Chord Mojo Loaner program signup and review thread!

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by todd, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. alpha421
    Todd from TTVJ.  What can I say? His contribution and passion to this site and hobby deserves a standing ovation. It's always a great experience buying audio toys from him and his sidekick. I'm still searching for the TTVJ portable tube hybrid amp that I regretfully sold twice! Well, enough about that, onto the MOJO impressions after a week long stay.
     
    The MOJO has voodoo. The gap between realism and the bits of data that comprise my digital files is simply stunning. There are tons of equipment on the market (most I haven't heard), but of those the MOJO is the closest in closing that gap, even more so than the Hugo, IMO.
     
    It's not transducer picky.  My Grado RS2i, Audioquest Nighthawk, HiSoundAudio HA-2, Ocharaku FLAT-4 AKA II, Aurisonics Rockets, and recabled Yuin PK2 sing with standing ovation.  The battery is stated to last 10 hrs per charge. Well, I could listen to this thing 24/7, 366 days a year.  In short, it's highly addictive. My beloved live tracks sounded livelier, female vocals sweeter, complex tracks more detailed, and guitar riffs with more bite. Just absolutely a pleasure having the MOJO in the chain. The hype and love for the MOJO is real and well deserved, IMO.
     
    The brains inside the MOJO knows how to process the bits of any track with a frequency response that tickles the music side of the soul. Somehow, it knows what 'damn good' should sound like and carries this authoritative manner through the analog stage.  It made my heavily compressed sounding Cure albums sound much more alive with wonderful dynamics, similar to the effects of tube/hybrid amps with the right tube brand/model combination.
     
    Like my Meridian Explorer 2 (E2) USB only DAC, the MOJO is first class, British audio engineering. When I compared the two, I concluded that there is a such thing called "too smooth" and that's what I heard after listening to the same tracks and respective bit rates to the "just right" smooth MOJO. The other big difference to my ears was the E2 wider but flat stage compared to the MOJO's slightly narrower stage but greater stage depth and detail retrieval and separation. The latter added that extra special touch in dynamics and musicality that really made playback listening immensely enjoyable.  Between the MOJO and the Sony PHA-3 that I use to own, the latter easily holds its own - in balanced mode only, IMO. Basically, the MOJO's musicality is all around sweeter and it juggles it with just the right amount of goodness to make long listening sessions very enjoyable and fatigue free.
     
    In summary, the MOJO is a sonic hit for those looking for an all digital, portable solution in a fairly small but robust chassis. However, it's not small enough for my ideal application as smartphone and laptop USB only dac/amp.  I hope Chord comes out soon with a low power consumption USB DAC/Amp.  Well, that's all folks.  Hats off to Todd for his MOJO loaner program. It was a lot of fun and I'm very grateful.
     
  2. yage
    Well, my time with the Mojo is drawing to a close. I used it mainly with my Audeze LCD-XC's and spent a little bit of time with it on the Sennheiser HD 600's and NAD VISO HP50's. It drove all of them well. I also hooked it up to my speaker-based system (details in my profile) and it acquitted itself nicely.
     
    Overall, I found the Mojo warm sounding with a nice little bass bump and a sweet top end. It's not the detailed sort of sound that some audiophiles crave, but its presentation makes music addicting, almost intoxicating. In short, everything sounded good through the Mojo. A few nits - it tends towards the stereotypical British 'politeness' and the tonal balance seemed to gloss over some inner detail and microdynamics. Surprisingly, adding in an AudioQuest JitterBug restored a small degree of low-level resolution and dynamic spark. For desktop use, I recommend experimenting with USB tweaks to get the most out of the Mojo.
     
    As a portable standalone USB DAC in a speaker setup, it handily outclassed the AQ DragonFly with JitterBug, would probably edge out the Meridian Explorer 2 (the reason for the qualifier is that my Explorer 2 died before I could do a head-to-head comparison), and I believe is on par with the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 (also from memory). The midbass / midrange emphasis keeps it from sounding thin and uninvolving and it throws a decent lateral soundstage, though there's not much sense of depth.
     
    It doesn't beat the DNA Sonett 2 / Ayre C-5xeMP that I use at home these days - not by a long shot - but the Mojo doesn't disappoint either. It's a very satisfying sound for the musical soul that should get heads bopping and toes tapping.
     
  3. Pesors
    Hey guys, Time for my first (unofficial) review! First, I would like to thank Todd from TTVJ for this chance to try out the Mojo, This was my first loaner program and everything ran smoothy. So on to the Mojo. This was my first Amp/Dac that I've owned for an extended period of time so with some extensive testing I did find out a lot of things. First off all I only own one headphone, The Phillips X2 and I've been satisfied with my X2 Without an Amp/Dac for around 3 months. I listen to music almost every single day and the X2s signature fits me perfectly.
     
    But did the Mojo help me see the X2s at their full potential? Well yes and no. The Mojo is great when you are running it from a PC with a bad soundcard or an Iphone and really gives it that full sound, But I do most of my listening from my iMac upstairs and well... with my listening preferences and most of my music collection. The Mojo really didn't help me that much. Most of my Music is Electronic and 256 AAC via Apple Music and the Mojo Didn't really change anything to my liking. However I did try some of the sample tracks off of HDTracks and the Mojo was much better for that. So in all do I recommend the Mojo? To be honest yes I do. I think the Mojo is a very good Amp/Dac with most Phones and Genres. However I found that I really didn't need it that much. Well I guess that does it for my first review, If you have any further questions about my thoughts on the Mojo feel free to send me a PM. And again, Thanks Todd!
     
  4. silvrr
    IMG_5392-Edit.jpg
     
    Introduction:
    I made some changes just before I was sent the Mojo for review that really made this review into a David vs. Goliath and old vs. new matchup.  The mojo is the latest technology, fits in the palm of your hand and runs off a battery.  My Zdac and Lyr 2 setup is big, hot, sucks power from the wall and relies on older technology.  The Zdac was released in early 2013 and the Lyr relies on tubes which have been around since the beginning of the 1900s.
     
    I really enjoyed my short time with the Mojo and want to say thanks to Todd for putting this review tour together.    
     
    Disclaimer:
    I was sent a Mojo in exchange for my review by Todd The Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ).  I have no connection to TTVJ or Chord other than receiving the Mojo for review.  It went on to the next reviewer after my week with it. 
     
    About ME / My Listening Style:
    I am not a critical listener; I don’t find enjoyment in listening to music and trying to listen for every last detail.  When I listen to music I generally am sitting in a comfy chair, or in bed, and relaxing and enjoying the music.  I appreciate detail and accurate reproduction but tend to lean towards a warmer more laid back sound.  In the past I have had a pair of DT880s which while very technically competent were just to bright and aggressive, I much prefer something like my ZMFs or the HD650. 
     
     
     
     
    Hardware & Specifications:
     
    Packaging/accessories**:
    Packaging is pretty simple, the Mojo comes in a two part box with a bit of foam to cushion in transport.  No frills.  The side of the inner box displays a road map of sorts to the color indications for the bit rate display.  The only accessory is a USB cable to hook the Mojo up to a source and/or power for charging. 
     
    You do not get a power adapter, and you will need one.  Chord recommends 1A output form a 5v source to charge the Mojo.  Many USB ports will not provide the needed power to charge the Mojo (it will charge, but take forever).   I used a iPad charger that I had as a spare.   The iPad charger puts out 2.1 amps at 5v and charged the Mojo overnight.  I put the Mojo on the charger each night and in the morning it was charged and ready to go (as indicated by the charging light not being illuminated)
     
    **This was a review sample, it had been passed to 5-6 other reviewers before I got it, so your results may vary.
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     ​
    Technical Specifications:
     
    These are pulled from Chord’s site at: http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/
     
    General:
    Works with Android, iPhone, Windows and Mac
    Charges in just 4 hours to provide up to 10 hours use.
    Compatible with headphones from 4Ω to 800Ω
    The case is machined from a single solid block of aluminum.
    DAC:
    Three digital inputs - USB, Coaxial, and Optical
    Plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz and even DSD 256
    AMP:
    Output Power @ 1kHz (600 ohms 35mW) (8 ohms 720mW)
    Output Impedance: 0.075 ohms
    Dynamic Range: 125dB
    THD @ 3v - 0.00017%: 
     
    A few specifications I didn't find on Chords site:
     
    Size:
    For Americans: 3.23” W, 2.44”D, 0.85”H
    For the Rest of the World: 82.8 W, 62D, 21.5H
     
    The tiny feet on the bottom add a bit to the eight but its not much. There is also a picture below comparing it to my iPhone 6s.
     
    Weight:
    6.1 Ounces
     
    Objective Measurements:
    For a good summary of the objective measurements of the Mojo see the link below:
    http://ohm-image.net/data/audio/rmaa-chord-mojo-24-bit
     
    IMG_5363-Edit.jpg
     
     
    Using the Mojo:
    I would recommend reading the manual while your mojo is charging for the first time.  There is some good info and its brief but provides some important details on use.  A lot of people are suggesting a 10 hour minimum first charge, not sure where it came from but seems to be going around, the manual is silent on it. 
     
     http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/mojo/manual/Mojo-User-Manual.pdf
     
    Build
    The Mojo’s chasis is two pieces of aluminum held together by 8 screws on the bottom.   It is a really solid piece and should last a long time. After going through the hands of a number of other reviewers and being shipped all over the country it looked like new to me, no scratches and finger prints wipe off with a t-shirt. The little orbs/balls are actually free floating in the holes and can spin around.  Not sure if anything can get behind them and cause an issue but as long as you keep your hands relatively clean I cannot see it being an issue.  All the jacks feel solid and don’t provide any wiggle or feel loose. 
     
    Features
    Most of the Mojo’s external features are pretty self-explanatory.  There are two headphone outs which is unique but everything else is pretty normal, except for those glowing orbs. 
    [​IMG]
    1.png
     
     
    Those little orbs tell you a few details during playback, and perform there functions as noted in the picture above. 
    The power orb displays the sampling frequency being fed to the DAC by your player of choice using the colors below:
    [​IMG]
    The volume buttons also display a range of colors depending on the volume settings in use.  There appears to be three stages of the volume indication.  From zero the Mojo runs through the color field above quickly and then starts back over at red and moves to light purple.   There is a final stage where only the + volume button will change colors.  I found with my headphones I was always in the second section of volume indication and typically was in the dark blue range with my ZMF’s.  With the M6 Pros I was in the second volume section but stayed below the yellow/green range.  When just wanting some background music I was in the first section in the light purple.
     
    2.png
     
     
    Use
    I scrolled through the user’s manual before the Mojo was sent to me and got a basic understanding.  Hold the power button for two seconds to turn on and wait for the faint click and its ready to go.  The power ball cycles through the colors as it starts up. 
     
    To use the Mojo as a DAC only and provide a 3V line out output you just click both volume buttons right after the Mojo powers on. 
     
    I found coarse volume adjustments to take too long either by clicking the ball or holding it down.   However, I found fine adjustments to work nicely by giving the ball a few clicks.  I tend to flip the volume down if I need to talk to someone rather than pause a track so a quick dial is my preference, or a mute button.
     
    Via USB on the Raspberry Pi it was plug and play.  RuneAudio recognized the Mojo and displayed Mojo in the list of output devices.  On all of my Windows PCs the drivers installed without issues (Windows 7 and Windows 10). 
     
    Optical was plug and play also, once I remembered to enable my optical out.  24/96 content played with no issues and was reported correctly by the power balls color.  24/192 gave a subtle click/pop in my left ear each time I started the song.  I don’t have another optical source to test so this may be the fault of my motherboard.      
     
    How does it sound?
    I used the following gear, other than the Mojo, during this review:
     
    IMG_5331.jpg
     
     
    [DAC] Parasound Zdac: http://www.parasound.com/vintage/zdac.php
     
    [AMP] Schiit Lyr: http://schiit.com/products/lyr-2 (General Electric 6BZ7 tubes)
     
    [Headphones] ZMF Master Model V1 (Fostex T50RP base): http://www.zmfheadphones.com/
     
    [IEMs] Mee Electronics M6 Pro: http://www.meeaudio.com/M6PRO-CL
     
    [Source 1] Raspberry Pi running RuneAudio: http://www.head-fi.org/t/795895/a-70-bit-perfect-audio-player
     
    [Source 2] Desktop PC via optical running Foobar/Wasapi.
     
     [Source 4 – Work Laptop] Lenovo X240 (Windows 7 Playing Pandora/Tidal)
     
    Music is ripped from a CD in either ALAC or FLAC at 16/44.1 unless otherwise noted.  Player and setup is noted above in each source listing.  
     
    IMG_5368.jpg
     ​
    I received the Mojo on Saturday and did some general listening over the weekend.  I spent a lot of time on the Mojo and found it worked nicely as a portable solution.  With one power cord (Pi power source) I can move my entire listening rig up to the bedroom or into a quiet room in the house.  The battery lasted through each session (up to 4 hours).  Initial impressions going back and forth with the Zdac/Lyr stack is the Mojo is a bit more controlled and the stack doesn’t have the same snap/control to the sound.  The tubes in the Lyr were brand new and only had ~10 or so hours run time.  They were left on over the weekend and by Monday things seemed a bit more evenly matched. 
     
    Steeley Dan – Aja: I went back and forth a number of times on this one trying to hear differences.  I ‘think’ I could hear a very slight difference in the drum stick click Steve Gadd makes around the 5:00 mark.  After a number of times back and forth the Mojo has a more realistic click to me, that is splitting hairs though.  Overall the two systems are pretty evenly matched using this sample.  I had to look over and see which device I was plugged into twice during this stint so that tells you how close the two setups are.
     
    Steely Dan – Deacon Blues: Concentrating on the saxophone after around the 4:00 mark my preference is the Zdac/Lyr stack, I think the stack is just a bit smoother and more pleasant to listen to.
     
    Beastie Boys – Slow Ride: Listened to the first ~25 seconds of this song over and over again on both setups.  I call this one a draw.  The Mojo is really impressing me here as I turn both setups a bit so see how bass is handled.  There is a heavy bass line after the initial percussion intro.  The Mojo holds its own even as I push the volume.
     
    Dire Straits – Money For Nothing: This is a quieter track overall when it comes to recording level and I like to listen to it pretty loud.   The Mojo struggled on this one; it was pushed into the light purple/white volume levels and couldn’t produce the bass the Lyr was at this volume level.  The Lyr is just really hitting its stride and sounds fantastic, switching to the Mojo and the bass suffers and overall things are sounding a bit harsh.  The Lyr is capable of putting over 5 times the wattage into the ZMFs as the Mojo, I was surprised it took this long for me to run into a test where the Mojo ran out of power compared to the Lyr, really says something about the Mojo.  
     
    Eagles - Hotel California (Hotel California): The Mojo is lacking in bass during the intro.  The Lyr is big and full on the bass line but the Mojo is losing the bass behind the rest of the song as the volume goes up.
     
    Fleetwood Mac - The Chain (Rumors): This is another song with a lower recording level.  The Mojo is getting pushed into the third volume stage if I want to turn this one up.   The Mojo and the ZMFs do not pair well as you push the Mojo, it becomes a bit shrill and the bass and mids really suffer. Turning it down the Mojo pulls ahead, I'm liking the Mids from the bass guitar better. Although very close I would say the Mojo is keeping everything separated a bit more.
     
    Eagles - Hotel California (HD Tracks 24/96):  I call this one a draw.  I really pulled this track up to listen to what I assume is a brush on the snare drum at a few points in the song.  It's in the lower back of the left ear on both setups. Both setups were equal to my ears in placing it and separating it from the rest of the track.  That placement that is almost behind your ear is something I first noticed with the Zdac, when I had my Modi, it was there but didn't have the same placement and desperation.
     
    Daft Punk - Get Lucky (256 AAC) I focused in on the claps in this song.  The have a good presentation in both width and sound on both setups, I'm calling this on a draw.
     
    After running into the power issue on the Mojo I remembered that you can set it to a DAC only mode and get a 3V line out.  I set this up to take the amp out of the equation and ran both the Zdac and Mojo through the Lyr.  
     
    I spent a lot of time switching between the two while listening to Hotel California (Hell Freezes Over) and a few tracks from Rumors by Fleetwood Mac.  I would think the Mojo was pulling more detail and the Zdac had a bit of a veil but then I would switch back and hear the same from the Zdac.  I tried both longer listening sessions and rapid switches and came to the conclusion that any differences are so small that I would never be able to blindly say this is the Mojo and this is the Zdac.  That result really goes for the whole review I did, except when the Mojo runs out of power and the differences become very evident.
     ​
    IMG_5360.jpg
     
     ​
    Conclusion:
     
    I really enjoyed the Mojo, for its size and the fact that is runs off battery it really punches above its weight.  Being able to move my entire listening rig up to the bedroom by unplugging one cord and carrying it all in one had was pretty nice.  However, I think for power hungry cans or inefficient cans I would be sure to get a demo and compare it to a desktop setup.  During my listening tests, when combined with a track with a lower recording level the Mojo would struggle.
     
    When I didn’t run into power issues the Mojo was wonderful sonically.  There is a lot of detail and a smoothness that I really enjoyed. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a portable setup.  I held its own against a power hungry desktop setup and only rarely ran out of power and started to struggle.  
     
    IMG_5347-Edit.jpg
     
     
    Other Reviews:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/chord-mojo
     
  5. utdeep
    Introduction:
     
    I recently received the Chord Mojo as part of the loaner program.  Since I owned a Oppo PM-2, Audeze Sine, Sennheiser IE800, and Grace M9XX during the review period, I used them for the review process.
     
    I’m not going to go into detail on the sound.  The review by silvrr above does that in detail and his tastes in music are similar to mine. Also, he nailed the description of what the Mojo brings to the table.   Let’s call this review an addendum using my equipment.
     
    Against the Grace M9XX: 
     
    The Mojo is easily a warmer DAC/amp then the Grace M9XX regardless of which filter you use on the Grace.  It also has a larger soundstage which creates more space between the action in the music.  However, this usually results in a sense of additional detail.  In this case, it does not.  The Grace has a more efficient and graceful sound than the Mojo - it feels more detailed and less in-your-face.  The Mojo is a crowd pleaser that seeks attention; the Grace M9XX just disappears.  
     
    For my needs, the Grace M9XX was a better fit.  However, the Mojo is probably the most portable DAC/amp combination that I would ever consider using outside of my desktop setup.  It’s that good!
     
    Synergy with Oppo PM-2, Audeze Sine, and Sennheiser IE800:
     
    Surprisingly, I found the Mojo did not benefit the Oppo PM-2 as much as I would expect.  While it opened up the soundstage, the Oppo PM-2 doesn’t need much to sound fantastic.  I didn’t notice additional warmth either.  Out of all the headphones, this combination had the least synergy.
     
    The Mojo works very well with the Audeze Sine.  Surprisingly, the elevated bass of the Sine syncs well with the Mojo.  The result is a combination that makes me forget about the LCD series.  It’s not quite as good but it’s the highest compliment I can give to something that is significantly more portable.  Occasionally, there is some harshness in the treble but usually it comes up in poorly mastered tracks.
     
    The best combination was with the Sennheiser IE800 which is my favorite IEM.  The IE800 always provided me the most analytical sound albeit with a slight bass boost.  The Mojo really opens up the soundstage.  I usually think that IEMs don’t require much amping. However, this combination made me recognize how much my enjoyment of the IE800s detail improves with the better DAC.  I love it!
     
    Things I Hate about the Mojo:
     
    I HATE THE DESIGN.  The lights on the buttons are hideous.  What’s the point?  I love music and not the stats around what I’m listening to.  Because of the lights (even in their low brightness setting), I couldn’t use the Mojo at night next to my wife and baby without disturbing them.  I understand this is part of Chord’s design language, but it should be optional for anyone who only cares about turning a device on and adjusting volume.
     
    Even at a coffee shop, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much battery life is being sucked by the lights for no reason at all.  At least the Grace has a setting where you can turn it all off except for the few seconds when you change a setting.  Chord doesn’t seem to think this is important. 
     
    Also, I wish that there was a small lightning to Mojo cable included in the package. 
     
    Conclusion:
     
    The sound of the Mojo is amazing.  For a portable device, it is a significant step up from anything I’ve heard.  Even at its current price point, I can’t think of anything this small that performs this well.  I really enjoyed using it with my iOS devices using the CCK adapter.
     
    However, I don’t think that it is a better solution than a decent mid-level desktop amp/DAC combination at the same price point.  If I was planning to be stationary for more than an hour, I would take the Grace M9XX instead and use it without a power adapter in low power mode.
     
    Did I mention I hate the control orbs?  Unfortunately, that was the only aspect of the device that kept me from making the ultimate decision - keeping the Grace M9XX and buying a Chord Mojo for travel.  
     
    Thank you to Todd for including me in the loaner program!
     
  6. TomNC
    mojo_800.jpg
     
    Thanks to Todd at TTVJ for including me on the Mojo loaner program. It is so nice of him to provide this opportunity for an ordinary head-fi’er like me to have access to this little wonder and report my real-life experience. As many have reviewed this product with good coverage of details, I’ll focus only on things that are standing out to me.

     

    Design and build. Mojo is small. Even I read quite a bit about it earlier, I was still amazed by its compact size at the very first sight (the picture shows its size in context of iPad Air and Melco N1A). It is light but does not feel hollow or cheap at all. The surface seems to resist scratch quite well as I am the last on this tour and it looked like new.

     

    The three relatively large ball-shaped, color-changing buttons are pleasing to look at in dim ambient light. They also add a tactile quality for the user experience. With a little time I realize that this is a brilliant and fun design feature with good anesthetic taste and practicality. BTW, volume adjustment gradient is very good, no sudden and unwanted leaps.

     

    Sound. Overall, the sound of Mojo is frequency-balanced, transparent, detailed, dynamic, impactful with excellent separation and soundstage. I won’t rate these attribute only relative to its size or price; it is simply good regardless of the size or price point. The tonality of Mojo sound is excellent. In terms of the three major frequency bands, they are well balanced with good seamless transitions. Although this sounds easy to achieve, it is not. Some more expensive amps may not do as well. For instance, the powerful Taurus II does not have as good a control of trebles as the Mojo. During the first night I got the Mojo I started listening with Grado GH1, it seemed that the trebles were on the dry and bright side with some tracks. But later I switched to my HD650 (with marv/Bill-P mods) and HD800 (Bill-P modded) and realized that the bright trebles were due to the GH1. Although the GH1 is less bright than the RS1i I used to own for six months, the former still has that dryness and brightness of many Grado phones which partly contribute to the signature of Grado many owners love but cause harshness and fatigue for some pop/rock tracks. Over this period, I came to appreciate the Mojo’s excellent rendering of the mid-highs. For instance, the singer Adele has an earthy and ripe voice and many of her songs are melodic. But I did not enjoy her singing very much due to some irritating mid-high metal-sounding elements I heard through other systems. The Mojo somehow eliminated these elements making Adele’s songs much easier to listen to.

     

    Mids and vocals from the Mojo won my heart. They are among the best relative to quite a few amps/receivers I used to own or heard at meets. Mojo sounded neutral with a touch of sweetness which is conducive to bringing out the emotions and sensuous quality of vocals or instruments. I listened to a few of my favorite female vocalists including Norah Jones, Jackie Evancho, and Diana Krall. All of them sounded so good to me that I could keep on listen many songs in a row. In the song “Isn’t this a lovely day”, both female and male vocals’ tonality, emotion, and sensuous quality were well reproduced with full flavor. I listened to this single song multiple times over the week I had the Mojo and enjoyed it each time.

     

    Bass. The Mojo can produce bass with good definition, texture, and quantity through the four pairs of phones I have which include PSB M4U 4, Grado GH1, HD650/800. Despite differences in design, each of these phones can give off excellent bass when properly driven. It was one of my primary goals to evaluate how well the Mojo could work with all of my phones, especially the 300 Ohms Sennheisers to reproduce solid but not hardened bass. To my delight, the Mojo managed to do a decent job with each of the phones. I listened to many tracks with major presence of cello (my favorite instrument) and drums and I was satisfied with the Mojo’s performance in rendering the bass. Is the bass the best I have heard? No. I have heard better bass from my HE6 driven by Taurus MK II and HD800 driven by Moth 2a3. But these amps cost several or many more times than the Mojo as an amp/DAC combo.

     

    Soundstage and separation. The mojo produced an expansive and well defined soundstage. Instrument separation was very good. One of my criteria for good soundstage is whether I can hear sounds coming from behind and below my ears. When this happens, I feel as if I was a boat floating on and surrounded by the sea of music. The amps that are well known for producing exceptional soundstage can do this really well. One of these amps is the Eddie Current Zana Deux. The other I have heard is the legendary Moth 2a3. I was surprised that the Mojo could pass this test quite well, depending on the tracks. When I switched from my laptop (via Audioquest Jitterbug) to Melco N1A as source, the Mojo’s performance scaled noticeably higher ---- better sound separation, more expansive soundstage, darker background, and denser sound tracks. With this combination and my eyes closed, at times I felt I was listening to a decent full-sized desk-top DAC and amp system. Very satisfying.

     

    I did notice one aspect of the Mojo’s sound separation that is not optimal. The sounds at the peripheral zone of the soundstage somehow sounded unnaturally low in loudness. This was especially apparent with the M4U 4 earphones. I’ve not completely understood what caused this. But I am inclined to believe that this is where the little Mojo fall behind the good desktop amps. Unfortunately the tube amp I have ordered got delayed for delivery and I don’t have an amp at hand at this time. So I cannot check if the LO output would still produce this effect. If so, I would know whether the DAC or amp module of the Mojo is responsible.

     

    Value. I think the Mojo is an amazing value. It can drive all of my phones to a decent, good-enough level. At a recent meet, I briefly heard the Ayre Codex. While the Codex, coming from a reputable audio company, sounded excellent at about three times of the price of Mojo, it lacked power via SE output (I did not have balanced cable with me) to drive the HD800 to enough loudness. The other two products could be subjects of comparison in my mind. One is the Questyle QP1. At the same price as the Mojo, QP1 is a DAP. Some reviewers say the QP1 sounds really good. I wonder how these two compare to each other in terms of sound and power. I would be surprised of the QP1 outperforms the Mojo. The other product could be the LH Labs GO V2+ which is a portable DAC/amp combo like the Mojo. While I’ve heard the DAC in the V2+ is one of the best in portable products and the amp is known for its ample power, some comments suggest that the V2+ is bright sounding. One thing I am certain is that the Mojo wins easily in solid and refined build.

     

    In summary, the Mojo proves to be a great little DAC/amp. It got the most important thing, i.e. tonality, right. Notably, the middle frequencies, especially vocals, are among the best I’ve heard including amps costing several thousand dollars. Bass and trebles are also decent without off-putting weaknesses. On top of that solid foundation, the Mojo reproduces sounds with high transparency, excellent speed, and good power and soundstage. It can drive a variety phones, from IEMs, Grado phones, to high-impedance Sennheiser phones, with satisfying sounds.

     

    For head-fiers who need a portable set-up for travel or an inconspicuous set-up for office use or a second system at home, I am convinced the Mojo is one of the top options available. Currently I do not need (though I “want”) such an application. If I will in the future, I will use the Mojo as a benchmark to weigh other options.
     
  7. JWizzlez

    Trying to be the king of the three-figure price class for an all-in-one portable solution is a lofty goal. After spending a week with the Chord Mojo, it looks like they achieved it.
     
    The context of my review is crucial, as it is for all reviews and tends to be an afterthought. If you don't care about the context and just want to know what a mildly informed person listening to Hip Hop and Jazz thinks of the Mojo, skip ahead to the sound quality section.
     
    I am a wannabe audiophile, who has become engrossed in the Head-Fi world because I made the mistake of listening to the HD800s one day and realized plugging my Klipsch X10i Lou Reeds directly into my iPhone was only painting half the picture in my music. So a year later, I began my review of the Mojo with one foot in to the Hifi world. My observations come from the view point of someone coming to Head Fi with little experience listening to these incredible and expensive headphones and source components. I've heard most of the holy grail headphones and amps/DACs once or twice, so I have some baseline to compare the Mojo. I wrote the review as someone who has been using ebay and trading forums to build up a nice set up, but is trying to figure out if it’s worth spending the money to leap into the true audiophile price range.
     
    I listen for the most part to four types of music: Hip Hop, Electronic, Jazz and any kind of rock featuring guitar.  The albums I mostly listened to for this review were Kanye West's "Yeezus", Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Can't Stand the Weather", Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange", Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories", Kendrick Lamar's "untitled unmastered.", Bank’s “Goddess”, Rustie’s “Glass Swords” and “Green Light”, Rodrigo y Gabriela's "RE-FOC", Buckehead's "Electric Tears" and "Crime Slunk Scene", Purity Ring's "Shrines" and The XX's eponymous album. Beyonce’s “Lemonade”, Drake’s “Views” and Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” came out when I got the Mojo, so I spent a lot of time listening to those as well. I used TIDAL Hi-FI [FLAC] for all the albums, except Views and Coloring Book which I got from the iTunes Store as 256kbs AAC.
     
    I'm an IEM user who does most of my listening on the move or at my desk at the office. After rolling through the Fiio series of amps and DACs to try to give my X10s better bass impact and extension as well as more soundstage and instrument separation, I felt that the bottleneck was coming from the X10s. So I did way too much research and ended up graduating to the Sennheiser IE800s. They were pretty much everything I had hoped for, as the bass and minds were remarkably better and I finally had this massive soundstage and clear instrument separation that made me feel I was finally listening to live music. I ran the Fiio Q1 to my iPhone with Spotify Premium and everything was dandy.
     
    Then I went to the Boston Head-Fi meet and put on a pair of Hifiman HE-1000s plugged in to the Cavalli Liquid Carbon amp and Schiit Yygdrasil DAC -- which can be yours for a cool $6,000! The only other experience I had comparable to that sound in my life was the $250,000 Naim system at ProMusica in Chicago. I plugged my IE800 into the Liquid Carbon and was blown away by how much more detail each layer of the song had and how much more controlled the bass extension felt. I returned the Q1 the next day and began my next quest to upgrade my Amp/DAC.
     
    I eventually ended up with the Creative Soundblaster E5 DAC and the HeadAmp Pico Slim amp. I finally got the incredible bass extension to bring to life my hip hop music while getting the midrange clarity to make it sound like I was sitting backstage at a  Miles Davis club show. But there was still a few things that I felt shortchanged on: the separation and clarity of each layer of the song was still a bit difficult to distinguish, there was a painful sibilance and harsh mid range bump that forced me to turn down the volume and lose a lot of sub bass rumble, and most importantly, vocals were still not as lifelike as they could be.
     
    Enter the Mojo.
     
    SOUND QUALITY
     
    World class separation and clarity: The first big victory I experienced with the Mojo was the phenomenal separation across the frequency range for each type of music. In doing comparisons to my Soundblaster DAC + Pico Slim amp stack, the Mojo’s improvement first jumped out on the baseline to “I am a God” by Kanye. The song has a pounding repetitive distorted bassline that on lesser sources tends to muddle everything below the treble range. But on the Mojo the 808 rumble is distinctly separated from the synths, allowing you to hear the sound initiation and resolution clearly. Then when the vocal effect hits at the end of the measure, its fading echo can be heard for an extra beat and its presence enwraps the soundscape at a more significant level than on my own system.
     
    Vocal presence gets a significant upgrade with the Mojo, as vocals get significantly crisper with better depth and timbre. Alunageorge’s sweet and soft voice on Rustie’s “Afterlight” used to be drowned out by the sweeping synths and earthquake bass. But on the Mojo, her voice remains present as the tornado of synths swells around it, keeping its sweet thinness without being harsh and sibilant like it is on my soundblaster/pico slim stack. I usually have to turn the volume down on this track to handle the sibilance while sacrificing bass impact and synth presence. But that was no longer an issue for this song or I am a God. The soundstage grows substantially when upgrading to the Mojo on After Light, revealing some synth layers I hadn’t noticed before and making some of the more subtle elements of the drum pattern appear out of nowhere.
     
    Its ability to separate the heavy sub bass 808s on most Hip Hop tracks gave so much more freedom for layered samples and lower mids to breathe. There were a lot of tracks on Drake’s “Views”,  and Kanye’s ”Life of Pablo” that were liberated from their swallowing bassline by the Mojo, although it also emphasized the horrendous mastering on Life of Pablo to the point that I had to turn it off. It was kind of the same experience I had with Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees”, which sounded completely distorted on a high-end system.
     
    Pulling the veil off the mic: The second objective on the list with the Mojo was to finally achieve the kind of clarity and intimacy on vocals that I’ve experienced on top of the line headphone set ups. It’s one of the major limitations I noticed with the DAC on the Soundblaster that, even though the pico slim is amazing at extending the frequency range and moving the mids forward, was unable to overcome. The duets from the XX truly sound like they are whispering in your ear on the Mojo. It makes me feel like I’m cheating on my girlfriend with the intimacy of their whispers. Listening to the track “Islands”, the vocals are so deep in your ears that I started to mistake them for my own thoughts. Then I switched over to Banks’ “This is What it Feels Like”, which is one of the most entrancing and haunting songs in my library. Her vocals always came across as having three layers to form the melody, but without a lot of texture. On the Mojo, it sounds more like 5 or 7 tracks, with the timing a bit warped and it seeming almost to be a duet with herself. It was actually even better than hearing her do it live last year.
     
    The world is your soundstage: The Mojo’s reputation for being a tremendous value at an intimidating $600 started to make sense when I put on Stevie Ray Vaughan. I’ve always been an IEM guy and have been used to a linear soundstage, where the soundstage seems to a linear halo wrapped around my head at the eye/ear level. I always measured soundstage by distance from my ears and surround sound toward the back of my head. Graduating to the IE800 opened me up to a new level of this I hadn’t experienced.
     
    Then I demoed the HD650, HD800, Audeze LCD3, Stax SR-007 and Hifiman HE-1000. Listening to these premier level headphones – yes including the HD650 considering my sensitivity to sibilance -- create a spherical, three-dimensional soundstage that I had never experienced before. It certainly helped me understand why people generally prefer headphones over IEMs and is the reason why I’ll be buying myself an HD650 for a birthday gift. But going back to the IE800s – which are renowned for their soundstage in the IEM world – couldn’t give me the three dimensional circular soundstage. Even when demoing the Sennheiser DVD800 amp with the IE800 and the Audeze LCD3, the IE800 had a little more vertical space to the soundstage, but it periled in comparison to the LCD3.
     
    Then I put on “Tin Pan Alley” by Stevie Ray and discovered some sort of life hack. I was listening to IEMs, but it sounded exactly as it did on the HD800. The soundstage was completely spherical and the airiness of the track made me feel like I was in outer space. It was the same experience I remember getting from my time with the HD800, but without that harsh sibilance that makes the HD800s unusable for me. Then I switched over to the aforementioned “After Light” by Rustie and AlunaGeorge and was blown away by the shifting tidal waves of synths that were coming at me from 360 degrees. Up to that point, the Mojo had proven to be a solid upgrade over my Soundblaster/Pico Slim rig – which also MSRPs in total for the Mojo’s asking price of $600 – but once I dove into the Stevie Ray catalog, it was apparent that the soundstage transformed with the Mojo. The soundstage on the Mojo is more intimate and closer to the skull, reminding me of switching from the HD800 to the HD650 when I demoed them on the Bottlehead Crack with Speedball. The tradeoff in perceived distance of soundstage was completely worth it, as the detail retrieval and separation make the experience way more life like.
     
    The Mojo did a nice job smoothing out the upper-mid spike that always gives me an earache on the soundblaster, providing a relatively flat response that even caused some low mids to seem recessed at times. For an amp/DAC that is purportedly quite musical, it was way more analytical than any of the mid-fi DACs I’ve encountered and even some of the higher-end desktop DACs I’ve used. The accuracy of the timbre in the music is just phenomenal.
     
    Design/Usability
     
    I love the orbs. It’s apparently a polarizing design choice, but I think the Mojo epitomizes’ Chord’s aesthetic philosophy and nails it for the form factor. It’s a small black brick with three entrancing lights, serving to be both minimalistic and attention grabbing. The matte metal finish is just perfectly luxurious, with the laser etched engravings looking both delicate in deisgn and invincible in quality.
     
    Connectivity was very easy, running it to my iPhone with a micro USB cable with the Apple camera connector on the end. I tried using my Whiplash Elite Reference LOD into the coax port, but couldn’t get it to work on the Mojo’s end even though my phone recognized it line out was enabled.
     
    The one major issue I had was that Chord’s manual was not detailed enough for a complex color coded system to be easy to use and after a few minutes trying to figure out how to get the LOD to work, I gave up to focus on doing the music review.
     
    The only other qualm was that the Mojo was noticeably heavy, being significantly heavier than the Soundblaster despite being much smaller. While this contributes to the incredible feel of the build quality, it of course weighed down in my pocket while walking around.
     
    Conclusion
     
    My initial question coming in to the review was whether the Mojo was worth the investment. At $600, there is no question about it. Especially considering its ability to scale up to power a high impedance full sized headphone with the same phenomenal sound quality, the Mojo really is the all-in-one solution it sets out to be. It gives a more three-dimensional soundstage that turns my IE800s into full size cans, while providing a new level of separation and clarity that even a renowned amp like the pico slim cannot touch. When listening to Hip Hop, it gives major sub bass impact way more breathing room, making most songs full of 808s much more enjoyable and interesting. Vocals are crystal clear and more detailed than I’ve ever experienced on an IEM. While there are much more portable options out there, the Mojo truly lived up to the hype. Shout out to Todd for this incredible program and for just being a really cool guy.

     
  8. athos2017
    I have Mojo+HD600. I feel the treble is a little bit harsh.
    Do I need to burn-in HD600?
    Any suggestion for other headphone which has smoother treble?
     

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