Chord Hugo TT

General Information

With the new Hugo TT (Table Top) we've built on the extraordinary success of our genre-defining Hugo DAC/headphone amplifier. The new larger desktop-orientated device offers greater connectivity including a USB-B input, XLR outputs, two quarter inch headphone outputs, plus improved performance and features.

Compared to the more mobile Hugo, the Hugo TT gains a new larger chassis, remote control, an alphanumeric LED display with input/sample rate data, and improved sonic performance thanks to supercapacitors.

Advanced sample rate capability

The Hugo TT is ready to take advantage of today's advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files allowing music lovers to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. Hugo TT supports up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz over optical, plus DSD64 on all inputs and DSD128 via coax or USB (all via DoP).

In a key upgrade over the original Hugo, the Hugo TT benefits from a high-quality asynchronous B-type USB connection for both the SD and HD USB input. With two further digital inputs: a (new) BNC coaxial and optical (TOSLink), any connected component with a digital output can benefit from the Hugo TT's advanced sound quality.

Bluetooth

To fully integrate with today's digitally stored media, the new Hugo TT also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry, so even without cables, music can still be enjoyed.

Spartan 6 FPGA

The Hugo TT retains the same high-performance Spartan 6 FPGA that enabled Hugo to redefine the DAC genre in 2014. It has the same specification and measured performance as its mobile sibling, a device that "broke all records" for dynamic range in leading UK hi-fi magazine, Hi-Fi World, in the summer of 2014.

Supercapacitors

Being a home-orientated device, the Hugo TT has been designed to run continuously from the supplied charger, however Chord's engineers have also improved the battery and added Supercap energy storage, a technology seen in F1 where supercacitors back-up the cars batteries by sharing the load and charge demands, thereby protecting them. They serve a similar purpose in the Hugo TT, extending the battery life as well as improving dynamics and demanding transients in recorded music.

Hugo TT key features

- Remote control allowing input (source) selection and volume control
- Alphanumeric LED display to show settings
- Double the battery capacity of Hugo
- 10,000,000uF (microfarads) of supercapacitor energy storage
- Fully balanced outputs using XLR connectors
- Single-ended RCA outputs
- BNC coaxial digital input
- Optical TOSLink input
- Full-sized B-type USB inputs for both SD USB and HD USB feeds
- Full galvanic isolation on the HD USB input right up to 384kHz
- Improved analogue stage output current for low distortion into low impedance loads
- 2x Quarter-inch jack headphone outputs
- 1x 3.5mm jack headphone output

Specifications

- Advanced digital volume control
- Crossfeed filter network
- Battery-powered for power supply isolation
- Input selection identification and remote volume up or down indication is via alphanumeric display and colour-changing LED display
- 26K tap-length filter
- THD: 140dB
- Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load

Inputs

- 1x Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192KHz-capable
- 1x BNC coaxial input 32-bit/384kHz -capable
- 1x HD/SD USB B-type input up to 32-bit/384kHz

Outputs

- 1x3.5mm headphone jack
- 2x6.35mm (1/4-inch) headphone jack
- 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output
- Fully balanced via XLR connectors

Dimensions

- 235mm x 45mm x 225mm (WxDx H)
- Weight 3Kg

Latest reviews

Pros: A Hugo with vastly improved amplification stage
Cons: The price compared to Hugo
I bought the Hugo TT from my local retailer AVOne. Their service is fantastic. The set I purchased is an all black set.
 
The TT is not the brother of Hugo, its Hugo that grew up and went for some weight training!
 
The short summary: Hugo grew up with a larger box and a much more capable amp stage. The same boy that built up some mass to wrestle the harder to drive headphones.
 
Now for the full review:
 
Hugo TT is the table top (TT) incarnation of the Hugo. It comes now in a much bigger box, with it a remote to control it and a much larger battery that will let it probably last a long time before charging is required.
 
Design:
The TT I got is a all black edition. Similar to the Hugo, there is a top panel to see the spartan chip and a little knob with color coded volume. The TT now comes with an additional front panel that shows which input is selected and how much crossfeed is done. Package together is a really nicely made controller that allows selection of input and volume. Personally the remote is even better built then the TT itself. The TT build is a box that is solid unlike other chord product. The big issue however is the side acrylic panel that houses the bluetooth antenna. Out of the box, you can see hairline scratches and no plastic sheet to protect it. This is probably the mot contentious point of buying a brand new TT and not finding it look pristine especially at its price point. That said everything else is all fine and well. Maybe the buttons should have less wiggle, but overall there is very little complain on it. Maybe a nicer design that fits with the ports tighter will give it an even more premium feel.
 
The TT comes with the following inputs:
2 USB (SD/HD)
1 Optical
1 BNC Coaxial
 
Outputs:
2 6,3mm Stereo 
1 3.5mm Stereo
1 Pair of RCA 
1 Pair of XLR
 
The XLR are probably the biggest addition to the TT. Do note, plugging the XLR and the RCA to same amp seems to overload something that results the need of the TT to be restarted with one of the terminals plug out to work.
 
Operations are similar to the Hugo, with front buttons doing the input selection and crossfeed. The on off switch is placed at the bottom center of the TT. The remote can control the input and volume, however it does not have the ability to power on and off the device. 
 
Sound:
 
Headphones:
HD800S
KSE1500
 
Other devices used:
Hugo
ALO CDM
Cayin IHA-6
iPad Pro as Source
 
Songs used:
Hotel California
Gate
Songs from Suara
Songs from Susan Wong
 
So how does the TT sound? Wide, Airy, Sparkling Treble, Tight Bass. Its technically everything Hugo is and better. 
 
Using the HD800S
 
Vocal tracks of Suara and Susan Wong, they seem to span the entire front of the listener. The vocals felt relax and airy, similar to how it feels when someone is doing it live, with no strain and totally effortless. One can just feel immersed in the vocals from the start to the end.
 
Sound stage with the HD800S and TT it may be as good as it gets. Non of my other amp gives a wider field then just the Hugo itself. 
 
Transient is exceptionally fast, everything felt like is moving along naturally in good pace. Be it the violin in a complex track or the vocals with a back ground mid bass constantly playing off, everything feels right in place and never one step too slow. 
 
Effortless feeling regardless on how intense a track is. In Gate, where there is guitar, vocals and a strong bass that was going off at multiple beats per second, everything still felt effortless, without any feeling of strain. The sound never felt like it is going to run out energy.
 
Bass is tight, tighter then running of any amp I have. Most other devices I heard would have portrayed it as one large bass thump, but with the TT, you can pinpoint the exact point of impact followed by the deep decay that follows.
 
Treble is filled with energy and sparkles. From Powder Snow sung by Suara, the Japanese bells have a realistic texture and great decay. I do notice sometime on certain tracks, hot treble could be detected but that may just be TT being less forgiving in that range then the other dacs/amps
 
Compared to the CDM using the HD800S as a AMP/DAC: (I reviewed this previous)
The CDM has a warmer tone with a more intimate sound. Vocals off it feels closer like a single sound source infront of the singer with great body.  The TT on the hand is more spread out and airy, similar to a open room with some distance away. The vocals however felt more distinct compared the the CDM which sounds more mixed with the background music. TT has a better instrument separation and a more effortless sound while CDM felt a little forced. The TT treble sparkles with energy while the CDM felt a little diffused with everything else and thus a little dull. With the combination of treble and separation, the TT allows more things to be heard and recognize at any one time.
 
CDM as Amp: (Dac by TT)
CDM has a more weighty sound with a center focus for the mids and a overall smoother sound. On the TT, the sound felt more airy with a bigger stage. The CDM did have some nasal like feel for the vocals and a touch less sparkle in the treble. 
 
Cayin IHA 6 as Amp: (Dac by TT)
In SE, the IHA6 had no chance against the TT SE. In balanced, its a close fight with more energy and air in the IHA6 at the lost of some sound stage. However the IHA6 sound could be tweaked with the settings which could improve various parts when needed so I kept my HD800S balanced and amped for more flexible setting based on the song I listen.
 
Overall there is little gain to amp the TT while using the HD800S.
 
I highlighted the point above as it is pretty much the 2000 dollar question between it and Hugo. The TT sound really close Dac wise to the Hugo. In vocal tracks, there is a touch more air at the end of each phrase. On the bass tracks, there is a little more control. There is a little more separation. Everything is just a touch better which may or may not be heard. This was tested with the KSE1500 which is extremely sensitive and is purely self amped. Put on a headphone or speaker, unless in some sound isolation room, I maybe hard pressed to tell the difference
 
However switch out to the HD800S and running as a all-in-one amp/dac, the TT trumps the Hugo by a huge margin. The Hugo just sounds muddy compared to the TT edition, with lost of energy, sparkle and speed. Hugo bass felt bloated in relative to the TT. The 2k question pretty much lies here for me: If you are looking for a all in one, the TT is the Hugo with all the muscle, else you will probably have nothing to lose with the Hugo and maybe for the extra money get a much better amp stage elsewhere. Just to note, non of my amps actually improve the TT sound so unless I can get my hand on something significantly better then them, I am not really sure if its something that can be solved especially if you like the Hugo house sound with no coloration.
 
This sums up my summary of the Hugo TT. Its Hugo grown up with weight training! 
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Pros: The sound!
Cons: Got £3k?
Introduction
 
“Musical”: “i) relating to music ii) set to or accompanied by music iii) fond of or skilled in music iv) having a pleasant sound, melodious or tuneful”
 
“balanced”: “keeping or showing a balance; in good proportions”
 
(Oxford English Dictionary)
 
 
I’m no engineer; I don’t do measurements.  For me the audiophile pursuit is a little akin to wine tasting – a subjective struggle to define and describe taste with words, or “dance about architecture”.  There’s another complication – my taste keeps changing.  Or should I say evolving.  It’s a journey I started on with my old Grado 325 and ibasso amp/dac and my upgrades from there can all be charted through my posts on Head-fi.
 
For a while I was seduced by detail, hearing the things I hadn’t heard in my cherished recordings, for good or ill.  Then I started to realise that detail for its own sake can get tiring after a while – the words “fatiguing” and “bright” entered my audio vocabulary.
 
Now I’m looking for “balance” and “musicality”.  Details are great, but they are only one part of the overall musical equation.  It’s about tone, emotion and naturalness.
 
I’m don’t seem to be alone.  To my eyes there has been an upswing in the last year or so for Head-fiers who’s stated aim is something like “musicality”.  And often they have gravitated towards ‘out of the box’ thinking in the DAC world, away from implementations of the standard off the shelf DAC chipsets towards the innovators.
 
Rob Watts the designer of Chord’s DACs is such an innovator.  He is off on his own road, writing his own code for implementation in something called a 'field-programmable gate array".  Something to do with taps.  I’m no engineer.  But he’s on to something.
 
Now lets’ talk about the Hugo TT.
 
Hugo TT
 
Big brother to the “game changing” Hugo, the Hugo TT is what you get if you let Rob Watts loose with his Hugo software design without the limitations of making a portable device.  Like the Hugo, it serves as a DAC and a headphone amp – there is no traditional amp stage, this is handled by the DAC itself by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, or something.  (You can use an amp with it if you wish to).  Again, I’m no engineer (had you noticed?), so I refer you elsewhere on this site and the interweb for the tech details.  The TT had been described to me by a dealer as the Hugo on steroids. 
 
For this review tour organized by OKGuy the TT came along with a Beyerdynamic T90 and a Grado GS1000e.  (Thanks to OKGuy for organizing and including me on the tour!). In addition to those I spent some quality time with my own Audeze LCD-X and Sennheiser HD800 headphones.  Let the games begin!
 
Listening Impressions
 
 
Where do you start? You start with “Love Song” by Simple Minds from the “Sons and Fascination” album of course!  A new wave classic, the song is very much the sum of some highly individual parts – a throbbing Derek Forbes bassline, a squalling, shape shifting guitar, shimmering synths, and Jim Kerr’s baritone out front and centre.  The TT does this track so right I know I’m listening to a winner right from the off.  The space between the instruments.  The cohesive sense of a band performance.  The vocals centered and just a little forward, commanding.
 
The TT exudes authority in its presentation – in the bass, in the weight behind every note.  Which is not to say it is slow or overly thick, like some tube systems can be.  No, its that word “balanced” again.
 
Moving on to Radiohead‘s “Weird Fishes” from the “In Dreams “ album.  A great test track as there is so much going on that it can sound like a collection of special effects rather than a song. No such problems for the TT, which makes the track cohere effortlessly, managing to communicate the musicality in the rippling synths.  To use another Radiohead title – everything is in its right place.  I rapidly conclude that the LCD-X and the TT is a match made in audio heaven for me.
 
My other go-to can is the HD800 – known to be picky with sources and amps. Its my first choice for classical repertoire and the TT shows it off brilliantly, bringing out all its strengths in detail, resolution and imaging. I feel no need for additional amplification/coloration, such is the transparency of the pairing.  It is with acoustic music that you can really gauge how ‘lifelike’ the sound is, and the TT came through with flying colours.  Violins sound like violins, brass has the requisite 'parp'  The TT doesn’t turn the HD800 into an Audeze, it is still a relatively bright presentation, and not one I would choose for, say, rock.  My conclusion - the TT is a platform that brings out the innate qualities of your headphones – it is non-interventionist.
 
Both Beyer and Grado are brands with definite house sounds, both on the brighter side of neutral.  I started to self-identify as a Head-fier with a Grado 325 and my first upgrade was to the Beyer T1 so I have some form with them both. BUT bear in mind in what follows that I moved on from both because I ended up finding them too bright…
 
The TT presents the T90 like a baby T1 (that’s a lot of Ts) – spacious and with a wide soundstage.  But on Wild Beasts’s “Bed of Nails” from the “Smother” album the drums sound more than ideally compressed, and Tom Fleming’s deeper voice is less clearly delineated as against Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto.  The Grado adds some welcome bass presence and some additional vocal warmth, but for me it still sounds overly bright. Back to the LCD-X and everything digs deeper, and the ‘boogie factor’ clicks in.
 
In Led Zep’s ‘Black Dog’ from their fourth  album, similar findings, but here the Grado closes the gap a little on the planar, with a good guitar sound and a really tactile crunch to John Paul Jones’ bass.  The extra warmth of the LCD-X means I have to listen harder for that bass texture (though it is still there), but the drums have more impact, there is excellent extension and weight to Plant’s vocal, and again I find myself wanting to keep listening to the rest of the album.
 
Moving on to Melody Gardot’s “Preacherman” from this year’s all-analogue “Currency of Man” album renders similar results – the TT/LCD-X combo presents a wonderful sense of a full live band, with the ability to follow the individual instruments while maintaining a cohesive whole.  The Grado has a drier presentation, bass is again lovely and crunchy. The T90 is similar, but with a wider (artificially wide?) stage.
 
Conclusions
 
Tour headphones first.  The T90 seems like something of a bargain – getting you close to T1 sound quality at a fraction of the price (note I haven’t heard the new 2nd Generation T1).  The Grado didn’t quite click with me – maybe I needed more time with it to re-acclimatize to the Grado house sound.  But for me, personally, both felt a little too dry and bright to be keepers. YMM very well V.
 
On to the star of the show.  The Hugo TT sounded great with every genre of music I threw at it – indie rock, rock, electronic, orchestral, renaissance polyphony, you name it, the TT served it up with authority and panache.  While the TT played nice with every headphone I tried, its detail retrieval coupled with its shear musicality in my opinion deserves, indeed demands, a highly resolving top of the line ‘phone like the LCD-X and HD800.   The Audeze in particular gets my vote as an ideal pairing.
 
For the price of the TT you are getting something as near to ‘affordable end game’ as I could reasonably expect, and comfortably the best sound that I have heard in my home. An easy 5 stars.
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headphones1999
headphones1999
lol the pros cons killed me xD
 
great review mate!
Pros: Musical genius and more assured than the Hugo
Cons: It isn't cheap

Introduction
 
Whilst I have always loved listening to music, it was only after I deciding to purchase a Valve Amplifier three years ago that I began my current obsession in listening to music through better & better equipment.
 
At home I tend to listen through my stereo system through speakers more than headphones by using my Hugo as a DAC and so the majority of my review is therefore using the TT as a DAC into my home stereo system.
 
I have a single ended Class A Amplification provided by a Fatman 202. I bought this to try and combat the digital sound of the MP3s I was playing through IPod at the time.
 
I have since upgraded all the Chinese Valves that came with it to NOS Valves which I roll every now again. My favourite combination are black plate Tungsol 6550s for the two power tubes and a Tungsol JTL 5670 as the input pre-amp tube. I have a pair of GE Jan 5670s as driver pre-amp tubes, but these latter two have less impact on the sound than the input tube.
 
My speakers are Revolver 3 bookshelf ones.
 
The TT was fed by a coaxial cable from a DX90 or from the coaxial digital out from a Sony CD player.
 
Because my fellow TT Tour reviewers have already listed the specs and how to operate the machine so well already, there is no need for me to repeat this information.
 
I listen to a fairly varied collection of music, although Prog Rock (Yes, Pink Floyd, to Riverside, Steven Wilson & Muse) forms the majority of my collection, but so does Classical and Pop (Blondie through to Adele).
 
First Impressions
 
When I first opened up the the Box containing the TT, I was very surprised at the size & weight of the Hugo TT. What immediately struck me was how inadequate my Hugo looked compared to the TT.
 
The TT simply looks as if it naturally belonged in my sitting room. My Hugo looked like little toy and not the real high quality DAC that we know it is. This statement actually says more about the WOW factor of the TT versus any shortcomings of the Hugo.
 
Chord have done the right thing by creating a strong statement , ie I am a Hugo TT and I *belong* here.
 
Musical impressions
 
And what about the sound of the TT? As you would expect you have the Hugo signature - superb musicality, intimate details of the music and never in a way that detracts from that musicality, but you have more with the TT.
 
I think these words sum the difference up - greater authority, impact and control. It *is* somehow just more assured.
 
The drums sound like they are more tightly skinned, the bass guitar has a greater depth of sound and at times of musical climax, the TT has more impact than the Hugo.
 
I started by comparing the Hugo and the TT on a few tracks, but then just went on to enjoy the TT.
 
Bijou by Queen - you get the visceral sound of the opening guitar it sounds somehow sharper and cutting through the air more cleanly with the TT, raising the hairs on the back of my head. The opening notes sung by Freddie Mercury hit you harder.
 
These are the Final Days of our Lives by Queen - the tom toms sound more taught as if their skins have been stretched more tightly.
 
Love of my life by Queen - the piano is just more realistic, the harpsichord is right in the room with you, Freddie’s voice is more mournful & dramatic.
 
Famous Blue Coat by Jennifer Warnes - the clarity of her voice is beautiful, you can hear every breath that she is taking, and the saxophone comes in with an exquisite solo.
 
Joan of Arc - from the shimmering guitars, to the emotional singing of Jennifer Warnes and the duet with the deep melodic bass of the male voice you are taken to musical heaven.
 
One of my favourite pieces is Relayer by Yes, a 20-minute extravaganza that has some very complex and fast playing mix of instruments during the 'war sequence'. This can sound very mushy on poor systems, unable to get a decent separation of the instruments, but the TT has no such issues. This musical chaos is followed by the calmness of "Soon or Soon the Light" where Jon's voice comes out from complete blackness, combined with melodic soaring & ethereal guitars. The TT copes with all with aplomb.
 
The Great Gig in the Sky by the Many Faces of Pink Floyd - the opening piano intro is just as if the instrument is being played in your living room by Rick Wakeman, the female singer's orgasmic warbling is lovely and her highest notes are just wonderful.
 
I guess I am used to the “Tubey” sound of my Amp. The combination of that Class A warmth being input by the clarity of the TT is a strong one. All in all, my Stereo system has never sounded so wonderful.
 
My Amplifier certainly enjoyed the experience of being fed by the TT -:)
 
 
Headphones
 
I also listened to the TT through the two headphones provided which were the Grado and the Beyer Dynamic T90s, as well as my Sennheiser HD600s. All three were driven easily by the TT.
 
I must mention the beginning of one piece, Speak to me – Breathe by the Many Faces of Pink Floyd, as I was astounded by the imagery of the TT combined with the Grado & Beyer Dynamic headphones. I had never noticed this before.
 
As a general comment, with the TT imaging is really well defined and you are able to place how many instruments are being played and where these instruments are in relative to other instruments in the room.
 
I was very impressed by the greater clarity of the two headphones on loan, which both did sound very good with the TT. Although sound wise the Grado's edged the cheaper T90s, I didn't enjoy the actual fit of the Grado's, as the earpieces surround your ears rather than fitting on them. The T90s are now on my list to buy though.
 
 
Conclusion
 
The TT serves a different market than the Hugo. The TT for one isn't portable and it also just looks in a different class to the Hugo. When placed next to my Valve Amplifier, it looked right. The TT can exist as an iconic piece of furniture in its own right.
 
If you are looking for a top of the range DAC and you don't need portability, then the TT could be for you.
 
You are most likely to keep it in one spot in the house and either use it a headphone amplifier or as a DAC into your desktop Hifi system.
 
HOWEVER, it has an interesting advantage over many other DACs in that it runs off batteries and therefore you can very easily just disconnect the charging lead and take it with you to another room in order to listening to your music in other room. Chord’s terminology is that it is transportable.
 
The musicality of the TT is wonderful and if you buy one, you won't be disappointed - that , for me, is a given.
 
The TT represents an improvement in sound quality over the Hugo, it's not night and day but it *is* there in terms of greater authority and impact. It is a definitely a more assured machine.
 
If you have a Hugo, though you are unlikely to go out & buy a TT. Logically you would save up and wait for the DAVE.
 
If you don't have a Hugo, and you don't need portability, then make sure you put the TT onto your demo list.
 
Finally, a big thank you to OK-Guy for including me on the TT tour and to Chord for entrusting me with their kit. It was a sad day last week when I had to package it up and send it onwards.
 
 
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highfell
highfell
Thanks both, very kind. I wanted to comment on what I feel the key features of the TT are meant to be. As the other reviewers will appreciate these reviews certainly take a fair while to compile & write !!
TabCam
TabCam
I think I will pass on the Dave as it is priced markedly higher than both the Hugo and the Hugo TT. More than double Is the current consensus. I would be interested if they made a Mojo-like step down for the Dave. I am currently most interested in the Metrum Pavane as it has also a very low noise design and has the same authority you describe in your review.
TomGi
TomGi
Great comments on the TT !
 
What is TT tour ?

Comments

Hi

Does anyone know the US price for this and where to pre order? Also, how does this compare to the schiit yggdrasil? Thanks
 
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