Chord Hugo 2 vs desktop setup.
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Tristy

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I've been looking at getting a Hugo 2 recently and I've seen them going on eBay around the £1,200 mark. I was wondering if there were any desktop solutions that can match the Hugo 2 in terms of pure SQ for around the same price? I've been looking at Schitt stacks but quite honestly, I don't really know where to start. Attempting to find comparisons between them is proving to be quite difficult as well. If anyone has experience with the Hugo 2 and a similarly priced, better setup please comment!
 
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EagleWings

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It really comes down to these aspects:
1. the headphones
2. your preference

If you are using a high impedance dynamic driver headphone (Sennheisers, ZMFs) or a power-demanding planar headphone (Abyss, HE6, Susvara, LCD4), it might be advisable to you use a suitable amp in the chain even if you are using Hugo 2 as a DAC. But I have seen some people driving the Sennheisers, ZMFs, LCD4s out of a Hugo2 and be perfectly happy.

Non power-demanding planar headphones and Low Impedance dynamics might not benefit a whole lot from a separate amp, but some people still prefer to drive them from an amp over straight out of Hugo2.

And then comes your preference. Some see Hugo2’s tonality as neutral and appreciate its technical brilliance. For me and many others, we find Hugo2 bright, analytical and sterile. Although we are able to hear it’s technical brilliance, the cold tonality just doesn’t let us enjoy the music.

I used to have the Hugo2 as the DAC in my desktop chain. It really didn’t make me come back for more. Then I got to try a Cayin N8 as a DAC in my chain and I instantly knew that I was going to sell my Hugo2, although Hugo2 was definitely better than the N8 in many aspects. But the N8 being the warmer, fuller, smoother sounding device, it made me enjoy my music way better than what the Hugo2 did.
 
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Tristy

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It really comes down to these aspects:
1. the headphones
2. your preference

If you are using a high impedance dynamic driver headphone (Sennheisers, ZMFs) or a power-demanding planar headphone (Abyss, HE6, Susvara, LCD4), it might be advisable to you use a suitable amp in the chain even if you are using Hugo 2 as a DAC. But I have seen some people driving the Sennheisers, ZMFs, LCD4s out of a Hugo2 and be perfectly happy.

Non power-demanding planar headphones and Low Impedance dynamics might not benefit a whole lot from a separate amp, but some people still prefer to drive them from an amp over straight out of Hugo2.

And then comes your preference. Some see Hugo2’s tonality as neutral and appreciate its technical brilliance. For me and many others, we find Hugo2 bright, analytical and sterile. Although we are able to hear it’s technical brilliance, the cold tonality just doesn’t let us enjoy the music.

I used to have the Hugo2 as the DAC in my desktop chain. It really didn’t make me come back for more. Then I got to try a Cayin N8 as a DAC in my chain and I instantly knew that I was going to sell my Hugo2, although Hugo2 was definitely better than the N8 in many aspects. But the N8 being the warmer, fuller, smoother sounding device, it made me enjoy my music way better than what the Hugo2 did.
Thanks for the response! I’ll be using purely IEM’s for the foreseeable future. I’d like to have the capacity for full sized headphones in the future though. Not necessarily the capacity to run power hungry planars but just average powered over ears. I have been looking at the RME adi 2 ... seems cheaper than the Hugo 2 with similar technicalities and a slightly more natural tonality from what I’ve read.
 
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Ra97oR

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I have recently sold my Hugo 2, in favour of my new Topping Combo.

Don't forget that Hugo 2 is also transportable! It's never going to be as easy to transport a mains power setup around if you need to.
 
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gimmeheadroom

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Thanks for the response! I’ll be using purely IEM’s for the foreseeable future. I’d like to have the capacity for full sized headphones in the future though. Not necessarily the capacity to run power hungry planars but just average powered over ears. I have been looking at the RME adi 2 ... seems cheaper than the Hugo 2 with similar technicalities and a slightly more natural tonality from what I’ve read.
The RME is superb but some people prefer the Hugo as @EagleWings said in his very nice post. For dedicated IEM use the RME could be the hot ticket. It has some additional circuitry for IEMs. It's a bit fiddly but the sound is very musical.

I agree if you get certain headphones you will want a stout amp to drive off your DAC in most cases.
 
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