Chord Hugo 2 review

What if you could buy a digital pre-amp with no analogue inputs? It could become common – just as integrated amps stopped including a photo stage.

Here’s my report on an upgrade from 8XPdQX to the (FPGA Based) Hugo2. Both used as a digital preamp thus:

  • Cyrus Stream X2
  • Chord Hugo 2
  • X Power + PSX-R
  • 2x Mono X
  • PMC Fact 8 speakers.

NB. No speakers were attached to the 8XPdQX.

NB. Hugo2 has a remote for controlling gain.

  1. As HiFi fans, almost nobody would want this solution, 100% digital from source up to (but not including) the power amplifiers. No analogue inputs.
  2. As an IT guy (and mathematician) it makes complete sense to me that an FPGA is the perfect platform to build a DAC, and I think in future they will all be made that way.
  3. As a musician I’m hearing more physical stuff. When I played 50 year old (v.familiar) tracks, I got new insight into the actual notes played by Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney and how they’re being played.
  4. That detail is also evidenced as: hearing the room acoustics of the recording, previously unnoticed timing of notes, and emotion in the physical delivery. As you all know.
  5. Amazed that I can pocket this DAC (/“headphone amp”) and listen on the hoof. The lovely Cyrus integrated amp (& PSX-R + CD-T) is now repurposed as a 2nd System, wedded to Dali Piko and a Bluetooth receiver, and the TV.
  6. I haven’t ever heard a Cyrus Pre-Amp /DAC; not anywhere. I’ve no idea and I’m certainly not making any comparative claims. OK?!

This is just a heads up to listeners (and developers) that non-analogue digital solutions seem to work, allowing one to spend all the money on doing just one thing really well. Add in some leapfrog / game changing tech, and it’s big news.

3 thoughts on “Chord Hugo 2 review

  1. Hugo 2 powers some very efficient single driver speakers to moderate volume. Hugo 2 to external amplification equates to some loss of the best Hugo 2 has to give used as standalone amp/DAC.
    Try Hugo 2 direct to Focal Clear or Utopia. A real ear opener. The Chord Dave bumps everything up to better yet. Don’t demo Chord Dave. You’ll want one.

  2. Steve,

    By efficient speakers the audio forum discussion I think refers to speaker sensitivity. Specifically Omega Audio has speakers with sensitivity of 96dB at 8 ohms making those relatively easy to drive to moderate volume level in smaller listening room in near field listening. It is a compromise of course to using higher powered amplifier, but it can be done. Yes the Chord Dave has twice the power output of the Hugo 2. Some Hugo 2/Dave users suggest adding an external amplifier in use with Hugo 2/Dave has a negative effect on full sound quality Hugo 2 is capable of. This I suppose is why some like idea of using Hugo 2/Dave to drive certain really sensitive speakers directly. Of course first and foremost the Chord Mojo, Hugo 2 and Dave are, as you know, optimized for use with headphones on the go (Mojo), and on desktop (Hugo 2 and Dave). The Hugo can be used on the go, but it is rather bulky for mobile use unless it’s tacked into a fanny/back pack. For Hugo 2, Chord now calls it a transportable device rather than mobile device.

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