Poly Rhythms

Great Britain’s Chord, makers of some of the best sounding (and oddest looking) audio equipment around, had two big new introductions at this year’s CES: a follow up to their wildly popular Hugo, and a wireless streaming companion for the Mojo, which our very own Alex reviewed around this time last year. Though larger than the Mojo, the new Hugo 2 ($2300) is still quite portable, measuring 5.1” x 3.9” x 0.8” – noticeably tidier dimensions than its predecessor. Packed into its compact aluminum enclosure is the latest version of Chord’s custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA DAC chip, which is claimed to offer improved timing, noise, power and dynamic range thanks to updated software and filters.

Of course this being Chord, the Hugo 2’s enclosure looks more than a little odd. At the top is what can best be described as an Eye of Sauron, followed by Chord’s signature window showing the circuit board beneath, and finally Mojo style control buttons for power, input selection, filter mode, and crossfeed. The Hugo 2 will take your incoming digital via optical, coaxial (by way of a mini-jack) USB, and Bluetooth streaming, and output it in the analog domain to a mini and full-size headphone jack, or a standard pair of line-level RCA jacks. Maximum playtime from the internal battery is claimed to be around 7 hours. The Hugo 2 is expected to ship this April.

The Mojo is already one of the best reasonably priced portable DACs around, and the new Poly ($600) streaming module will make things that much harder for the competition. Inside the module is basically a computer capable of streaming audio via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirPlay, and it’s Roon Ready if you’re into that sort of thing. Also onboard is a microSD card reader, allowing the Mojo/Poly combo to act as a DAP, with remote control from your smartphone. Power comes by way of an internal Lithium Polymer battery capable of 9-10 hours of playback. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the Poly, and cleverly it can charge both itself and the Mojo simultaneously when the two are connected. The Poly is expected to ship in March.

As always, we’ll do our best to get hold of these guys as soon as we can.