Installation was a breeze and it didnt take long before I was playing music via JRiver.
As comparison I had the EMM Labs – XDS1 V2 CD/SACD as reference. A good thing as most over DACs would have come up short!
The moment I pressed play I could hear the soundstage bloom. Wide, big and impressive. A very good start to proceedings. Scarcely playing my third reference songs I was confidently sure of the TT and what it entails.
DETAIL: Lots of detail, clear, full of air. I heard things I barely heard on the EMMLabs! The last time detail was served up like this was on the dCS Vivaldi stack. I can get used to this. Reminds me a bit of the first impression I got from the Avantgarde Duo’s I auditioned.
MID-RANGE: A slight tinge of warmth, texture, upfront, engaging. The cello strings vibrated with gusto. Leonard Cohen’s voice reverberated through my body. Wow. Bass guitar forced me to take note, brought a big smile to my face.
BASS: Tight, clean. No overhead. It ties in with the mid-range seamlessly. A little less than my reference but certainly up there. Always driving without smear or overhang.
SOUNDSTAGE: This is something I crave. Because of the size of my room (8x10m) the equipment must not try and hide the music. Or be subtle and shy.
The TT never did. It filled the room way past the speakers, created depth and height.
It set the stage for the music to flow. Few other have done this.
This is the biggest strong point of the EMMLabs and here was another DAC producing similar images on the canvas.
The EMMLabs still rule here but the TT is tight second. Bravo to the designer!
Spartan 6 FPGA
The Hugo TT retains the same high-performance Spartan 6 FPGA that enabled Hugo to redefine the DAC genre in 2014. It has the same specification and measured performance as its mobile sibling, a device that “broke all records” for dynamic range in leading UK hi-fi magazine, Hi-Fi World, in the summer of 2014.
Being a home-orientated device, the Hugo TT has been designed to run continuously from the supplied charger, however Chord’s engineers have also improved the battery and added Supercap energy storage, a technology seen in F1 where supercacitors back-up the cars batteries by sharing the load and charge demands, thereby protecting them.
They serve a similar purpose in the Hugo TT, extending the battery life as well as improving dynamics and demanding transients in recorded music.
I loved the fact that I could plug it out and carry it to my other system and listen right there. No power needed. Huge confidence in the power supply and ZERO noise.
Every conceivable format I could throw at it just worked. Flawlessly.
Just look at that inside. No its not packed from side to side but that nowadays with surface mount electronics is not needed. Quality components, Super Capacitors and the hidden secrets behind the DAC implementation.
I cannot say it better than the manufacturer themselves:
To fully integrate with today’s digitally stored media, the new Hugo TT also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry, so even without cables, music can still be enjoyed.
I have now reviewed, personally and with other audiophile friends several DAC’s in the R50k-R100k range. This to me was one of the best DAC’s I have used in my system. I cannot fault it. I am not going to compare it with the Mega-DAC’s out there for that isn’t where Chord pitched it. But I know even if you did you wont be disappointed.
I didn’t test the headphone amplifier for I didn’t have a serious set of headphones at hand. This unit deserves to be heard with the best.
The Bluetooth streaming is such a clever touch. You can quickly share a song on the system with someone. Clever.
What possibly would I want ? I think a slightly bigger display would have been great, but then we are all wishing for the Dave, aren’t we ?
I LOVE this DAC
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