Chord Mojo/Poly/Long Case Loaner program @TTVJAudio.com

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, Nov 14, 2017.
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  1. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    We are pleased to announce a new loaner program for the Chord Mojo/Poly/Long Case. Signups start immediately. We would like those who are interested in purchasing these products from us to sign up for an audition. EMAIL ME (no pm's!) at todd@ttvjaudio.com

    Fair warning - the Poly is excellent but requires some technical savvy to get it working. It is not plug n play.

    The package will contain the Chord Mojo, Poly and be in the new Mojo Long Case.

    The typical loaner rules apply. I am going to let 8 people sign up and no more. The units will ship out on Friday to the first one who signs up.


    Loaner Program Rules:



    Send your name and address as well as a telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

    You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

    You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

    Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

    Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

    chordpoly1.png




    chordmojolongcase.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  2. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    So far only 4 people have signed up. There is 1 -2 day delay in shipping out the loaner as we are now waiting for the case - I expect it to be out on Monday or Tuesday to the first recipient.

    Here is the list so far


    1. Alcophone

    2. ray-dude

    3. maxh22

    4. gsr108

    5. Zadok


    Todd
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
    TTVJ Stay updated on TTVJ at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
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  3. Alcophone
    @ray-dude Do you want to swap spots? I'm still hunting for a good open headphone, and would like that sorted out before testing the Mojo.
     
  4. Alcophone
    @Todd ray-dude and I would like to swap places :)
    Do you mind? Thank you!
     
  5. Alcophone
    Burning in my new Ether Flow, so #2 is a good spot for me.
     
  6. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    We just received our new shipment of Chord Poly in stock. Order away. Hopefully the loaner program will allow you to get a listen and play with the product. Though not all functions of the Poly are currently available to use, they will be coming soon!

    Todd
     
    TTVJ Stay updated on TTVJ at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/
    maxh22 likes this.
  7. Zadok
    Hey Todd. I sent an Email, but didn't hear back from ya. I know you're busy with the holiday season, so no rush or anything. =) Looking forward to hearing the reviews from the loaners!
     
  8. Alcophone
    Weekend goodies, yay! Thanks, Ray!
     
  9. maxh22
    Really excited to test out Poly when it gets to me, hopefully the app will be released and stable so I can use Poly the way it's meant to be used and can review it in its best possible light .
     
  10. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    The first update for the Poly becomes available today...


    These are the fixes:- . Please note this does not fix the WiFi saturation issue only the items described.

    WiFI MAC Address visible on Access point page
    Bluetooth MAC address visible on Access Point page
    Access Point WiFi Manage Connections page, delete networks resolved.
    DLNA flac file gapless playback
    Restart of services when joining a new network.
    Access Point special character handling for WiFi SSID and password added.SSID 32 characters max
    Password 63 characters max
    Router DLNA services visibility improved.
    SD Card database management improvedIF SD Card has space for database then the database will be stored on the SD. Therefore Poly will only index the SD once, if the contents has not changed.
    If there is insufficient space on the SD card then the Database will be created each time Poly is switched on
    Airplay updated

    To update Poly follow these instructions:-
    1. Most Important - Poly must be connected to a Wi-Fi network with internet access and be switched on or on charge.
    2. You need to leave Poly on for at least 30 minutes to connect to the update server and then download the update.
    3. After 30 minutes switch off Poly ( or unplug it from the charger ) and wait until the P Status lights go out.
    4. Switch Poly back on and wait until the P.Status light comes back on - Poly has now installed the new firmware.
    5. Switch Poly back off and wait again until the P Status light goes out.
    6. Switch back on and Poly is now ready to use
     
    TTVJ Stay updated on TTVJ at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/
  11. ray-dude
    My (very reluctant) Mojo+Poly+Case review. Please see the preamble below for details. I look forward to a chance to revisit this review once Chord has had a chance to address the functionality and stability gaps in the current offering.




    Disclaimer: The Poly, Mojo, and case described below was provided by TTVJ Audio as part of a demo tour, in exchange for posting an honest review when I was done with the unit. The loaner unit has been sent along to the next person in the tour (thank you @TTVJ !). No other consideration was given nor received.

    PREAMBLE: This review was conducted and written without knowing any of the backstory on the Poly other than the CES launch info a year ago. I was unaware at the launch issues and software gaps that the current version of the software has. I wanted to reflect the experience of an interested but uninformed buyer. The review is based on version 1.0.4 of the software, which is missing significant features, and the iOS configuration app was not available at the time of the review. I have since learned that Chord has a series of releases targeted to address these shortcomings, of which the first was released today. I have passed the Poly on to the next person so I can’t assess, but it will be many releases/weeks before the feature set is complete and stable.

    All the challenges I cite are addressable with software updates, but it is important that people have realistic expectations if they're jumping in now vs later. Please consider this review a snapshot in time, and look to more recent reviews to chart progress as Chord addresses the critical feature and functionality gaps that they have acknowledged. Once the software has stabilized, I may have an opportunity to rereview the Poly. Regardless I am planning on removing or at least heavily editing this review once the product is stable (or update it if I have access to rearview the unit), since the bulk off my criticisms have to do with the incomplete nature of the product as of today.



    Background

    I own a Chord Mojo and DAVE (and soon Chord Blu2), and I’m full on addicted to the Chord sound, and the intoxicating effect of what I call the Chord Magic: music feels real and physical, and the emotionality of the performance becomes tangible. I use my Mojo at the office and on the go, and I use my DAVE when at home. I’m also all in on Roon, and have two Roon end points at home (2 channel setup and my outdoor speakers) and a Roon end point at work. If there is an opportunity to get the Chord sound with a Roon end point while on the go, and maybe streamline my lossless and high res music content management so I have access to it everywhere? Count me in!

    When Chord made their CES announcements in January 2017, I was blown away:

    Rob's technical brief on the M scaler in the Blu2 was phenomenal. The Blu2 looks like an industry changer, and after WAY too long waiting for mine, I hope to have it soon so I can finally hear it in my home setup. The technical achievement with the blu is otherworldly, and we're only years away from that trickling down to the consumer products. Wow.

    The Hugo 2 is also a phenomenal leap forward for the price point, and the closest you can get to a portable DAVE. Very clear value story, and the reality of the Hugo2 was awesome (see my extensive review of Mojo vs Hugo2 vs DAVE: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/chord-hugo-2.22209/reviews#review-19435)

    The odd duck out was the Chord Poly. When it was announced, I got the high level concept, but I was very confused who it is for, what (in detail) it does and why it is better than other options, and had far more questions than answers. What I wanted was a clear articulation of core use cases, detailed discussion of differentiation, and what problems it solves for whom.

    When the price was announced and the inevitable backlash hit, I checked out from following the Poly. I figured I would come back to it when it was real, and see what the reality was. The long delays and frequent postponements of releases and “free case wars” and (apparent) extensive flame fests in the Poly thread have made me feel good about this decision.

    So now that the Poly is here, what is it all about? Having side stepped (and intentionally avoided as much as possible) much of the drama of the past 9 months, I’m able to come to the Poly with an open mind, with not expectations other than what I see on the Chord website and what I saw in those first CES announcements. I’m grateful to the good folks at TTVJ Audio for providing a loaner Poly setup so I can revisit this odd duck, and see if there is a place for it in getting the Chord sound while on the go.


    Philosophy

    I wrote extensively about my current outlook on music, test tracks, and what I listen for in my recent Hugo2 vs Mojo vs DAVE review (https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/chord-hugo-2.22209/reviews#review-19435) Rather than repeat here, I refer you there.

    My key use cases for a Poly (and future 2Go if I get a Hugo2) are:
    • Convenient Roon endpoint when at the office (replacing my current RasberryPi Roon Bridge that I connect and disconnect to my Mojo)
    • High quality streaming and content playback when on the go (no laptop, via phone)
    • Convenient Roon endpoint when I’m home (for future, if I replace my DAVE with a BluHugo2 + 2Go setup)
    What I’m not interested in:
    • Airplay or Bluetooth or any other lossy streaming format
    What I’m curious about:
    • Loading up a SD card with my high res content so I have my high res content (currently at home only) available wherever I go

    Hardware

    Source setup:
    • MacBook Pro and Mac Mini, running latest OS X, content on local SSD, running Roon 1.3
    • iPhone X, running latest iOS 11 ($priceless)
    Headphone setup
    • Sennheiser HD800 (with SR mod) ($800 used)
    • MrSpeakers Aeon Flows headphones (closed) ($800)
    • Noble Katana CIEMs ($1600)
    Content
    • ~300GB of lossless Redbook and ~1TB of high res audio files on my home server, accessible via iTunes, Plex, and Roon Server
    • ~300GB of lossless Redbook and some selective high res files on my laptop, accessible via iTunes and Roon Server
    • ~100GB of 256kbps compressed music on my iPhone
    • TIDAL HiFi for streaming (via Roon on laptop and home server, and via Tidal app on iPhone)

    First Things First: Lots and Lots of Photos

    IMG_8450.jpg IMG_8451.jpg IMG_8453.jpg IMG_8454.jpg IMG_8456.jpg IMG_8457.jpg IMG_8460.jpg IMG_8461.jpg IMG_8462.jpg IMG_8463.jpg IMG_8465.jpg IMG_8466.jpg IMG_8467.jpg


    Physical Impressions

    As you can see, it is a handsome package. If you love the Mojo, you’ll love the Poly. It is a perfect match, and comes together very cleanly. I’d be leary of having the Mojo connected to the Poly without any support. If feels like it could get caught in a bag and split off the plastic pins and USB connectors. The Chord case (or equivalent) is a must I think. The case is quite nice as well, giving the package an elegant loo and feel. It is hard plastic with a soft lining, and I’m confident it offers excellent protection for the unit. Given the nature of the case material, I would expect it to pick up scratches and scuffs like a magnet, so OCD folks should convince themselves that the weathering is part of the charm :wink:


    Initial Setup

    As usual, unboxing was a lot of fun, and it is always a pleasant surprise to see how compact the Mojo is (and the Poly even more so). But right away, I’m confronted by a pack in “Setup guide” from the Chord US distributor. Uh oh.

    I adore Chord’s technology and will buy anything Rob Watts designs sight unseen (note: Rob did not design the Poly, but he did design the Mojo), but the usability and industrial design sensibility for what goes around that tech continues to be a bit tone deaf. (Who designs a product that requires a separate pin to operate? Why not have a recessed button?)

    After assembling the unit (nice feel, and great in the case), I charged it overnight. First step was setting it up, so time to download the GoFigure iOS app. After a bunch of searching to no avail (Chord site is unhelpful), the Google tells me it isn’t released yet (!). (I guess I should have fully read the insert sheet from the US distributor). Time to get out my keyring with the magic pin and configure the unit via WiFi.

    If you have headphones on when fiddling with the keyring config thing, Poly talks to you and tells you what is happening. To get into access point mode (make your Poly into a WiFi access point so you can connect to it), you need to hold the keyring thingie in for several seconds.

    I was able to connect to the Poly network from my Mac, but unable to connect to anything (the secret poly.audio address didn’t work and even going directly to the Poly IP address didn’t give me anything). To get access, I needed to connect to it via my iPhone,, at which point the “login” page for the Poly WiFi network popped up, allowing me to configure the Poly (note to the Chord software team: typically you connect to a network, then access a web server on that network to configure things). Note, there is almost 2 full screens of small font marketing copy extolling the build quality of a product you’ve already purchased that you have to scroll through to get to the actual configuration options…keep scrolling, you’ll get there.

    Once at the Poly configuration page (aka, login screen), I configured it for Roon playback in bit perfect, and entered the SSID and password for my home 2.4GHz WiFi network (no drop down to select from). After saving, the Poly rebooted, and it became visible on my network as an (uncertified) Roon end point. Couple clicks in Roon, and I was playing music (huzzah!).

    After looking up the IP address of the Poly on my home WiFi router config page, I tried to connect to it to fiddle some more with configuration options. Alas, no dice. Looks like you have to put the unit into AP mode (no more music…boo!) and connect direct to the Poly. Pro tip: when you put your Poly in AP mode, it takes a little while for the Poly WiFi network to become visible (is it rebooting?)…be patient. Chord software team: this is why you want a password protected admin web server on the unit with some auto discovery…check out how the excellent Sonicorbiter SE config system works.

    So now I’m in a pickle: how can I configure my Poly to connect to my phones WiFi network, when I need my phone to connect to the Poly’s WiFi network to configure things? Let’s connect to the Poly login screen from my phone and input my phone’s hotspot SSID and password blind. After clicking “Reboot on save” for the Nth time and hitting Save (yes, it doesn’t remember that you want to reboot on Save…why not just have a “Save and reboot” button?) Poly reboots and connects to my home’s WiFi network. How do I get it to prioritize my phone’s network over my home network, other than turning off my home network or deleting it from the Poly? Time to take a break before going too deep into this rabbit hole.

    Some time passes, and I have a couple hours to kill at my local Starbucks. Perfect opportunity to continue with my effort to get the Poly to connect to my phone’s WiFi hotspot. After a couple tries, fiddling with when I’m at my phones personal hotspot page and when I turn on the MojoPoly, I can connect to my phone hotspot! I switch my laptop over to my phone’s hotspot, and I can see the Poly Roon end point again, and play music (huzzah!)

    Next challenge: Can I connect both the MojoPoly and my laptop to the Starbucks public WiFi network so I’m not eating up my data on my phone while listening to Tidal? Alas, that means time to turn off the music while I use the pin thingie to put the Poly in AP mode to fiddle with network configs on the Poly. I get back to the Poly config/login page from my phone. Alas, you can’t add a network without a password, so no dice connecting to the Starbucks network (or I’m assuming any public WiFi network for that matter)

    How about the Poly as a hotspot? Some how I randomly got the unit into hotspot mode (it told me so when I checked status with the pin, reading up in the forums afterwards it happened when I was trying to put it into AP mode and didn’t hold the pin in long enough). Connecting my laptop to the Poly WiFi still doesn’t bring up the config/login page, but I see the Roon end point and can play music from my local laptop drive (yay!) but no Tidal since I don’t have internet access from my laptop any more (boo!) Time to fiddle with bridging networks? Damn, that’s a lot of work compared to plugging the Mojo into my laptop using a USB cable. Still, this would be the ideal config when you’re on an airplane.

    Maybe having my music content on a local micro SD card will make a difference. Alas, the largest card readily available is 256GB (with 400GB coming, if you can stomach the cost), so that doesn’t help me get my high res content mobile. Why the Poly has a single microSD slot (vs SD slot or multiple microSD slots) is unclear to me; size and weight are flexible variables with a device of this size. The Mojo is a world class DAC, that demands lossless content and high res content. There can never be enough storage.


    Listening Impressions: At Home from Laptop and Home Server

    This configuration is very clean, making the Mojo into a standard Roon end point: come home, plug the MojoPoly into USB power, and plug it into your 2 channel setup or some headphones, and you’re cooking with Roon gas. Solid Roon endpoint, very convenient, just works once you get past the initial setup headaches.

    I did not evaluate the quality of the Poly as a Roon endpoint (vs Sonicorbiter SE vs direct USB connection to Roon Server). Even with the DAVE, sonic differences in Roon endpoints is very subtle for me, so I’m not sure it is reasonable to be worried about this level of optimization for an awesome portable DAC like the Mojo.

    MojoPoly is a winner as a Roon-enabled endpoint combined with a world class DAC.


    Listening Impressions: At the Office from Laptop

    This is a no go for me, since my office does not have a 2.4GHz WiFi network. I would need to connect to a hotspot on my phone, and reconnect every time I leave my office for a meeting and come back (connection gets dropped). Unfortunately, this is much less convenient than just plugging a Mojo into the USB into my Raspberry Pi based Roon Bridge (~$50) in my office (2 USB cables to the RaPi, vs 1 USB cable and fiddling with iPhone hotspot screens every time I come back to my office and need to reconnect with the MojoPoly). There needs to be a better story here, or at least a better way to have the Poly reconnect to your phone’s hotspot automatically.


    Listening Impressions: On the Go from Laptop and Phone

    This configuration has the advantage of only requiring to connect to my phone’s hotspot once (vs multiple times at the office as I leave and come back to my office), but content management for playback is awkward. If I’m playing Tidal or iTunes on the go with my phone, I need to reconfigure the Poly to “Other”. When I settle in somewhere and pop open my laptop and want to play content from Roon (local and Tidal), I need to reconfigure the Poly to “Roon” and restart it. Even then, by having to connect the Poly to my phone’s WiFi, I can’t take advantage of any public WiFi, so I’m using cellular data whenever I’m away from a home/work network.

    Until there is a quick and painless way to switch the Poly back and forth from “Other” to “Roon” (<5 seconds, no stupid pin, etc), or better still, figure out how not to have a Roon vs Other mode, the schlep just isn’t worth it. Hopefully the iOS config app will address this when it is out.

    While on the move, having my Mojo connect via WiFi to my phone is a lot more convenient than short USB cables and rubber bands, but the Poly commands a pretty hefty premium (cost and effort to switch and reconfigure networks) to pay for that convenience.


    No Longer Beginners Mind

    Having gone through this process end to end, I’ve gone back and dug into the Poly thread on Head Fi. Chord seems to be working very hard on software releases to address various issues I’ve been seeing, and many others that people have been talking about there. As a software guy who also grits his teeth and does hardware, my empathy and sympathy for what the engineers at Chord are working through is off the charts. This stuff is crazy hard without the internet going all crazy over you. Respect to the Chord team for taking on the issues one by one, and staying engaged through the flames. I urge everyone to have patience as the engineers do the hard work of getting the features done and shipped.


    Conclusions

    The Poly (as of late November 2017) is frustratingly incomplete product. The pieces are there for something awesome, but it hasn't jelled yet. If the standard is “It Just Works”, the Poly in its current 1.0 configuration fails to meet that standard at seemingly every opportunity. In a fair world, all reviews of the product would be postponed until the Chord engineering team has a chance to actually finish the product. For better or worse, the product has shipped and I have the loaner unit now, so please consider these impressions as a snapshot in time as the product works toward what should have been its initial release.

    I’m hopeful a lot of the crazy config awkwardness goes away when the GoFigure iOS configuration app is released, but I need to send the loaner along its way to the next person. I delegate to others on the tour to post updates once the GoFigure app is available.

    Hardware is crazy hard, and mobile hardware many times more so. Thankfully the only WTF hardware decision with the Poly (the config button that requires a separate tool) is hopefully addressed once the GoFigure configuration app is available.

    The real head scratcher is that so many of the challenges with the Poly seem to be software related. For a product announced and demonstrated 11 months ago, this level of software hackery is worrisome. When hardware is as delayed as the Poly has been, that is usually an opportunity for the software teams to kick serious ass and build out great experience. If there is any saving grace to these challenges, it is just software, so there is a path to dig out of this hole. With the rapid train of releases queued up, they may have made changes already, and the team deserves a chance to dig out of a very bad situation.

    Even with these early product 1.0 challenges, the MojoPoly is a winner on a home network as a Roon endpoint, and I’ll take it on faith that it (eventually) will make a serviceable smartphone managed DAP if you can fit all your music content on a single microSD card. The other streaming options are all compromised audio (Bluetooth, AirPlay, etc) or require your phone to be off the internet to connect to the Poly hotspot via WiFi, or off public WiFi for the Poly to connect to your phone WiFi hotspot. Having the only convenient streaming on the go be lossy for me defeats the purpose of having a world class portable DAC like the Mojo.

    Doing 10 things to 80% utility doesn’t make you better than doing 2 things that really matter to 100% utility. For a premium product from a company that has consistently blown away the rest of the industry for world class performance for comparatively reasonable prices, the Poly is unfortunately not ready for prime time. As a (soon to be) Hugo2 owner that would love to take a portable DAVE everywhere I go, I sincerely hope Chord can leverage their experience with the Poly and figure out what 2 or 3 things the (hopefully soon to be announced) 2Go needs to be 100% good at and knock it out of the park.

    To close with something constructive, here is what I would be looking for in a Poly (for my Mojo) or a (yet to be announced) 2Go (for a future Hugo2) to make it a winner for me:
    • No requirement for a separate tool to configure and manage the unit (just used a recessed button please, or everything through a config app)
    • WiFi support beyond 2.4GHz (yes I know it needs battery and the geo issues…), as well as modern WiFi connectivity support in software to easily get on Home/Public/Corporate networks
    • Significantly more local storage options (multiple SD card slots, USB for external storage, etc), suitable for lossless and high res music libraries
    • Thoughtfully implemented configuration and management interface (just steal design ideas from what other streaming end point companies do)
    • Resist announcing the product until you have beta units in the field, don’t ship it until it is ready, and have no more than 4 months between those events (insane shipping pressure doesn’t help anyone do a quality job)
    All of these are addressable with bake time and Moore’s law, and from forum posts, releases are in the pipeline that should help with the most significant issues. If you expect baked products, pretend the Poly isn’t available for sale and be patient (complaining about things not working or being missing doesn’t help if people already know about it). If you’re OK with alpha/beta quality, dive in and have fun and help them get things baked faster. If you haven’t played with Roon before, jump in now and be blown away at how awesome it is to have your Mojo be a Roon end point on your home network (that part is working great).

    Some more out of the box suggestions:
    • Have an automatic sync function between the internal SD card and a mounted share. Basically, let me mount my music share at home, and have the Poly automatically sync the contents to the SD card for when I’m on the go
    • Get out of the software business, and open source the software for the Poly; Chord’s secret sauce is in their DACs. Make margin on the hardware, but let the community drive software innovation (I guarantee that we collectively are better at this than a small company can afford to be...give the community a chance to to help you realize a "Chord Everywhere" vision)

    tl;dr

    It is too soon to be doing a proper review of the Poly (software just isn’t ready for prime time, still needs a couple more weeks/releases). Unless you enjoying bleeding edge alpha releases, hold off on purchasing the Poly until Chord has had a chance to go through a couple software update cycles. I hope to have an opportunity to revisit the Poly once it is able to really show off what it can do.
     
    ngoshawk and maxh22 like this.
  12. Alcophone
    Received it on Saturday (thanks, @ray-dude!).
    I don't want to read his review yet, so I don't know whether he mentioned it, but the right headphone jack is broken, rattling around in the case. The left one works. On his picture it still looks intact, though, maybe it happened during transport.
     
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