Chord Electronics Mojo - Reviews
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
IMG_1624.jpg
 
 
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:
 
IMG_1636.jpg
 
IMG_1626.jpg
 
 
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
 
IMG_1639.jpg
 
 
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
 
IMG_2201.jpg
 
 
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
 
 
IMG_1653.jpg
 
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
 
IMG_2113.jpg
 
 
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.
Megs
Megs
Thanks for the excellent review.
I was wondering can the mojo be used as a DAC only without enabling the amp section?
Peter Hyatt
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.  
AGB100
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!
Pros: crisp clear sound, NO hiss,easy to handle
Cons: so far no...
I use my SE846 with my new iphone6s plus. Its sound amazing. But last month I bought ibasso Dx80 as a upgrade. But unfortunately sound (quality) from ibasso Dx80 not good as iphone 6s+ .It has huge noticeable hiss (you know SE864 is high sensitivity IEM), also sound signature does not meet my expectation and it does not even close to iphone 6s plus.
 
Base on expert reviews and chord web site information (plus Rob watt presentations in you tube) I turn in to Chord mojo, currently top level DAC in the market (it more affordable than Hugo).But my mind always remind me can you guaranty Mojo sound quality will better than my existing iphone 6s plus. Then I contact chord customer care (info@chordelectronics.co.uk) and they inform me they already got so many award for mojo and I will impressed with it sound quality, also they guaranty there will not be  any hiss.
 
Finally got my chord mojo. Actually together with my iphone 6s plus, my SE846 sound amazing…really amazing…!!!!.It has too may detail in sound. And even very small sound also highly emphasize. It has smooth more comfortable and noticeable Bass(if you like bass come from iphone 6s plus defiantly you will impressed with bass from Mojo as well)  . Mids ,highs and vocals are Cristal clear!!!.LR separation is awesome. Iam really impressed. There is NO ANY KIND OF HISS.
Then I try Mojo with Dx80 and, SE846 sound not better than Mojo with Iphone 6s plus. Also Mojo +Dx80 Bass is less and treble is too high. I mean not well balance.
 
NOTE: For above comparison I use 16 bit/44.1 Khz FLAC music files. Always use SE846 as IEM.
 
Summary:
 
1).Don’t buy dx80 if you have iphone 6s(+).Sound quality from iphone 6s(+) really really good.
 
2).Sound quality (with SE846):
Iphone 6s (+) with Mojo > iphone 6s(+) > ibasso dx80
 
3).For me, Mojo+iphone 6s (+) sound far better than mojo+ibasso dx80  (both with SE846)
 
For your information:
 
1).I order my Chord mojo from moon audio (http://www.moon-audio.com/chord-mojo-dac-headphone-amp.html) because in amazon USA site price was too high. Also chord electronics confirm to me that Moon Audio is official retailer for Mojo. (Also moon audio deliver this item to worldwide)Don’t order this item from ebay, most probably you will get made in china crap!!
Contact email Chord electronics: info@chordelectronics.co.uk
Contact email Moon Audio: sales@moon-audio.com
 
2).I use my iphone 6s plus charger together with ANKER USB cable to charge MOJO. There was no any hum or hiss come from device while it charging!!
 
3).While listing songs, normally you have to put your phone to Airplane mode to avoid RF interference , Otherwise you will hear some kind of hum/buzz sounds time to time and it will provide bad impression to your listening experience.
 
4) Sometimes I have notice small hiss, when use this device while it charging. So Don’t use this device while it charging.
 
5).While it using it will get WARM, As per Chord electronics it is normal.( http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/#nav-faq)
 
Hope above information will help to you.
 
20160204_143701.jpg
 
20160204_143723.jpg
 
20160204_143739.jpg
cuiter23
cuiter23
"For me, Mojo+iphone 6s (+) sound far better than mojo+ibasso dx80"
 
They should sound identical. The ibasso and iphone are both just acting as digital transports. There is no difference from me using a 1990 sandisk player vs a AK380.
Andy Andy
Andy Andy
@cuiter23 There is actually difference in how the signal is being transferred before being process by said DAC, higher quality DAP give a much better, read purer, signal to the Mojo which in turn makes the sound it produces, better.
 
I have tried using iPhone - Hugo and iPhone - CL -dB - Hugo. The difference is quite noticeable
Pros: One of the more enjoyale audio listening experiences short of going to a live concert
Cons: Great when paired with PC with appropriate software and digital output from FIIO X3. Uneven results with iPhone 6 Plus and Camera Connecting Kit
I had the opportunity to spend almost three weeks with the Chord Mojo.  When it locked on to a signal with my FIIO X3 units (Gen I and Gen II) I experienced a smooth, glitch free audio experience.  Both through headphones and "line out usage" it was non fatiguing and quite musical.  It did not matter what musical material was utilized, Jazz, Classical, Rock....it all sounded great.  With the X3II, I streamed both FLAC and DSD files quite nicely.
 
With this unit, I quickly moved beyond the "analytical approach" of listening to various instruments to see how well they were defined.  And stopped worrying about the size of the image.  Instead, I was captivated by listening to music.
 
When locked on to music on the PC using WASAPI outputs (that and ASIO are the preferred settings in JRiver, my primary audio app), the sound was also very good. It worked equally well with FLAC and DSD files with JRiver.   With videos, for some files I had to drop down to direct sound or other windows drivers to maintain an uninterrupted audio stream.  For movies that really did not matter as much.  I think the issue is that some of my video conversions are fairly old and not particularly well done. I made some of the conversions when one had to worry about the sync between audio and video (yes I date mysellf).  I mainly listened to my dub of  "Let it Be" on an airplane flight.  That particular video was dubbed from my old Laserdisc.   I was happy to have the file in the first place.
 
With the iphone, I used the Apple branded Camera Connecting Kit.  This was reliable for FLAC and DSD files using the nPlayer app.  The signal was easily interrupted when playing Podcasts, both through the Apple podcast app and through nPlayer.  So I would caution potential buyers that if the primary target is the iphone that one should not necessarily expect a glitch free experience.
 
The unit seemed to sail through various IEM impedances with no worries.
 
I was happy to have tested this unit and would seriously consider purchasing one.  My only reservation is that the Oppo HA-2 seems to be designed specfically for iphone usage and for me that would be a potential competitive consideration.
 
DIsclosure:  When this review was written I was affiliated with JRiver.  I no longer am affiliated with JRiver,; but I still think JRiver is a good choice for connecting to external DAC units.
 
I was a JRiver user before I became affiliated with JRiver.    JRiver  happens to be a good piece of software for feeding DSD over USB on a PC.  SInce one of my targets was to test DSD on the unit from a PC, it made sense to use that product.  But it is fair to note the potential bias at that point in time.
salla45
salla45
sums it up; "With this unit, I quickly moved beyond the "analytical approach" of listening to various instruments to see how well they were defined.  And stopped worrying about the size of the image.  Instead, I was captivated by listening to music."
Pros: Performance well beyond what it’s size and price would suggest
Cons: Accessories and documentation could be improved
Equipment Used
 
Source:
MacBook Air running Tidal, Audirvana +, Amarra 3 and Amarra for Tidal
MacBook Pro running Tidal
Samsung Note 4 running USB Audio Player Pro
 
DAC’s:
Schiit Bifrost Multibit
 
Headphone Amp:
Schiit Asgard 2
 
Headphones:
AudioQuest NightHawk
Sony MDR-Z7
Sennheiser HD650
Sennheiser HD598
KEF M500
V-Moda XS
RHA MA-750i
 
Disclaimer
 
I was picked as part of Chord’s Canadian review tour. Outside of being provided a review unit for a week and shipping costs, I was in no way compensated for writing this review. After the review unit shipped to the next in line I found a (somewhat) local dealer and purchased my own Mojo at the retailer's pricing.
 
About Me
 
I’m a 45 year old UX/UI designer at a small mobile gaming company. I’ve been involved in music and audio most of my life though. Growing up I played many instruments, mainly cello and later bass guitar. In my mid teens I discovered audio. Over the years following I spent quite a bit of time hanging around audio shops, I even had brief stints working in a couple. In my early 20’s I trained as an audio engineer but instead of getting a job in the music industry I moved to the audio industry working for a small speaker manufacturer. In a work lull in the late 90’s I ended up taking a 3D animation course which has evolved into my current job. After the course and meeting my wife, audio fell off the radar for a few years until in 2002 I discovered Head-Fi and along with it a preference for high-end headphones over speakers. I’ve been hanging around here ever since.
 
Sonic Preferences
 
I value all aspects of audio reproduction but I’ll admit certain aspects take precedence over others. While soundstage is important I’ll give up width and depth for well defined imaging. I love hearing all the little details in a recording but not at the expense of good tonality or a skewed frequency response. That said, I tend to lean towards warmer sounding gear because I’m one of those that feels a good portion of high-end phones lack enough bass to give music its proper foundation. I also tend to towards warmer gear because I’m sensitive to vocal sibilance. I don’t necessarily mind treble as long as it’s reproduced cleanly, unfortunately that seems to be a hard find.
 
Introduction
 
I’ll make a confession, I don’t really listen to music on the go anymore. On the rare occasion I do I’ll listen straight out of my phone. So then why did I want to audition the Mojo? It’s about versatility. While I mainly listen at home I’ve always liked having the flexibility to listen anywhere in the house. Unfortunately that typically means either compromises in sound quality or ease of use.
 
I had pretty much given up on the idea of a one size fits all type of product so when Schiit announced the Bifrost Multibit I decided to replace my Resonessence Concero HP with that and an Asgard 2 amp with the idea that I’d find a second, more portable solution down the road. And then a few weeks after I got the Schiit stack Chord announced the Mojo which piqued my interest, although somewhat skeptically given the hype they produced with their “The Game Will Change” tagline used to advertise prior to the release event, after all, it’s just a reasonably priced portable DAC/Amp. Right?
 
Mojo_01.jpg
 
Design Philosophy
 
So what makes the Mojo different? Over three years ago Chord got the idea to make a cigarette package sized portable DAC/Amp that could be used with a wide range of devices and have similar performance to the larger Hugo but at a budget price. It’s taken until now for them to realize the product because the tech wasn’t there until recently. That’s because Chord doesn’t use readily available off the shelf DAC chips, instead, Rob Watts, Chord’s DAC designer, uses field-programmable gate array’s, or FPGA’s, to program his own. It wasn’t until the latest generation Xilinx Artix 15T 28nM FPGA offered the performance and low power to achieve their goal.
 
So why does Chord design their own DAC’s instead of using readily available off the shelf DAC’s? That’s because Rob feels the most important aspect of recreating the digital signal is the timing of transients which can not only have an effect on the starting and stopping of notes but also can have an effect on timbre, pitch and soundstage. Over the shelf DAC’s just don’t have the processing power to deal with this correctly so Rob turned to using FPGA’s to design his own.
 
It would take a lot more space to delve into this subject further and I’ll admit, I don’t fully understand all the technicalities but luckily Chord has been highly engaged with the Head-Fi community and they are quite open and helpful with regards to explaining their designs. There is a plethora of information within the Mojo thread as well as the Hugo and Dave threads here on Head-Fi.
 
Packaging & Accessories
 
The packaging for the Mojo is both elegant and simple. A white box with the Mojo inside surrounded by foam. Take the Mojo out and underneath there’s a short micro USB to USB cable. That’s it. Although a full manual  is not included one can be downloaded from Chord’s website. The inner box does have useful information on each of its faces to help the new owner get up and running though. I commend this approach as it saves paper that typically end ends up in drawer or the waste bin.
 
The short micro USB to USB cord is a useful addition but as a product designed for use with many different portable devices I would have liked to have seen a few other cables included and a charger wouldn’t hurt either. I understand it would affect costs and it would be hard to cover everyone’s potential needs. It would then also require larger and different packaging for different countries but offering something like this might alleviate a lot of anxiety like has been seen in the forums from some users. Maybe offering a separate official accessories package would be something for Chord to think about.
 
Connectivity
 
Despite the Mojo’s diminutive size it offers numerous input/output options. With a micro USB input, a separate micro USB charging port as well as a coaxial and an optical input on one end along with dual ⅛” outputs on the other it makes for a very versatile product.
 
The Mojo’s micro USB input allows it to not only be connected to a computer but with the proper cabling (and in some cases software) it can also be used with DAP’s, Android and iDevices. Or if you prefer, us the coaxial or optical out of a computer or DAP to connect to the Mojo. It can even be used with a separate amp as a DAC only with a 3V line output when both the volume buttons are held down when turning the unit on. That opens a whole other world of possibilities of it being used in speaker setup.
 
The micro USB charging port allows the Mojo to be used with any USB style charger provided it puts out at least 1 amp, that means in theory it can be charged from either the USB port of a computer or any USB charger provided with a phone, tablet and other electronic device provided it meets the 1 amp requirement.
 
Physical Design and Usability
 
The artist in me loves quirky and unique designs so I’m rather taken with the Mojo’s colored glowing balls and sculpted metal curves. It’s tiny yet it’s weight gives it substantiality. Not everyone will like this design but I personally love the idea of pushing the style boundaries.
 
The physical design isn’t just about looks either, the clever design of the glass ball buttons serve double duty with the on/off switch changing color to indicate sampling rate and the volume up/down buttons changing color to give a visual indication of volume level. There’s a key to the sampling rate colors on one of the panels of the inside box. Unfortunately there’s no such explanation on the box for the volume buttons. It is described in the downloadable manual but as the concept is rather unique it would be nice to see more of a description on the box like the sampling rate. Maybe Chord could make the QR code on one end of the box smaller to accommodate this information?
 
There’s also a small LED under the charging USB jack that changes color to indicate battery level. Unfortunately the placement of this light can be a challenge for the user because it’s difficult to see when a cable is plugged in.
 
Overall though, everything is clearly labeled making the Mojo a fairly simple and straightforward device to use.
 
Sound
 
The tour Mojo was shipped to my work and I was so eager to try it I had to set it up right away. I don’t have an elaborate work setup anymore, there’s just too many distractions, so I’ve ended up using a pair of VModa XS straight from my MacBook Pro. It was this setup that I first heard the Mojo in. Of course nothing ever runs smoothly, the included short cord only intermittently worked and in my eagerness I forgot to make sure the volume was turned down so I nearly blew my eardrums out when the first note played. After adjusting the volume and finding a position the cable would work I ended up only having a few minutes of listening time but the XS sounded like a new headphone. Better balanced yet punchier and more dynamic sounding with a greater sense of depth to the music. The few initial glitches aside, the Mojo made a very good first impression indeed.
 
At home using my MacBook Air and AudioQuest NightHawks the Mojo has continued to make a good impression. The sound coming from the Mojo defies what one would expect given its diminutive size and price. It has an uncanny ability of allowing you to hear further into a recording.
 
I’ve read various people claim the Hugo was too bright for them so I was worried Chord might be trying to use the trick of accentuating treble to give the illusion of increased detail. This is definitely not the case with the Mojo. I’m incredibly sensitive to treble, especially sibilance, and the Mojo has been a joy in this regard. The treble is very clean and refined with good presence and no undue emphasis or smearing. In fact this is a common theme throughout the whole frequency spectrum. The Mojo isn’t the weightiest I’ve heard, nor is it the lushest but it strikes an excellent balance without any one frequency range drawing attention to itself. It’s tight and punchy yet allows the listener to hear the decay of instruments without feeling like it either lingers or is cut short.
 
The soundstage isn’t overly wide but there is more depth than I’ve been accustomed to. Where the Mojo really excels though, is in it’s ability to give each instrument it’s own space. It’s this ability to pull apart a recording and let me see further into it that has really grabbed me. It becomes easier to delineate multiple overlapping tracks and hear more subtle detail from those tracks. Things like slight tonal shifts in an instrument, the emotion and expression a musician plays with, or the simple grit of rosin on a bow become more apparent.
 
In particular, live recordings seem to benefit from this ability to separate instruments because the subtle ambient cues that feed the illusion of being in the recording space are more apparent. On Iron & Wine’s “Live At Wheaton College” recording it’s just Sam Beam with his acoustic guitar. It’s more intimate than other live recordings I’ve heard from him and in numerous parts there is some nice dialogue with the audience. With the Mojo the various voices in the audience are clearer and their placement better defined. The greater overall depth and separation gives a much better sense of the size of the chapel the concert took place in than I’ve heard before. The same can be said for the Cowboy Junkies “Live At The Ark” recording. The music itself is great but it’s the exchanges with the audience that give such a great sense of being there and the Mojo only helps augment that.
 
Denser and dynamic recordings like *Shels “Plains of the Purple Buffalo” or Dadawa’s “Sister Drum” also benefit. In both these albums there are tracks that go from quiet to loud in an instant. The massed instruments and vocals that come in with this dynamic shift can sound compressed or become a wall of sound where it’s hard to distinguish the instruments and vocals. The Mojo handles these types of dynamic shifts with ease and with its ability to separate tracks the overall picture becomes easier to discern.
 
This sense of ease was apparent with all the different headphones I used the Mojo with. The Sennheiser HD650 is probably the most difficult to drive headphone I had on hand but because of the HD650’s clamping force and my TMJ I can only wear them for a few minutes at time. I did try a few recording at different times though and the HD650’s seemed perfectly happy being fed by the Mojo. The same goes for the others like the KEF M500, Sennheiser HD598 and the Sony MDR-Z7 with no hiss from the lower impedance RHA MA-750i IEM’s. Like the V-Moda XS I first used, all these headphones seem get taken to another level when used the Mojo.  
 
Samsung Note 4
 
Connecting the Mojo to my Samsung Note 4 via a generic OTG cable I got off Amazon yielded some interesting results. I used Tidal via USB Audio Player Pro which took a little bit of tweaking to get working but when I did I found I could hear little difference between this setup and that of MacBook Air playing Tidal. If push came to shove I’d say the Note 4 setup is a bit smoother on top.
 
I’d still put Tidal via Amarra, Amarra 3 and Audirvana + from the Air a slight step up on Tidal alone but it’s interesting that Tidal alone sounded almost the same out of both the Air and Note 4. This is precisely what I’ve found compromised in other portable solutions, there’s always been a distinct drop in quality when using something other than my computer. It’s a huge plus that I now feel like I can move around the house without sacrificing anything.
 
With the AudioQuest Jitterbug
 
When I bought my own Mojo I also bought a Jitterbug to try. I’ve done a bit of back and forth and also left it in for a while then took it out. I’d say there is a difference but it’s hard to describe. Things felt slightly more defined but thinner with an edge introduced that I found fatiguing. Every time I switched back to the Mojo alone there was a sense of relief, the sound a bit fuller and smoother. After a couple of weeks I just took the Jitterbug out altogether and put in a drawer.
 
Mojo_02.jpg
 
Comparison To Schiit Bifrost Multibit & Asgard 2 Combo
 
The Schiit Bifrost Multibit and Asgard 2 combo offers a very different perspective on the music than the Mojo. The Schiit stack has a lusher, smoother and weightier sound but instruments are more congealed. What seems to be a constant in my notes is the Schiit stack seemed overly smoothed over with a dullness to the sound. It lacks the dynamic ability, depth and definition as well as the transparency of the Mojo.
 
Which one prefers will likely come down to priorities. That said, I’ve typically always leaned towards the lusher, weightier sound even at the expense of detail but in this case I felt the Mojo was more correct and a clear step up with it’s ability to see further into recordings in what feels like a very natural manner. Add into that the Mojo’s tiny footprint and it’s versatility and it seemed like a no brainer to sell the Schiit gear and replace it with my own Mojo (which I purchased the day after I sent the review unit on the next in line).
 
Conclusion
 
Every now and then a product comes on the market that redefines the price to performance ratio and becomes a classic. The original NAD 3020 integrated amplifier would be one such product that immediately comes to mind. It’s hard not to think the versatile Mojo, with the level of sound & build quality it has at a reasonable price, is destined to be another of those rare, market redefining classics.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Chord charged double or more for the Mojo it would still sell like hotcakes and it would still receive accolades from the press. My hat goes off to the team at Chord for sticking to their plan and making the Mojo accessible to a much broader audience. Like the 3020, for many the Mojo may be all the DAC and headphone amp they ever need. It’s small enough and versatile enough to be used in just about any situation while sounding so good I’d expect one would have to pay a significant amount more to get better.
Deftone
Deftone
great review
feelingears
feelingears
Nice to get more comparative opinions on Chord's gear since the philosophy and chip/filter design are similar across their latest offerings. Because the Mojo is about portability, I'm probably more interested in the 2Qute and it's supposed to be very similar. Thanks. 
almarti
almarti
@elnero I am in the decision to sell my Modi 2 + Asgard 2 combo paired with HD600. My Mojo just arrived and I like more Mojo sound. Do you recommend me the sale? Additionally, I will keep HD600 but do you think Mojo will pair for Ether Flow cans? Thanks in advance. Best review I have ever read. Congratulations! 
Pros: Compact size, Good Dac capabilty.
Cons: Poor bundle, not punchy bass, Doesn't charge when using.
Introduction 
 
First of all I would like to thanks Chord to have lend me the Mojo for a few weeks, and especialy their Belgium's interlocutor Bertrand :) 
I'm not an experimented audiophile, so my review will be brief.
I'll not describe the Mojo once again, since all the reviewers before me have done very well (thanks to all of them). 
I will just notice once again that the bundle is very poor: Just a short USB cable. No Iphone cable nor mini jack, to resume : pitiful.
 
The aim 
 
The Mojo is a very versatil small DAC/Amp to use on the go. Due to all his connectivity you can use it with a laptop, a smartphone, or even a DAP.
His small size allows you to easily put it in your pocket with your smartphone. 
I try some Dac/amp with my Iphone, finally I think the Mojo is one of the most convenient (as the Oppo HA-2 who which is a good one too). 
With the Mojo you have a powerfull tool for listening streaming music through a smartphone.
 
The sound
 
The Dac part is very accurate, very natural, without any coloration.
Another positive point is the soundwise, greatly open for a mobile joy like the Mojo :wink: 
I was just disappointed with the bass, it is not as punchy as ohter Dac/amp. 
It sounds like if there were no subbass.
 
USB Charge 
 
First time I used the Mojo on my laptop through USB port, I was suprised that it turns off :xf_eek: 
Actually, there are two micro USB ports : An input one and a charging one.
So if you want to charge the Mojo while listening music you have to plug a second USB cable in the charging port.
The Mojo user manual doesn't recommend to charge while listening because the Mojo may warm a bit.
That's why I found the Mojo less convenient than other models.
 
Conclusion
 
Despite some small inconveniences, the Mojo is a very small and powerfull Dac/amp with an accurate and natural sound. 
To use with a smartphone for streaming HI-Rez it is currently one of the best.
Ra97oR
Ra97oR
It charges just fine when you are using it, I have ran my Mojo overnight on Hi-Res music while charging and it did just fine, no overheating, nothing. Nor charging the Mojo while listening induces any noise.

Not a real issue.
salla45
salla45
Sorry, but IMO it doesn't seem like you've really got to grips what this beauty can do for your soul. Where's the passion? The mojo literally has me dancing for joy when I listen. More often than not I'm moved to tears. It's more like you're reviewing a dishwasher or a hairdrier. Nice 1.
tetsuomastermai
tetsuomastermai
@Ra97oR: My Mojo was already overheating just used and not in charging.
And plug an usb input and an usb charging at the same time for one device is an inconvenient for me for a nomad use.
 
@salla45: You got it, it was not a dream for me...
Despite that, it has gave a good result for an electronic can :wink:
Pros: The obvious: Truly portable, very durable, largely plug-and-play, has a very grunty amp compared to most DAPs, and it sounds extremely clear.
Cons: Unconventional controls and separate charging and data USB ports.
Introduction

I'm not really the guy to go to if you want a detailed comparison of the Schiit Yggdrasil versus something from TotalDAC or MSB, or if you want to know how I think the SR-009 stacks up against the HE-1000 or AB-1266, or if I think a coat hanger is the ultimate cable. I have far more pedestrian budgets and tastes. My experience with high-end audio is limited to a handful of portable sources, a few headphones, and a couple of misadventures with ASUS sound cards before I learned enough to realize they were ripoffs. I started out looking for a way to get ahead in games and my interest in audio equipment for other purposes, like music, just slowly evolved out of that. For headphones, I started with a Steelseries 7H USB headset, then moved up to an Audio Technica ATH-AD700, then some Chinese production run K702s, and now I use grill-modded HiFiMan HE-560s. For sources, I started with a lowly ASUS Xonar U3, then upgraded to a Republic of Gamers series Xonar Phoebus, then a FiiO X5, and now, at long last, I have acquired arguably my first "serious" source in the Chord Mojo. I have, at least, heard a number of other headphones, including T90s and T70Ps, and a Grado SR80, probably an SR80i. I have also seen the (former) top of the portable audio mountain when I listened to an Astell & Kern AK240. So I've made my share of mistakes, learned from them, done a lot of reading and looked at a lot of comparisons. Most of my audio source files are 44.1 or 48 KHz FLACs or 320 KBPS MP3s, although I've tried sample DSDs before and found very small improvements with them. My preferred music player is, of course, Foobar2000. I hope that is sufficient for this review.


Build Quality

So, to me, the most striking thing about the Chord Mojo is it's built like it could survive a confrontation with a tank. Like all other Chord products I know of, its case is machined from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum, so I feel like I could bash someone's skull in with it, wipe the blood off, then listen to Beethoven while flicking a used smoke onto the corpse. It's about twice as heavy as it looks, and the frame is so no-******** it won't even retain your fingerprints, which makes it harder to trace back to you after the deed is done. Only issue is the weird-looking balls are frosted glass, which kinda means you can't use that side to do it without risking damage to the device, although shattering the glass would at least cut up the victim some, so props for that. Still, they look really cool in the dark, kinda like Splinter Cell goggles, staring at you out of the blackness. (Then again, when it warms up with use, it probably shows up on thermal imaging, so that's a bit of a drag.)

9/10, great stealth action murder weapon, slightly handicapped by pretty glowballs.


Ease of Use

The Mojo's color-coded control setup takes some getting used to, and the fact that you have to either leave it plugged into a power source or constantly recharge it every few hours at all times in a stationary rig because it won't recharge over the data input cable is very annoying. However, it's driverless anywhere outside of Windows and supports both USB OTG and S/PDIF over coaxial or optical, giving you a wide range of options. It also auto-adjusts to different file formats and changes colors to indicate which sample rate the file it's playing is, although I'm finding this particular feature is a little picky about when it wants to work on Windows 8, at least with Foobar2000. You need to configure FB2K properly. But okay, fine, I won't hold that against Chord, it's an issue with Foobar. Don't take this the wrong way: The device works fine, it just needs jiggering to reach peak performance, and it still sounds great without optimization, and is pretty plug-and-play aside from these quibbles, which are nothing people who want the advanced features aren't familiar with anyway. Also: If you need to keep this thing seated on your desk, it has some small rubber feet to stop it from sliding around, unlike some other portable DAC/amps.

8/10, serves as a good backup for an AK-47 if you've lost your Glock.


Performance

Sound quality? Well...it sounds better than my FiiO X5 Gen I, I guess? Captain Obvious to the rescue. I don't really have anything around the same price range to compare it to, but I have K702s and grill-modded HE-560s on hand to test it out. It drives the HE-560s nicely, which the X5 didn't really do all that well, and there's a bit more detail. I won't dazzle people here with starry eyes and flowing praises of the Mojo's audio quality, likening it to a level of audio nirvana as though the universe itself opened up to reveal its inner workings to me: It's an incremental improvement over a device which costs about a third as much these days and works on its own. But the improvements ARE still nice. It's surprisingly inoffensive for being as detailed as it is, and the sound is more "fluid." For instance, when the recording has sounds that move around the head, they don't "jump" from point to point, but rather "flow" there, which is very nice. There's more rumble and impact at the low end, too. Definitely doesn't strike me as a bass-light/clinical source like some say the Hugo is. The sound is "thicker" than the X5 in a pleasing way, which is probably why people say these things sound somewhat tubey. Again: Not enough experience to elaborate on that. Even the K702s, often criticized for being overly analytical and a bit piercing, sound inoffensive and pleasant on these without losing any detail. (I am still trying to figure out how it sounds during the process of skull-crushing. Will have to get back to you on that later.) I ran it through "The Passing" in L4D2 with my K702s to test its soundstage width and imaging and found it to be comparable to the X5 it replaced, but with a better sense of verticality, which is very important in a game like L4D2.

Also of note here is the amplifier, which is insanely powerful for a portable device. It drives the HE-560s to my normal (Admittedly somewhat low) listening levels at its "orange" gain setting, with volume/amplification being, in order: Red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, darker blue, blue, violet, pink-purple, salmon pink, all at about two steps each, and then a bunch of extra multicolored one-step gain settings above it for absolute max volume. At that setting, I don't need to have the HE-560s on my head to hear them clearly. They're LOUD at about a foot away. HE-560s. Planar magnetics. Not even one of the most efficient planars, either. I'm actually afraid that gain setting will destroy the headphones if used. That's nuts. Maybe there are better amps out there but anyone telling you the Mojo's amp is "weak" in general is completely bonkers, so use the Mojo for one of its obvious intended purposes and give 'em some more bonks on the head to make a clean break of things.

9/10, lives up to its reputation as long as you have realistic expectations and a body bag or two.


Value

I've heard the vaunted $2,500 AK240 before and came away with about the same general impression of it being an incremental improvement over a much cheaper player, except I would never spend over two grand extra to get that additional layer of detail. These sound clearer and more well-rounded for considerably less, and some reviews I've seen rate this thing as better-sounding than even the $3,500 AK380, so when put into that context, the Mojo is definitely a bargain. (Some other people seem to prefer the AK380, though, so the differences between them obviously aren't huge, but...the differences between them aren't huge. It's just one is $600 and the other is the price of a used car.) I would rate what I remember of the AK240 as around a 5-15% improvement in clarity, and the Mojo around a 10-20% improvement in clarity and a 20-30% improvement in "fluidity" and richness. So I wouldn't really say the incremental improvement in detail from the X5 is so much a knock on the Mojo as it is a feather in FiiO's cap: They make good ****. I wouldn't be surprised if the upcoming dual-AK4490-based Q5 delivers a lot of the performance of the Mojo or AK380 at a considerably lower price point, just because if anyone can do it, FiiO can. That being said, the FiiO X5 feels like a toy compared to this thing, and it's NOT a toy, it's pretty sturdy. Chord clearly has an edge in manufacturing quality and likely long-term durability which is worth factoring into the price as well. On top of that, the FPGA chip in this DAC/amp can have its functionality altered over time and already supports placebo-level sample rates in both PCM and DSD formats, so it's got long legs if you don't suffer from upgraditus. (Arguably, if you have it, purchasing this thing can CURE it, so contact an audiophile medical specialist near you for more details.) All in all, I don't regret getting the Mojo. I don't see myself replacing it for the foreseeable future, either for a stationary OR portable setup. It does everything very well and it doesn't require you to bankrupt half of a Third World country to afford it, either, although you could probably use it to defend yourself in one. Combined with a cheap data carrier such as the FiiO X5 or X5 Gen II via coax, the Mojo offers at the very least Astell & Kern flagship performance and storage capacity at a sub-megabuck price point.

10/10, would bludgeon Astell & Kern DAPs to death from the shadows again.


Verdict

The key to understanding the meaning of life it ain't, but most people would be hard-pressed to justify getting anything more expensive as a portable DAC/amp. With the recent trend towards cheaper, more convenient portable audio sources, I expect that something which rivals the Mojo at a lower price isn't too far off, but I'm pretty sure the Mojo will stay relevant quite a bit longer, especially since muggers who want it will get it...right in the face.

9/10, a versatile DAC/amp/weapon which has some annoying quirks but offers noticeable gains over anything cheaper and embarrasses a lot of more expensive portable audio sources.
Daeder
Daeder
I like your take on the Chord Mojo. Pretty hilarious read as well.
 
Hoping to get the Mojo in the coming weeks, and will also use it with HE-560.
Pros: Fantastic sound, value, design, build
Cons: None that I could find at this price/performance
image.jpg
Thanks to Chord electric for giving me a chance to experience your newest product "Mojo". All tests and critical listening sessions were done with the helps of MDR-Z7, MDR-SA5000, Fostex TH900, and 24/96 files, 16/44.1 files.

First of all, the mojo arrives In a very small box, probably as small as an iPhone box. The Mojo itself is very small and compact. Though, there is a weighty feeling while holding it in my hand. The feeling that would give me the impression " wow, small but weighty, definitely good stuff".

Looking at it, the whole body is with aluminum and feel cold to the touch. The 3 matted glass balls look so pretty. It reminds me of the game that I used to play when I was a little kid. I immediately tried to roll it around....and it rolls "lol". I was so silly to even try it. Why ? I have no clues, but it was fun and made me laugh. Press on it for functions of course !

How do I like it ? 10/10 for design and feels. I rated it so high because of how little, compact, small, cute...whatever....it has the feeling of a solid device, high-end appearances...and definitely not 600$ feeling. The silly balls, and the colorful display on it is enough to bring out the little kid in me. It feels like twice it pricing right at the moment when counted the audio performance and power output. However the cons are the lacks of Analog inputs or line-out. Using it while charging is possible, but it heats up by a little bit and keep me cozy !

There are 10 different colors on the LED. The volume output is accordingly displayed by the color. At 30-50% driving my Z7 is already too loud for me and depend on the tracks that I listen to. I can still tell that it has a lot more power in reserves.

image.jpg


In about 10 minutes or so, I could feel the device is warmed up. I thought of why it was made by aluminum and smiled again. Yeah, silly me, but then the matte though, it really easily catching scratches as some people mentioned, but who cares ? It already look and perform twice it cost.

Using stock Sony ZX2 data cables and zx2 as a source. Tossing CD quality into it and some 24/96 high-reds tracks. I smiled again. It greets me with the Punchy and powerful bass, the airiness and resolutions of mid and treble, hence the soundstage is Immersive and expansive. The depth of each instrument tones, and the body is very balanced, or too well balanced. The tonal body is thick enough to feel authentic and that realism inner fidelity, yet the decay and depth is just right that I can tell while ZX2 does emphasize onto warmer and thicker tonal body and decay, the Mojo actually lean toward "neutral, but organic and musical" sound signature. The feeling between ZX2 and Mojo is clear using standard connection

image.jpg


1/ Mojo tends toward clarity, airiness, while having enough tonal body for realism and fun. It remains neutral and flat though, but definitely not sterile or boring, or clinical. Let's say Mojo is Neutral with excellent clarity and enough fun and realism to keep one on edge, and definitely at the price of $599, if you are an audiophiles or music lover, you would immediately make the purchase :). Even though I don't have that chance to have listened and experienced that many portable DAPs and amps, I know good sounds when I hear it, and I don't even think there is any other sub 600$ device that can and will offer this kind of sound signature from the Mojo. The feeling: Jaw drops ($600?), and feet starting to dance with a smile

2/ ZX2 tends toward musical and realism and retrieves extra definitions. It definitely feels more emphasizes onto inner energy, it appears with thicker tonal body and longer decay. The trebles in the ZX2 is with better extensions, though harsher than Mojo. The feeling: Melt my heart, close my eyes, relax with a smile.

I hope it was enough to describe the sound signature between these two devices: zx2 and mojo.


Zx2 with TRRS cables from here for comparison:

Soundstage is the most noticeable differences from Mojo vs Zx2 with TRRS output. In some recording on modern pop, and I could hear singer being from the left to the back to the right to the front and to the left again very clearly on ZX2. While on Mojo it would rendered to be from the left to the left-back to the right-back to the right and to the right-front then to the left front. Let's say on the ZX2, the mix goes like spherical 360 degree where as Mojo would do more of an X-scape. So ZX2 has larger further, fuller, more surrounded rendering. Pictures below are for references only. It took me a long while and countless critical listening sessions on high-res....A/B to really be able to confirm it.

image.jpg
image.jpg

Zx2 retrieves better nuances and minutes details than Mojo across the whole spectrum. More like the tonal body, extensions, decays, and reverbs of which were masterfully mixed in the track. This is which gives off the "emotions within the tones/beats/music". Where as Mojo would be a clean devices with fun and musical sound signature, but yet lacking just that little bit of the so called "emotions in the tones/beats/music" VS Zx2. I would say Mojo is (high-fidelity sounds) and ZX2 is (music as intended by the artist). Do not mistake it here as Mojo is a "very capable devices to retrieve nuances details", kindly reminds you that it edges out on Zx2 out of the box (which means no upgrade cables or TRRS on Zx2)

Mojo does has a very clean and clear background, and I think it beats ZX2 in this department. Because Zx2 while having a very fine level of details, tonal body and realism, the trebles and highs are a little bit harsher and sharper. Some people may prefer it this way as it is more detailed and more realistic as live cymbals, bells, brass...etc has this brightness. Mojo does play it out very nicely, but is timed for shorter notes being and cleaner decays. Once again, Mojo is more relax than Zx2 here

Let's take a look at the pros and cons on each:
image.jpg

1/ Mojo pros: native DSD, compact, pretty to look at, fun balls to play with, colorful to bring out the kid from within anyone, powerful to drive most headphones without worrying. Price...even if you add an older smartphone to transport !
Mojo cons: only digital amp, and no analog amping, no balanced output..

2/ zx2 pros: DAP, with lot of features, balanced TRRS out or standard TRS, also compact
Zx2 cons: no native DSD, TRRS is a PITA to utilize and make uses, lower power output than Mojo, can only drive limited headphones

Considerations based on different circumstances

1/ Mojo vs ZX2 stock (stock player app and Sound adjustment app + TRS out): Mojo edges out on almost everything, especially the tighter bass, snappy+airy trebles, better separations and less congested

2/ Mojo vs ZX2 (stock app player with sound adjustment disabled +TRS out): both stands toes to toes with each offer different sound signatures and upon personal preferences to decide. Zx2 has warmer feeling, splashier trebles but harsher where as Mojo has that Clean and airy feeling with smoother trebles.

3/ Mojo vs Zx2 (stock app, sound adjustment disabled, TRRS): ZX2 slightly edges out on impressions of layering, clarity, spaciousness, separations, sub-bass with better depth and definitions, more impactful tonal body, brighter and splashier trebles extensions+ resolutions and tonal body accuracy overall. Here is the maximum potential of Zx2, and I think it would still come down to a person preferences. Here, mojo feels smoother warmer and more musical as the resolutions/clarity/trebles and extensions is a bit toned down or a step back from Zx2, where as Zx2 feel impactful with more of a little bit of everything, but too detailed on splashy trebles and it extensions and clarity. I can see who is addicted to separations, clarity, resolutions, and splashy trebles definitions would prefer Zx2 and call it for being a better device that express slightly better "high-end" music ? However, you will need quality TRRS cables. For the majority who would love music, sit back, and relax, they would still pick Mojo as it is very fun, detailed, punchy, well controlled, smoother and musical.

Conclusions: these are both very good device and are both at excellent price/performance values. Under normal circumstances Mojo would edge out in usability, friendly, power and quality sounds. Under special circumstances as ZX2 with the uses of TRRS (which is a PITA to seek for or DIY), then Zx2 would edge out slightly over-all, and that is to put aside all other things, but only taking into account of tonal body and inner fidelity (energy within each tone beat). Zx2 is also a standalone DAP with micro SD slot, android OS, long battery life....but lack of power for power hungry headphones

If time turned back, I would pick Mojo, and skip all the PITA efforts to obtain TRRS for Zx2.....and still having better quality out of the box with more power that can even drive HD800. Straight up zx2 with only TRS and sound adjustment app, it can not compete to Mojo and it pure power period. But since I have been stuck with Zx2 and having too much time and efforts with TRRS, which turned ZX2 to edges out over the Mojo (broke through the diminishing return barrier), I would stick with ZX2 as a DAP and need not feeding it, listening with either Th900 or Z7 for days on the go without charging, and perhaps waiting for ZX3 or newer version of it :).

Mojo on android phone.
Smartphone Android 5.1 Note 4 with OTG and Mojo. I had to buy the Onkyo HF player paid version in order to play digitally into Mojo. It works great and sounds even better than ZX2 feeding the Mojo on transparency and soundstage, then it can even real time convert to DSD which is very fun and also sound good, it lags and skips sometimes as I don't think it is perfected yet (the app will also notify you of it being beta), but it is something fun to do. It is best to stick with the original files and not up convert anything.
image.jpg

OTG adapter I used can be found here
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015XA3W0G?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00

I also do not think Zx2+Mojo= heaven like some people has asked me. Zx2 feeding 24/96 into Mojo didn't sound as decent as Note 4 feeding the same file. I observed the transparency and soundstage was a slight bit better on the Note 4 feeding Mojo. Still Zx2 with TRRS and sound adjustment app disabled edges out over the Mojo as a stand alone DAP. So it is best to either get a Mojo or a ZX2, and it is all up to you. Thank you for reading. Please pm if any questions

image.jpg


Some questions would arise and my personal answers can be found here

http://www.head-fi.org/t/742609/sony-nw-zx2-hi-end-dap/9750#post_12209904
purk
purk
Thanks Vince!  A great review indeed!
masterpfa
masterpfa
Thanks for the review. I remember wanting to like the Sony when it was first released but primarily the price I found too restrictive, also Sony's tendency for Priority connectors has always put me off and generally not liking the look of the DAP and the 4.1 Android OS.
It's a shame because from all reports it's a fantastic device, but alas I know I would never be totally happy.
I have had to console myself with the Mojo and Nexus 6P
twiceboss
twiceboss
Man, have u tried this with TH900? how the sounds differ? mids and highs?
Pros: Fantastic sound. Durable build. Small size. Fine volume control. Connectivity.
Cons: No storage pouch. Aesthetics might not be for everyone. A bit pricey.
 
ChordMojo-15.jpg

iPhone 5S → Mojo → VE Zen 2.0
 
 
INTRODUCTION
I've been very lucky to hear a lot of great sounding gear this year. Pictured above are a couple of my favorites, the Chord Mojo and the VE Zen 2.0 earbuds. Yes, I'm leading off with the punch line this time. Mojo is one of my 2015 top picks. Why? Quite simply, it has the right combination of small size, durable build, easy connectivity to my iPhone or DAPs, good battery life, and very natural sound. To put this in context, I've heard many portable sources recently ranging from DAC/Amps like the Calyx PaT, Cayin C5DAC, Cozoy Astrapi & Aegis, Creative Sound Blaster E5, and Shanling H3 to DAPs like the Aune M2, Cayin N5 & N6, FiiO X3, X3ii, X5, X5ii & X7, iBasso DX90, Shanling M3 & M2, and Soundaware Esther. I haven't heard all of them together, but I hope this listing gives you some appreciation for the wide variety of portable sources I've put through their paces this year. I was also very lucky to have the Aune M2 and Soundaware Esther Analog DAPs in house along with the new Empire Ears IEM lineup and HiFiMan Edition X headphones, so I got to test out Mojo with some very nice gear.
 
So, Chord. Of course I'd previously heard of them. Who around here hasn't? Their Hugo is famous around Head-Fi for having top notch sound and a unique aesthetic design. However, it's price prevented a lot of people (myself included) from giving it a listen. And given it's largish size, it's more of a transportable solution than a truly portable one. And that design. I wasn't so sure of it, to be honest. But the Hugo mystique was certainly intriguing. I often found myself wishing I could give one a test drive but unfortunately didn't have access to one. So when the Mojo was announced and one of my Head-Fi buddies @x RELIC x came out as a beta tester with many glowing words, it caught my attention and I was lucky enough to get a chance to test one out as part of a small US mini tour. Mojo obviously caught a lot of other people's attention, as well. The Mojo thread started by @Mython is one of, if not the, fastest growing threads on Head-Fi. No doubt about it, Mojo has certainly made waves in this community!
 
 
Before we start, here's a bit of information about Chord from their website:
 
Chord Electronics Ltd is a world-leading manufacturer of high-end audio products. Since 1989, under the leadership of proprietor John Franks, Chord Electronics has been pushing the boundaries of innovation, creating some of the planet's finest hi-fi, home cinema and professional audio equipment. A technology-driven leader, Chord Electronics' philosophy of ongoing evolution and refinement continues to deliver landmark audio products with extraordinary performance and unrivalled design features. 

Born from the highly demanding world of aircraft avionics, Chord Electronics maintains a commitment to exemplary engineering, cutting-edge technology and exceptional build quality. Ingeniously designed for high performance over the long term, Chord products are renowned internationally for their advanced technology which is amongst the best in the world. Since 1996, Chord's collaboration with Robert Watts, a digital design genius with 30 years' DAC technology development experience, has produced a number of advanced digital products that are, quite simply, without equal. 

Chord's achievements have been recognised in the media, too, with magazines and websites from around the world awarding Chord products the highest accolades. Chord's passion for sound quality and exemplary engineering continue to produce audio equipment with exceptional insight into recorded music. Sparkling clarity, unrivalled transparency and huge reserves of high-quality power are trademarks that have become synonymous with the brand. Chord is trusted and admired internationally, and its global customer base includes: the BBC; EMI's Abbey Road Studios (London); Sony Music Studios (New York) and Skywalker Sound to name but a few. 

Why not discover for yourself what Chord Electronics can do for your favourite music? Our web pages can help you learn more about our product ranges and find retailers of exceptional ability, who will take time to help you find the product that's right for the way you listen. Welcome to Chord.

 
USEFUL LINKS
  1. LINK to Chord's Mojo page.
  2. LINK to the Mojo mega-thread.
  3. LINK to the Mojo solutions thread.
  4. LINK to the Head-Fi Mojo FAQ.
  5. LINK to @x RELIC x's encyclopedic review complete with an interview with Chord's Rob Watts. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and go read it!
 
 
DISCLAIMER
I was provided with the Mojo as a review loaner. There is no financial incentive from Chord for writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with Chord, and this is my honest opinion of the Mojo. I would like to thank Aune for sponsoring the tour and specifically @AuneAudio for allowing me to participate!
 
 
ABOUT ME
I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  From electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush), I listen to a wide variety of genres and artists. 
 
My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. 
 
As mentioned in the introduction, I was lucky to have some very nice earbuds, headphones, and IEM to test out Mojo with. For earbuds, I used the VE Zen 2.0. For Headphones, I used my HiFiMan HE400 and the HiFiMan Edition X I had in for testing. For IEM, I used the Empire Ears lineup. Yes, Zeus got his Mojo on!  
 
As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which often affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear. I just wanted to be transparent up front. 
 
 
SPECIFICATIONS 
Output Power @ 1kHz: 720mW @ 8Ω, 35mW @ 600Ω
Output Impedance: 0.075Ω
Dynamic Range: 125dB
THD @ 3v - 0.00017%
Battery Life: 10 hours
Price: $599
 
 
PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
As usual, I'll go over this in pictorial fashion with a few brief comments.
 
Front & Back of Box
ChordMojoBox1.jpg
 
It's super hard to see in the picture, but the Mojo logo is printed in a reflective white on white on the box's lid. Operating instructions are on the bottom of the box.
 
Sides
ChordMojoBox2.jpg

Sample rate guide (ROYGBIV, yo!), more instructions, and technical specs.
 
Mojo + Accessory
ChordMojo-8.jpg
 
You get the Mojo plus a charging cable. That's it, folks. I've seen this listed as a con for some of the reviews, and I just don't agree. Mojo has so many ways to connect that it would seriously be going above and beyond to provide all the different cables one might need. Luckily, cables aren't really that hard to find. A storage pouch of some sort would be nice to slip Mojo inside when not in use to prevent scratches, though. Really Chord, no storage pouch?
 
 
BUILD & ERGONOMICS
As usual, I'll go over the build and ergonomics in pictorial fashion below, pointing out what I like and what I think could be improved. 
 
Top + Bottom
ChordMojoFrontBack.jpg
 
Top: Here we can see the main features of Mojo's physical user interface, the three balls. When I first saw pictures of the Mojo with these three balls all lit up, I just didn't get it. I thought it looked just plain goofy, to be honest. However, people I trust said it looked better in person, so I did my best to reserve judgement. Luckily, once I pulled Mojo from the box I was very pleased with what I felt and saw. The aluminum case has a nice powdery soft finish. It's got some heft to it. This doesn't feel like a device that's going to get hurt if it bounces around a bit. Scratched? Sure. Dented? Maybe if you threw it. Seems pretty bulletproof to me. The balls are a very hard translucent plastic, which seems pretty durable although I've read reports of them getting scratched. I didn't notice any scratches on the Mojo I had in for testing even though I was the third reviewer. I'd say that pretty good, since Mojo doesn't come with a case of any sort and I mainly kept it in my man bag bouncing around with my other gear when not in use.
 
Bottom: Built-in silicon bumpers, manufacturing information and serial number, lots of tiny screws.
 
 
Left & Right Sides
ChordMojoLeftRight.jpg
 
Just a better view of the volume and power balls. When I saw pictures of Mojo, I didn't realize they would spin. Yup, they spin freely in their settings. It's a bit odd coming from traditional buttons, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Once powered up, the balls all light up. They're pretty bright at first, but you can dim them to a more reasonable level for low light environments. And since we're talking about the balls, this is probably as good a place as any to discuss volume adjustment. 
 
Volume Adjustment: I like Mojo's ability to fine-tune the volume for anything you throw at it from sensitive IEM to hard to drive headphones to full-on line out. Just hold down the buttons and you cycle through the color spectrum from double red for the lowest volume setting to double white for the highest setting. And yes, for you fellow science nerds out there, the volume and resolution indicators really are ROYGBIV. As a scientist, I can appreciate that. I've seen that some reviewers feel the volume change is somewhat slow, and it is if you're going from lower settings to higher settings when rapidly switching between IEM and headphones. However, I don't really see this being an issue in real world usage. If you're switching between different gear, you'll change the volume once, start jamming, and then fine tune a bit for individual songs. Easy peasy!   
 
 
Inputs & Outputs
ChordMojoInOut.jpg

Left: Mojo has two 3.5mm headphone jacks. I'm not sure how likely it is that two people listening at the same time with different cans are going to need the same volume setting, but it is handy for stacking to have both left and right jacks to choose from.
 
Right: From left to right, you've got COAX IN, USB IN, Charging Port + Battery Indicator LED, and OPTICAL IN.
 
NOTE: Unlike some devices, you can charge Mojo while jamming to your favorite tunes!
 
So now you've had your tour of Mojo. You've seen it all. It's really all pretty straight forward. It really is just as easy as turning it on, plugging it in, pressing play, and finding the right volume level. Easy peasy!
 
 
BATTERY LIFE

Depending on usage, you're going to get 8-10 hours of battery life out of the Mojo. Not too shabby. Given that you can charge while listening, I can see using this during a commute, plugging in at work, using on your commute home, at the gym, etc. and never really have to worry about running out of juice during normal usage. On long flights, you might need an external battery brick, though. 
 
EDIT: I totally forgot to mention the battery indicator LED the first time around, but I was just reminded of it in the main Mojo thread so I thought I'd come back and comment on it. It's also based on the color spectrum, with full charge being blue and then the color changing from green to yellow to red to flashing red when you really, really need to find a charger quick. Nice consistency in using the same basic ROYGBIV color coding across the various functions and so deliciously nerdy!
 
 
SOUND

During my time with Mojo, I basically used it in two main set ups. The first was paired with my iPhone 5S via CCK, and the second was with my FiiO X5 via COAX with FiiO L17 IC. I also plugged in to my MacBook Pro briefly to make sure it worked properly. Being a Mac, it just worked. No drivers needed. No fuss. Same with the other connections, really. Mojo sounded like Mojo to me across all sources. As mentioned in the introduction, I was also playing with the Aune M2 and Soundaware Esther Analog DAPs when I had Mojo and these will be my main sources of reference. They're all very good sources, so it was a pleasure to be able to switch back and forth between them. So what did I find?
 
Mojo has a very natural sound that fit between the more neutral sound of the Aune M2 and the quite full, warm sound of the Esther Analog. In a lot of respects, Mojo and Esther Analog were on par with each other. Both have what I would describe as natural, unexaggerated sound signatures that allow for a high level of detail retrieval without resorting to brightness or an ultra-wide, unrealistic sound field. Where they differed was in the level of fullness and warmth, with Mojo being just a bit on the full, warm side and Esther Analog being quite full, warm. Both have a very realistic placement of sounds in 3D space. I listen to a lot of extreme music, and one thing I really appreciated about both was the ability to handle all of that extreme music without breaking a sweat and making it all very listenable. That doesn't always happen. The Aune M2 on the other hand was more energetic, with more exaggerated lows and highs and a wider sound field than either Mojo or Esther Analog. To my ears, this gave the impression of the M2 having a more dynamic sound but at the expense of sounding less natural.  
 
Here's a quick summary I put together as I was listening to the three, with greater quantity (not quality) on the left:
Warmth: Esther Analog >> Mojo > M2
Fullness: Esther Analog >> Mojo > M2
Dynamics: M2 > Mojo ≃ Esther Analog
Soundstage: M2 > Mojo ≃ Esther Analog
3D: Mojo ≃ Esther Analog > M2
Bass: M2 > Mojo ≃ Esther Analog
Mids: Esther Analog > Mojo > M2
Treble: M2 > Mojo ≃ Esther Analog
 
I found myself being repeatedly drawn to Mojo for its natural, realistic sound. It's a full, mature sound that still left space between sounds. While it didn't have the largest sound field, it sounded very convincing. It is very balanced across the spectrum. Nothing really stands out. What you feed it is what you get. Compared with the Aune M2, you get a more refined sound. Compared with Esther Analog, you get a more neutral (though still very natural) sound. Because of this high level of refinement and lack of exaggeration across the spectrum, I found Mojo to pair very well with all the gear I tested it with. None of my gear was exceptionally hard to drive, though. My earbuds and IEM were kept in the lower range, while I needed to push up to the higher range for my HE400. From what I've read, one reviewer found Mojo lacking with very demanding cans. I can't confirm or deny this. Just be forewarned. 
 
Happy Cans! (VE Zen 2.0, HiFiMan HE400, Empire Ears Hermes)
ChordMojoCans.jpg
 
 
SUMMARY

When I first hooked Mojo up to my iPhone and took a listen, I knew it was something special. As I listened to it in comparison with other gear I had on hand, I confirmed this. When I went out for a walk with the Empire Ears Hermes pictured above and Mojo's battery ran out leaving me to plug directly into my iPhone, I can assure you I was not a happy camper. I couldn't wait to get back home and get the Mojo charged up. Midway through my time with Mojo, I started wondering if I should just abandon DAPs altogether and go for iPhone + Mojo. As mentioned in the introduction, I've heard a lot of DAPs this year. I've got a bit of an obsession with them, so for that thought to cross my mind was a bit surprising to me. So, why wouldn't I do this? Well, for starters I have an obsession with DAPs. I also have a large, eclectic music collection and like to have it at hand in FLAC format if possible. I just can't fit it all on my iPhone. So why not just use Tidal, you say? Smartphone + Tidal + Mojo has got to be a killer combination, right? Well, that would be a great solution if a lot of the music I listen to wasn't too obscure for Tidal to carry. So I find myself in the position where I probably need a DAP with two mSD slots as a transport for when I want all of my music with me. I guess that's not so bad, right? Either strapped to my iPhone or a DAP, I think I see a Mojo in my future...
 
If you're looking for one of the best sounding devices your can carry around in the palm of your hand, put Mojo on your shortlist. The hype is very real!
 
 
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you've got any questions. 
 
And finally, a big thanks to Chord for making a mini-tour happen and to the tour organizer. I'm glad I could participate and experience this fantastic little device for myself!
howdy
howdy
Great review Nik! I miss that thing. It still looks in great condition. As I told you I will be buying this soon and hopefully this will be it for awhile. Nobody wants to buy my FiiO X5 and Im practically giving it away. Anyways, Im trying to be more focused on another hobby and that is shooting bow with my son.
nmatheis
nmatheis
@howdy: Your X5 Classic would make a great 400Gb transport for Mojo! Just sayin'...
 
One of my uncles is an avid bow hunter. Mostly Elk. Seems to have a lot of fun. Are you a hunter or just shoot shoot for fun? Training to be Arrow or Hawkeye?
almoskosz
almoskosz
"Cons: bit pricey" It's still the cheapest Chord :D
Pros: Absolute Audiophile or Basshead bomber abilities
Cons: No cables for the items it is promoted to improve and pair with.
 
dropbassnotbomb
dropbassnotbomb
Sybian! Lmao..that's hilarious.
WhatToChoose
WhatToChoose
Terrific review, that paper test was insane lol
tedmingo
tedmingo
Love the sound hate the design. The idea of strapping the DAC to a transport with cabling and rubber bands does not appeal to me. Get rid of the LED bulbs and make it sleeker and with a built in transport and you will rule the world. 
Pros: Great sound and reasonably priced
Cons: My only complaint is I wish it was Apple Compatiable

MOJO
 ​
 
Here is my perspective on the Chord Mojo. First I will tell you a little about me. I am a 42 year old male with average hearing loss for someone my age, I work in a fairly quite atmosphere so I would like to think I can hear pretty well except when the wife is talking (selective hearing).I am by no means an Audiophile in any aspect but rather someone who enjoys listening to high quality music.
But seriously though, everything you read below is my opinion and how I perceive the Chord MoJo, I’m not a writer or a grammar scholar by any means, and this will more than likely be a short review   as I like to get straight to the point.
 
 
So, I like many others saw Head-fi blew up when the MoJo was introduced so I had to see what it was all about and started to read the thread a lot and this seemed like something I would like. I asked “OK-GUY” (who works at Chord)if I could try it out and he replied that I could so he got me in contact with the Tour Guides here in the states and like a week later I had one in my hands.
 
 
 
 
Packaging-
This was a plain white box, there was nothing special about. I’m one that could care less about how nice it comes packaged as long as it is good for shipping purposes. I care more about what is in the box. Contents where the Mojo and a cable for charging, pretty much all you need. It would have been nice if there were some sort of binders to strap it to your source but if you have been doing this hobby for a while I’m sure everyone has their own way of doing it and a million extra binders from previous sources.
 
 
                                                                                                          IMG_18521.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Build Quality-
This thing is built like a tank, feels very solid and well-constructed when you have it in your hand. When you graze it with your finger nail you will notice that it will leave a mark but all you have to do is rub it with a clean soft cloth and it will go away. This will last a long time, not sure about the “balls” but as long as you don’t abuse them (No pun intended) I don’t see this being an issue.
 
 
 
 
What I used with the Mojo-
 
Sources: FiiO X5i iBasso DX90
Headphones/IEMs: Oppo PM3, VMODA M100, Alclair RSM CIEM and JVC HA-FX850
 
 
 
 
                                                                                             IMG_18441.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First I tried it with the DX90 via coax, it sounded really great I have never heard anything from Chord so I was not familiar with their “house sound” but I’m a big fan. I have the AK Jr, and I think their sound sigs share a lot of similarities. One thing I noticed right away with My M100s was the sound stage was night and day bigger. I was amazed it could do that. It made my M100s sound like a headphone in a higher class, the bass was tighter, mids where more present and the highs had more clarity. To me the best synergy was with my Alclair RSM customs, this was an amazing match.  Most of the listening of the Mojo was with my RSMs.
 
 
I noticed that when listening to the Mojo with my DX90 that when switching songs that there was a loud popping sound that was very irritating so I then switched to the X5 and there was no more of this. Not sure of the reason with the DX90, but the rest of the review is with the Mojo/X5. I have over 5800 songs of various ratings,( it is cool to see the Power ball change colors to what khz is playing, this would be one reason to keep the box as it shows what the khz rating is.) To me switching between devices did not really change the sound as the Mojo is the final output to your headphones. Your headphones are where you will have to play around with to find your favorite synergy.
 
I brought this to a headfi meet the day after receiving it and those who were interested in portable devices thought it was great and sounded amazing. One thing I should note is that I was doing a lot of comparing to my Oppo HA2 with iPod touch streaming Tidal HIFI. Most at the head-fi meet had not heard either device and did like both. One of the head-fi-ers had actually bought a Mojo prior but is waiting to get it so he got a chance to hear it before receiving it.
 
As far comparisons go between the HA2 and the Mojo besides the price being double of the HA2, they definitely both have their pros and cons like the HA2 is almost a third the width but the HA2 is double the length of the Mojo. However they are both built very robust and should last a long time.
As for sound differences between the two they both have excellent separation but the Mojo has excellent soundstage and the highs are amazing coming from the RSMs, there is no real ear fatigue and you can listen to the Mojo for hours easily. I think the bass coming from either one is amazing. I will not be selling my HA2 after reviewing the Mojo as it seems many have, I really like my HA2. If the Mojo comes down in price or I have an extra 600.00 sitting around I would absolutely buy one though.
 
I think the Mojo is fairly neutral overall and this would always be based on listening with a neutral headphone or IEM. My RSMs and PM3s are for the most part neutral. I think the Mojo really excels with live and acoustic music; it is some of the best I have ever heard. You can hear where each instrument is the separation as I said above is the best I heard and the one thing that I was most impressed with. All sources when you get in to the few hundred dollars plus category have a great clarity when paired with the correct headphone so I always look for each new device strong suit, in this case the separation. If anyone has a headphone that you like but is a bit narrow the Mojo would greatly help. As for overall sound quality, it was very crisp. I love when a source has that “crisp” presentation. My definition of crisp would be, Bass being tight and not bloated or exaggerated at all, Mids being present but not to forward and most importantly the highs, usually when you have great separation the highs can be a bit shrill and very fatiguing, but for the Mojo they are pleasant and you could listen to this for hours with no ear fatigue.
 
 
So, for me, the Mojo/X5 with my RSMs where an absolutely amazing combo. I listened to this combo for many hours and did not really even bother with my other gear. I know that I’m all over on this review but you get the point.
 
 
                                                                                                 IMG_18511.jpg
 
 
 
 
Starcruncher
Starcruncher
Nice one! Just to make sure I'm on the right track, isn't Mojo Apple compatible with a camera connection kit?
howdy
howdy
^ it is, I was hoping for something like the HA2 where you dont need a CCK. I will still buy it either way. The sound is amazing!!
 
Thanks Ivabign! Im not one to write reviews I just like to sample. My Kids like to listen to music as well and they are on my Tidal account with me and have huge playlists. They still like the apple earbuds and my M100s and my daughter has some ATH M50. My wife says she cant tell between her Samsung earbuds and my HE400i.
Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee
I have both oppo ha2 and mojo. Main deference is more live sound you get on mojo. Didn't feel digital.
Pros: An holographic and warm sound, excellent instrument layering with lots of details and impact
Cons: Bass impact is good but could be stronger, provided USB cable a bit short
Introduction 
 
This is my first  review but also my first post on head-fi. 
 
A friend proposed to me to evaluate the new Chord Mojo through an evaluation tour organized by Chord. I accepted happily as I was very curious about its sound signature compared to its big brother Hugo I tested some time ago. While I really liked the Chord Hugo, I considered it too bulky and expansive as an alternative DAC and amp for my Astell and Kern AK240 and decided not to buy it.
 
Build quality and operating features
 
I was surprised to see how small Mojo is. It’s a bit on the heavy side with a metal enclosure rather than use of plastic but seems built to last. Volume setting is easy through large buttons which indicate volume levels with colors ranking from red to blue. 
 
I won't go into further details as they have already been provided by previous reviewers better than I could do. I will just say that I like the original design of Mojo and I think it is well thought and built for portable use, it doesn't take long to understand how it works.
 
Sound Quality 
 
Soundwise, Mojo has been compared to the Macbook Pro analog output using Audirvana player and to the AK240 using its own DAC/AMP. Mojo was connected to the MBPro through USB. I mainly used by beloved Earsonics Velvet IEM for most of the listenings as I wanted to assess Mojo for portable use.
 
The differences with MBPro analog output were striking, the latest giving a flat and boring sound in comparison with the Mojo. On Alan Parson Project/The Very Best of AP Project/Prime Time track, cymbals sounded far more detailed and realistic with Mojo opposite to the plastic and artificial rendering with MBPro output. Voices were more natural with Mojo, airier with a better soundstage and instrument separation, bass was also faster and more impactful. On Miles Davies/Kind of Blue/So What track, The piano was flat and light sounding with a lack of harmonics, sounding again plastic with MBPro output, the same was true for the trumpet and cymbals. Notes were thicker, fuller with Mojo and instruments sounded far more real with it. On Cassandra Wilson/Another Country track, Instruments were sparkly and lush with Mojo, Cassandra’s voice was more realistic with Mojo. There was a better distinction in space between voice and instruments.
 
So the Chord Mojo sounded way better that MBPro output but what about the comparison with the AK240 ? On previous Cassandra Wilson/Another Country track, AK240 performed better that the MBPro output but was still behind Mojo with less depth and a warmth. On Pink Floyd/The Wall/Another Brick in the Wall 2 track, there was less impact with AK240, children voices were more detailed with Mojo, the overall representation was fuller, more convincing and pleasing with Mojo. On Dead Can Dance/Anastasis/Anabasis track, there was a better instrument separation with Mojo as well as a more laid back and warmer representation, a more 3D soundstage. Bass impact was equivalent between AK240 and Mojo. AK240 sounded a bit sterile compared to Mojo. On Gary Karr/Adagio d’Albinoni/Albinoni-Giazotto: Adagio in G minor, there was again more depth with Mojo, thicker notes and more details on bow strokes on the double bass strings.
 
Conclusion
 
So my experience with Mojo was very good, it reminds me the strengths of Hugo with a detailed, impacted, warm and holographic sound. It’s small enough to be used as a portable solution with an iphone or a low end DAP used as source. I’m seriously considering replacing my AK240 with a Mojo combined with an iPhone with sufficient storage to be able to use Qobuz streaming.
 
I would like to thank Chord for allowing me to assess the Mojo. I’m convinced this little gem will have a great success thanks to an adequate price with regards to its performances.
  • Like
Reactions: maxh22
RamblerBoy
RamblerBoy
thank you!
Pros: High-end sound quality and excellent headphone driving performance at fantastic value in a tiny, solid and well-thought out box.
Cons: Volume change speed is slow. Can pick up noise from smart phones and some chargers. 2A chargers can also cause the thermal protection to shut it down.
2015_Tokyo_Autumn_Fujiya_Avic_Headphone_Festival_Mojo_D75_3534.jpg
 ​
January 2016 Update: Video review added.​

 
When Chord came out with the Hugo, putting the latest of almost thirty-odd years of digital to analogue research by Rob Watts into a portable device, it sent Head-Fi into a frenzy of mixed reactions. Many people who bought one loved the sound, but less loved the weird design with a puzzling layout of unlabelled ports and switches. What is more, at around $2500 the price was in the territory of serious DACs and, not surprisingly, much was expected of it, but not quite everything delivered to everyone’s satisfaction. 
 
The most telling thing about the Mojo is that the people who complained the most about the Hugo: The cost, the HP amp sound, the USB input’s lack of noise isolation, the lack of input selection and volume memory and everything else, had nothing to complain about with the Mojo. It is hard not to be impressed with the technology that went into the Hugo’s DAC, itself better than even the flagship Chord DAC before the Dave. What impresses me is that Rob Watts took ALL the feedback from customers and the forums and put it in the Mojo, and dropped the price right down to a sane level. 
 
Where the Hugo is a somewhat ungainly and oddly-laid-out aluminium brick with funny coloured lights, un-labelled buttons and ports and poor ergonomics, the Mojo is spot-on neat. Headphone jacks one one end, inputs on the other, and 3 buttons on one edge. Those buttons are freely rotating balls that glow with the colour of the LEDs underneath. The first, with a 2-second press powers up (or down) the unit, which happens with a very audible click, after which it glows with a colour indicating the sample rate of the input. The other two buttons, individually held down move the volume up or down, the LEDs beneath changing with the colours of the rainbow depending on volume level. 
 
At first these rolling coloured buttons can cause a bit of concern, but in practice, at least for me there haven't been any issues. If dirt does get in and cause problems, it is trivially easy to unscrew the case and blow out any dirt or dust. Most dislikable about this system is the slow rate at which the volume changes. With the Mojo remembering its last settings, unlike the Hugo, one must be prudent to check the volume is down when plugging in headphones, especially if one has turned it up to line level prior while plugged into another amp. I find that the bright colours appearing at turn-on help as a visual reminder for this. 
 
To account for sensitive IEM users, once the lowest volume has been reached, the “-“ volume button LED turns to brown and the other cycles through the colours once again for even lower volume levels. On the other end of the scale, the “+” button LED will cycle through a few more levels after the “-“ has reached white. Without knowing this at first it can be a bit off-putting, as light bleeding between the buttons sometimes makes it look as if the colours have gone all funny, but it is a good indicator once one remembers the colours of the rainbow and that the cycle is based upon that. 
 
Input selection is now automatic, with USB prioritised highest, followed by coaxial and optical. The presence of digital lock indicated by the above-mentioned power ball lighting up with colour corresponding to the sample rate. Last but not least, line-level volume lock can be selected on power-up by holding down both volume buttons when pressing the power button, though any volume level can be used that is suitable as the electronics used are the same whether line-level output is on or off.
 
2015PortablerigMojoiPhone_IMG_1801.jpg
 

I could write a bucketload about the tech inside the Mojo, but I'm going to be lazy and encourage you to instead visit Rob Watts’ profile and read his entire post history, as it is all in there, explained in detail. What matters to me more is that he has crammed his tech, which focuses immense computing power into a tiny box, the size of an original AK100, and Chord is charging less than an AK100II would cost for it. If you have a smart phone you’re all set, otherwise pick your choice of DAP with optical or coax digital output. An original AK100 had no trouble feeding the Mojo 192k files with a good Toslink cable. Nor did a FiiO X5 and X5II (though the latter has a weird coax pinout, so a regular 3.5mm TS to 3.5mm TS cable wont work). Lotoo’s PAW 5000 and, of course, an AK240 worked fine as well. 
 
The volume is, of course, Rob Watts’ high-tech digital domain solution which completes the complex FPGA programming that makes up the Chord DACs. That programming, along with the amp inside, generates 1.7W inside the small aluminium box that is the Mojo. Do not thus be alarmed when it gets warm, especially if you charge the Mojo while listening. It doesn’t do more that compete with a regular hand warmer for heat and is completely safe, with automatic cutoff systems built in should it get too warm, which members using high-power chargers of 2A and above have occasionally discovered. The battery is good for about 7 hours of use, the trade-off of having around half a watt of headphone power output (depending on headphones used). Rob Watts did experiment with a lower power output, but it compromised the sound too much.
 
Instead Rob Watts chose to design it as he would one of his speaker amps, using a discrete transistor output stage. That leaves the Mojo as capable as the Hugo at driving headphones and has enough power to drive even very sensitive speakers. While the Hugo sounds a bit on the thin side for preference, the Mojo has been tuned to be a bit warmer-sounding. This isn’t a change of frequency response, more so that the choice of components, all of which have their own noise and distortion profiles, and aspects of the digital filter can be chosen to give what amounts to a different feeling in the sound that comes out.
 
The first thing I noticed was that the Mojo, like the Hugo, works best after it has been running for at least 10 minutes. Before that, at first use the Mojo took me leaving it on all night in my hotel room at the Tokyo Headphone Festival before it started to sound good, initially sounding a bit constricted. It gets nicely warm when in use, especially if it is plugged into a charger, which seemed to help both at the start and during regular use. Rob Watts assures us that it can be left plugged into the charger when in use with no detrimental results, handy if used in a desk rig, though users have reported that some chargers can be very audibly noisy. I feel too like the Mojo has been getting better the more I've used it, the overall presentation improving over time, especially as I go back and re-compare with other devices with which it seems less different than they did at first.
 
A question that has come up repeatedly on the forums is whether or not the Mojo is better or worse than the Hugo sonically. This is made all the more complex by the different tuning of the sound output of the Mojo compared to the Hugo and the varying degrees of sensitivity to input noise of each of the inputs of both devices. Compared to the Hugo, the Mojo from my MacBook Pro/Schiit Wyrd seemed to be slightly behind, but it was hard to tell how much of this was the slight sound shift towards the warm with the Mojo versus the brighter and more open-sounding Hugo. I have my main rig set up just right with the tubes I like to sound nice with the Hugo. The combination with the Mojo was too much of a good thing. I’d probably have to rotate back the more neutral-sounding tubes in the Studio Six to effect the same result. 
 
The best I’ve managed to extract sonically from the Hugo of late has been using a Soundaware D100PRO music server feeding the Hugo by a Harmonic Tech coaxial cable and in turn sending that to my ALO Audio Studio Six which has a slightly “warm” tube set to complement the Hugo’s “lean” sound. To compare to that, I fed the same source into the Mojo with an adaptor and the Mojo directly to my headphones. Since the Mojo has two headphone sockets, I could also quickly switch to using the Studio Six with the Mojo to compare the headphone amplification. At first while I felt the Hugo might have been a tad better as I described above, over time I've felt that less, something I'm going to put down to device burn-in. 
 
SoundawareD100ProALOAudioStudioSixHifimanHE1000_D75_3662.jpg
 

It would probably do at this point to compare the AK240 with the Mojo. While I do like the AK240 and its balanced headphone drive is unexpectedly good with full-sized headphones, I feel that the Mojo does the job without requiring a 4-pin 2.5mm TRRS plug. To go back a bit, the Hugo and Mojo have the better DAC technology, clearly giving the Hugo the edge on the AK240 from even the first audition and comparison I had with the AK240 back at the 2014 SoCal meet. The Hugo I feel is slightly ahead overall, sounding more natural and the AK240 slightly more bland. The Mojo shares the Hugo’s naturalness and, if anything, slightly enhances it with the warmer tuning. It still maintains a lack of forgiveness towards poor recordings. It’s more a different flavour than anything, more “Let’s relax and listen” than the “Look at what I can do!” of the Hugo. That has me picking it over the AK240 purely from the slightly more natural impression I get from instruments. It trades the objectively-excellent presentation of the Hugo with one that is more about enjoyment, while not, according to Rob Watts, being technically compromised at all.
 
For example, Bill Evans’ Sunday at the Village Vanguard sounds fantastic on all and, being that it involves a piano and cello and has a vast number of ambient cues from the people around the players talking, drinking and moving that is a test of any system. For that the Hugo is a wonderful companion. The Mojo likewise brings a touch of ease to the sound without seeming to lose anything.
 
I have also been enjoying Soundaware’s FPGA-controlled M1 player, the "Analog" version of which is tuned to sound like an old CD player and is thus very warm, without sacrificing detail. Patricia Barber’s albums, which I find to be less than stellar in recording quality (Edit: Turns out they sound fine out of the Mojo and Yggy...must have been my rig!) were lovely on the M1, leaving the Mojo in direct comparison to sound slightly sharper and less relaxed (which just goes to show how what we are used to can affect our perception of the sound that comes from a product). That puts the Mojo in the middle between the Hugo and the M1 in tuning, closer to, say, a Calyx M or FiiO X5 in tone if not in other areas.
 
DAP-off_Calyx_M_Soundaware_M1_Chord_Mojo_AK100_Lotoo_PAW_5000_FiiO_X5II_D75_3691.jpg
 ​
Speaking of DAPs, both the Calyx M and FiiO X5 can be used as a DAC, which meant for some interesting comparisons -- silicon DACs versus the discrete DAC and FPGA programming of the Mojo. I plugged the DAPs one-by-one into a Schiit Wyrd via an ALO Audio Green Line cable (which came with my Rx review unit) and listened with a Pico Power or Studio Six on the other end. Playing back my usual eclectic mix of mostly acoustical music via Audirvana Plus, first without up-sampling, then with iZotope up-sampling re-enforced my previous experiences that the default filters in the internal DACs of the Calyx M and FiiO X5 could both be improved upon by my computer, yet even with carefully tweaked iZotope settings, both DAPs fell slightly short of the Mojo's natural presentation, which doesn't need iZotope to sound its best. 
 
The Mojo’s tuning has been most welcome with my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (UERMs), the HE1000s, Ethers and HD800s*, both of which the Mojo seems to be able to handle, if not at the capability of a top-of-the-line headphone amp. The HE1000s weren’t anywhere near as dynamic out of the Mojo direct as they were out of my Studio Six, where their capabilities seem to come through. It was a far closer call with my HD800s, but given that my source for the Studio Six is a Hugo, that is as much a credit to the Hugo as it might be a limitation versus what the Studio Six is capable of resolving. The Ethers were definitely more to my liking out of the Mojo, easily driven to a degree that I could forget I wasn’t listening to my main system.
 
With the HD800s and Ethers it was hard to pick out which I preferred: Using the Mojo direct or using it (or the Hugo with the Studio Six). For me what was most significant about the Mojo is simply how nice it makes music sound. You know when you have a special portable device when it stops you wanting to reach for your main headphone (or speaker) rig. It was that way with the UERMs, Laylas and full-sized headphones or all types, the resolving capability combined with a touch of musicality being just spot-on. This was especially true using the Sennheiser HD800s (which I've re-cabled and replaced the black insert over the driver with rug-liner in the manner of popular mods) which, with a variety of acoustic music, ranging from AC/DC to Ayub Ogada, sounded as fantastic as ever, without my feeling I needed a set of warm tubes to get excellent sonic results. 
 
January 2016 addition: I was asked by a member whether I really thought that the Mojo was as good as a TOTL amp for driving headphones. That was answered most clearly when my Yggdrasil arrived and I ran it in for a week that I had an answer: The Studio Six, and my headphones were brought up a very noticeably greater level with the Yggdrasil feeding it, leaving the Hugo and Mojo as the previous bottleneck in my system, as well as my choice of using a USB transport.
 
ChordMojoComparisons_D75_3697.jpg  
A bit out of the proverbial left field is the Aclear Porta NXT-2AK "Balanced Drive Headphone Conditioner" which is a super compact transformer in a metal box the size of a portable amp. It is supposed to improve the headphone output of various devices and I'm still in two minds about whether it does anything useful, especially given its ~$400+ price. It seems to bring a slightly more precise image to the HD800s from the Mojo, which is handy as I have a 4-pin 2.5mm TRRS headphone cable tail that sits mostly unused except for the times I want to test full-sized headphones with the AK240. Overall, the close to insignificance of the difference in sound with it added is credit to the Mojo's headphone drive.
 
I have been comparing the direct output of the Mojo with using it with a HeadAmp Pico Power, itself designed to have objectively high performance and which is similar in that it uses a buffer-plus-transistor output stage. With the MrSpeakers Ethers the Pico Power seemed to have a tiny advantage in spaciousness of presentation, but it was hard to tell if it was simply from the sonic signature or actual capability.
 
I also thought it prudent to compare the IEM driving capability with ALO Audio’s excellent Rx amp. In a previous comparison, the Rx had faired dead on equal with the Hugo’s output. The Rx, to me, seems to extend both the treble and the bass slightly compared to other amps, excepting the all-discrete Sound Potion Monolith, itself which has a very slightly smiley presentation in the most pleasant possible of ways. Again, very simply put, the Mojo was a match as far as I could tell for Ken’s best efforts. 
 
ChordMojointernals_D75_3685.jpg

 
One of the significant facets of the Mojo's performance is that it has a reported 125dB of dynamic range, outstanding by any measure. The dynamics of the Mojo, after I'd been using it for a while were impressively apparent. Patricia Barber's Café Blue has become one of my favourite albums. I'm particular about instruments sounding natural and real, and "Nardis", with its quiet cymbal solo was delivered with a degree of precision and flow into my HD800s that was a pure delight. Likewise Manha De Carnaval, with the background clapping had the sound of each clap delivered snappily while retaining the delicacy of Patricia's voice. This echoed one of the primary aspects of the Hugo that had impressed me; the ability to deliver even the quietest sounds without lack of impact, much as my Studio Six does with its SET-amp magic.
 
To me as a photographer it is much like the difference between sharpening an image to make it seem like there is more detail, in the manner of how compression is used in music mastering; versus having a higher-resolution camera with a much better lens delivering real detail, which is what better high-res mastering aims to achieve. The Hugo and Mojo to me are like the high-resolution camera and lens.
 
It might be prudent to point out here a significant factor of the design of the Mojo, in that it uses a far simpler output from the all-discrete DAC than what is present in many, if not most DAC/amps. People have also asked why the Mojo (and Hugo for that matter) don't have balanced (differential) headphone drive or a separate "line out" output. Rob Watts goes into useful detail about that in a post about the output, which is fundamentally different to that of other devices:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/784602/chord-mojo-the-official-thread-read-the-first-post-for-updated-info/5745#post_12102313
 
On the other end, unlike with the Hugo, I didn’t feel any significant difference between the USB and optical inputs. If it is as much the result of the tuning as improvements on the USB end, then I’m perfectly happy with the sound using my iPhone 6 as a source. That requires, at least until either FiiO or Chord get approval for their new cables, using a rather ungainly Camera Connection Kit and the short micro-USB cable that Chord provide in the box. The USB inputs requires an active 5V power line, not for power, but required to activate the USB circuitry for automatic input selection, which if not present will automatically sleep to conserve power if it is not connected.  Avoiding USB power noise has been implemented via the presence of the separate USB charging port.
 
When another forum member pointed out that the Mojo was the same size as the old AK100, I quickly nabbed a second-hand one from e-earphone before everyone else in Japan figured it out and started buying them to use with their Mojos. While selecting the best rubber band position was a bit of a challenge, the stack looks cute. I’ll miss the larger screen of the AK240, as well as not needing to screw around with scripts to turn my M3U playlists into a format the AK100 can read, but the Mojo is one of those devices that I want to listen with, not just on the go, which was not always the case of the AK240. Otherwise, I'm pleased that I can get fantastic audio via my iPhone without excessive bulk, though I'm yet to decide which app I'll use for my high-res files.
 
ChordMojoPelican1020_D75_3710.jpg
 

I’ve seen many people complaint in recent months about the cost of Head-Fi gear going up and fears that things were going to end up like 2-channel audio. With Chord and other companies turning this around and putting their best tech in much less expensive products, I can thoroughly welcome the Mojo as one of the most fantastic products I’ve used to date. What Chord did with the Mojo was to take everything that was good about the Hugo: The computer-level computing power, the high sound quality and headphone drive capability, and fix every single complaint. Most importantly, they put a price on it that nobody could argue with. As a product that was designed with both a subjective and objective goal in mind, there is little not to like about the Mojo. If I was to give out a "Product of the Year" award to anything in 2015, It'd be the Chord Mojo.
 
--
 
My Mojo was provided to me courtesy of John Franks at the Tokyo show without me asking. I had been planning to buy one (at full retail) as soon as I heard the price! I had known that they were planning to make a "smaller Hugo" some time before but not the details, so I've been as pleasantly surprised as everyone else.
 
*Small "s" = plural, Not large "S" for the new model.
reddog
reddog
A great review, very informative. I might have to get a Mojo for my tablet.
AegisAvantGarde
AegisAvantGarde
Are you saying that the Mojo has a discrete transistor for the amplification stage? BJT or MOSFET? No op-amp?  
pithyginger63
pithyginger63
hi @Currawong i dont know if you've tried the poly for mojo yet, but considering the price, would you get a mojo+poly or a hugo 1?
Pros: - Small size and really well made product with very good finish. - Does everything as advertise and does it flawlessly. - Sound quality!
Cons: Can become realy hot when in use during charging - Line level mode - Awkward volume control
There is always the first time they say. I would like to thank Levi aka Musicday for this opportunity and without further ado:
 
Chord Mojo arrived in small box, but true surprise came after unpacking. My first thought was “Wow it is really small” then second, after I picked it up: “uhu but that bugger is heavy”.
No, of course it is not but unit's weight cannot be anticipated by its looks.
Mojo is “wearing full metal jacket”  and coming straight out of box felt really cold, as it turned out that changed very quickly – but more about it after brief introduction of my ”testing rig”  and “methodology”.
 
PC > optical > Foobar > WASAPI (Event) > NuForce HDP > NVA AP20 >
- Hifiman HE-6
- Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO 250 ohm
- Superlux HD681 EVO (second gen. with velour pads)
Moto G (1st Gen) > USB OTG > Fiio E7 (non K) >
- Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9IS
- Koss PortaPRO
 
Tracks used for testing are my trusted*:
The Head-Fi/HDtracks Open Your Ears –  96kHz/24bit version
HDtracks 2014 Sampler
and HDtracks 2015 Sampler
 
 
About Chord Mojo:
I’m not going to list the whole spec here. It is available from Chords’s web site and other places online. My subjective impressions and the DAC's major features include...
 
-          Mojo Plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz up to 32bit
-          Native DSD up to quad 256
-          Li-Po battery lasts up to 10h
 
Setting things up:
Mojo + Moto G – everything just works, connect one with another using OTG USB cable and you ready to roll. Perfect couple. (btw for some reason Mojo as well as Fiio E7 are not detected by Moto G 3rd Gen while NuForce HDP works well with both phones)
Mojo + PC
Also very simple just download driver, install, reboot, connect Mojo with usb or coaxial cable and job done. In Foobar you need to set output, preferably to “DSD: ASIO: Chord” – it will play all supported files or you can set it as “WASAPI (event): Chord” but that setting will not let you play DSD natively and you will be limited to PCM output mode.
 
 
Let’s begin with Mojo as a portable DAC/amp
My first source was Moto G with Poweramp player app. I Started with Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9IS my trusted go to portables. First track I played a jazz version of Pink Floyd “Money” by Sam Yahel, Mike Moreno, Ari Hoenig, Seamus Blake from “Open Your Ears” album and first surprise, I always thought that bass is a bit muffed on those headphones but with Mojo bass was clearer and more punchy and somehow more pleasing and less coloured – and it is not very bassy track. So quick swap to Fiio E7 and I was welcomed by familiar slightly muffed warmer bass. Couple of next tracks only confirmed that Mojo is in completely different league. It should be expected, after all Mojo is around 6 times more expensive than E7 when new plus has 5 years of technological advance, nevertheless the way Mojo transformed my humble  Audio-Technica came as a huge surprise.

Those days there is one app I use a lot  on the go: is Radio Paradise App – it allows you to listen to radio - streaming in AAC 320 – I took Mojo for a walk and spent a very pleasant hour – Mojo did an excellent job with all those lossy tracks. I also took with me Koss PortaPro unfortunately day was a bit windy and  PortaPros don’t offer much of a isolation I only listen to one or two tracks – so not much to report here.
I was really impressed with how my Audio-Technica changed plugged to Mojo that I really didn't want to go back home.

Next test – Mojo vs NuForce HDP
NuForce is a desktop DAC/amp and even if equipped with a third party battery is not really portable therefore I swapped the source and plugged both DACs to PC using USB. I also picked up Beyerdynamic DT 990. DT 990’s were my go to headphones for a long time even when I owed Stax SR-404 – A bit too far on a bright side but overall very good headphones. Couple of tracks into testing session and I liked them even more on Mojo. More spacious sound stage, a notch punchier but less harsh tremble. Bass on level with NuForce maybe a bit more precise. Two tracks stranded out both completely different but effect similar “Allegro from Symphony No. 6 in G minor” and “Fireopal (Acoustic Version)” Mojo just simply takes you there.
After DT990 time came for another cheapos – this time a bit of underdog Superlux HD681 EVO
Again Mojo transformed those headphones– it somewhat took all what’s good about them but didn't put any emphasis on their shortcomings. Superlux are fun sounding headphones even more fun with Mojo with addition of healthy dose of clarity. That pair really shine on all those bass filled tracks.
 
Last test took me the longest time and with a surprising outcome.
I left universe of dynamic and entered the plane of plenars. Where to me there is only one King and his name is Hifiman HE-6
Both Nuforce and Mojo has no chance to drive those monsters so I could only compare their DAC sections.
Both DACs were plugged via USB and connected  to my Amp of choice NVA AP20**. 
I listened to all test tracks front to back, swapping DACs and something started to occur to me. Mojo with transparent amp and very precise, fast and reviling HE-6’s was just too much, There was too much micro details, everything sounded just a notch too sharp for my liking – yes sound stage was wider and deeper and you could pinpoint everything in that space but things started to be too separated, instruments didn’t blend in as intended, things become a bit dry, voices lost a touch of realism.
I added many more tracks to compression – from Infected Mushroom – “The Messenger 2012” and Iron Maiden – “The Number Of The Beast” to Dave Matthews – “Stay Or Leave” and Dead Can Dance – “The Host Of Seraphim”. From Red Book to Hi-Res and vinyl rips, all  with same outcome.
 
Another thing to mention is that Mojo and HE-6s were truly ruthless with bad recordings – no fun to listen to at all – I found that I started to lose the joy of listening to music – instead I started to focus too much on distractions.
 
Above description sound much worst that the reality – all of it took me 3 days to put into words – Mojo has a really exceptional DAC section It just doesn't work well with HE-6s unless you like details in your face and sound stage neatly separated with scalpel.
 
Short conclusion:
Let’s kick off with “giant killer” statement – Simple answer is: I don’t know! Never owned any giant DAC or a headphone amp. All of my gear is rather small.
 
I believe that Mojo is a very good at what it is intended to be used as – a portable DAC/amp – works very well with small and big dynamic headphones, also helps cheaper headphones punch above their weight. Even though is clearly made to shine with Hi-Res or Ultra Hi-Res – does really good job with lossy recordings.
A bit pricy but it is Chord after all. 
 
What's good:
- Small size and really well made product with very good finish.
- Does everything as advertise and does it flawlessly.
- Sound quality! 
 

Noted Flaws:
- It is scary how warm/hot Mojo becomes when in use during charging – test unit arrived completely drained and I almost dropped it when I picked it up after initial 15 minutes of use while charging it.
It should be mentioned that Chord recommend charging with Mojo switched off. For safety Mojo has inbuilt thermal cut-out (sic!)
- From manual “for line level mode (3V) press both volume buttons together when switching on the unit”. Mojo will not remember that setting after power down but will remember other settings like volume level. In my book it just renders Mojo useless in stationary rig. Chord clearly don’t want to cannibalise its Hugo and Hugo TT – I don’t see any other reason for 2 headphone outputs instead of replacing one with dedicated line out.
- Volume control – there is something very unnatural and awkward about those two volume balls.
I understand that some people actually do like it but I am not one of them
 
Disclaimer:
I am strong believer in A/B testing therefore all comparison was made with gear at hand –  no references or comparing  to any other gear I have owned or listened to for longer periods. I know it is non - standard practice but I also know how biased (flawed) memory can be – especially mine.
 
*- I am using those tracks for couple of reason: firstly “Samplers” are very good quality and allow to test across many types of music plus can be download for free. “Open Your Ears” is very reasonably priced and was put together as a testing album. I know them quite well and used often to compare gear. There is also one more thing – I don’t particularly like any of those songs so there is no emotional attachment – which I found helps a lot if I want to stay as objective as possible.  
**- I listened to a number of amps with HE-6s, dedicated as well as vintage and new speaker amps and even though some were better in one way or the other, overall NVA always came on top. (with Dillan’s “dill3000” monster amp coming close but there is a huge price difference)
Zardphil
Zardphil
Thank you! It is said that the sound quality of Mojo is the same as Hugo's and Hugo is assumed to be at the same level as Benchmark DAC I. So I expected the Mojo have the better sound quality than HDP. Well, it seems I was expecting too much of it. Thanks a lot! 
Ithilstone
Ithilstone
Now - Mojo is better DAC and better HP amp - and is portable and supports more type of files natively - it is just in my opinion not a giant killer - and if you paring it with neutral amp and HP like HE-6 you may get more that you wished for.
To me -  if I would look for a portable DAC/Amp and was willing to pay premium price - Mojo would be definitely very high (possibly even in first place) on my choice list. 
As a desktop amp if you already have NuForce HDP I would rather save money for something truly extraordinary or buy another set of cans ;]
Or try something different - like something vintage based on Phillips TDA 1541A - mother of all DACs ;] 
Zardphil
Zardphil
I appreciate your detailed reply and useful suggestion!! Helped me a lot! I'd better save money for a better desktop dac&amp. 
Pros: Smooth and natural. Wide soundstage. Performs great for the price.
Cons: Lights cannot be turned off. Hiss with very sensitive IEMs.
DISCLAIMER
This is my first ever written review, and frankly I have no prior experience of writing a review for any kind of item unless you count that “Delivered on time. Item came in one piece. Good service” kind of sentences that you see all over each Amazon item. So I figured, what the heck, I might as well try to have fun with it while I’m doing it. All forms of comments or criticisms are welcomed as long as they are presented in a civilized manner. So yes you can slam me for possibly making the review longer than it should, or for it to be lacking content, or even just hating on that grammatical error that I do once in a while/pop up every sentence. But please, play nice.
 
Finally, I would like to thank Maurice (moedawg140) who gave me the encouragement to actually publish a review for once, Trev (Takeanidea) who vouched for me to be considered for this Mojo review tour and of course Levi (Musicday) for actually loaning his personal unit for me to review. Thanks guys.
 
*My first review and I already made a major mistake. Lesson learnt. Next time take pictures early on in the review especially if the unit is a loaner. I apologize for the lack of pictures and if you felt that the review was a word fest.
 
INTRODUCTION
When I first heard of Chord Electronics a few years ago, I was like “Whaaaaat? Don’t they make cables? So they finally found themselves venturing into DAC/Amps eh?” so you will probably understand how embarrassed I felt when I found out they were two different companies and Chord Electronics has already been in the scene before I was even born. Well, shame on me for being not well informed but they certainly have produced several outstanding products through the years; the first I know of was the Chord Hugo a few years back.
 
Now the Chord Hugo was infamous within my friendship circle of audio enthusiast back home, first for the size which honestly I still found rather quirky. It’s designed to be a portable DAC/amp but I found it just too bulky for me to be bringing it around unless I were lug it around stored inside my bag. So, portable it is not, but it is in fact transportable. Also it sold for a cool £1400, which at the time was the cost of my whole desktop and portable rig combined with change to spare. Yet, it has a sound that rivals even some desktop rigs, with enough juice to power up some of them power hungrier headphones, and basically pushed most if not all other portable rigs to the side in the race for supremacy. I don’t personally own one but I still remember that insanely detailed sound with an expansive soundstage that I could definite do with in my life. That amount of resolution and its way of handling the dynamics was simply unforgettable for a device designed to be portable, until you are reminded about the price tag which forces you to forget it.
 
In steps the new Chord Mojo. The Mojo, or Mobile Joy through some clever word play by the people working for Chord, is the brand new toy released to the market this year. I would say that it’s the first product that Chord actually designed to target not only the mid-level audiophile but also the general consumer who has some spare cash lying around for some neat new gear as the Mojo was designed not only to be used when paired with a digital audio player (DAP), our personal computer but also our smartphone. For £399 or $599, it promises to have Hugo-like sound with a much smaller price tag. Let’s see if it actually delivers.
 
SPEFICIATION
This is a place where I show my skills in copy-pasting. Here you go. Picture credits to Mython whom I took it from in the first page of the Mojo thread.
 
900x900px-LL-2293d953_MOJOSpecification.jpg
 
 
 
PHYSICAL DESIGN AND ACCESSORIES
How big is the Mojo? Its big brother, the Hugo was roughly the size of a mini tablet, slightly bigger than your average TOTL smartphone but not as big as say the iPad. The Mojo however probably resembles more like a fresh unopened deck of poker cards. But don’t let that size fool you as the Mojo actually packs some weight. Not saying it’s heavy but it’s rather a weight that makes it feel solid, helped by the fact the case is machined from a single solid block of aluminium.
 
It comes in the most unassuming of colours – black but stealth-looking it is not. Why? Firstly, there’s the Mojo name that was laser etched onto the case, making itself known to everyone what it is. Also, it comes with these 3 ‘balls’ that act as the power button and both volume up/down buttons. The power button illuminates different colours based on the sample rate of the input file, with red being the standard 44.1kHz and white being the new ‘everyone must have’ DSD. The volume buttons will also illuminate different colours based on loudness, with red being the softest while white is the loudest.
 
Some has criticized the device due to having the ‘balls’ but I have no issues whatsoever with the balls as the buttons. It’s designed well, feels great and makes you feel that each volume step while not significantly actually has a difference. And I’m glad they made it so that it’s actually buttons that feels tactile rather than a scroll wheel which at first I thought it was like when I first saw them on the Hugo. However I found something that I would change – the lights. I wished that the lights of the buttons could be switched off when in use but by this time I would think it is a Chord signature. The rubber feet below are a welcomed addition as I like that Chord has taken its own measures to help with scratch prevention.
 
The box it comes with is the most low profile product box from a major company I’ve seen so far. Small white box, with Chord Mojo being detailed on the box and can be seen when viewed at an angle. I do like the fact that they still have the technical specifications and general instructions written on the small box, along with the guide for the sample rate illumination. It comes packed with a short USB to Micro-USB cable and the Mojo. Nothing else. Not even a physical copy of the manual for the unit. Do take note that this is not my own unit so it might differ from yours.
 
Now I for one don’t really care if they supply a physical copy of the manual or not. Yes it’s nice to be able to just flip through the pages when you open the box but if Chord thinks it is more accessible in their product page then I have no complaints. It’s a pretty green initiative anyways. As for the cables remember this is Chord Electronics, not Chord Company. THEY DON’T MAKE CABLES. So expecting them to prepare every type of cable for every possible termination is just foolish. I do think that a micro-USB OTG cable should be provided so that it is just plug and play with your android smartphones if you have the right software installed. Yes I understand most audiophiles would just throw away the supplied cables for those fancy custom cables but this is also for those general consumers. As for the Apple cables, well you have to find a CCK cable anyways so finding an extra cable is part of the job. Sorry Apple fans.
 
USABILITY
Using the Mojo on my Windows laptop was fairly straight forward. Plug it in with the supplied cable then download the driver from Chord’s website, install it and you’re good to go. Foobar is my preferred media player of choice on my laptop and I love that once I finish installing the driver the asio driver is automatically set up although I did install Foobar’s asio drivers beforehand. I do face a problem that I’m not sure if anyone else faced which is that every time I try to SELECT a song from my playlist it’ll kind of skip the first 0.5 or less second of the song, though it does not happen when one song skips to the next in the playlist. Annoying at first but I didn’t really care as much as I usually just let my playlist go anyways.
 
In terms of raw power this little device does not lack any. Although I do not have any particularly hard to drive headphones in my arsenal, the hardest probably being my HE-400S, I don’t think it will not be able to power up any of the headphones you’re going to use it with especially on the go based on the specification given unless you use with them super power hungry ones like the Hifiman HE-6 and maybe the HD800/HD800s. I don’t think that will be the case as I’ve seen products with lower power that drives the HD800 although how well it drives it is another story. Just for the case for the people who actually run into the problem with driving their headphones, well then I would recommend a separate more powerful amp. Or a better recommendation would be to actually use your designed for desktop headphones to be use at your desktop.
 
I do wish that they actually considered a gain switch for this, even a simple two step gain. Using my most sensitive equipment readily available – my JH Audio Roxanne Universals, I found that some hiss could be heard when there’s no music playing. It is completely unnoticeable when in use but as again a stickler for detail I can’t help but want complete dead silence (at least to my ears) when I plug in my headphones. Having the ability to toggle it would probably help with that and still have enough power to juice up my other headphones.
 
Let me be clear: this unit gets warm. So no it doesn’t get blazing hot to touch, it gets WARM. I found it to be warmer when it’s charging compared to when it is in use, which is perfectly fine for me as I don’t expect myself to be holding onto the unit while using it let alone charge it. Even if I do have to use it like a handheld I find it still bearable, definitely not like the much hotter LH Labs Geek Out (V1) although both to the knowledge use an aluminium casing. The GO V1 is also tolerable but using the Mojo have me wondering why it dissipates more heat when its much smaller and for my case much lower in power output having used the GO100.
 
The battery on this unit was touted to be 10 hours and I believe this is true. I’ve been able to get about 8-10 hours roughly on any of my headphones at continuous use. Not sure if higher power headphones would affect this as all of my headphones used about the same battery power. Note that if you do use it with a DAP or a mobile phone it may lead to a larger strain than usual on the battery of the connecting device.
 
TEST GEAR
To give you all a basis for comparison, I’m listing the gear I’ve used during the process of the review with the unit. I’ll also include a few songs that I listened to although I think I listen to more than what will be stated.
 
Gear
  1. Sennheiser HD25 1-II (Custom Cans Uber Mod)
  2. Hifiman HE-400s
  3. JH Audio Roxanne Universals
  4. LH Labs Geek Out V2 Infinity
  5.  
Music
  1. Coldplay – Ink
  2. Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
  3. Adele – Hello
  4. Fall Out Boy – Dance Dance
  5. Ed Sheeran – I See Fire
  6. AC/DC – Back in Black
  7. Hans Zimmer – Mombasa
 
My music preference is fairly wide although as you can probably tell my tendency is to lean towards modern side of things. Simply said I listen to all genres except heavy metal which is simply not my cup of tea.
 
Due to the limited time I have with the unit I felt that I would be rushing the comparison if it were to be made with my desktop rig or my Calyx M player. However I do regret that I wasn’t able to make a comparison with my iBasso DX90 player. I actually ordered a coaxial cable from fellow head-fier derGabe but I guess the cable just hasn’t arrived at the time of writing.
 
SOUND IMPRESSION
General Sound
Again, I stress that this is not my own unit. However, I believe that the unit has already gone through at least 150-200 hours of runtime based roughly on how many guys had their hands on it for at least a week to play around so it should be fully burned in by now, although by what method whether it’s regular music files or pink noise files I have no idea.
 
My first impression on the Mojo was that it was SMOOTH. The sound was so smoothly presented that it made me feel that every song playing was played so effortlessly. It is clear to me however that although it was one of the smoothest sound signatures of a DAC/Amp that I could remember for equipment at that price range this little device did not lack any dynamism. It is dynamic enough that I can sense people toe-tapping listening to this yet I wouldn’t say its aggressive enough to be forward sounding. If I were to paint a picture it would be that I’m sitting in between the middle of the concert hall. It’s not so much in your face punchy sounding stuff that you’ll get from the front row seats but you’ll still be able to enjoy the music and the hall’s acoustic.
 
Does the comparison to a concert hall’s acoustic suggest that the device has a wide soundstage? Absolutely. It is one of the widest soundstage I’ve heard from a DAC/Amp at this price range. I did not have a Hugo on hand for a comparison but the Hugo I would say have a wider soundstage. Yet to be able to get maybe 2/3 of that soundstage (how do you actually put a value on this sort of thing really) on the Mojo is simply astounding. It is also as detailed if not more detailed than most of the stuff you can get at this price range. Again it is not as detailed as the Hugo but to be able to hear those strums and slides on the guitar strings so clearly from a device (relatively) so small is amazing.
 
The sound signature would in general be of the neutral sounding amp, but I would say it leans towards the warmer side of things, definitely more warm sounding than the Hugo.  If the Hugo was this analytical, cold general with a keen eye for detail then the Mojo would be that warm, more engaging captain that sees most of the battlefield. This sort of sound also tend to mean that the Mojo would be the less fatiguing of the two but I do not recall either to be fatiguing at all.
 
What amazed me about the Mojo was actually simply how natural it sounded. Everything about the music whether its pace or timing just felt right to my ears. The bass was not bloated (thank CHORD for that) and it has enough extension and impact that I think suits a lot of my songs.  It also never sounds harsh to me on the treble, and the midrange is just right. Definitely not recessed although saying it was emphasised would also be wrong. Hence, it has this sense of balance that made it just sound natural.
 
If I had to choose one headphone of the three I tried to be the pair for the Mojo I think it would be the HD25. It was slightly too powerful for my Roxannes which although still sounds great made me feel that there was lack of finesse or control over the sound. A small little detail but that’s what makes it not a GREAT but only a GOOD pairing for me. The HD25 however, being the headphone that leans towards aggression the most among the three (I listen to my Roxannes only at the lowest bass knob setting) had this yin-yang thing going between it and the Mojo. Its somewhat like an aggressively spiced dish served in a restaurant being paired with a smooth tasting wine. The HE-400s, being the smoothest sounding one, was a good pairing too, but it was much like smooth on smooth. I guess what I would like to say is that the Mojo pairs well with most if not all headphones, even if all 100 of your headphones have contrasting signatures.
 
MOJO VS GEEK OUT V2 INFINITY
It is important to point out the fact that the model I own is the Infinity version, not the standard version of the V2. So for those who overwhelmingly preferred the Mojo over the V2 put your pitch forks away. I would have also preferred to compare the V2+ and the Mojo which share similar target markets in my eyes but alas that will not be the case this time. I should also point out that I only use the single ended output of the V2.
 
As the V2 does not have its own internal battery, it is much smaller in size when compared to the Mojo. In terms of weight, the V2 is much lighter due to not only its smaller size but also the material which was used to build the case which was 3D-printed. The V2+ will have a similar construction in terms of the case (though they are redesigning it at the time of writing) so I would assume it would be much lighter than the Mojo. It is simply unfair to judge the unit’s separate weight as one is basically plastic while the other uses a solid block of aluminium. Heat dissipation of the units is where it gets interesting. I initially assumed that it would run much hotter than the V2 but to my surprise it was quite comparable. Yes it is still hotter but not much as I would have thought based on the fact that it’s case is aluminium, where those with the Geek Out V1 made of similar material would know that it lead to a case of “Please be careful of this hot slab” at the side of your computer.
Using my Roxannes, I would listen to my V2 at the lowest gain setting on the FRM filter. The V2 has a slightly quieter noise floor compared to the Mojo. The hiss is louder and more noticeable on the Mojo but not by much considering its much higher output power compared to 2/3 of gain settings of the V2. I did try out the V2 at its highest gain setting but still found it to be quieter.
 
Soundstage was close but if I had to name one winner it would probably be the V2. That might be due to the lower hiss I felt that gives this impression that the soundstage is more spread out and more airy. Both the V2 and the Mojo leans towards a neutral sound signature but I would say that the Mojo is warmer than the V2. Although the V2 uses a Sabre DAC chip, it doesn’t have the traditional Sabre harsh glare that most of us are not too fond of. The Geek family of products probably has the smoothest implementation of a Sabre DAC I have ever experienced. However, it doesn’t sound as smooth as the Mojo. The V2 is noticeably sharper in sound, and while it is in no way fatiguing to me it is apparent that the Mojo would be the easier one to listen to. The bass impact on the V2 hits harder than that on the Mojo.  That kind of make it sound like a contradiction as I said the Mojo was the warmer of the two but I felt that the sharper sound of the V2 made that the sound of the V2 to be more balanced. They’re both equally as dynamic and natural sounding.
 
If I were to be asked for a recommendation of the two to someone on the street, I would probably lean my recommendation towards the Mojo. Again I stress that I use the V2 Infinity and this is important as that made the price difference to be a relatively small $100. For an extra $100, you would receive a unit that has a considerably much better made casing, one that you can be using on the go with very comparable sound quality. Also, you would be able to escape from the infamous customer service of LH Labs as you can (as far as I know) only get the Infinity directly from them now. The edge that I will give to the V2 is that it works far better with my sensitive IEMs so that might have to play a part in your consideration. The lack of a need of a connecting cable may also work better for you if you spend more of your music listening time on your laptop which you move around a lot.
 
FINAL THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSION
So now that I have returned the review unit, will I be getting one for myself? No. But not for the reasons you may be thinking of.  I agree that it represents great value in the market, with good value being something that is actually getting easier to find now but great value being that higher echelon of products, but it still cost £399 or $599. It is probably the cheapest item Chord produced thus far to my knowledge but that is not the kind of money a regular person would spend easily when he goes into a shop. And as a student that doesn’t earn squat except for an odd part-time job here or there that kind of money is simply hard to fork out myself. I certainly do hope that I can get a personal Mojo in the near future though.
 
I do think the Mojo can still grow. If the same components and sound quality can be incorporated into a music player with a comparable price tag it will become a complete game changer and would sell like hot cakes (not that it doesn’t already). I personally wouldn’t even mind if it is some sort of add-on module for a micro SD reader that makes the Mojo akin an iPod Shuffle. No screen, a few buttons just for simple navigation for pure musical bliss. I’m pretty sure most of us would still slam Chord for not making a full-fledged DAP if they go through with this recommendation but the same people would probably already be in love with the Mojo already. Sometimes you just can’t please everyone.
 
If you have yet to own a pair of decent headphones (no your $5 convenient store earbuds do not count) then I think the wiser choice would be to use this money to invest in one. If you do own a pair my suggestion would be to get a music player next like the FiioX3/X5/X7 or the iBasso DX50/80/90 because I personally think a separate DAP is better compared to using your mobile phone as your source. You may want a solution that can be used both on the go and at desktop situations which allows you to conserve your mobile phone’s battery for other uses (don’t want to upset the boss/missus for missing their calls) and some also believe that this kind of DAPs serve as a better transport for external DAC/Amps. But if you have both of those and still found that upgraditis nerve tingling and are searching for a device of this price range then the Chord Mojo will be at the top of my recommendation list. It has enough power to drive most of the headphones that are commonly available with sound quality that could easily serve as your desktop rig as well. Now, seriously, a Chord DAP though?
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
What are those harmony 8 Pros like compared to the ER4?
h1f1add1cted
h1f1add1cted
That's the H8P: http://www.head-fi.org/t/769843/fit-for-a-bat-flagship-iems-shootout-8-ct6e-7-h8p-6-jh13-5-k10-4-bd4-2-3-a12-2-w500-1-se5u#post_11647609
 
To explain a bit deeper about the hiss problems, some of my DAPs I own, which produce hiss (on different level, some almost silent, but still audiobile, some have loud hiss like DX50 or M2) testing with both IEMs are:
 
FiiO X3 (first gen)
iBasso DX50
Shanling M2
 
Additional some of my DAC/AMPs I own which have hiss too (at least on very high unhealthy volume settings, but only for testing of course) with this both IEMs:
 
Meier Audio Corda Quickstep
FiiO E12
iFi Audio micro iDSD
HRT dSp
 
The only gear I have with zero hiss are the Chord Mojo, that's for me very impressive.
moedawg140
moedawg140
Great job, @ejong7!  Nice length for a review and I like how you tell it how it is - no muss, no fuss!
 
Maybe you can write a review for Chord's first DAP if they ever decide to create/release a DAP. :wink:
Pros: Much better UI than HUGO, smoother sound, long battery run, very powerful for it's size
Cons: less attack and authority than HUGO.
I was lucky enough to be elected by CHORD as captain for the Belgium review tour.  What a responsibility :)  
 
Intro:
 
As the happy owner of a HUGO that is my goto AND my Desktop DAC since 2 years, I will also try to compare the Mojo with it’s bigger brother.
 
I have always be impressed by HUGO’s precision and clarity, but also I found it sometime a little too analytic and not enough engaging (don’t shoot…this is my personal opinion, other may differ).  However, today I still have to find a desktop DAC in the Hugo price category that is worth to be bought to replace my HUGO.  Only the purchase of a DACs in the + 6000 € and above can be justified IMO to replace HUGO in my desktop setup.  This is why I am now waiting for the DAVE and also testing the TotalDAC D1-Dual.
 
We will see how the MOJO’s sound signature ’s compare …
 
For the testing, I have used the following arsenal of headphones:
 
  1. JH Roxane customs IEM
  2. Fostex TH900
  3. Ultrasone ED5
  4. HifiMan HE1000
  5. Astell & Kern TP5
  6. OPPO P3
  7. Piano Forte VIII
 
  1. And I also connected it to my desktop tube amp Eddie Curent EC445.
 
 
As for sources, I tested it with my AK100 (optical in) and my Auralic ARIES (USB in)
 
 
We will see which Headphones the Mojo can drive correctly and which one he can’t (being able to bring the Headphone’s sound to a high volume (SPL) do not means that the amplifier drive the headphone to it’s full potential.  The headphone need power AND also authority and Control to have some weight (relatively speaking) and some blood and guts to it’s sound).
 
Packaging and design: 
 
The Mojo comes in a very small and tight package, with inside a very short and nice Micro-USB cable that will be used for charging as well as for connection to a Computer.  There is no manual but a starting guide is printed under the box and a sample frequency color list is printed on the side of the box.  So…. Don’t throw away the box 

 
Mojodessousboite.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mojofrequencycolours.jpg
 
 
The MOJO is much smaller than the HUGO (82x60x22mm). 
 
It is a perfect fit with most small DAP like my AK100 (same footprint) and even to built a resonably compact 3 pieces "electrostatic" brick with a SHURE 1500.
 
 mojo-AK100opticalcable.jpg image.jpg
 
HEX-MOJO-AK100.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Also, the UI has been improved, correcting some very irritating design aspects of the HUGO:
  1. The microUSB plugs are NOT recessed like in the HUGO, so there will not be any cable fitting problems like it happened to me with my HUGO
  2. The tiny-tiny recessed on/off switch has been changed for a big push-button
  3. The volume wheel (that I still have not get used to after 2 years)  is now replaced by the 2 other up or down push buttons. Of course, those buttons change color to show indication of sampling rate and volume.  This is Hugo in heritage…
 
The only usability loss is the abandon of the ¼ headphone Jack that I have always used with my HUGO to drive my full size headphones.  Here « only » two 3,5 mm jacks.  But I guess the target of the MOJO is more portables headphones than with the HUGO.
 
 
Usage:
 
Being made of Aluminum, the Mojo is very rugged and heavy in the hand. Build quality is topnotch and reassuring.
 
I have measured 10 hours battery operations (using the Roxane IEM) and 5 hours charging.  So, battery last very long, but also needs a long charging time…
 
OUTPUTs : Like it’s big brother, there is no dedicated « line out » but the headphone jack can be used for this purpose since it is very clean (in fact there is no real headphone amp in the path. The headphone are directly using the signal from the DAC) and it can be set to a determined line-level output (3 volts) by de pressing the two volume buttons at power on.
 
INPUTs: There are 3 inputs: MicroUSB, coax S/PDIF and Optical Toshlink PLUS there is a separate Micro-usb port for charging. There is no Line-in (analog), only digital-in, so the MOJO cannot be used as an amplifier only.  It must be used as a DAC or DAC/AMP.
No cables are supplied besides the tiny micro USB cable.
 
As opposed to the HUGO, the input selection is automatic. There is no switch for this, which is very convenient.
 
The MOJO has no built-in storage, no screen interface, so it needs a DAP or another digital source to be used.
 
The Best Optical cable (IMO) comes from canada. It transmit 24/192 without any loss.
You can order the exact lengh and angle needed for your DAP/AMP combinaison.  This one is for my HUGO :
 
SysconceptOpticalcable.jpg
 
 
 
Sound:
 
The MOJO being released 2 years after the HUGO, Rob Watts has been able to fine-tune its sound signature through some minor alteration to the filters and to the programing code of the FPGA Chip. This may be the reason why I find it's sound a little bit smoother than the HUGO, which is a very good thing to me.  The Mojo offer a little bit more of the warmth that sometime lacks my HUGO while keeping its super high precision and focus.
 
On the other side, MOJO is weaker than the HUGO, which is really not a problem with portable headphones, but do not allow to drive my HE1000 or Ultrasone ED5 to their full potential (weaker not in term of SPL, but in term of impact and  “weight”)
 
Very good synergy has been found with my JH Audio Roxane, TH900 and OPPO PM-3. And also with the Piano Forte FP VIII which may be the best synergy...
 
  Mojo2headphones.jpg
 
 FullSizeRender-1.jpg
 
And surprisingly, MOJO drives the HE1000 to a very high sound volume. Even if it lack some authority & soundstage, the sound is still acceptable;
 
FullSizeRender-2.jpg
 
If more power is needed : A very exotic set-up that provide some very good sound...but not the ultimate portability :  MOJO + Analog Square paper TUR-06 or TU-05  

 
FullSizeRender.jpg
 
 mojoTH9001.jpg
 
 
 
With my tests tracks (pink Floyd: shine on your crazy diamond, Saint Preux: concerto pour une voix, Kelly Hogan: Dusty Groove, plus some Classical piano solo…), instruments positioning and separation are clean and focused.  Piano solos are wonderful and impactful, and I have rarely found pink Floyd so engaging. No needs for « special substance » here …  
 
Soundstage may not be at the level of desktop DACs, but this is not a problem to me, and can be compensated by the amplifier or the headphone.  The lack of the crossover feature, that is available with the HUGO, is also not a problem for me since ….I never used it with my HUGO.
 
I am sorry, I will not break down the bass, mids and treble as most reviewers do, I prefer to describe my experience as having been very engaging and never fatiguing despite the high amount of details provided. In some aspects the MOJO bring the warmth that the HUGO was lacking and that lead me to try some tube rolling on my Eddie current desktop tube amp. 
 
I thought that it was my Eddie current that was some how too sterile and analytical, but when connecting the MOJO to it instead of the HUGO, I realize that it was more the HUGO to blame than the tube Amp. On the other side, HUGO is more detailed and impactful.
 
 
MojoEC4452.jpg
 
 
As for portable use, which is the primary target of the Mojo, I find it really convenient, and easier to use than the HUGO, not only due to it’s diminutive size but also because some of the design flaw (recessed plugs, tiny switches, volume wheel…) have been corrected, while sound quality has been preserved.
 
All this do not mean that I do not appreciate my HUGO that has brought me hundreds hours of very happy listening, but the MOJO’s sound signature is may be a little more to my taste.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
purk
purk
Thanks for a great review.  I'm working on mine too!
pekingduck
pekingduck
A very good review; clear, concise and to the point, unlike many other reviews here...
bmichels
bmichels
thanks.
Pros: Nice price, Compact size, Ease of use, Really good quality DAC, Has all the inputs you need.
Cons: Doesn’t drive the more demanding headphones with authority, lacking accessories - only a short USB cable included in the box.
As an DIY’er / Modder and someone who builds high quality amps, the only thing I am lacking is a good quality desktop DAC. When the opportunity arose to test the Mojo I was keen to hear it with my system. No it’s not a desktop DAC but with a good quality DAC it still can make a difference to my current set-up. At present the DAC that I’m using is my Centrence Hifi-M8, which sounds really good on my system but I wanted to see how much of an improvement I could get with the Mojo.
 
 
Testing scenarios
I have tested the Mojo in a variety of ways. My first listen to it was directly with the iPhone 6 Plus, and used the camera kit for the iPhone 6 Plus and the software VOX and Onkyo HF Player for the original tests. In addition to this, I tried it with a direct connection to my Mac with USB with Amarra, and the Mac from its optical out. Finally, I tried optical from my media player to watch a film. As a portable device you have to use it in a portable set up. Connecting via the iPhone 6 Plus is a perfect way of doing it because you are able to listen to music in a high quality manner and with ease of use. It’s exactly what the Mojo is made for. As I quite often use my headphones for watching films it was important to me to test the realistic sound quality of a film via my media player (Med8er 1000 x3d) via optical.
 
Headphones used:
I used the Mojo with my Beyerdynamic DT 1350’s, Sennheiser HD 800, and did a brief test with my Hifiman HE-6’s.  The HE-6’s connected was unpractical because it requires much more power than the Mojo could deliver. This was to be expected, but I thought I’d give it a try.
 
Sound quality
 
  1. connected to iPhone 6 Plus (Beyerdynamic DT 1350)
     
For my first comparison I plugged the Mojo in my iPhone 6 Plus via VOX player and listened to the HD Tracks version of the Thriller album, the track PYT in particular. I was instantly amazed by the clarity, transparency, natural sound and bass detail coming from my DT 1350 headphones.  After listening to the Mojo,  I immediately powered my Hifi-M8 and did a quick comparison with the same track and setup.   Even though the DT 1350 is only my portable headphone for my traveling, I was definitely able to hear differences between the Mojo and Centrence Hifi-M8 with my first testing track.
 
The Hifi-M8 is known for driving a large range of headphones, from IEM’s to full size demanding headphones. Since the DT 1350’s are pretty easy to drive the test would not be for power but for clarity and DAC quality. Upon going back and forth between both the Mojo and the Hifi-M8, I definitely noticed a big improvement with the Mojo in terms of DAC quality. I heard the graininess of the Hifi-M8 DAC wise. It seemed a lot more natural sounding with the Mojo, and the bass quality and detail was quite  a bit better.
 
After discovering the quality in the bass difference I wanted to do another test track which I use for bass quality comparisons. One such track is Wesley’s theory by Kendrick Lamar, which is on the ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ album.  This completely confirmed the difference in quality.
 
  1. connected to Mac via USB with Amarra (HD 800’s)
     
After being so impressed with the combination with my DT-1350’s I wanted to test it with a more demanding headphone. My next choice was my HD 800’s, this time connecting the Mojo to my Mac using Amarra. One of the first tracks I decided to listen to was Gregory Porter ‘No love dying’ from his Liquid Spirit album (HD Tracks. The detail was really good and I heard the refinement of the DAC quality, but one of my first impressions was that it didn’t drive the HD 800s as good as a desktop rig. Compared to my two chassis desktop amp which I built myself there is a big difference in power authority and dynamics. After that I knew it would not drive my HE-6s (well I did know before :) but I thought I’d give it a shot. As to be expected the Mojo did not do a good job with my HE-6’s.
 
 
  1. connected to Mac via USB - First Watt F6 Power Amp (HE-6)
     
The next test was to connect my Mojo directly to my amplifier, which could drive my Hifiman HE-6 headphones. The first amp I tested it with was my latest build (First Watt F6). I played a Chesky Records recording - Alexis Cole’s “Ain’t we got fun” from the Kiss In The Dark album. The next track was Chet Baker’s  ‘Travelling light’ from his Bakers Holiday album (HD Tracks). For both tracks it felt like I was in a smoky jazz club with the singer singing directly at me and the band was surrounding me.  I just closed my eyes and sunk into the music. The voice clarity was amazing.  The instruments, voice separation was really natural sounding with air between each notes. The vocals stood out with great staging.  This was an amazing combination. The dynamics, clarity, and transparency were all top notch. As the First Watt F6 is power amp there was no volume control or pre-amp in between so I was able to listen to the Mojo in its most pure fashion.  The volume switches on the Mojo are a nice feature, as you are able to adjust and control in either small increments or hold the button for a smooth volume transition. The coloured light indication is also a handy feature.  
 
 
IMG_1149.jpg
 
 
 
  1. connected to pre-amp in line out mode (HD 800)
 
I was interested to test the Mojo on a  different amp in line out mode using my own built passive pre amp (tortugo audio passive pre amp) The headphone amp itself is a DIY built based from a Nelson Pass Design.  I used my HD 800 and the DSD track “Oblivion” from trumpet player Andre Heuvelman’s album “After Silence” (DSD/352).  Boy did this sound great. Every detail from the subtle button flicking and breathing to the naturalness of the music.  Also the imaging and soundstage surrounded me in every way.  The album was originally mixed using the HD 800 so I definitely wanted to give this set up a try. I have never heard this particular album sound that good. Obviously my desktop amp helped with this as I feel the Mojo does not drive the HD 800’s to its full potential.
 
IMG_1179.jpg
 
IMG_1175.jpg
 
IMG_1169.jpg
 
 
  1. connected to my Media player - Med8er 1000 x3d
     
My final test was to watch a film.  The Mojo showed great functionality and I found it very handy. If you want to listen to a film intimately whether it’s on the move with your phone / laptop or at home chilling.  I tested it on a few worthwhile scenes of World War Z.  The Mojo gave a natural feel to the voices and sounded impactful and dynamic when called for on action sequences. When using it with the HD 800 I decided to connect the Mojo to my desktop amp which gave overall better quality with all the movie sub bass I needed. Listening to the Mojo at loud levels the HD 800 could sound a bit harsh so that’s why I needed a different amp. For less picky headphones I feel it would be a great solution.

 
  1. Comparison Chord Mojo Vs Centrence Hifi-M8
     
How does the two portable amps comparison fare? My Hifi-M8 is more powerful and could drive a larger range of different type of headphones, even the HE-6’s  to a par standard, but it can’t fully drive the HE-6s as it requires more power. That said, it does a much better job than the Mojo.
With the HD 800’s I feel the Hifi-M8 powers the HD 800 better but lacks the refinement in the DAC quality.
 
The Mojo has the win when it comes to the sound quality of its amp / DAC,  ease of use, functions, digital inputs, build quality and size. The Hifi-M8 has its own nice functions like the impedance switches, tone adjusting switches, variety of headphone outputs. Another great feature is the native connection to Apple devices without having to use the Apple Camera Connection Kit. You can also charge your Hifi-M8 and Apple device at the same time.  The Camera Connection Kit  has its benefits when playing HD music and DSDs but that wouldn’t help if you are  using an old iPod, also you’re not able to charge.
 
Having the Apple device version of the Hifi-M8, I am not able to connect optical so this would prohibit me from connecting my media player or anything with a optical port.
 
The Mojo is easy to use - it would automatically detect your digital source without the need to press a button. It also allows you to know exactly what sample rate you’re using via the visible coloured lights.
 
Conclusion
Is the Mojo a desktop killer DAC? I would say no, but it definitely has a top DAC in it and as a portable system you get great value for the price.  The simplicity and functionality is great. A user could just plug it in and have great quality music on the go, no matter what source they use with it.
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Well done Dillan, some great photos there too. The Mojo is a classy piece of kit for sure, the Dac alone makes it worth the price, it has a killer sound for smaller headphones than the HE-6 if you want to take it around with you. By the way, I prefer the sound of optical through my Macbook than the sound of the USB. Weird innit?
Hawaiibadboy
Hawaiibadboy
Nice well balanced review
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
The chap's a natural isn't he? Listen to people who make amplifiers for fun....they know stuff. Dill doesn'tpost much but when he ddoes it'll be worth reading
Pros: Incredible 3d sound. Form factor. Portability. Absolute bargain price.
Cons: None
(EDIT: I don't understand why, if you put all sliders to max ,they don't appear maxed when published - ie Audio Quality, Design, etc..! )
 
Equipment: PC playing music via Foobar and Tidal, through USB connected Mojo and K3003 iems. Secondary source, Samsung S5 with USB Audio Pro Player. Material, wide range of CD ripped flac, HD flacs and DSD files.
 
 
Introduction...
 
Sorry about this, folks. I've written rather a lot here. I felt that there simply wasn't enough on the web about how this little device transforms our listening experience (at the lower end of the audiophile game in any case). In short, the Mojo allows mere mortals like us to experience a musical portrayal from electronic equipment with normal recordings and familiar albums which was hitherto unheard of and perhaps never even existed until recently, at any price.
 
This document is a catharsis for me, a need to get my thoughts, emotions out "there", to help people who have an interest in audio and a passion for music to learn more, and to further engage those who may feel they are not getting the best out of Mojo; above all it's a love letter to Mojo, and a big Thank You to Chord and Rob.
 
What I have tried to do in these pages is to put down in words how the Mojo makes me feel when I listen to music through it, and also try and work out why.
 
You will not find here any details about the box, the package, the lights, the inputs, the outputs, the heat, the charging, etc... I'm all about the sound.
 
There are 3 things I feel need to be mentioned which are not sound related:
 
1) Mojo has a great feel to it, solid, svelte, chunky. It's a delight to use and hold. Quirky, yes, but that works fine for me.
 
2) It's very small and entirely portable, almost shockingly so, utterly belying it's capabilities and rendering a certain air of disbelief about it. It does, of course, allow us to savour Mojo's full cream sonic delights on the go, and with little distress in terms of physical distractions, which is phenomenal in itself.
 
3) It's very cheap. Relatively speaking. Mojo would probably achieve the same sales at double the price, but Chord know what they are doing. They are attempting to elevate the senses of the common man to aspire to better things. Or perhaps, more cynically, this is the free crack to get the punters hooked?
 
Preamble...
 
Talking of drugs, I would like to point out that I'm not a user of recreational drugs. Well... a I am bit of a caffeine addict (nothing I can't handle!) and the odd beer or two, but nothing psychadelic. You are simply getting the ramblings of a (fairly) sane music lover.
 
I'm no seasoned tester of HiFI, I've not got the time, the money, nor the inclination to try out many different products in A/B listening tests. I tend to shoot fairly high in my purchases, relatively speaking, buying outside my comfort zone in terms of justifiable expenditure (for me personally, not in general terms). Probably this is in keeping with most "seekers of the audio grail". We all experience that sinking feeling when we pull the trigger on that next "must have" purchase. Adrenalin, mixed with vague guilt and yet hope that we're doing the right thing for our quest!
 
So it was I approached yet another purchase. After splurging on Grado GR10's earlier this year (my first foray into Head Fi) I quickly followed with a source purchase; the Fiio X3ii, then E12 amp. I was still hungry for more. I mentally justified the purchase of the K3003's (which I had my eye on even when I bought the GR10's) and once acquired, though mightily impressed, I did feel they were capable of more. My source was wanting, for sure. I took the plunge and got hold of the IDSD Nano and this made me realise raising the bar via the source (DAC/AMP) could indeed take me further on the journey to Nirvana. I was happy, despite the connectivity for portable use the IFI didn't really offer. It was very cheap and certainly made a difference over the Fiio onboard DAC.
 
Then it all started...I saw the rumours of "something big" coming out from Chord; the hype, the countdown, and really thought nothing of it, apart from vague curiosity. Chord was out of my league.
 
Then the Mojo was launched and I started to read more, and more, and realised I had to hear this. Crikey, it was within the realms of reality budget-wise! Hugo sound for a fraction of the price??? What was this madness?
 
And I knew, because of my location, it would be a blind purchase. The forum was going crazy, stocks were running out, buzz at fever pitch. I was hooked. I knew the Mojo would be mine. And as soon as possible... I scraped together cash from hither and thither, pawned a kidney, sold a child, and placed the order (that nauseating feeling again). It arrived in the post three days later...
 
It's all about the music, you see...
 
Ok, so where to begin to get this off my chest....I note there are very few reviews of this marvel. I think there's a simple reason; it's TOO bloody good.
 
Sometimes really good things defy description. And they just make you want to experience them rather than write about them. The few reviews there are are pretty unanimous in their praise, that is for sure, but how can you keep saying "this is superb, it's great", keep giving things 10 out of 10 or 5 stars and maintain that this is really better than all the other 5 star products?
 
For me, hifi, audio has one defining criteria, or raison d'etre. How does it make me FEEL about the music I am listening to. Ultimately am I moved by what I am hearing. Does it make me feel emotional, can it make me cry for joy? Does it get my puse racing with it's sheer exuberance? That's all.
 
I am a junkie in this regard and I know it, seeking that emotional buzz, and any piece of kit which gives me more of the buzz is a must have item. My hopes that Mojo would become my new enabler in this regard were not unfulfilled.
 
A Paradigm Shift?
 
I think we have something here which is very special.
 
I believe this is a history defining product, at least in HiFi terms. I feel it's going to go down, for me at least as, one of those "do you remember when you first hear the Mojo?" like when Kennedy was assasinated, I know it puts a bit of a downer on a review of such a joyous product, but to each person who can hear what this can do with some really good IEMs or Cans or even in a good loudspeaker setup, they will have that defining moment etched in memory.
 
I am not alone. I played some tracks to my stepson last night, and he just started grinning. And he's no headfier, just a guy who loves music and likes to hear it all the time. His comments were, visibly moved, as he removed the K3003's from his ears, "you can hear everything, it's amazing!". He's not wrong. You can hear it all. In a wonderful, smoothly presented, unfatiguing way. For the first time, it all makes sense. Albums after album of familiar tracks reveals new depths, new richness, new interplays, fresh subtleties hitherto concealed as a wash of sound.
 
I would say what we have here is a paradigm shift in "budget" hifi. For this item to be available at such a low price, less than a half decent mobile telephone, is phenomenal. It's a landmark. It's like the piece of audio equipment I've been waiting for, like... forever.
 
There is a caveat however. I truly believe that to get the full experience, you will need to invest in some very good transducers. If you have them already, then great! But don't expect to experience the wonders Mojo has to offer with mid-tier phones. The Mojo magic is apparent when you use highly resolving headphones. Specialists in capturing minutae of detail, subtle audible cues which are lost on lesser devices. I have tried the Mojo with my GR10's and the effect is greatly dimished. With the K3003's the effect is completely addictive. I would go further and say that my GR10's viz the K3003 really sound poor through Mojo, relatively speaking. The gap between Mojo+GR10 and the Mojo+K3003 is much widened over, say X3ii+GR10 and X3ii+K3003. This is quite normal when you think about it, if we are to assume that the capabilities of the K3003 scale up more rapidly than the GR10's. I suppose,I'm just pointing out that if you are not noticing immediate "magic" when listening to Mojo, consider your transducers.
 
I would really like to hear some top over ear phones, like the T1's or HE600's or HD800's. My feeling is that the Mojo will shine even more.
 
The Great Illusionist...
 
I have come to the conclusion that the Chord Mojo is a master conjurer. It rather magically, reconstructs a musical picture which is so vivid, so layered, detailed and well organised that it gives your brain a myriad of options to listen to. The more complex the mix, provided it has been well recorded, the more intense the experience. One can follow groups of strands of music with a mix of multiple groups of strands.
 
In order to create this masterful illusion, I believe all the ingredients of a sonic image have to come together perfectly, or nearly so. So if we examine the ingredients we need to also look at a certain ability for the rest of the chain of equipment to keep up so to speak. Thus you can't expect to experience the full impact with lesser iem's or phone, or poor source material. As mentioned at the start, I am fortunate enough to be able to listen with a decent pair of AKG K3003's which, I believe , are up to the task, and I have a host of Flac rips and HD Tracks and DSD files to work with. I have tried the system out with my Grado GR10's and they just don't do it.
 
So, armed with my K3003's and some great flacs and DSD, we can start to work out what else works in this scenario to create the "great illusion".
 
All the basics are good, dynamics, treble purity, midrange clarity, ample and defined bass, separation, layering, soundstage great, albeit quite in the head mostly (not really a problem for music enjoyment and emotion, for me a matter of taste).
 
Standout sound attributes...
 
For the purposes of collation, to get a better handle on just why this thing is so mesmerising, we can outline specific attributes which in turn define the Mojo in sonic terms:
 
Treble definition and responce is outstanding. Cymbals and delicate percussion transients are just amazing. 
 
Bass and midrange, are fine. No complaints. (In fact the bass power is strong, and is also very clear)
 
Pace and timing is spot on, rhythmic interplay is excellent.
 
Now we move on to what I believe to be the "big thing" with the Mojo...
 
Positioning and definition of individual instrument is incredible. ie Layering, separation and soundstage is like nothing I've heard. This is probably THE most apparent and immediately noticeable feature of Mojo. Each good recording, be it Rock, Electronic, Classical, Jazz, Ambient, has a holographic life to it. And the precision is absolutely incredible. It's almost laughing at you, inviting you test out your own ability to shut your eyes and see just how far you can go to aurally define the music space, be it artificial or naturally created. I can actually hear a difference position for each note being played on some Keith Jarrett Trio ECM recordings. Put on some good jazz played live and you understand within seconds what all the buzz is about, and why concerts are sold out years in advance.
 
Recently, I've also come to believe that very subtle handling of phase differences are wholly important in creating separation between instruments. Layering, soundstage, precision are all affected implicitly by how the brain perceives these minute differences in phases between left and right. We could go further and say, it's more a case that the illusion of layering and holography of a soundstage is created by those phase differences. It can either be done with subtlely to make something natural, beguiling and wholly intelligible or it can be a train wreck of hamfisted, nauseating effects (I'm thinking Dolby "headphone" processing?). Needless to say, the Mojo falls into the former camp.
 
Basically, the Mojo transforms each note of a well loved piece of music into a delight to be savoured. A note of piano from Miss Clare Remembers by Enya off Watermark, becomes a joy to hear, literally.
 
The swell of orchestration and keyboard in Cinematic Orchestra's Crimson Wing is entirely plausible and completely, utterly beautiful in the purest sense. Simply remembering it whilst I type moves me.
 
You see... It's not just the instruments themselves which are given this holographic treatment, but the notes themselves, thus each note has it's air and space, which is infinite in complexity. I know it's not possible to recreate infinitely this space using a digital signal, but the Mojo gets further than anything else to create the analogue picture with complexity and purity and logical structure.
 
Building the picture in the real world...
 
Let's ramble on with some specific examples.
 
Yes - Close To The Edge (Steve Wilson remix 16/44.1 Flac) has always fascinated me; the interplay between the members of the groups, the chaotic-yet-musical, incredibly dense soundscapes. It can all get a bit too much, fatiguing, if not handled well. It really needs a good system to hold it all together. Usually I have to skip passages or adjust volume, etc. Now... listening with the Mojo, K3003 combo, I am hearing it as if never before. It's like the simplest thing to follow. Like I've taken some mind-enhancing drug. I am telling myself, "what was all the fuss about before?", "what was the problem?"; it just sounds completely normal, natural, relaxed, unfussy, and, above all, engaging. Driving rhythms, basslines, clear vocals, all in their own space and time to follow or not, to listen to as a whole or in parts, at my convenience. It's not forcing the music onto me, I'm able to listen to it on my own terms. To delve into to appreciate. Wow.
 
Another dense piece of music which can quickly sound harsh and tiring is Red Rain (DSD) by Peter Gabriel. Not so with Mojo. There is a really big sound to this track, with layered keyboards, percussion and bass. It's really an impressive piece and each layer is given room to breath magnificently. The rhythmic drive to the track is superbly recreated. The driving bass just is so clear and powerful. Over the standard CD rip, the DSD version is notably freer of harshness and even more intelligible. A revelation.
 
Moving on to some newer Prog Rock, Steven Wilson's masterpiece, Hand. Cannot. Erase., it's a sublime experience. A veritable cocktail of textures, emotions and soundscapes, exquisitly portrayed. As we know, Steve Wilson is a master of prog production and there are intricate and dense moments in HCE. One such is the 2nd track 3 Years Older. Like the Close to the Edge track above, all is intelligible, defined, magnificent. It's quiet moments are handled with absolute delicacy, making the soaring crescendos all the more explosive and giving maximum payoff.
 
Oh, I can go on and on. Classical (excellent), acoustic, jazz ensemble, rock, all handled with a definite signature; a surreal sense of space and time. Like nothing other I've ever heard. Is it wholly natural? Not sure. I think so. Reading a little of the tech stuff written by Rob and expounded by others, it converts losing as little as possible of the minutae of the information. The micro-cues which are retained, recreated, are all important in going the extra mile in creating a realistic illusion, Whatever it is and however it's achieved, it's enticing, addictive, mesmerising.
 
Let's bring it to a close...
 
In short the Mojo offers a listening experience which I have never known before. I am trying to put my finger on what is special about it, simply. I believe that fact that it gives a true 3rd dimension to the sound means that one can experience music with that extra dimension in mind. It's not a gimick or a trick; but a masterful and close-to-perfect illusion. It's rather like the difference between seeing a mountain vista on a top quality HD 2d screen and experiencing it for real. With the screen in 2d you can only get a hint of the literally awesome scale of the reality. The Mojo takes you on an aural journey which is very fine indeed. It is literally awesome.
 
It works with all the files I have thrown at it (to be fair, I have been testing it out with good recordings). And Mojo shows off it's magic with CD Rip flacs and/or DSD's and HD Flac in equal measure.
 
I believe you need the right "cans" to enjoy it, but it's an entirely essential product.
 
 
milkyspray
milkyspray
3d characteristics are those of the k3003 not the mojo dac. It cant be replicated with any other phone. Dont believe the hype save your money
salla45
salla45
Hi 5 - thanks. I hope will enjoy as much as me. Note, I got some T1 Beyerdynamics, and the effect is only heightened by it, to an astonishing degree. And the device is more than capable of driving the T1's.
 
Milkyspray - I would disagree strongly with you on this. There are many reports of this attribute by other members in the Mojo thread, with many different headphone combos. Indeed with my T1's I am getting even more 3d effect. Reports of excellent  paîring with the HD800's are not without good reason, they are renowned for their amazing soundstage.
salla45
salla45
Also... I must add, it's not JUST about the 3d aspect. It's the whole package of sound, timbre, layering and how these aspects combine with (perhaps the most import aspect) the timing, is phenominal. The transients are so fast that the structure of the music is redefined. So many times I've put on albums which Ive known for decades and  thought "so THIS is what it should have sounded like". Especially dense music which has good rhythmic interplay. I can't say it enough; this is is specific to Mojo, in my experience, and brought out by the best phones even more. It's like you didn't even realise what you were missing.
Pros: Great Sounding, Works with most headphones, Energetic and Effortless sound, Price
Cons: Design has some querks, only 3.5mm stereo out, 8hrs battery life
Mojo-1.jpg

The Chord Mojo is the newest product launch just this Mid October by Chord Electronics. Mojo, the short form of Mobile Joy, is the 3rd battery powered DAC by Chord and also the smallest and most affordable of the series at just SGD$899. Hugo(SGD$2800) and the Hugo TT(SGD$6500) before it are many times the size and price yet provide the performance that almost any audiophile will rave about. Will Mojo rise up to the standards of its predecessors?  In short, totally!

Design

Mojo-2.jpg

 
The Mojo is the size of a park of card and maybe a little thicker. Made of solid aluminium coated black with 3 round balls as buttons with various sockets. The words and icons are laser etched to the surface and the black matt coat is relatively scratch resistance.

A total of 3 digital inputs and 2 3.5mm stereo outputs are found on the Mojo. There is no analogue in or balance ports, the whole design purely focusing on its DAC and output to portable headphones. The digital inputs are Optical, Coax and USB, covering most input types that a DAC could consume.

The 3 balls work as buttons, with 1 as power and 2 as volume. Each of them will light up in a series of rainbow color to represent the bit rate and volume. The colors are honestly hard to remember but are really useful and will be described in the next section. The balls spins about in their socket but so far I do not really think they are better then buttons except being fancy.

In totality, the Mojo is a solid design that is relatively small and solid. Balanced out would have been nice in the form of AK 2.5mm but I'm not really complaining at this price point.

In Use

The Mojo in use is rather interesting.

First the the size: Yes it is rather small but it makes stacking with everything touch screen troublesome. The straps will have to go over the screen as most touch devices are rather long and big (16:9 ratio). Considering the market that Mojo is targeting, making a long and thin device would have been better. Other then that, it  is really small for its capability and if you have a AK100/120 or DX50/90, this guy would be right at home as a stack though a little thick. Using a velcro will probably solve the issue, though it will leave a mess when you want to remove it.

Secondly is the ports: They are good but for a portable, I wonder if it would have been better if all the ports are on one side. The issue is wires going in and out of both sides means stacking and putting it into the pocket is rather impossible without hitting the cables on either end. Infact I lost a few connections via USB with my ZX 2 when my digital cable was leaning onto something in my bag. If everything was one side, it would have been a more optimal layout for portable usage.

Thirdly buttons (or balls): Its a love hate relationship with those balls and where they are. I quite love to just fiddle with them and roll them about, but the way they are positioned makes them either really hard to press when stacked, or really prone to being pressed by anything. If you faced the words "mojo" inwards, the balls will need your finger to reach in to toggle them, if you face the words out, anything just touching the device from an angle probably will mess with your volume.

Forth the rainbow colors: This is actually one design I actually love. You can dim or brighten them by pressing the volume buttons together. Knowing the device is on or off is simple with those big balls of glowing lights. The colors initially were confusing but after a while you just need to know red is the lower, green is middle and violet/white is up top. In-fact what I love most is based on the headphones I use and the color I listen them at, I can set the volume before playing easily. There is also a small colored led under the power port. It works rather well to tell how much power is left.

Some other stuff: Line out is achieved by pressing the two volume buttons at start up. This result in two violet lights and if its too high voltage for your amp (3v), just press the volume buttons to reduce it. 3v was too high for my CDM but perfectly fine for the WA22. The device runs for about 8hrs via USB and high res songs, gets quite warm and even hot when its charging. However no worries as there are internal circuitry which will shut itself off at 65c. This prevents damages to itself or accidental burns to your skin. The battery life is only about 8hrs via USB. It is a little short in my opinion and will require a daily charge.

Sound Quality

Mojo-5.jpg

 
The most important part for any audio device especially a DAC/AMP. Mojo in one word: Superb.

Headphones: Lyra, H6, ESW10, RS1

Transport: ZX2

Songs: Orchestra from FF:Distant Worlds, Gate, Hotel California, Songs by Susan Wong, Songs by Suara

Amps: WooAudio WA22, ALO CDM

Firstly to start of, its a relatively neutral sounding amp, leaning towards energetic and musicality. Hearing it through the many song, I find it has no true preference to any genra, making good work of anything thrown at it without any emphasis or harshness.

The greatest value of Mojo to me compared to any DAPs and DACs I heard is the energy in the song. No matter which song I played, it always have this energy that no other device I could match. The moment I switched to my ZX2, iPhone or my CDM in built DAC, they immediately felt for a lack of words: tired. It is like the vocals and instrument lack that little shim and power. Mojo felt like the performer who just arrived on stage full of energy while the other devices felt like the energy has all been used up and winding down.

Then there is the effortless of the sound. No matter what you throw at it, no sound in the spectrum will feel like its catching up or lacking in energy. This also makes the sound more realistic to me, similar to a live performance.

The other really notable sound quality which I would point out is how realistic the highs are yet never feeling harsh. The cymbals, bells and strings all felt really natural, especially in this tracks of distant worlds, no matter how much the bass or number of instruments, the highs will always be notable yet never distorted in any form.

Lastly the bass of this device is quick, punchy but without the feeling of emphasis. If the songs have little bass, like those from Suara, they felt well balanced in the background as support elements. But in Gate, a mid bass heavy track, its quick, punchy yet never bleeds into the vocals or mask the highs.

The only complain if I really want to squeeze one out about the sound is it sounds "Matter of Fact". The output of the device just sound right, but sometimes this can get boring and this is where amping comes in. By default, Mojo vocals in most track felt well centered with good mass, running it through the WA22, the vocals spread out a little more and in general more soothing. Between raw or amped in this case is more of a preference. The CDM however shows some interesting improvement which I will cover in the next section.

Drive and Matching

On its own, the Mojo is really powerful. I do not think any headphone will have insufficient volume or authority. Everything I thrown at it sounds great. It may not be the absolute best of each headphone, but definitely no complains and enjoyable. Even with the harder ones like LCD2, it sounds perfectly fine.

Mojo-4.jpg

 
However to put it at its best, to me a ALO CDM acting as its amp, sublime. It actually adds even more energy to the sound, providing a touch more air especially in the vocals and highs. Euphoric sounding, it may just be the best stack that can fit into a bag.

Value

Of all the audio gear I purchased, I rate this the best value product. It sounds great, small enough and could be used by itself perfectly fine. At a sub SGD$1000 price, it beats DAC/DAPS twice or even triple its price. I really can't think of a source device that provides more value based on the performance it provides. 

In conclusion, Mojo to me is Magic in the pocket. A worthwhile purchase for any audiophile who wants the best without paying a king's ransom.

  • Like
Reactions: howdy and salla45
Pros: Affordable(ish) Chord product -Sound quality- Stunning minimalistic beauty- Flexibility- Battery life nr the magic 10 hours
Cons: Lack of Accessories- Short power cable-- Optical connection- unsuited for some cables- Lights don't switch off -I don't own one(yet)
The Chord Mojo has arrived. It was an unexpected arrival for me because I thought nothing this size would come from Chord.
At various meets up and down the country I've  listened to the Hugo and Hugo TT half heartedly; I wasn’t prepared to spend £1400 on a portable device. I remained skeptical that my Ibasso DX100 sounded any better through the Hugo than it did through the headphone out. As we all know , in a show setting with the levels of ambient noise and listening to a device lots of people are queuing to hear is not the ideal way to figure out subtle differences, and my Sennheiser HD800s are more than a little open.
 
 
So hence I was delighted to hear that something special was on the way to me that was half the size of the Hugo and retailed at £399 , but with much of the quality. With thanks to Levi who considered me for the review team, here’s what I thought.
20151026_175001_HDR_resized.jpg
 
 
 
Sound quality
 
 
This is the most important criteria for me as a reviewer. I do not know what people have out there as existing systems. I do not know what people can afford. If the one factor what does it sound like cannot be arrived at really quickly, there is a danger that people may turn to Facebook updates in frustration and/or boredom! I cannot take such a risk! Therefore let me whet your appetites and hopefully you can dig further into my adventures with the Mojo.
The Mojo delivers on sound quality. It has a classy sound signature that, as a Dac/Amp, outclasses anything I currently own. 
I tried as many combinations as I could within the time I spent with the Mojo. There is a responsibility to you, the reader, not to make snap decisions based on 1 nights’ quick listen when expectation bias and flavour of the month fever can twist things. I spent many (happy) hours with the Mojo and pitted them time and again against the competition , be it a headphone out on my phone to plugging in my Cambridge Audio DacMagic +, a desktop Dac/Amp which boasts incredibly low jitter and lots of power etc. etc.
 
 
 
20151021_125222_HDR_resized.jpg
 
Here is a list of phones used:
 
IEMs
 
 
Sennheiser IE800 Universal and Snugs Custom Shelled
Flare R2Pro Titanium Universal and Snugs Custom Shelled
Klipsch X11i Universal
Westone UM2 ACS Custom Shelled
RHA M750 Universal
Sony XBA4ip Universal
Monster Inspiration Universal
ACS Encore Studio Customs
 
 
 
20151021_161831_HDR_resized.jpg
 
 
 
Over Ears
 
Sennheiser HD800 Modded
HiFiMan HE-6
Mr Speakers Aloha Dogs
Pendulimic Stance S1
 
Sources
 
 
Samsung Galaxy Note II
Ibasso DX100 DAP
Colorfly C3 DAP
Ibasso D14 Bushmaster Portable Dac/Amp
Cambridge Audio DacMagic + Desktop Dac/Amp
Macbook Pro Retina
 
 
 
 
 
 
The testing
 
 
The differences in sound quality vary according to quality of recording and quality of headphones. 
 
When we talk about the HD800 we talk about the top level of sound quality and a potential issue with Amp mismatching. There is a possibility some headfier’s will be shaking their heads in disbelief at stuff of this size being tried. The Mojo makes easy work of powering up the HD800 to ear splitting volume.The HD800 was able to showcase some of the Mojo’s magic- tighter faster bass, cleaner presentation, micro effects in splendid isolation. Tonally I was hearing a sound which I would describe as lifting a curtain away from the music. The HD800 is a fitting way to compare the sources -  if a little unfair when we consider the headphone out of the Colorfly C3 and Note II which inevitably fall short of the power necessary. 
 
First up was my new shiny Ibasso D14 Bushmaster. It is a Dac/amp with a right angled OTG cable for Android phones. The D14 retains much of the sparkly Ibasso signature sound with not quite the level of refinement of the DX100. After 30 minutes of switching, in disbelief I realised that I had made the decision to sell the D14 after one month of ownership. The Mojo was that much better. I heard the differences in tonal quality accuracy rhythm straight away : I refused to accept this was not a placebo effect. After constant switching even using my cheapest phones I was utterly smitten with the Chord. The only hope for me was that the DX100 would reveal how good it could perform and outperform the Mojo.  As for the Ibasso D14, I sold it within 24 hours of listening to the Mojo. It has gone. The Mojo too, being a review model, has gone on to my good friend and fellow reviewer @dill3000.
 
The DX100 is a wonderful DAP I have had for 2 years now and this has had a huge amount of use from me , so much so it has been back to Ibasso twice this year, once for battery and WiFi replacement and the second time I managed to blow the Dac chip. The stock sound of the DX100 is warm , bassy with lots of detail.I have listened to DAP after DAP, the Astell and Kern AK300 and Tera Player are the only ones thus far I feel improve on the DX100s sound. This is not to criticise anyone else’s DAPs I certainly have not listened to them all, and I like a warm sound too. 
The DX100 has 128 Gb of storage, 6.3 mm and 3 mm headphone sockets, line out, composite out, optical out. It is very big for a DAP and very powerful. I love it. The DX100 gave me the opportunity to compare from the headphone out and volume matching to the Mojo using the optical out connection. I could then tell what the DX100 could do on it’s own and then as a transport for the Mojo. I was floored by  the results! 
Redbooks tried included Adele’s new release Hello. Lots of soaring vocals and a relatively uncomplicated recording for Adele. 
Listened and switching between both units every 30 seconds every minute then the whole track. I got to know that track quite well…. I was convinced after exhaustive backwards and forwards that my first impressions were the correct ones. The Mojo as a Dac/Amp could beat the DX100. And it was an enjoyable engaging refined performance. 
A 3 way match was also set up between the Mojo , the DX100 and the DacMagic + desktop amp. Again , the most convenient connection for fast switching and volume matching was optical using the DX100 as the player. 
 
 
Anyone a Muse fan? 
20151026_174703_HDR_resized.jpg
 
I listened to the Drones album as a 24 96 Flac. Plenty of bass, piano, screeching guitars, despair of course too. Could the Mojo take on the DacMagic + as a Desktop solution when the Mojo is merely the size of a large pebble? The DM + outperforms the DX100 and because it can be battery run using a Power Gorilla Battery Pack tends to go everywhere with me. Therefore, for much of my serious listening DX100 into the DM + then line out to my Fidelity Audio HPA200 SE Head Amp is the way to go. 
The DM+ could not match the Mojo for sound reproduction in mine and 2 other guinea pigs’ opinions. More musical, more going on, more texture to the voices and the guitars, more echo, these were the sorts of comments being traded back and forth in favour of the Mojo.
 
 
 
 
20151021_145725_HDR_resized.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
Value for Money
 
The Mojo is not a cheap device as a portable but by gum it’s cheap for Chord!The Mojo is priced at a premium for a portable device. I was surprised to find that there were no cables offered excepting a tiny micro usb cable. Bearing in mind I bought a 1m cable for £2 on Monday in a large department store that works just fine. An OTG cable cost me £3. When a set of IEMs costing £30 comes with a decent set of accessories why does the Mojo only come with such a short charging cable? 
 
 
Build Quality
 
I have an optical cable, it is quite a thick stiff lead and it falls out of the Mojo at will. As I use optical connections most of the time, this proved to be a problem, and necessitated some swapping around of tv leads. Therefore I must point out that the SPDIF of the Mojo is a weakness to the otherwise solidness of the product. The thinner the cable the better for the Mojo. So huge audiophile cables are out I’m afraid.
When charging  the Mojo and listening at the same time the unit gets hot; great in the Winter! As a Class A , the Mojo is quite warm anyway , I have yet to put it in my pocket and take it out for a stroll to see how hot it would get in my pocket as I did not have the suitable OTG lead or CCK lead or optical lead. But be warned, stuff this good tends to run warm. 
The lights are shiny and beautiful and there is a dimming function for their use at night and to extend battery life. I find them very pretty to look at and they serve the purpose of showing the bitrate of the file. The lights are a cornerstone of the Chord look but the inability to switch them off completely may cause some privacy issues when taken to bed at night for some peaceful pre sleep Beethoven.
 
 
A couple of headphones I used in slightly more detail:
 
Pendulimic Stance S1
 
 
A great sounding wireless headphone which was one of the hits at CanJam. The wired option gave me a chance to have a listen to the HDTracks Rhythm of the Saints by Paul Simon . The differences in bass tightness and overall clarity  were much harder to pick out than with the HD800 but they were nevertheless there. I would be hesitant to shell out the money for the Mojo if this was your headphone of choice.
This was the first set of headphones I tried with the Mojo, believe me the Mojo grew on me from here.
 
 
20151021_145536_HDR_resized.jpg
 
 
 
 
Mr Speakers Alpha Dogs
 
As 2 headphones could be run from the Mojo simultaneously, the Alpha Dogs were used to evaluate  by my girlfriend at the same time as the Stance S1s. My girlfriend does not like her music as loud as me so the lower sensitivity of the Dogs gave us an opportunity to both listen to the same track at the same time at roughly the same volume.
The Alpha Dogs are a great closed headphone , they are reference like in their signature and show up micro details, including tape hiss. The phones are ultra revealing, they need lots of amping too. The Mojo’s handle the Dog’s needs comfortably and these sound a joy through the headphone port, with the HD800s in as well , the Mojo does get a little hot.
 
 
 
 
 
Sennheiser IE800
 
 
20151026_174651_HDR_resized.jpg
My favourite IEM with the sweetest of mid and top end reproduction and lots of bass. These shone with the Mojo’s. They stepped up a gear and were the first phones that made me see the beautiful extra clarity and accuracy that the Mojo was bringing. I listened backwards and forwards between the DX100 DacMagic + and Mojo for 25 minutes, got fed up with missing out in the Mojo, and as time is precious, relaxed and listened to track after track for hours. 
 
Flare R2 Pro Titanium 
 
20151026_174945_HDR_resized.jpg
A fantastic IEM with a slightly warmer signature than the IE800s. They  lack very little in any area that I can hear apart from a slightly rolled off treble. I listened to Birdy through my Note II OTG’d to the Mojo and then the headphone out and to me the difference was startling. If you like a bass with real punch you would be well advised to give these a listen. I have now had these customised into full shells as shown above. Much more comfortable, just awaiting the Mojo to get back to their best.
 
 
 
HiFiMan HE-6
 
Bought from the States thanks to @midnightwalker. I have had these headphones for a week. I have unwrapped them simply to check they produced sound from both drivers, and to see whether the Mojos could drive them. Believe it or not, yes they do go loud well before top volume is reached. The results are what one would come to expect from an HE-6 which is significantly underpowered, thus it sounded harsh and sibilant and closed in. It was an interesting experiment anyway. The HiFiMan's are awaiting something very special indeed to be built for me. 
 
 
 
Conclusions
 
I once had an absolutely wonderful DAC, the M2Tech Young from Italy, it cost me a fortune! It sounded as it should having a rich refined ultra detailed signature I have not heard since. During this review I was given the opportunity to remember what that sound was like. So thank you to @It was a great device musicday and Chord for giving me that opportunity. But the Mojo goes further. Because it offers that sound, for much less money, and adds portability and Android compatibility and an 8-10 hour battery. And let's not forget the exquisite styling. The Mojo is a work of art in it's minimalism , yet it has these huge light buttons that just cry out to be touched!
 
If it looks like a Lamborghini and it drives like a Lamborghini.... it's a Lamborghini!


Now we are one

1 year down the line.... and we're still together :)
The Mojo is still with me .The above model I reviewed, sadly , it had to send it back to Chord . I did get to listen to it later on in the Tour because it went to @dill3000 at a time when he happened to be building a huge amp for me. I applied to Chord to buy the Mojo from the Tour but they wouldn't let me keep it :frowning2:
I had an Ibasso Bushmaster at the time , and had bought that directly from China and waited all that time for the DAC/Amp to be imported. It was a great device. I had only owned it for a week but before my stage in the Mojo Tour was over , I had sold it to pay for the Chord. There then came an agonising wait whilst Chord desperately tried to get the sufficient numbers out there to meet demand. All in all I did well , I think I was only without a Mojo for a month.
The Mojo still goes with me everywhere. It adds life and sparkle to everything from my $32.75 **** UEs to my Bass Heavy AKG K1000 Phones . The AKGs are perhaps the least sensitive headphones ever made ; the Mojo is plugged into my @dill3000 created First Watt F6 Power Amp to give them the power they need. The Mojo supplies plenty enough voltage to make a pretty stunning preamp although it looks a little strange juxtaposed to a giant 50 WPC super amp!
IMG_20161001_200516590.jpg
IMG_20161001_200500277.jpg

I have had lots of problems in my search for a cheap replacement for my phone, specifically chosen to be used as a longer lasting OTG device than my Samsung Galaxy Note II. I tried the Cubot H1 . This had a battery life (5300 mAh), not kidding , of 2 days... But the OTG was hopeless on it for interference , even in Airplane Mode. My next was a 6300 mAh Leagoo Shark1 with exactly the same problem. Android phone no.3 , the Median Life E5005 5" smartphone seemed like a bargain. £79.99 from Aldi with Android 6.0 and 4G as standard. The OTG was again dreadful.
Smartphone-522-A.jpg

I have now settled for the Motorola Moto G4. This has some interference compared to the Note II when in cellular mode , but in airplane mode is whisper quiet. It has a full day's battery life supports Android 6.0 , has a Fast Charge facility , 4G as standard and takes a Micro SD card. All for £159.99.
811HFZC6CVL._SL1500_.jpg

What does the Chord Mojo bring to the party after all this time? When others are bringing Prosecco, Chord brings Champagne.
img-crop.asp.jpg
Prosecco_di_Conegliano_bottle_and_glass.jpg

Some come with a box of Celebrations and are welcomed, Chord offers up hotelchocolat... 260793_WREATH_BOX-HALF_AND_HALF.jpg
IDShot_540x540.jpg

The Mojo is an example of when something is simply right. It brings out detail and depth in my music. This in turn creates a clarity and poIish that I find in only the best audio equipment.
I don't use the Mojo for my running. It doesn't take to being jogged about like that. The buttons will sometimes switch on and off at random when they are in a bag . If I'm not careful , one of these my ears will be blown clean off when the Mojo switches back on at full volume! I can tell you I have a shock or 2 over the past year. Not every usb plug will charge the Mojo properly and it takes a long time to charge compared to the newest Smartphone devices out there. It adds a lot of bulk to a phone or a DAP , especially when you see how thick my DX100 is anyway.
ibassodx100.jpg

Let's face it ; no marriage is perfect. The most important thing is we're still in love.
love.jpg

Amendment Dec 2016 - I have directly compared the RHA DL Dacamp and iFi Micro iDSD BL Dacamp during this month. The Mojo is still the winner for me. The decisive winner. I have some links to some tracks I recorded to side by side compare the iFi and Mojo using a semi pro ART analogue to digital recorder. If you are interested in hearing the difference between the 2 please have a listen. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B41-5ITI_tfbaFVBYU9CWWhqdncThe results I hope you will hear for yourselves. This is not the best that either Dac can sound; there is analogue loss. But it will show you (hopefully) which sounds better to your ears. Surely that is better than any hot air blown in this review or any measurement I could try to baffle you with......

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B41-5ITI_tfbV09lVnllN2hrSGs
This is my latest venture - I wanted to find out for once and for all whether optical or USB is the way forward of listening to my music - what do you think?

[VIDEO]https://youtu.be/jt4b9cLY9vQ[/VIDEO]
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Thanks so much. I always wanted to write about geeky stuff but I endedshuffling aambulances around for a living . I shall keep the typo it's the story of my life!
ShreyasMax
ShreyasMax
Hey there, great review, very well written. Being a current iBasso D14 owner, that first part of your review makes me all the more eager to try out the Mojo, and see how it really steps up a gear or two, when compared to the Bushmaster. iBasso also have the P5 Falcon going around, and it'd be interesting if you get to compare this to the Mojo. 
 
Cheers, and happy listening.
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
I'm so sorry @ShreyasMax . I  had no notifications set my reviews so I didn't realise you had sent this. Thank you very much for your praise. When it's this good it's easy to write about. I had the Pelican but haven't tried the P5 . If I ever do , I'll send you an update. I have tried numerous DAPS and even an Arcam rHead Integrated Class A amp over this year. None have beaten the Mojo
Pros: Superb audio quality - Very portable - Built like a tank - Accepts a wide array of sampling rates - Full selection of digital inputs
Cons: Included accessories could be better (cables and adapters) - Design may not be for everyone
Chord Mojo Review

Disclaimer

Chord electronics has recruited me as a 'review captain' for Canada (I'm honoured) for the new Chord Mojo and provided a unit free of charge for review purposes. The unit will go on to other Canadian reviewers in the tour I'm organizing after I publish this review. This review is simply my opinion of the device and I am giving nothing less than my honest opinion.

Off the bat I have to apologize for this slightly long review. If you want to stick trough it I'll try my best to provide as much detail as I can and to articulate what I'm hearing from the Chord Mojo.


Introduction


Pretty much anyone who is in to high end Head Fi knows of the company Chord Electronics. They've been the purveyors of such products as the 2Qute DAC, Hugo portable DAC/amp, Hugo TT desktop DAC/amp, and DAVE DAC to name but a few. Over the last couple years Chord electronics seems to have been on a definite roll releasing highly regarded products to discerning listeners.

Lead by John Franks Chord has always been about uncompromising quality sound and DAC designer Rob Watts has been the leading force in their sound signature as the DAC designer for Chord. Rob takes a different approach to DAC design by forgoing the easy path of using off the shelf DACs from existing manufacturers and designs his own DACs in house (more later).

Of note was the release of the Hugo DAC/amp in 2014 for portable headphone use. The Head Fi community embraced the device for its transparent sound and drivability of a wide range of headphones. Since its release the Hugo has become a massive hit but there have been some barriers to its success as a truly portable device. First of all its size was a point of contention and though the Hugo was designed as a portable device many users have been using the Hugo as a desktop DAC. Secondly its price was not accessible to many users. Enthusiasts who would otherwise love to own a Hugo have kept away due to the price of admission.

Enter a new product form Chord..... The Mojo (Mobile Joy). No, I'm not talking about the candy I grew up with, or the magic sauce that gives Austin Powers his charm, or even my cat (yes, my cats name is Mo Jo). I'm talking about a truly portable DAC/amp device from Chord electronics with Hugo like sound at 1/4 the cost and a significantly smaller footprint, while still being designed and entirely manufactured in England. Whoah, this is a big deal!

Chordmojo_inHand1n.jpg





Physical characteristics

Physical03.jpg Physical04.jpg
Truly portable - Mojo continues with Chords unorthodox designs.


The Mojo measures just 82L x 60W x 22H (mm) and in the hand is quite small, I would say tiny really. The size however is not in any way an indication of build quality. The Mojo is made out of a block of aircraft grade aluminium and is superbly constructed. To hold it in the hand you feel a certain weight to the unit that defies its diminutive size. I'm still trying to figure out what they've packed in there that gives it such weight. Regardless, the Mojo is very solid and comes in any colour you want as long as it's black.

Front_01.jpg
The design is 100% Chord.

On the front of the unit there is the Mojo name laser etched in the body with the Chord logo below it in a sculpted cutout. Above the logo there are the only three buttons 'balls' on the unit. The Mojo is designed for ease of use and I find the button arrangement is very easy to use and remember which button does what. There are two volume 'balls' that share the same cutout and the power 'ball' in its own cutout. Very simple and very easy to operate. Of course it wouldn't be a Chord product without the signature coloured button illumination.


Buttons_01.jpg
The power button colour shows the sampling rate depending on the input source. There's nothing to set, nothing to change. What the Mojo is fed is what the Mojo reports.


SampleRateBox.jpg
Don't throw the box away. There's important information there.



The volume buttons change colour according to volume level. According to Rob the idea behind the colour range is related the colour spectrum of light. Red light, being the lowest volume, relates to infrared light which is relatively harmless (like low volumes). The colour range of the volume moves through the light spectrum from red to yellow to green to blue to purple (harmful ultraviolet light) and finally to white.

Vol_Col_01.jpg Vol_Col_02.jpg Vol_Col_03.jpg
Just a portion of Mojo's coloured volume indicator.

The nice thing about the Mojo is the volume has more fine steps than the Hugo. This is excellent as it allows the user to fine tune the dB output to their preferred level very easily (more on this later).



On the back of the unit is the regulatory sticker with the serial number (I Photoshop'd mine out here) and a link to the Chord Electronics website. There are four rubber feet attached and eight screws that mate the top of the unit to the bottom.

Bottom_01.jpg Bottom_02.jpg
Groovy lights!



Output

HO.jpg
Mojo's got you and your friends covered.


On the top of the unit there are two 3.5mm headphone jacks to share your music with a friend. I wouldn't recommend plugging in an LCD-2 along side a pair of IEMs, but for headphones of similar efficiency it's a handy feature if you like to share with your friends and family. The headphone output impedance is a mere 0.075 Ohms so even the most sensitive IEMs won't be affected with the frequency shifting from the headphone output impedance.

To use the Mojo as a DAC to feed an external amplifier one only needs to press both volume buttons within two seconds of powering on the unit. This sets the output to a fixed level output of 3V. You can not bypass the amplification stage on the Mojo (same as Hugo) but the fixed level signal is very clean and there is no sense of noise I hear when using the fixed level output.

Inputs

Input.jpg
All digital inputs and USB battery charging.


The only way to connect to the Mojo is with a digital interface. On the bottom of the unit you'll find three inputs. I had a hard time hearing any difference between the different inputs and the Mojo handled them all well. It really comes down to what sampling rate and format your source can output.

1) Micro USB input - Capable of 44kHz to 768kHz PCM and DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 in DoP format.
Driverless on Mac, Android and Linux OS. However Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 will require a driver which can be found on Chord’s Mojo webpage.

2) Coaxial S/PDIF 3.5mm two pole mono input - Capable of playing 44.1kHz to 384kHz PCM (768kHz special operation) and DSD64, DSD128 in DoP format.

3) Standard S/PDIF optical TOSlink input - Capable of playing 44.1kHz to 192kHz PCM and DSD64 in DoP format.

Obviously Chord wants the DAC to be the focus of the device. Though there are all the standard digital inputs for a mobile stack I must point out that it would have been nice to receive some digital interconnect cables in the box along with the main unit. I could see including an OTG cable, and a 3.5mm mono coaxial adapter or short cable, and a short optical interconnect or adaptor as very useful accessories.

In my opinion the short supplied micro USB cable is a hair too short for my iPhone 5s and camera connection kit (CCK). The bulk of the CCK and thickness of the supplied USB cable make it a bit awkward and I worry about stressing the USB input because of this.

I do find the inputs on the Mojo to be fairly solid although the coaxial input doesn't have a very solid click when inserting a cable. Not a huge deal and the plug isn't loose in the jack, it just doesn't have that stiff 'click' when inserted.


Battery

Battery.jpg
A reminder just how small the Mojo is.


Between the optical input and the USB input is the USB battery input. The battery takes about 4 hours to charge and has a run time of 8 to 10 hours. I've found the average run time after charging it 10 times to be approximately 9 hours, right within spec. There is no dedicated USB wall charger included with the Mojo but any smartphone charger or computer USB port or mobile battery pack with a minimum 1A output can charge the MoJo. Note that the included USB cable is ridiculously short to use as a charging cable. I suggest finding a longer micro USB cable for charging.

USBcable.jpg
The included USB is very short.

I think it's very smart of Chord to have a separate USB charging port. Users may not want to keep their unit constantly at full charge when using as a DAC/amp in their desktop setups. I really appreciate this attention to detail and consideration for different users needs.



BatteryLight.jpg

The battery indicator light below the battery USB port will change from blue then green on the upper end of the charge and then to yellow then red when the battery gets low. When the battery is depleted the small LED will blink and then the unit will shut itself off. For longer battery life I highly suggest not draining the battery to completely empty very often.



Usability

iPhone.jpg
Mojo at home with the iPhone 5s.


X5ii.jpg
X5ii with Mojo. Yes, I need a shorter cable.


The Mojo is simply a portable DAC/amp. You need a source for your music files and as mentioned earlier it only has digital input. The target audience for the Mojo is smartphone users but its capabilities can integrate well in a portable DAP and a desktop setup as well. It seems as though Chord is planning on making accessories for the Mojo to expand its capabilities but I'll refrain from any details until they officially announce them.

CCK.jpg
The CCK required for IOS devices.


For iDevice owners you will need to use Apple's CCK to output a digital signal to the MoJo, and for other smartphone users you will need an OTG specific USB cable to output the digital signal to the Mojo. Make sure your non-Apple smartphone is OTG compatible before attempting to use it with the Mojo. If wanting to pair a DAP with the Mojo you'll need an optical or a coaxial output from the DAP. Astell & Kern players use optical digital out while others like FiiO and Cayin use coaxial. The plug you'll need for coaxial is a 3.5mm two pole mono male cable fed to the MoJo digital coaxial input. For optical the input is a standard optical TOSlink port.

Coaxial.jpg
I used this adapter to test Mojo's
coaxial input.


The operation of the Mojo is focused on ease of use. There are no switches, and the input selection is automatic. The USB input takes priority over coaxial input which takes priority over the optical input. When more than one input is connected the Mojo will automatically select the priority input. Simple, easy and effective.

The volume also follows the simplicity paradigm, which is to say Mojo remembers the last set volume and that is all. You can not set a default volume level when turning it on nor can you limit the volume output. At first I thought this may be a negative but in use I find that the coloured volume lights make it very easy to know what volume level is set the moment the unit is turned on to avoid accidentally playing music at harmful dB levels. Chord has smartly thought of the simplest way to use the Mojo.

As I mentioned earlier the volume levels have finer resolution than the Hugo and I asked Rob what the volume range is and this is his reply:

“Mojo’s total volume range is -70 dB to +18 dB. The low level range is from -70 dB to -34 dB in two steps per colour change (so each colour has two steps).

Then from +2 dB to +18 dB it’s in one dB step per colour change for the top level range.”

I should point out that in the lower and upper ranges the volume button colours change independently of each other while in the middle range, -34 dB to +2 dB, the volume buttons change colour together. I think it’s a great option to have finer volume control at either end of the spectrum.


General Information and Q&A with Rob Watts

Chords focus on the Mojo is to connect with the 3.5 billion smartphone users in the wild. Mojo is designed and manufactured entirely in England and is produced on a mass production scale to keep costs down. They have a lot of faith in this product.

When Chord first approached me to review the Mojo I had a flurry of questions, and seeing as I don't own the Hugo some of them were regarding the differences between the two units. Before the Shard launch event I reached out to Rob Watts with some questions, and although he was obviously very busy before and during the launch he graciously took some time out of his schedule to answer my queries.

Here is how the Q&A went:

Q: Were you able to fit the same tap filter length as the Hugo (26, 384 taps) with the same WTA filter in the Mojo?
A: "Mojo shares an extremely similar code as Hugo - the only change is the WTA filter is redesigned to accommodate 768 kHz. The new filter is broadly equivalent apart from this."
(Comment): When I pushed the tap length question with Chord they replied that "it will be a good while in the future before they publish this information, if at all". "The implementation within Mojo is different, but it’s not inferior to anything that we’ve done".

Q: In the Mojo presentation draft it mentions “Hugo like sound quality and musicality”. What differences in audio presentation would you say the Mojo has compared to the Hugo?
A: "Bearing in mind it’s use I have optimized the noise performance in order to make it sound smoother."

Q: The design for the Mojo began in 2012. Is it safe to say the Mojo R&D led to the Hugo until the technology caught up for the Mojo’s design target? Or, were they completely separate design goals?
A: “The R&D of Hugo and Mojo ran in parallel - the very first prototype (2012) was more like Mojo, then work switched to Hugo. Then I worked on Mojo in the background, with development getting really busy starting in Nov 2014. We built over 50 prototypes, as I had a lot of issues to contend with - thermals, charging, and getting SQ to be identical when charging were major headaches."

Q: Does the Mojo deal with jitter with the same DPLL as the Hugo?
A: “Yes, the DPLL is identical."

Q: I see the Mojo has an even better THD spec than the Hugo.
A: “Lower noise means better measurements."

Q: Is the Mojo analogue section Class A like the Hugo?
A: “The actual OP stage is identical - same OP transistor silicon - but I used 6 small transistors in parallel rather than 3 large devices. It’s biased at the same Class A level."

Q: Does Mojo have cross feed?
A: “No cross feed.”

Thank you very much Rob!

So basically the analogue stage is pretty much the same as the Hugo while the DAC is tweaked somewhat.

From this I gathered that the Mojo is designed with Chord's typical focus on the highest quality audio performance with a leaning toward a slightly smoother sound for mobile listening enjoyment.

Did the Mojo live up to this hypothesis? Read on!


The Technology Behind the Sound

Before moving on to the sound impressions it is important to know about Mojo's unique approach to converting a digital signal to an analogue signal for driving headphones. As I eluded to earlier the Mojo doesn't use an off the shelf DAC. What it does use is a brand new Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA chip that is basically a blank canvas for Rob to program to suite his needs (the same approach used with Hugo's Spartan 6 FPGA chip as well as the rest of Chords DACs). This is a far more difficult task than the standard method of buying off the shelf hardware and plugging it in to a system (of course I'm grossly over simplifying here for emphasis). What this means is that if the output from his DAC doesn't suite his preference he has the flexibility (and know how) to change it. The challenge with the Mojo was that the diminutive design spec made it not feasible with the FPGA technology available when the Mojo project began in 2012. Chord had to wait for new FPGA tech that allowed the same performance as the Hugo with much lower power consumption. Chord says that this, and new battery technology, allowed the project to move forward once it became available.


Sound Impressions

The timing of the Mojo arriving at my door couldn't have been better as I have a break in my regular work schedule and was able to put in around 100 hours of listening over the past week. I was literally listening to the Mojo constantly, taking breaks only to compare to other gear and eat and sleep (sorry wife).

For the record I've never heard the Hugo so I have no point of reference to compare the Mojo to its larger, older brother. I have heard multiple other DACs, amps, and digital players over the years with many different implementations and I can confidently say that the Mojo sits right up there with some of the best that I've heard. The Mojo to me sounds very articulate and clean with a touch of warmth. There is an obvious attention paid to timing and control which gives the Mojo a laser like focus on the music it reproduces. It's a fast and energetic device with loads of power on hand.

Listening to Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven from his Unplugged Deluxe album I can easily distinguish Eric's guitar from the two guitars being played on either side of him. The vibration from the acoustic strings comes through easily and the imaging is top notch. I hear no blending of notes and each note is well defined. The bells that ring in this track are sharp as a tac and the decay of the sound is pretty much perfect in my opinion. When the backup singers on Eric's right chime in you can hear each singer as distinct voices in the chorus. The Mojo peers deep in to the music and Eric's toe tapping in the track is easy to hear throughout. This is some really good stuff.

Norah Jones is a special treat on the Mojo. Don't Miss You at All from her Feels Like Home album starts with a beautiful piano intro and again the clean and focused audio reproduction has me hearing the piano hammer impact and the resulting notes fade through the air in a way that immediately puts me in an intimate jazz club. When Norah begins to sing you can feel a slight rasp to her voice, the emotion behind her performance comes through clearly.

Moving on to more pop tracks with Lorde's Tennis Court from her Pure Heroine album the music is very well delineated. In less capable gear when the bass kicks in it seems to take over the track. Not so with the Mojo. Every instrument has its place and plays well with the other instruments. The initial impact and clarity of the instruments is of particular note when listening to this track. From the same album the track Royals has 'finger snapping' throughout the track which comes through clear as day. Sharp, focused, clear while not overwhelming. I see a recurring theme here.

Listening to the Interstellar OST is a pipe organ explosion of deep textured bass complimented with moments of subtlety that just feels right. The blackness of the Mojo's extremely quiet output is really showcased here as there are moments when not much is happening in the various tracks yet it's easy to sit back and lose yourself to the simple sound of a breeze blowing. When the complex pipe organ kicks in there is an abundance of texture to the notes, and a feeling of real weight and complexity. Simply gorgeous sound reproduction in my opinion.

The first album I load when testing new gear is always Pink Floyd's The Wall. This is one of those rare albums with such a broad multitude of instruments, background sounds, and emotion. The album is pure genius in my opinion and without writing a veritable essay on it I will just say that I've rarely felt this connected to The Wall's journey like I am with the Mojo. I'm not having to focus on what I want to hear. The multitude of sounds is simply presented in front of me in a such a clear way that I don't have to concentrate, but instead just listen. That's what I'm talking about!

I could break down every song I listened to but that would take this review an entire week to read. Needless to say that I am satisfied that the Mojo can play with a large variety of genres and didn't really run in to one song in my collection that I didn't like through the Mojo. Please see my song list at the end of the review.

If I were to break down the bass - mids - treble presentation I would put it like this:

Bass - Has good extension while remaining very fast and articulate with good impact when called for. It doesn't sound boomy at all and is very clean. I like the way the bass is reproduced and I don't feel like it's lacking. The warmth of the Mojo is slightly above clinical which suites me fine.

Mids - The heart of the music. Everything, and I mean everything in the mids sounds very linear to my ears. I don't find the mids recessed or emphasized. I don't find the mids to be lush or clinical. Depending on the headphone I'm using the upper mids seems to be a bit exaggerated but then I switch to another pair and it's perfect. There may be a slight emphasis in the upper mids, but then again perhaps some of my other gear has a coloured the sound and the Mojo is revealing the true nature of my headphones. In the end I've settled on the latter as to what I'm hearing going back to my other gear. Either way the mids from the Mojo lets you peer deep in to the music and the imaging is precise. It's very addictive.

Treble - The treble reproduced by the Mojo is very clear, yet not sibilant. It's present, yet smooth. I love the treble from the Mojo and have only heard this kind of clarity form one other source in my stable of gear, never mind from something so utterly small. I don't know how Rob and Chord have done this but I welcome the Mojo's treble with open arms. There is enough air and presence that it doesn't feel like the soundstage is too small nor is it too holographic. Just right in my opinion and very pleasant.

Overall a very well balanced sound with regard to frequency range with a slight warmth, a slight smoothness to the sound. My feeling is the Mojo will play well with a wide variety of headphones and IEMs. The timing on the Mojo is exceptional. Imaging is spot on and while the soundstage isn't huge it still allows the listener to get a sense of space in the recording. In case you haven't guessed by now I'm more a fan of imaging over soundstage by the way.


Headphone pairings

HeadphoneGroup.jpg The family keeps growing.


The Mojo has impressive power specs and Chord says it can power any headphone with an impedance of 4-800 Ohms. Yes, from this very small device they have included class A biased performance (same as Hugo) for a very wide range of headphones and IEMs.

I've come to find that in general, more than other gear I've listened to, the Mojo allows the sound signature of the headphone to show through while at the same time enhancing their sound signature more than I'm used to hearing from each headset. Let me try to explain below.

Vmoda M-100
- volume, double red zone

M-100.jpg

I received the M-100 as a gift from a company I was freelancing for and it has never really been my cup of tea. I've always found the bass to be overwhelming and the mids recessed. With the Mojo I can actually tolerate them, no, I enjoy them for what they are. They still sound warm and punchy but it isn't overly fatiguing. The sound is still thick but Mojo helps with its clear timing and clear instrument separation. They still aren't my favourite but when on the go I'll pack them in the bag. Not bad.

AKG K550
- volume, barely double yellow

AKG-K550.jpg
The K550 was my second foray in to Head Fi-dom back in the day and they sound very open for a closed can. At times they have some treble issues and can sound a bit harsh. With the Mojo the treble harshness seems to smooth out and the sound is warmer than I've heard them before. This is strange because I was expecting the Mojo, with its mids clarity, to make them sound a bit brighter. This is one of those enhancing shifts I wasn't expecting. The bass with the K550 still remains in the lower registers and the upper bass remains shelved a bit but the treble is an overall improvement with the Mojo. A good listen.


Audeze LCD-2.2 (pre-fazor)
- volume, low double blue

LCD-2.jpg

This pairing was a complete surprise to me. I've driven the LCD-2 with acceptable results from a portable device before but the Mojo really gives them the juice they need to have that, well, special 'mo jo'. The treble is clear and focused, the mids are ever present and frankly euphoric. The bass....... With this headphone its all about the bass. There is endless extension on the LCD-2 (depending on the source) and with the Mojo I find that the bass can go as deep as the track calls for. Instrument separation is fantastic and layering in the music is rather deep. This is one of my favourite pairings and the Mojo makes the LCD-2 sound like it was upgraded with faster drivers. Really impressive listen.

Audeze LCD-XC
- volume, upper double red

LCD-XC.jpg
This is where the Audeze honeymoon ends for me. With the XC there is some emphasis in the upper mids and lower treble, and especially on my pair compared to its lower mids and upper bass. With the Mojo it seems just a bit too much and I find the XC to sound overall thin in comparison to being played from my other gear. This is strange to me because with the slightly warmer sound of the Mojo I expected the pairing with the XC to be a match made in heaven. Not so I'm afraid, another unexpected shift. I don't think it's a drivability issue as the XC is fairly easy to drive for a planar magnetic headphone. Still, what I do hear from the thinner, faster driver in the XC (over the LCD-2) is an extremely detailed presentation that really can show me the smallest detail in the recoding. I should also note that when using the Mojo as an external DAC to the Oppo HA-1 balanced out the LCD-XC falls back in line. This may be just a synergy issue. Overall a good listen.


JH Audio Angie Universal IEM
- volume, split lower red/blue

Angie.jpg

This is where the magic happens for me. Really, I don't think I've ever heard such beautiful music reproduction before, portable or otherwise. Similar to what was reported in the Head Fi MoJo thread with the JH Layla, the pairing with the smaller JH Siren Series Angie is very, very good. I don't know if it's the crossover in the Angie, the multiple balanced armature setup, the JH FreqPhase tech or simply the synergy with the Mojo. I could listen to this setup for hours (and I have). There are times I've needed to give my head a shake and just go to bed. One more track, one more track...... The sound is full yet textured, lush yet layered, clear yet impactful, detailed yet smooth. I love it! An excellent listen.


MoJo as a Desktop DAC

Desktop.jpg
Mojo has no problem filling bigger shoes.


Given the Mojo’s clean DAC and detailed output it can easily be used as an external DAC to feed an external amplifier. I used the Mojo with the Oppo HA-1’s amplifier section with great success. The presentation is very detailed while not cold. Every instrument is well defined and there is no sense of sibilance or glare that I sometimes hear with the Sabre ESS9018 DAC built in to the HA-1. The recurring theme is transparency, timing accuracy, while at the same time remaining musical. This theme continues when used as an external DAC in a desktop setup.

Comparing the Audio-GD DAC-19(10th anv) R-2R DAC and the Mojo there is the same amount of detail from each unit but it's presented in a different way. The Mojo sounds more forward. Background sounds are a bit easier to pick out, more in focus. The DAC-19 has a sense of a bigger stage, more space and depth in the recording and a bit more timbre*. However the differences aren’t as large as I thought they might be. I wouldn’t say the Mojo is flat, nor would I say the DAC-19 is holographic. Neither is really warmer or colder than the other. It really comes down to a different presentation between the two, but they are close. Overall the Mojo plays louder to the external amp given its 3V fixed level output.

In the end I can easily recommend the Mojo as a desktop DAC.

* Edit 03/13/2016: Over the past couple months I've come to really appreciate the Mojo more for it's natural music presentation and find that the timbre of notes is more accurate on the Mojo than the DAC-19. This isn't obviously evident at first, but after more varied listening with larger comparison samples and different headphones, and more time with the unit, I've come to the conclusion that the Mojo surpasses the DAC-19 in natural music reproduction. It's difficult to pick out but it's there.


Conclusion

This review has turned out rather long and there is much more to say about the Mojo but I'll let others comment more about things like soundstage depth and height etc. I'm more about timing and imaging with my gear. What I hear from the Mojo is exceptional on both fronts. The presentation sounds effortless and different from most any other gear I've heard and I like it...... I like it a lot. The speed of the Mojo combined with its smoothness is something that I just haven't heard before.

Given the diminutive size and the amount of power in this tiny wonder I'm still having a knuckle dragging moment when trying to comprehend how Chord Electronics and Rob Watts have packed so much performance in to such a small device. For portable use I can't think of another device that is this capable of delivering this TOTL performance on the go at this price, and well above. If I were to sum up the Chord Mojo's sound in one word it would be "Veritas", Latin for truth and often associated with beauty.

Chord is right.....

..... The game has changed.



Thanks for reading!


Mojo Features

  1. Mojo was designed for the music loving Smartphone owner.
  2. It is powerful, but small and comfortable to carry.
  3. It works with your iPhone, Android or Windows phone... Also DAPs.
  4. Mojo is also compatible with your Mac, PC, or Linux computer.
  5. Mojo has three digital inputs - USB, Coaxial, and Optical.
  6. Mojo charges in just 4 hours to provide up to 10 hours use.
  7. You can use any pair of headphones with Mojo, from 4Ω to 800Ω.
  8. With two 3.5mm analogue outputs you and a friend can listen too!
  9. Mojo plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz and even DSD 512.
  10. Mojo is fully automatic and remembers its last used settings.
  11. Its case is precision machined from a single solid block of aluminium.
  12. Mojo is entirely designed and manufactured in Great Britain.

Mojo Technical Specifications

  1. Output Power @ 1kHz
  2. 600 ohms 35mW
  3. 8 ohms 720mW
  4. Output Impedance: 0.075 ohms
  5. Dynamic Range: 125dB
  6. THD @ 3v - 0.00017%


- Chord Mojo
- MacbookPro 17" - Audirvana+ 2.0
- Oppo HA-1
- Audio-GD DAC-19 (10th anniversary edition)
- FiiO X5
- FiiO X5ii
- iPhone 5s
- iPad (4)
- Audeze LCD-2 - 60 Ohm - 92 dB efficiency
- Audeze LCD-XC - 26 Ohm - 96 dB efficiency
- JH Audio Angie Universal IEM - 17 Ohm - 117 dB efficiency
- AKG K550 - 32 Ohm - 114 dB efficiency
- Vmoda M-100 - 32 Ohm - 103 dB efficiency




[size=1em]Adele - 21[/size]
Awolnation - Megalithic Symphony
Amber Rubarth - Sessions From the 17th Ward (Binaural)
Bassnectar - Mesmerizing the Ultra
Beats Antique - Collide
Bob Marley and the Wailers - Legend
Bon Jovi - New Jersey / Slippery When Wet
Brian Adams - Reckless
C.C. Colletti - Bring it on Home
Depeche Mode - Pretty much all albums
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
Enigma - MCMXC a.D.
Eric Clapton - Unplugged (Deluxe)
Eric Serra - The Fifth Element OST
Evanescence - Fallen
George Michael - Listen Without Prejudice
Glen Hansard - Most albums
G n' R - Greatest Hits
Hans Zimmer - Gladiator OST - The Dark Knight Rises OST - Interstellar OST
Huey Lewis and the News - Sports
INXS - Listen Like Thieves
Lana Del Ray - Ultraviolence
Led Zeppelin - All albums
Lorde - Pure Heroine
Michael Stearns - Baraka OST
Morrisey - Viva Hate
Norah Jones - All albums
Pig Pen Theatre Co. - Bremen
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon - The Wall - Division Bell - The Endless River
R.E.M. - Various albums
Richard Thompson - Grizzly Man OST
Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits: 1974-78
The Beatles - Various albums
The Doors - The Very Best of the Doors
The Grapes of Wrath - Now and Again
The KLF - The White Room
The Moody Blues - Days of Future Past
The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites
U2 - Various albums
Van Halen - 1984
Various Artists - Kill Bill Vol1&2 Soundtrack
Multiple classical recordings
Multiple binaural recordings


UPDATE, Feb 21/2016: Chord Electronics has allowed me to keep the Mojo tour unit free of charge. Although I had some hopes of this being the case it was not a guarantee when I did my review. To be honest I would have purchased my own unit if I were required to send the tour unit back. Many thanks again to Chord.
x RELIC x
x RELIC x
@Adu, the X5 first generation player is a good device for it's price, but the Mojo is a different level. Mojo is overall the better sounding device.
McClelland
McClelland
And it is so versatile.  I've experimented with mine in the car running into the AUX input, as a desktop DAC while awaiting a Gumby/MJ2 combo, even ran a small Bose SoundLink III through it and the SQ benefits are consistent and striking to me.  Everything is smoother and more coherent and the sound floor disappears in low-grade systems that otherwise have some level of noise evident when not playing a file.  I wish the AUX input in the car was optical . . . actually I should find out whether it might be, but I doubt it.
Tony51
Tony51
Great review, i'm on the fence between the mojo and the headstage arrow latest portable6amp with separate two stage bass boost, treble extension switch feed and 3 stage gain.
Top