New Loaner Program - Chord Hugo TT2
Apr 6, 2020 at 10:50 AM Post #31 of 36

bobfa

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what is the gap between the Hugo 2 and the TT2? I know numbers is hard to quantify, but is it worth it to buy the HUGO TT2 if you already own the Hugo 2?

The TT2 is a pretty big step up. It can fill multiple needs better. I was pleasantly surprised by how much better it sounded. What this actually leads me to is to look at the Dave and the M-Scaler.

I do not spend a lot of time with my headphone system. For my current needs, the Hugo 2 is great.

No, I did not answer your question because I cannot! I just try to add some color to my review.
 
Apr 9, 2020 at 8:27 PM Post #32 of 36

geoffalter11

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How are you using the TT2 as a dedicated amp? There are no analog inputs?
Sorry just saw this. I had the TT2 for 5 days, 4 plus months ago. I mis-spoke in my review and apologize for that. Thank you for asking and correcting me. I didn't use it as a stand alone amp hooked to my Vinshine to isolate the Vinshine's DAC as there are no analog inputs. I did hook it up to my Vinshine, and used my Vinshine as an amplifier but not as a DAC. My feeling about the TT2 is the same. I loved how transparent and powerful it was. The DAC is uber clean. As an all in one it was an amazing product and I would be lucky to own one. Maybe after Covid-19, the world will align. I apologize for giving a false sense. My first time reviewing something like the TT2, and I did a poor job of clarifying how I used it.
 
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May 6, 2020 at 5:53 AM Post #33 of 36

jb77

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Chord Hugo TT 2
DAC and Headphone Amplifier

=============================================================================================================

Review written by Jeremy B. (@jb77)
A Special Thank You!
To Mr. Todd Green owner of Todd The Vinyl Junkie
https://www.ttvjaudio.com/default.asp
Preface

A little about me, I am not a professional reviewer, as I do this for the ‘fun’ of audio. I have been interested in audio for as long as I can remember, originally my interest started in home theater /surround audio. In time that interest grew into 2-channel audio and now personal audio/headphones. On a different note, unfortunately I have a debilitating autoimmune disease, that prevents me from working(or doing pretty much anything else) So audio for me is an important diversion/escape from my conditions. I can definitely ‘feel’ for any other members here who suffer from a debilitating condition. As they are life altering.

I have a wonderful loving wife, who ‘tolerates’ my audio passion, she doesn’t ‘get it’ but is supportive of it. I have tried ‘in vein’ numerous times to help her understand it and the ‘fun’ of audio, though it is not her forte.

Introduction

*Below is from Chord Electronics website.
https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/hugott2/

“Developed from the multi-award-winning transportable Hugo 2, the Hugo TT 2 is bigger, better and more advanced in every way. TT 2 sets a new benchmark for table top DACs, eclipsed only by our flagship DAVE.”

“Hugo TT 2 has been radically redesigned from the ground up, not only with beautiful new casework by Chief Designer, John Franks, but with 5x the processing power of the original Hugo TT and double that of the multi-award-winning Hugo 2. Hugo TT 2 distils over 20 years of digital development by Rob Watts and takes advantage of the very latest technology.

As expected, it delivers radically improved technical specifications and measurements across the board and exhibits drastic sonic benefits over its predecessor with 768kHz PCM and DSD 512 playback. Hugo TT 2 sets a new benchmark in table top audio, only being eclipsed by DAVE.

Delving deeper, in comparison to the 256-tap filters that traditional chip DACs may run at, Hugo TT 2’s beating heart is a powerful Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA, custom-coded by Chord Electronics’ Rob Watts, with 86x 208MHz cores running in parallel to create an advanced 16FS WTA 1 filter with 98,304-taps. Double that of its multi-award winning transportable brother, Hugo 2 (49,152). Hugo TT 2 also benefits from an upgrade from a 4-element design to a 10-element design, which works in harmony with the radically upgraded FPGA and code to deliver unrivalled audio.

A brand new high-power discreet output stage coupled with second-order noise-shaping integrated between the DAC output and filter is also employed to massively reduce distortion. Further improvements have also been made to the power delivery. Hugo TT 2 eschews the Li-Po battery power supply of the original and ushers in six super capacitors capable of delivering huge, linear dynamic currents when the music demands it with peak output of 5A, 9.3V RMS.

Hugo TT 2 also brings home the much loved four-stage user-selectable filter controls introduced with Hugo 2 and retains the three-stage user-selectable digital crossfeed function for headphone users who want to improve the perception of depth, similar to that of speaker
Hugo TT 2 can be upgraded at any time with the addition of M Scaler, our 1M-tap digital upscaling device.”


B68F9A4B-6EDE-41A6-9657-8558C7F79E87.jpeg

As I start this review off, I wanted to give A special Thank You to Todd Green, The Hugo TT 2 is on a kind loan from Todd As part of his loaner review program.
This introduction is based on my initial exposure and time I had with the Chord Hugo TT 2. So let’s begin the review.

As with all audio gear this is my personal subjective opinion. Everyone has their own preferences, which in turn makes everyone’s review subjective to their tastes and opinions.​

Features & Functionality

In addition to the obvious volume marble and porthole window, the Hugo TT 2 comes in your choice of all black or silver and black. Unlike other cord products the Hugo TT 2 has an LCD read out, located on the left-hand side. This LCD window is visible not only from straight on, but also from above. On the front panel, the unit has three buttons labeled menu, set, and power. The front panel also includes three headphone outputs, two of which are the standard 6.5mm (¼”) and the other is 3.5mm (1/8”).

The back panel of the Hugo TT 2 digital inputs include the standard USB input, two optical inputs and two BNC digital inputs. The dual BNC inputs are meant for adding Chord’s M Scaler. The outputs of the TT 2 contain the standard single ended outputs, three pin balance outputs and DX BNC outputs.

The Hugo TT 2 is noticeably absent of analog inputs, this unit is meant to be operated as an all in one Dac Amp combo a Dac only, outputting to a separate amp and preamp out to speakers. However with the lack of analog inputs you cannot connect your own Dac and use the internal Amp.

During the power on process of the Hugo TT 2, you will notice a few different things. First off it takes about 15 seconds or so to full power on and be in a ready to use state. Second you will notice on the LCD display it shows charge, this is for the process of charging the six super capacitors the TT 2 has, also the porthole window will start to show a multitude of different colors, This is part of the lighting effects the Chord Hugo TT 2 has.

Also of note, another interesting feature is the volume marble will change colors, depending on the volume setting.

AE315F51-86CE-4EBC-8962-219EE2C79326.jpeg


HUGO TT 2 – SPECIFICATIONS:

*Specifications are from Chord Electronics website: https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/hugott2/

• Materials: Precision machined aluminium casing with steel ball bearing buttons, gloss black acrylic signal window, glass viewing portal, and dot matrix display. Available in a choice of two colours – silver, and satin Blackburn
• Tap length filter: 98,304-tap 16FS WTA 1 – 10 element design
• Connectivity (input): 1x USB Type-B, 2x Coax BNC, 2x Optical & Bluetooth
• Connectivity (output): Stereo XLR, Stereo RCA, 2x 6.5mm Headphone jack & 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
• Connectivity (digital output): 2x DX BNC (expansion outputs)
• weight: 2.53kg

• PCM support: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 705.6 and 768kHz – 16 to 32bit
• DSD support: DoP DSD 64 to DSD 512 – native via Windows
• Volume control: Digital
• Line-level mode: Activated within the menu
• Driver support: Driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, driver required for Windows OS
• Dynamic range: 127dB ‘A’ weighted
• Noise: 4 uV ‘A’ weighted (high gain), 1.7 uV ‘A’ weighted (low gain) with no measurable noise floor modulation
• Distortion: 0.00008% @ 2.5 V 300Ω; 0.00016% @ 6 W 8Ω
• Output power (unbalanced): (@1% THD) 288 mW RMS 300Ω; 7.3 W RMS 8Ω
• Output power (balanced): (@1% THD) 1.15 W RMS 300Ω; 18W RMS 8Ω
• Output impedance: 0.042Ω
• Stereo separation: 9 V RMS 300Ω -138dB
• Dimensions: 5.2cm (H) 23.5cm (W) 23.8cm (D)

First Impressions

I was able to spend a little time with the Hugo TT 2 and well I explain it like this:

Normally differences between Dacs are small, though those small amounts compared to my D90 and Bifrost 2, made all the difference for me. So (as an example) a 10% difference between the TT 2 and my D90/Bifrost 2, though that 10% equals quite a bit of an Improvement for me.

Regarding the unit as a whole, the amp section of the TT 2 in combination with the Dac, really is amazing. It’s more on the ‘neutral’ side, though for me specifically it adds a certain amount of ‘life’ or ‘reality’ to the music, plus the absolutely insane amount of detail. The great sense of space, air, positioning of instruments/imaging, separation, stage, dynamics, and on some tracks (especially live recordings) the ability to hear the room or space the music was being played in(as it transports you ‘there’).

This is what I took away from The TT 2 and why it has impressed me so much. The TT 2 was ‘game changing’ for me. As I never thought that small little percentage of difference, would equate to such a ‘significant’ improvement for myself. Plus I have found that I ‘Really’ like the ‘house sound’ of Chord products! I thought I had my endgame amps and dacs, I was wrong, the TT 2 takes it to the next level and for myself it is ‘exactly’ what I have been ‘looking’ for. I have no idea how, but eventually I really want the Hugo TT 2 in my system. For me it truly is THAT Good!

Sound

Smooth and detailed are the words that come to mind when describing the sound of the Hugo TT 2. Amazing detail yet it is smooth in it’s presentation, without adding any harshness or sibilance to the music. The custom FPGA chip designed by Rob Watts in the Hugo TT 2, is more resolving and smooth. In comparison to the AKM 4499 chip in my Topping D 90. This amongst itself is impressive as AKM chips in general, have a wonderful “velvety” sound signature to them. In my opinion this is bested by the custom FPGA chip in the Hugo TT 2.

When using the Hugo TT 2 in it’s intended all in one form. It offers a very engaging yet pleasant sound. This did not change with all of the headphones I tried, including the Focal Elex, and Elegia. The HifiMan Ananda’s all the way to my Sennheiser HD600’s. The presentation the TT2 offers remains engaging and pleasant throughout. As I mentioned in my ‘first impressions’ the Chord Hugo TT 2 has a great sense of space, air, positioning of instruments/imaging, separation, stage, dynamics, and on some tracks (especially live recordings) the ability to hear the room or space the music was being played in(as it transports you ‘there’). This ability of the TT 2 to convey the sense of space, along with the imaging capabilities, is unlike any other I have currently heard! It’s almost as if I am able to hear around the notes, as it gives you a 3D(being there) presentation.

The Dac portion of the Hugo TT 2 paired extremely well with my SPL Phonitor XE amp. Also paired very well with my Hagerman Audio Labs “Tuba” tube amplifier. Though the Dac portion of the Hugo TT 2 pairs very well with many of my amps. I still prefer to use the Hugo TT 2 in its intended, all in one form factor. Which in my opinion yields the best possible sound. As another forum regular mentions, adding an external amplifier to the chain will only increase noise, however this was not ‘audible’ with the SPL Phonitor XE amplifier.

The Dac portion alone does a phenomenal job of extracting and relaying incredible amounts of detail. Timbre is not quite as natural as other Dacs, As the smoothness of the FPGA chip, slightly takes away from a completely natural sound. Though this does not take away from the pure engagement and enjoyment of this particular Dac.

The amp portion is very competent in its performance, It is highly resolving, excels in terms of its raw detail and micro-dynamic resolution. I felt nothing was gained in pairing the TT 2 with my Phonitor XE amp. Using the Hugo TT 2 in it’s intended all in one form, will yield amazing performance for all headphones with the possible exception of all but the most demanding headphones such as the notoriously hard to drive HifiMan Susvara’s.

Though the Hugo TT 2 does offer numerous filter and crossfeed settings. I kept both of these in their default settings, incisive neutral for the filter and crossfeed set to off for the purposes of this review. I have not tried any other filter settings nor any of the cross feed on settings. Due to this I cannot speak to how the use of the different filters or crossfeed settings affect the sound.

Summary

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the Hugo TT 2, as I thought to myself how much better could a $5500+ Dac actually be? As I mentioned in my initial impressions, when you reach a certain level, the differences in Dacs is not huge, you are talking about small percentages and signatures. However the Chord Hugo TT 2 has given me the best listening experience I have ever had and I do mean experience, as this is more than just listening to the music. Chord Electronics makes some absolutely phenomenal equipment. I highly recommend you check them out, especially if given the opportunity to audition some of the products in your own system.

https://www.ttvjaudio.com/Chord-Hugo-TT-2-DAC-and-Headphone-Amplifier-p/cho0000078.htm

3152587C-D637-4355-921D-FD09D68D814A.jpeg



- Jeremy B. (@jb77)
 
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May 13, 2020 at 9:10 PM Post #34 of 36

adydula

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I have just received the Chord Hugo TT2 today!
Unpacked and have listened to it with a few of my demo songs and will start a comparison tomorrow with all my other "stuff" amps and dacs...

Thanks to Todd and Jeremy for the loaner!!

Stay Tuned!
Alex
 
May 14, 2020 at 1:44 PM Post #35 of 36

adydula

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Ok, its only day 2 with the Chord Hugo TT2....and I already have formed some first impressions.

I am a pretty honest guy or at lest I think I am...and I will give you my opinion and experience without any bias towards the gear, person or manufacturer.

I also am very thankful for Jeremy letting me have this unit here in house for a week to play, listen and test with. Its much appreciated when you consider this is a high dollar piece of audio gear. $5495 retail as I see on several sites selling this unit.

To be honest this is way out of my price point. That said many of you have and really like this unit very much. I only found one other audio site where they really did not think the unit was worth the price of admission. We all have opinions for sure.

When I first got the unit it was loose in the shipping box, but it was well wrapped up with bubble pak, it looks like this loaner unit has been around the block!! The unit itself is perfect, just that shipping box has seen its better days!

So I went out to the Chord website and read the quick startup guide and the owners manual to get the hang of the controls, inputs and outputs, even watched the short video explaining somewhat the design critera and implementation.

The unit is a really solid, very well built device...it looks really neat to me....The "spaceball" is super sweet and easy to use to adjust the amplitude. The changing color is pretty neat as well....vanity for sure, but its "cool" to use and look at. :)

3.jpg


I have 10 headphone amps in house and have done lots of real world listening comparisons with lots of stuff. It doesnt take me days on end to tell if a piece of gear is
good, bad, mediocre. etc....

I used Focal Clears, 55 ohms, Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Opens, 13 ohms, HD 600 Senns at 250 ohms. I also have used Beyer T1's, Audeze LCD2's, Beyer T90s, and assortment of Audio Technica, Grados etc...this isnt a review about these headphones. Its just to let you know any headphone I plugged into the Chord Hugo TT2 worked as well as the particular headphone was designed to work. More than enough power to drive the wide gamut of cans.

Over the years after trying out lots of stuff I have settled in on the Schiit Bifrost 2 Multibit Dac. So all my comparisons were against this dac. The Chord Hugo TT2 does not have analog inputs to connect to an external amplifier to use with its internal dac. So I had to listen for awhile to several songs to get the experience burnt into my brain. Then is was a USB cable switch from one unit to another. So with the USB cable attached to the Chord's galvanically isolated USB input I could listen with the dac/amp combination. Then I cabled up the RCA analog outs of the Chord to several other amps....I level set stuff with my trusty old Raio Shack SPL meter....if you dont level set its easy to make on amp sound better than another, loudness to me is critcal to set up the same in comparing stuff....IMO.

2.jpg


The neat thing here is plugging cans into the Chord, The small indicator LED indicator lights up with "HP, the magic spaceball lights up and the "HP" changes to "XFD0" then to "44.1" then to the volume level..pretty neat. At the end of the volume level is a "L" or "H" that tells you what gain your running...most all of my listening was done on low gain...more than enough power....althougth Rob Watts I heard prefers using high gain...go figure?

When I unplug a set of headphones from the Chord, the magic spaceball goes out....and the LED indicator displays "DAC"....so now the analog outs to my other amp is working and I can easliy compare the dac of the Chord to other dacs into the other amp.....its still a bit of a chore to do this.

I compared the Schitt Bifrost 2 to the Chord several times with several amps...just to see if any amp I had would sound different or help me hear any real world differences in the two dacs. Two amps I have have two dac inputs and a selection switch that makes comparing easier, but with Windows 10 as my Operating System and using Jriver, you still have to stop and restart the music player to get the dac recognized by the OS and the music player...I am pretty good and fast at doing this, but again a pain.

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The other way is to set up one system, listen for 15-20 minutes, then set up the other dac etc rinse and repeat...sometimes I listen to one song, then listen to the same song on the other dac...

1.jpg


So what does this new loaner toy sound like or work? Well I only used the unit for headphones, no external speakers etc....only headphones and only really comparing it to the Schiit Bifrost 2. I did not use the remote or the Bluetooth.

First the unit is solidly built, I could not fault the unit in anyway as far as it performing and to me it was easy to operate, the only thing I do not like is the lack if analog inputs to connect a dac to it and use it with its internal amp.

The big thing that stands out to me here is the price of $5495 compared to many other well performing units. Some will state this is not just an amp but a desktop or tabletop dac/amp combination, which it is....so comparing only the dac to others far less costly isnt fair.

But the unit is what it is...

With all the money I have spent on so many amps and dacs I could easily see me spending this amount of money on this unit and being very happy. But then I would never have been able to really know this in my journey of headphone audio.

Ok so with all my going back and forth with my demo cuts...I have come to the conclusion that both dacs are superlative...yup it was very hard for me to really hear an order of magnitude of differences between the $699 Bifrost 2. I could easliy get lost in the music with either dac. You can argue that the build quaility of the Chord is better and I would agree, but IMO you have to look at the cost for this as well.

None of the filters really did much for me and I really tried to hear any....as well as the crossfeed filters? No real difference or need here for these for me...Schiit has a phase invert function in its Bifrost, same thing for me....really not needed.

So it boils down to if you have $5495 and want a really first rate dac/amp combination this is indeed an EXCELLENT unit. It has a 5 year warranty which is excellent. I can not fault the unit again except for the cost. I am not saying its not worth the price, but you can get a great sonic experience with a lot less money...IMO.

I will listen for a few more days with the unit and get it back to its rightful owner! If any changes in my experience I will post an update.

Again Many Thanks for the Loaner!!

Alex

:)
 
May 14, 2020 at 3:37 PM Post #36 of 36

adydula

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Ok now I am done comparing...and going thru all that gorp....and just going to listen with the unit all by itself....going thru all my headphones....no cost or pros or cons of things I like or dont like..just how doest it sound, articulate....

First up are the HD600 Senns.....sound is EXCELLENT. As good as anything else I have listened with...Makes the HD600's sound much better than they should be!
Low gain is fine. Amplitude is -26L..great articulation, good tone, wonderful soundstage...live perfs. like Bill Whithers Live at Carnagie Hall the acoustics, audience is realistic.
Very Nice. The crossfeed and filters seem to have no discernable difference no matter how hard I listen.

Next up are the Focal Clears. Overall sound is absolutely "Stunning"....the best ever. This isnt saying its better than other stuff I have, just I can be very. very happy with the Chord and these cans period...its really a wonderful combination.
The Chord allows the Clears to be all they can be!! (the old Army commercial)...
I would imagine the Utopias and Stellia would also be superb with this unit.

The next cans are the Dan Clark Audio new Aeon 2 Opens at 13 ohms and require some power to make them come alive. The Chord Hugo TT2 has more than enough to make the Aeon 2 really sing....one of the best performances of all my amp except one other which shall remain nameless. THe Aeon 2's are warm and abit dark this unit makes them sparkle and come alive....highly recommended.

Alex
 
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