the Mojo for a little over a week and I received no financial compensation, save for the shipping costs of sending the mojo to the next reviewer.
     
     
     
    Introduction:
    This is my review of the Chord Mojo, a new portable DAC/Amp from the venerable Chord Electronics.
     
    First I want to take this opportunity to thank my friend Craig for organizing the Canadian tour as well as recommending me for the tour. I also wanted to give a big shout out to Chord Electronics for setting up this tour and giving me the opportunity to evaluate their newest foray into the portable dac/amp market, the Chord Mojo!
     
    You don’t have to be in this hobby long before running into Chord as a brand, as they are held in high regard and universally lauded by a large legion of fans spanning the globe.
    They are a company based in England, whose claim to fame has been making high performance desktop and portable DAC/Amp solutions with a premium price to match the performance.
     
    That has been the case until now. Enter the Mojo, a portable entry from Chord Electronics that promises to provide the same high performance their other products, such as the Hugo, are known for but at a much more accessible price point. To say that people were excited to get their collective grubby mitts on the Mojo would be a major understatement. Don’t believe me? Just take a gander at how quickly the official Mojo thread has grown. By the time you finish reading this review, the thread would have gorwn by a number of pages and many posts. No Joke. The Mojo appears to have struck a Chord (hah see what I did there?) with many a fan and not without good reason.
     
     
     
    About me:
    I want to provide a little background information in the hopes that it can help put my views in perspective and provide some context for the content of this review.
     
    Music has always been a huge part of my life, whether it was performing music on stage with my band or more recently, involving myself in this masochistic wonderful hobby of ours.  I have always enjoyed listening to music but I haven’t always paid attention to the quality of headphones because I was perfectly content with included cellphone earphones or cheap earbuds from department stores.  Ignorance is bliss right? This however all changed when I came across head-fi one day, and that’s when things started to go downhill (for my wallet that is :p). It is all too easy to underestimate how large an impact a good pair of headphones can have in the enjoyment of your favorite songs.
     
    After getting my first pair of good headphones, I had felt as if an entirely new world has opened up to me musically and I found myself rediscovering music that I have listened to for many years.
     
    When it comes to musical taste, I can’t say that I have any specific genre that is my absolute favorite, as I like a little bit of everything. But if I had to be specify, I would say that I love mainstream and Pop music and I consider myself to be an average joe in that regard. That is the approach I will be taking in reviewing gear, for people like me who aren’t all that technical and are not audiophiles in the classical sense.
     
    I mostly stream music from the Internet using services such as Spotify and Youtube and like millions of other people, my laptop and cellphone serves as my main media players.
     
    So with that out of the way, lets get on with the review!
     
     
     
    Build quality, Design and Accessories
    After receiving the package from the previous reviewer, I gleefully tore into the out cardboard box. Opening up the box, I was actually taken back somewhat. The actual Mojo packaging was smaller than I was expected, not that it’s a bad thing of course.
     
    The packaging was an understated and elegant white box with minimal adornments. Of note, one panel displayed technical specifications while another a palate of colors listing what sampling rate and frequency each color pertains to [On a side note, I wonder if color blind people would have any trouble using the mojo in light of the visual nature of volume control]. The made in England sticker was a nice touch as well.
     
    color.jpg
     
     
     
    Opening up the box, the Mojo was presented in all its glory, encased in foam and a plastic bag. Inside the box a male micro to male micro USB cable was included for use with compatible portable devices. To be honest I was a bit disappointed given the lack of accessories as I feel that including a few cables and adapters might have been a nice gesture. Again, no manual was included the box but it can be downloaded from their website at: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/manual/Mojo-User-Manual.pdf
     
     
    IMG_20151222_161727449.jpg
     
     
    I was actually taken back by how compact the Mojo was after taking it out of its packaging. I had an inkling from online pictures that the unit will be on the smaller size, but not to this degree. I was able to wrap my hands around the unit easily and it had a reassuring heft to it, something that I greatly welcome. The unit felt very solid and durable to the touch, adding to its portable friendliness. It honestly felt like a tank, as it was so sturdy and durable that if I accidentally dropped the Mojo to the floor I would be more worried if I damaged the floor because that’s how tough it’s build quality is. The volume buttons rotated easily and is not easily pressed by accident, which is important given how much power the Mojo packs (which is quite a bit I might add).
     
    IMG_20151222_161907289.jpg
     
     
     
     
    The unit houses two 3.5 mm headphone out ports (which is perfect for Netflix dates with your special someone :p), which can be used simultaneously.
     
    The Mojo also is equipped with three digital inputs:
    • 1 X TOSLink Optical
    • 1 X 3.5mm COAX SPDIF
    • 1 x Micro USB [I do however have concerns about the long-term durability of the USB ports as they appeared to be a little loose and not 100% flush with outer casing. I'm not sure if this was limited to the tour unit but I thought I should point it out.]
     
    IMG_20151222_161746269.jpg IMG_20151222_161815256.jpg
     
    All of this and more make for a VERY versatile piece of gear.
     
     
     
    How it works:
    The Mojo is a rather strange looking device, like nothing I have come across. Its design is endearing and has rather grown on me during my time with the Mojo.
     
    I thought the volume buttons would be static but to my surprise they rotated freely. This of course presents the problem of dirt and dust accumulating, and I did notice a few scratches on the volume spheres on my unit. The unit can be turned on by holding down the right most button until the light starts flashing. Fun fact – by holding down both volume buttons together when switching on the unit, you set the output level to 3V (Line level).
     
    The brightness of the volume buttons can be toggled between bright and dim modes by briefly pressing both volume buttons at the same time. As well, Mojo has a memory function that will store the volume level and brightness settings even if the unit is shut down. The only exception to this is Line level, which is not remembered.
     
     
     
    How I used it:
     
    Sources Used
    1. 13 inch Macbook Pro retina via Micro USB
    2. Sony Playstation 3 via optical
     
    As I touched upon earlier, the Mojo is quite versatile in its capabilities. It is designed to work with everything from cellphones to laptops to gaming consoles and even DAPs (where the dap acts as a digital transport). The Mojo truly is an all in one portable solution, a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of all (if not most).
     
    The Mojo fast became an indispensable part of my listening and gaming set up. It was as simple as plug and play with my Macbook Pro, working without a hitch. I used it for everything from listening to music, skype calls and even watching video lectures while studying, showing no weakness in any application.
     
    It also transformed my gaming experience while using it in combination with my Playstation 3 via Optical out. Using it in conjunction with the AKG K612 Pro, I really felt as if I was immersed in my games, giving me a cinematic experience unlike anything I have experienced before. Thanks to its fantastic imaging capabilities and soundstage (will touch upon this later), playing shooters such as Call of Duty was all too enjoyable.
     
    The Mojo will work with iOS devices via the CCK cable and compatible android devices which support USB audio out. Unfortunately my BlackBerry Z30 didn’t play nice with it (what a big surprise lol) but the mobile capability is there should one choose to use it (which is its primary focus after all). I should note that later on in the review I do discuss a new product from FiiO that all but eliminates the need for those pesky CCK cables, allowing a one-cable solution for iOS devices.
     
    The Mojo is like a bull in a china-shop; except it is so delicate and balanced it doesn’t knock anything over. Everything from my most sensitive in ears monitos (which at the time was the Venture Electronics Duke with a resistance of 16 ohms) to my hardest to drive cans (which at the time was the AKG K612 Pro) absolutely sang when plugged into the Mojo. The unit has a large reservoir of power, and this is especially impressive considering the relatively small dimensions of the unit and I felt that it packed more power than my FiiO X7/K5 combination.
     
    How it sounds
    The Mojo sounds fantastic. Stop reading this review and go out and buy it! Thanks for reading the review….
     
    What was that? More details you say? Fine then, let me get a glass of 50-year-old scotch mountain dew and monocles so as to better pontificate the finer subtleties of why the Mojo is an absolute game changer :wink:
     
    Monocle.jpg
     
    All kidding aside, the Mojo has a lot going for it, and it just sounds “right” to my ears, for lack of a better term (I promise its not a cop out!). This probably has a lot to do with what sets the Mojo apart from the rest of its competition. Rather than using an off the shelf DAC solution, Rob Watts (the designer at Chord Electronics) opted to use a customized in house FPGA solution, utilizing 30 years of research, which appears to have solved a lot of timing issues that plague other DACs. To be honest I am not really a technical guy and I won’t profess to understand the technology behind what makes the Mojo so special, but I will say official thread is a treasure trove of information. The best part is that Rob Watts frequents the thread and is very approachable and willing to answer questions people might have.
     
    To my ears the Mojo is extremely pleasing and enjoyable to listen to with a warm analogue like sound.
     
    I will touch upon soundstage first: Songs being played through the Mojo had a lot of depth to it, positively cavernous even. The soundstage had great depth and width, more so than the height. Mojo appears to have gone for a more accurate and natural soundstage reproduction rather than an artificially boosted one.
     
    And part of that is due to how it handles treble. A lot of products use enhanced treble to give a sense of increased detail. No so with the Mojo, which is why I felt it was dark sounding on my initial listen. At that time I was coming from the brighter sounding FiiO X7, so the Mojo was a noticeable departure from that. That is not to say that the Mojo is deficient in the upper registers. It has excellent treble extension and detail, without being forward and strident. In fact the Mojo is astonishingly detailed, which is surprising in light of its warmer analogue like sound. The details are all present, but they are not pushed in your face, making for a fatigue free listening experience. 
     
    Mojo has excellent instrument separation and layering with accurate sonic cues. Listening to live classical pieces, it was all too easy to follow individual instruments through entire songs and to imagine where they were located relative to the other instruments. It also helps that it has a pitch black background with an inaudible noise floor, giving a sense of air around winged and string instruments. Listening to EDM tracks, background elements seem to come alive thanks to Mojo’s impressive imaging, truly making you feel as if you are listening to them live at a concert.
     
    In fact the Mojo was so effortless and natural, I kept forgetting to analyze the music and kept right on listening to songs. I didn’t stop to marvel at its technical capabilities as I might have with other gears because it’s not a technical performer for the sake of it, but for the end musical enjoyment, which is one of its strongest points I feel.
     
    The midrange is where the magic lies for me, with a perfect amount of natural warmth, giving recordings a more analogue and live feeling. It is engaging, detailed and full sounding, giving a nice weight to male vocals, which is perfect for rock and metal music. Distorted guitar sounded sublime with good growl and texture and drum beats sounded natural. It does everything so well that it’s hard to pick a few to highlight.
     
    The bass was tight, fast and punchy with terrific control, with no mid bass bloom or midrange leakage to speak of. The bass only came out to play when called upon, and quickly got out of the way. Sub bass was in perfect balance with the mid bass, and exhibited good rumble when present in the song. Bass texture was easily discernable, and immensely enjoyable in tracks like “Before I sleep” by Joy Williams, using stringed instruments.
     
    And that’s how I would describe the Mojo’s sonic signature – balanced. Sonic presentation was even from top to bottom, bringing a level of power, finesse and refinement that is very rarely seen at this price point and certainly not in such a portable device.
     
    I will however mention that Mojo sounded best with my neutral and brighter sounding gear compared to my darker sounding headphones. For example, the synergy between the VE Zen 2.0 and Mojo wasn’t as great as say the Zen 1.0 or VE Duke. The AKG K612 Pro sounded just heavenly out of the Mojo as opposed to the Sony MA900, which sounded average at best. The Mojo took off some of the edge and bite that the K612 Pro had in the treble region, while at the same time giving more depth and a more holographic presentation, especially for classical music. I am not suggesting this is something universal as YMMV depending on personal tastes and such, but all the same, it is something to keep in the back of your mind.
     
    I would however skip the Mojo if you happen to be a certifiable treble head. That is not to say that the Mojo has poor treble extension, but rather a more natural presentation that may seem darker than gears that use enhanced treble to give a sense of increased detail retrieval.
     
    Battery Life:
    I managed to squeeze out anywhere between 6-7 hours of battery life on average and so it usually saw me through a whole day. For example I might use it all day with my Macbook while working or studying, and then have to charge it again at the end of the day while using it for gaming with my Playstation. The battery life is actually remarkable considering how much power and performance there is on tap, Chord certainly could have done a lot worse in this department.
     
    While it is possible to use the Mojo whilst it is charging, do note that it will take longer to charge, which normally should take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours. Don’t be alarmed if your unit becomes hot while charging, this is perfectly normal, especially if you are listening to music at the same time.
     
    The online manual does also mention to avoid leaving the Mojo on continuously, which is important if you plan to use it as a desktop solution. Just turn it off once in awhile lol.
     
    Looking to the future:
    Chord plans to release modular expansion solutions for the Mojo with additional features such as an SD card reader and a more streamlined iOS product compatibility by incorporating the apple CCK cable.
     
     
    Bottom line
    If you are looking for a class leading dac/amp combo that you can use with your phone, tablets, computers and gaming consoles, look no further than the Mojo. Although it is billed as a portable product, it is more than capable of pulling double duty as part of a desktop setup or indeed, a desktop replacement in and of itself. Chord has proven that you really can take desktop quality music with you on the go, without having to make compromises. The Mojo is something you can enjoy while commuting to and from work, at work, and again at home while listening to music, watching movies or even gaming!
     
    All this is at a price that is far more accessible than its performance or feature set would suggest. At a price of $599 USD, it is much cheaper than its sibling, the Hugo, which is priced at >$2000 USD. Kudos to Chord for bucking the recent industry trend of pushing the price envelope.
     
    Also, FiiO has recently released the L19 cable that will allow iOS devices to interface with any external dac/amp without having to use pesky and unsightly Apple CCK cables. Take that apple! You can get this cable at: http://penonaudio.com/L19-Lightning-to-Micro-USB   So take any old iPhone or iPod touch (lightning port version) and slap on the L19 cable to use it with the Mojo and voila, you have a very capable portable solution that is also easy on the wallet!
     
    With its immense sonic performance and versatility, the Chord Mojo is a comprehensive all in one package that has the potential to replace both your home and portable setups, while at the same transforming your console gaming experience. The Mojo is desktop-capable and wholly portable; A Swiss army knife in all but name.
     
     
    Thank you for sticking with me thus far and not falling asleep! I tried my best to pen my thoughts on what I thought about the Mojo but I do still have a lot to learn so I welcome any and all feedback [​IMG]
     
     
    Happy listening!
      Windseeker, cpauya, Mosauwer and 14 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ShreyasMax
      Very well written review, clear and to the point.
       
      An interesting thing for me that you mention is that the Mojo is a departure from the FiiO X7. As I'm looking to get the Mojo as an upgrade from my iBasso D14 (after a review unit comes my way of course, which should be in about 2 weeks' time), I was wondering if you could elaborate the differences you felt compared to the X7. I personally found the X7 to be a great pairing for my Fidelio X2, especially in terms of realistic timbre, and detail retrieval. Do you think the X7 has enhanced treble to sound more detailed, and how do you think the Mojo would pair with my Fidelio X2?
       
      Thanks in advance, cheers.
      ShreyasMax, Mar 18, 2016
    3. RedJohn456
      @ShreyasMax Thanks for the kind words!
       
      I wouldn't say the X7 has enhanced treble, definitely not one of those gears using extra treble to give an illusion of increased detail retrieval.
       
      The X7 to my ears has an airier and lighter sound when compared to the Mojo, and a larger more holographic soundstage. The Mojo has a more intimate sound with a more realistic soundstage but with greater perception of depth, as if you are peering into the music track. 
       
      I am not surprised that the X7 synergizes well with the Fidelio X2, as the airier sound of the X7 would balance out the warmer sound of the Fidelio X2. Given that the Mojo has a relatively warmer sound, I am not sure how the X2 would pair with the Mojo. Since I haven't heard the combination myself I don't want to say anything, but for me personally the Mojo paired better with neutral and brighter gears. 
       
      Also to note, the way mojo throws so much data your way the brain will take time to learn how to adapt to it, and given that I had only about a week with the tour unit it is very well possible that a week might not be enough time for the brain to adapt to the Mojo.  
       
      So it is very much possible that warmer gear may in fact synergize well with the mojo in the end, but during my time with the unit that was not the case. I hope that helped some :)
      RedJohn456, Mar 18, 2016
    4. ShreyasMax
      Alright, thanks again for your inputs. I'll wait for my review unit, spend some time with it, and then decide on my purchase.
       
      Cheers, & happy listening!
      ShreyasMax, Mar 19, 2016
  9. Trogdor
    Absolutely the best portable amp/DAC combo on the market
    Written by Trogdor
    Published Feb 16, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Modern FPGA technology, fantastic soundstage, lovely highs, deep extended bass, and very forgiving over a wealth of recordings and genres
    Cons - Quirky interface, no digital volume control, no balanced output

    Introduction



     

    Alright, I don't expect you to actually slog through the whole video. However, if you did get through the first five minutes or so, then I'm fairly confident that you have a pretty good idea of what a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is. But to recap, an FPGA is a collection of controllable logic blocks (CLBs) that are all interconnected via a high-speed bus. In it themselves, these logic blocks don't do much. But when strung together, they can be used to perform all kinds of interesting computational work. So let's say you want to program your FPGA to emulate a general purpose microprocessor like the Intel-based one you are using right now to read this review. You're in luck, you can! Or perhaps you want it to perform the same functionality as an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), say like Bitcoin mining so you can make millions of dollars by the time you actually finish reading this review? No problem. Or maybe you just want to write your own Digital Signal Processor (DSP), like an ESS SABRE, and use it in your own custom DAC? You guessed it, you can do that too. And that's the beauty behind using an FPGA - it's like being given your own computational Lego set that you can piece together to create whatever kind of application your heart desires.

    [​IMG]

    But the intrinsic flexibility of FPGAs over DSPs also has its downsides. First, DSPs have historically been a more power conscious choice over FPGAs since their silicon can be better optimized for their specific computational workload. Second, FPGAs are simply more complex devices than DSPs. For example, let's say you are looking to create your own custom DAC. Then the simplest route would be to pick some off-the-shelf DSP, slap it into your circuit, and feed Pig Destroyer through it. Done. With an FPGA however, you would have to go about writing all the custom code to program all of those CLBs yourself. That is no easy feat since an FPGA is typically programmed in some kind of hardware description language instead of a high-level language like C or Java. And once your code complete, you then have to suffer through this elaborate testing cycle which includes timing analysis, model simulation, and various other verification methodologies just to verify that your code actually works. So if time-to-market is critical, an FPGA based product is probably a non-starter from the get go. Finally, FPGAs almost always have higher per-unit costs because they have more transistors, and thus a bigger footprint than your comparable DSP. Remember, an FPGA vendor doesn't know how a potential customer will use their chip, which means they typically stuff in it a lot more functionality (read: more CLBs and I/O pins) than one might need for a certain application. DSPs on the other hand, again, know exactly how they are going to be used, and can leverage that fact accordingly.

    So why the heck am I telling you any of this in the first place? Because I feel that in order for you to better appreciate a product by UK based Chord Electronics, you need to first understand a little about FPGAs. As you can see, designing products around an FPGA requires a lot more expertise outside of traditional analog circuit design, which is why most of the products we are all familiar with contain off-the-shelve third-party DSPs to handle D-to-A duties. But can an FPGA based product sound just as good, or even better than a traditional dedicated DSP based design? Read on and find out.

    Striking The Right Chord


    [​IMG]

    My first experience with Chord was with their now discontinued DAC64 product. Now don't hold me to the fire since it was a long time ago, but I do vaguely remember that the DAC64 had two major issues. First, it had a problem with buffering whereby there was a noticeable delay between the moment you pressed play and the metal hitting your ears. And two, and most importantly, the DAC64 was expensive (~3k), or at least seem so at the time. But despite all that, I still walked away extremely impressed since the unit looked and sounded gorgeous.

    [​IMG]

    Since then, Chord has come out with a number of equally sumptuous offerings. Probably their most well known product is the Hugo, an integrated headphone amp/DAC now based around Xilinx's top of the line 45nm Spartan-6 chipset that has built a reputation for delivering reference level sound in a somewhat portable package. But again, like all FPGA based designs, it comes at a price. The standard Hugo is $2,195 list while its bigger desktop variant, the TT, tips the scale at around the $4k mark. Not outlandish for this kind of performance by any means, but certainly not priced for your budget conscious audiophile either. Chord of course understood this, and decided to set out and design a product that would target a more younger demographic that wants great sound but on the go. It had to be truly portable as well as play nice with all manner of smart phone. And most importantly, had to have an attractive price point. So what did Chord come up with? Meet the Mojo ($599).

    Meet The Mojo


    [​IMG]

    First off, the Mojo is indeed a true portable device. No, it's not dongle tiny, but at about the size of a pack of Altoids, it easily fits in the palm of your hand. But despite its relatively small stature, it features a myriad array of I/O ports, including optical TOSlink (24-bit/192kHz) and 3.5mm coaxial inputs as well as not one, but two 3.5mm single-ended headphone outputs. And those outputs offer plenty of power too, featuring 35mW at 600 ohms and 720mW at 8 ohms with an overall output impedance of 75 mOhms. In English, I was able to comfortably juice my HiFiMAN HE-1Ks as well as my Audeze LCD-3s with ease. Chord's lead designer, Rob Watts, explained to me that he went to great lengths to preserve the small signal accuracy by using dither and noise shaping so sound quality does not vary with volume setting. Analog purists will balk, but with a product like this where IEMs and other portable headphones are going to be its chief customer, perfect volume tracking is key, and the Mojo delivers in spades.

    [​IMG]

    Like its bigger sibling, Mojo's user interface is based on a spectral polychromatic approach, i.e. status and modes are indicated through color (You mean colour. -Dave). And as you can see, each color of the rainbow indicates a different sampling rate. Same goes for volume too, which cycles through various color schemes to indicate level. If you press both volume buttons together while the unit is on, then you will cycle through a couple of different brightness settings. Hold down both buttons while simultaneously pushing the power button and that will tell the Mojo to produce a 3V line-level output. Cute.

    In terms of how effective the ROY G. BIV approach to user interface is, well let's just say I didn't think it was even half as bad as John Grandberg of Part-Time Audiophile made it out to be. No offense to John, but yes, it's very quirky, and yes, I could definitely live without all the blinky lights since it makes the unit come off a bit childish. However, after using the Mojo everyday at work, I just got used to it. I mean at the end of the day, one button turned the volume up while the other turned it down. Really, that's about it. In terms of its sampling rate indicator, who cares? Audirvana proudly displays the rate every time I hit play. Seriously, after about one, maybe two minutes, you'll get the hang of it easily. More of an issue for me was the fact that though the Mojo features digital volume control, you can't control it from the keyboard. That does suck. Granted, it is by no means the end of the world, but I do think hands free operation is ideal for a device like the Mojo.

    [​IMG]

    The Mojo has two mini-USB inputs, one labeled for charge and the other for digital input. Yes, you can use the Mojo while it's charging (obviously, you need two USB cables then), but the manual points out that you are going to wait for eternity to see the charge light turn off while shooting metal through it. In general though, you get 10 hours of headbanging for 4 hours of charge. That proved more than sufficient for my daily usage. And as the color scheme shows above, the Mojo supports ever sampling rate known to man, including 768kHz DXD as well as DSD64, DSD128, and DSD512 over DoP. Basically, this little black box covers all your bases and then some. There is even some talk about a future add-on module that will plug into these ports and offer Bluetooth, WiFi, and even a SD card reader to boot. Now that would be killer.

    Tap Out


    [​IMG]

    A lot of Chord's secret sauce revolves around something they call the "Watts Transient Aligned" (WTA) filter. The main thrust behind the development of this custom filter is that our brains, not ears, are really responsible for our hearing, i.e. we hear with our minds. And it turns out that according to Watts, our ears are capable of detecting a 4us timing difference between incoming sounds while the CD format, due to its limited sampling rate (44.1kHz), can only retain down to 22us of timing difference between samples. And this effects how our brain processes the sound our ears collect. Worse still, the typical interpolation filter that is at the heart of every modern DAC can not reconstruct these timing differences accurately due to their limiting processing power and thus, limited number of filter coefficients they can implement. But because Watts harnesses the processing power of a full blown FPGA, he can implement an order of magnitude more taps than a convention FIR filter, which in turn results in a more accurate D-to-A conversion with respect to transients. And so the story goes.

    [​IMG]

    To accomplish all of this magic, the Mojo uses the 28nm Artix-7 chip, Xilinx's most power efficient and lowest cost FPGA to date. Speaking of power efficiency, though the Mojo gets warm during playback, I was always able to pick up my unit after several hours of usage with ease. Even more impressive is the fact that though the Artix-7 has significantly less processing power than the Spartan-6 found in the Hugo, Watts was still able to implement his WTA filter code with very little change. In fact, the code base between the Hugo and Mojo is relatively the same, with some minor changes to the Mojo to accommodate 768kHz sampling rates. The bottom line is that for almost half the price of the Hugo, the Mojo offers the same state-of-the-art design. Nice.

    Time To Get My Mojo On!


    [​IMG]

    Most of my listening sessions were conducted with my Jerry Harvey Audio Roxanne CIEM through my Macbook Pro since that is my daily, on the go setup. Let me get this off my chest right now: the minute I swapped out my Geek Out v1 for the Mojo, my jaw dropped. I could not believe how much better the Mojo sounded over the Geek Out. And I do mean everything sounded better: bass extension, soundstage, imaging, you name it. It completely took me by surprise. It was one of those moments in this great hobby of ours that you rarely have, but always live for. In fact, it sounded so great out of the box, I found myself instantly going back to records that I knew by heart just to confirm what I was hearing was indeed real. So without further ado, here are my listening notes.




    I'm a huge Rammstein fan. YUGE! On November 12, 2010, after 10 years of not setting foot on US soil, Rammstein played to a sold out audience of over 18k people at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was there. It was incredible. I'm still trying to find myself on the Blu-ray they just released of the show! In addition to this live concert set, these crazy Germans also released the mother of all vinyl boxsets that contains their complete discography remastered for black 180g vinyl. My wife bought me this boxset for my Christmas present (she's clearly a keeper) and I have been enjoying it ever since.

    Like so may other US fans, I became a fan of the band when I first heard "Du Hast" on the radio off of 1997's Sehnsucht. Their magnum opus however is probably that record's follow up, 2001's Mutter, which of course I could hum in my sleep at this point. Listening to a needle drop of it on the Mojo was really something magical. Not only are the dedicated vinyl masters an order of magnitude better than their crushed CD counterparts, but sound absolutely glorious on the Mojo. John Darko over on DAR calls the Mojo's sound piquant. I could not agree more, though on this side of the globe I would of said alive. Everything sounds and feels sonically more alive through the Mojo. Listening to "Ich Will," it was impossible not to ride the cymbals with my head, as their reverb sounded airy and real. No muddiness, no sense of awkward treble decay - they just sounded natural. Same is true for the low-end as well, as bass extension is equally ungodly. I really believe that this might be the first time that all of my Roxanne's 12 drivers were actually being put through the ringer! Call me impressed.

    As another test, I threw my Roxanne's into iFi Audio's iDSD for a little ABX comparo (I tried my darnest to level match as best I could). With the Roxanne's at least, I preferred the Mojo almost every time. They both seem to be able to eek out all the little sonic nuances these vinyl masters have to offer, but the Mojo's airy, spacious presentation just put it over the top.




    Staying with our wax motif, I decided to bring out an oldie but goodie, and one that I've used in the past as review source material, a needle drop of Bolt Thrower's 2005 epic Those Once Loyal. It is still my favorite BT record to date and one that continues to get heavy rotation. But for this listening session I decided to switch ears and plug in my HE-1K instead for some more Mojo/iDSD ABX fun. Detail retrieval was still top notch through both, with tracks like "The Killchain" and "Anti-Tank (Dead Armor)" roaring out the gate in piquant fashion. What I found most fascinating however, is that though the iDSD seemed to eek out more mid-bass thump, it was clearly at the sacrifice of clarity. For example, on the track "Entrenched," the immediate groove filled buzz of Ward and Thompson's guitars sounded ostensibly clearer through the Mojo. Same was true with bass, as Jo's presence seemed more integrated into the whole on every track. Don't get me wrong, the iDSD was no slouch either, and with its robust power supply, easily kept up. But through the Mojo, the music sounded bigger, bolder, and again, just more alive.




    As my in-depth review of Dystopia revealed, I think this is the best record Sgt. Mustaine's Lonely Hearts Club Band have released since Youth. Regardless, one of the unfortunate aspects of Megadeth's latest offering is that its production is quite poor, with the whole album pushed to near inches of its sonic life. I am still hoping for a FDR version to be released like the last two, but so far, no dice. Ergo, the album is excellent fodder for the Mojo to gauge how it handles overly compressed material.

    Truth be told, I was a bit fearful that Mojo's infatuation with accuracy and wide soundstage might actually prove to be to its detriment when confronted with low DR material. Let's just say my worries were put to rest rather quickly, as the Mojo sounded remarkably civil despite the fact that the recording I was pumping through it was not. Sure, while listening to "Post-American World" or "Conquer or Die," I cringed at the muddiness of the guitars and the complete lifelessness of the drums. But that was clearly not the Mojo's fault, and in fact, I thought it worked its magic as as much as it could, pulling out Ellefson's bass out of production oblivion as well as giving Adler a little bit more oophm where say the Geek Out would simply sound competent. The Mojo time and time again offered big sound regardless of the source material's production value.

    Conclusion


    [​IMG]
    If you arrived here via Googling and want to dispense with all the above rhetoric, then let me briefly summarize: The Mojo costs $599 and I think its worth every single penny. Sure, its user interface is a bit quirky and even at $599, it's not exactly cheap. But I am confident that with the right pair of cans, you are literally knocking on reference level sound's door with this little black box. Chord folks describe the Mojo as "a real giant slayer," (Slaayyyerr! -Dave) and I can not find any fault in that statement. I honestly think you would have to spend triple to even four times the price to really outshine the Mojo in the sound department, and it is by far the best portable solution I have ever had the pleasure to listen to.

    Downsides? Well, there is no balanced output, but for IEMs and other highly efficient cans that is literally a no big deal. The USB cable they give you is ridiculously small. I know, rough. Oh, and if you are in fact legally color blind, then you might have some trouble with its spectral polychromatic based interface. Actually, come to think of it, after using the Mojo every single day for weeks, probably its biggest downside is this: if you are an audiophile who was lent a Mojo from Chord direct to review, then you eventually have to send it back. Now that is a real bummer. Trust me. I have no qualms whatsoever of awarding Chord's Mojo with our highest accolade, the Medal Ov Honor award. This little black box earned it and then some.

    This review was originally featured on Metal-Fi.
      bidn, x RELIC x and salla45 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Trogdor
      I have a 901 (which I'm actually selling right now). The Mojo sounds significantly better than the 901 as another data point.
      Trogdor, Feb 16, 2016
    3. highfell
      Great review. Thanks for spending the time to provide the background to FPGAs. Mojo is a game changer and worth every penny.
      highfell, Feb 17, 2016
    4. Trogdor
      Thanks! It really is.
      Trogdor, Feb 17, 2016
  10. purk
    A class leading sound quality DAC/AMP in a tiny footprint that work well with wide ranges of headphones.
    Written by purk
    Published Feb 11, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Voicing, musicality, and engagement factor. Work well with low impedance CIEMs all the way to power-hungry Orthos phones. Excellent build quality.
    Cons - Maybe a tad too small?, run warm, and confusing operating LEDs
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    Introduction
     
    As a long time portable audio enthusiast, I was ecstatic when a Chord representative invited me to participate in the Chord Mojo review program. Given that my review has been long overdue, and others have already thoroughly covered the general operation and background of this unit, I've decided to focus this review on the Mojo's ability to drive the various headphones in my extensive collection. I will also touch on the Mojo’s function as a standalone DAC, and how it stacks up to the top-of-the-line DAPs and mid-price desktop amplifiers that I currently enjoy.
     
    Disclaimer:
     
    As part of the U.S.A. review team, the Mojo is free for me to keep. I’m thankful to Chord for this wonderful gesture, but would have paid full price for the review sample given how much joy I received from the Mojo during the past several weeks. Additionally, English is not my native language so I would like to apologize in advance if I'm not clear, or in case of any grammatical error on my part. I would also like to thank my friend and a headfi buddy Mulveling for his assistance on grammatical review/editorial work. 
     
    Reviewer Background & Bias:
     
    I have been heavily into headphone listening since my early teens. My love affair with personal/portable audio began when I received an Aiwa portable cassette tape player as a gift in the early 1990’s.  From that day on, I have been smitten with portable audio and headphones, and in a way I would choose high-end headphones over a high-end speaker system. As you can probably tell, I'm simply a headphone geek at heart.
    My musical preference ranges from the usual audiophile titles to classic rock, jazz, pop, folk, and classical. I am a strong believer that a great sound system should excel at resolving inner musical details, and be able to render them realistically in the soundstage. Soundstage depth and imaging are often more difficult to execute properly compared to the width of soundstage.  When these the aforementioned traits are executed properly, music sounds more “alive” and “real”. I am also a recovered bass head (aren’t we all?), and now have a strong dislike of systems with muddy and overly bloated bass response. My listening preferences lean toward gear with a sense of clarity, neutral tonal balance, and a grain free presentation. For example, I gravitate toward the sound of the Sennheiser HD-800 (with upgraded cable) and Stax SR-009 over lusher sounds like the LCD-3.
     
    Setup:
     
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    Throughout my listening session, the Sony NW-ZX2 & ZX1 were used as a high quality digital transport feeding a digital audio signal to the Mojo's USB input, via the Sony WMC-NWH10 adapter. The music catalog consisted of lossless hi-resolution PCM files (mostly FLAC) ranging from 16-44.1 to 24-192. I also utilized the Astell & Kern AK100 as another transport feeding a digital signal to test the Mojo's optical input. However, I never had the chance to hook up the Mojo via computer, so I will not make any comment regarding the Mojo’s ability to handle the DSD playback.
     
    The sound of Mojo
     
    Generally I find the Mojo to sound exceptionally clean, grain free, and very impressive for a DAC/Amp of this size. The overall tonal balanced is very close to neutral with a slight emphasis toward clarity. Bass hits hard with plenty of articulation and tightness. There is no bloated, over emphasized bass here to speak off. The treble is nicely extended without any apparent harshness that often plagues badly designed amplifiers. Midrange is clean and clear, but could also use a slightly stronger presence. Soundstage is moderate in size with good width and decent depth. Spatial cues are discernable but fall a little short compared to high quality mid-range desktop gear. In short, I find the Mojo to be transparent and musical, with punchy dynamics and a good sense of power behind the sound. In my opinion, the Mojo has been voiced very well and is definitely in line with my sonic preferences.
     
    Pairing:  Mojo + JH13 pro FP
     
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    The Mojo has no problem dealing with easy to drive and efficient portable earphones such as the JH13 pro. Throughout my listening test, I did not detect any unwanted background hiss/noise coming from the pairing -- but perhaps that's possible for someone with younger, more sensitive ears. The Mojo powered the JH13 with plenty of authority at a fidelity level similar to – or slightly better than -- the headphone outputs of my Sony NW-ZX2, Questyle QP-1R, and a loaner FiiO X7. However it falls a little short in soundstage width/depth and imaging when directly compared to the Sony PHA-3’s balanced headphone output. If you already own a top-of-the-line DAP and primary use IEMs, adding the Mojo to your setup may not be a top priority unless you want to drive full size headphones. However, I think the Mojo will be better utilized for someone who would like to significantly enhance the sound from their ipods and smart phones.
     
    Pairing:  Mojo + Sony MDR-Z7
     
    A stock Z7 -- Sony's current flagship -- is a decent sounding closed headphone that's exceptionally well built and comfortable to wear. In stock form, I find the Z7’s bass to be loose -- lacking in focus -- and a bit wooly overall. The bass notes also bleed into the lower midrange, affecting lower treble and overall sense of transparency. This results in a relatively dark sound, with somewhat rolled-off treble. I was able to greatly mitigate these shortcomings thanks to the highly regarded Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable. I'm happy to report that the Mojo is able to drive this Sony headphone very well. In fact, it was able to handle the Z7 with ease; in many ways it bests Sony's very own PHA-3. With the Mojo, the bass is tighter and also better defined. Treble energy is more alive, while midrange is cleaner and more engaging to listen to. The Mojo’s sense of power and toe-tapping dynamics really wake the Z7 up in a good way.
     
    Pairing:  Mojo + Sennheiser HD-800
     
    This Sennheiser dynamic flagship is a favorite of mine. As my go-to critical listening headphone, it's often my first choice to evaluate sources and amplifiers. The HD800 is notoriously difficult to drive properly, and will sound anemic and relatively lifeless out of many amplifiers -- but it is very much capable of sounding world-class with the right amp. The Mojo surprised me at how well it is able to drive the HD800. Out of this little DAC/AMP, the HD800 sounds authoritative and musical. This is impressive, given that I was not able to get the same results out of my trusty Sony PHA-3 and Denon DA-3000USB desktop amplifier. My only nitpick here is that the pairing can get slightly fatiguing on a long listening session, due to a slight emphasis on treble.  This is likely not a fault of the Mojo alone, given that the HD-800 is well known to have an uneven treble response around 6 Khz. The Mojo was nearly able to go toe-to-toe with my Geek Pulse X here, loosing out ever so slightly in width/depth of soundstage and overall sense of refinement.
     
    Pairing:  Mojo + LCD-3
     
    Many thanks to Mr. Joe Saxson of Headphoneaudiophile.com for lending me the LCD-3 to audition with the Chord Mojo. The LCD-3 is a relatively dark sounding high-end headphone with a smooth, liquid presentation. The sound is more forward, with generous bass output compared to the Sennheiser HD800. This headphone is more difficult to drive properly out of most portable devices, and adding the Mojo to the chain makes a world of difference. The Mojo drove the LCD-3 with a good sense of dynamics and plenty of headroom to drive them to unsafe listening levels (if you so choose). Given that the LCD-3 isn't my cup of tea, I'm not going to delve into fine details; suffice it to say that the Mojo in fact works very well with the LCD-3, and earns my strong praise for its ability to drive this headphone.
     
    Pairing:  Mojo + HE1000
     
    The HiFi-Man flagship is very well liked by many, and is one of the best sounding headphones currently available. The sound quality is smooth, warmth, musical, and relatively fatigue free. It has a huge and tall soundstage, with a good sense of depth and solid spatial cues. The bass is generous, with good texture but slightly loose for my tastes. It can also sound a little soft and diffused around the edges; it lacks that sense of "focus" compared to the Sennheiser HD-800. In my experience, the HEK must be paired with a high quality solid state amplifier that is transparent and snappy sounding, with a good amount of driving power to address those shortcomings. The Mojo’s sound signature is just that, and it has mated well indeed with the HE1000. I found the pairing very enjoyable to listen to. I personally recommended the Mojo to any HE1000 owners who are looking for a portable solution to drive the HE1000. 
     
    Comparison with Headamp Pico DAC/Amp
     
    IMG_2204.jpg
     
     
    Back around 2010, Headamp's Pico was the gold-standard for anything portable DAC/AMP listening. The Pico was able to drive wide-range of headphones including my Sennheiser HD-800 surprising well given its minuscule size -- however, these headphones now sound noticeably better and more dynamics on the Mojo. I was not able to identify any area where the Mojo can't outperform the still-impressive sounding Headamp Pico DAC/Amp.  This is quite a treat on the Mojo given that the Pico DAC/Amp has noticeably less driving power & headroom and its internal DAC is only capable of 16/48 signal.  Also the Pico is lacking in features such as a dedicated line out and inability to charge while playing given its $499 pricetag.  Lastly,I have to admit that I still love look & feel of the Pico more but I would take the Mojo over the Pico any day of the week.
     
    Comparison with Sony PHA-3
     
    IMG_1635.jpg
     
     
    The PHA-3 was my reference DAC/AMP unit before the Mojo arrived. The PHA-3 is a liquid, but relative dark sounding amplifier. Its single-ended headphone output doesn't quite measure up to the Mojo's sense of dynamics and resolution. The PHA-3 was able to drive the HD800, LCD-3, and HIFIman well -- however, it lacks a sense of power compared to the Mojo.  Switching to the PHA-3's balanced output, the PHA-3 still lacks a tiny bit in power compared to the Mojo, but it more than makes up for this in its size of soundstage and imaging. There is a better sense of decay, as well as noticeably more weight to the sound, along with more layering. In my opinion, the PHA-3 was able to render a more "refined" presentation, but the MOJO still rules in clarity and punchiness. Given that the Mojo is nearly half the size of the PHA3, and able to operate while charging, I have to tip my hat to the Mojo. Still, the Sony is able to save the day somewhat thanks to its balanced drive amplification.  So how does the two compared as a DAC?  I personally prefer the DAC output on the PHA-3 by just a hair thanks to its better representation of depth cues and musical details within the soundstage..
     
    Comparison with Headamp Pico Power Amplifier
     
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    True to its name, the Pico Power is a portable amplifier with enough power to drive both the Sennheiser HD-800 and HE1000 very well. It provides roughly the same level of performance as the Mojo's amp section, but with slightly better resolution, as well as featuring a dead-neutral sonic character. Therefore I would rate the Power as having a slightly better amplification section overall, but note that having to carry another portable amp (as well as spare 9 volts batteries) along with the Mojo will greatly affect the portability factor, and thus is less than ideal in my mind.  Again, the Mojo's do-it-all appeal win me over the Pico Power here as well.     
     
    Comparison with mid-range desktop amplifiers with DAC options
     
     
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    The Mojo performed admirably against several mid-price desktop DAC/amplifiers in my possession -- namely the Questyle Q192, Headroom Ultra Desktop Amplifier/DAC, and Geekpulse X. Overall, the Mojo fell just short compared to the Q192 at driving the HD800 -- losing out slightly on the depth of the soundstage, bass impact, and overall tonality. The Mojo's presentation is more upfront and neutral compared to the Q192. However, the HD800 tends to thrive with a warmer/bassier amp, and here the Q192 is able to supplement the HD800 better than the Mojo. After all, the Q192 was designed and voiced for the HD800 in mind.    
     
    Next I put the Mojo up against my Geek Pulse X. Yet again, the Mojo didn't get embarrassed next to the more expensive Geek Pulse X. In fact, the Mojo delivers more authoritative bass impact, providing a better sense of speed on both the single-end and balanced outputs with my beloved Sennheiser HD-800. I prefer the Mojo over the Geek Pulse X in single-end operation, but the Pulse X manages to pull away from the Mojo once its balanced headphone output is utilized. With balanced output engaged, the X pulls ahead in soundstage and layering, while also providing a more effortless and laid-back performance. Despite falling a little short compared to these mid-priced desktop units, I still came away extremely impressed with the Mojo's overall sound quality and ability to compete in a higher weight class. The Mojo is the only truly portable DAC/AMP device of this group.  
     
    Sound Quality as a DAC
     
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    In this test, I compared the analog output of the Mojo against that of the Geek Pulse X, Questyle Q192, and Denon 300USB DAC. Again, the Mojo stood up well to the full-sized desktop AMP/DAC competition. Tonality wise, the Mojo is the most neutral of the group, with the Q192 being the most lush. The Mojo managed to edge out the Denon, due to the former's lack of grain. The Mojo's only shortcoming is its inability to match the depth cues and layering portrayed by both the Q192 and Pulse X. Overall, I found these four devices to be relative close in performance, with the Pulse X & Q192 tied for the first place, following by the Mojo and then the Denon. 
     
    Last Words
     
    At $599, the Mojo offers tremendous value for the money, given that it surpasses all of the high-end DAPs and portable AMP/DAC in my collection. It works well with a wide range of different headphones, and has proven to stand up well against the bigger and pricier mid-level desktop models in my possession. Sonically, I find a lot to love and very little to fault with the Mojo. Sure, I wish that the Mojo could be a little more resolving, with a better sense of layering, but this is a whole lot to ask from a portable device roughly the size of a cigarette box! Additionally, it can be used as a DAC to feed your secondary system. I think the magic in the Mojo is its voicing and the tremendous work in its DSP. Chord has done it again, and this little Mojo has earned my strongest recommendation – in my opinion it's become a new benchmark in the portable DAC/Amp segment.
      EagleWings, bidn, chillaxing and 11 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Megs
      Thanks for the excellent review.
      I was wondering can the mojo be used as a DAC only without enabling the amp section?
      Megs, Feb 19, 2016
    3. Peter Hyatt
      English is not your first language?  Bravo!  Excellent writing skills!   
      Thank you for a fascinating review; in particular, the comparisons are helpful.  It may be that the Chord Mojo could displace more than a few  desk top DACS.  
      Peter Hyatt, Feb 20, 2016
    4. AGB100
      We need to recognize the reality of interactions between electronic devices - for example, headcans and DACs. All headphones need to be equalized to the DAC/amp you are using. And arguably, to your ears. The MOJO is voiced a little darkly to match many IEMs for portable use which tend to sound thin, barebones, threadbare. It is astounding for example to compare two I have here, the Shure 535SE and the Audeze LCD-X (the last, a match made in heaven). EQ is required to determine the actual potential performance of the system as a whole. Once EQ'd, one's former headphone preference might be revised. Ditto for DAC. I note that Tyll Hertsens' website has covered this issue two years after I had promoted this technique. There's no such thing as "flat." Not out of the box. Not on this planet.  The Mojo is astonishing as a desktop used with USB Regen and the Australian Curious USB wire; WireWorld cable to LCD-X. Try +2db octave-wide parametric @ 1.5K; +2dB @ 4.7K; +2dB @24Hz. Parametric EQs octave-wide overlap at the top. These EQs are meant only for the system specified. Thanks Purk for the nice review!
      AGB100, Feb 21, 2016