The introduction of the Chord Hugo 2 has excited hi-fi enthusiasts everywhere. We got to try out this great little headphone amp and DAC, and put together this guide to help you get the most out of your Hugo 2.
The beautifully engineered aluminium case is adorned with polycarbonate buttons and glass viewing portal. The unit is available in a choice of two finishes; natural silver, and satin black.
The Hugo 2’s control panel comprises of four globular controls, which light up with different colours, corresponding to different options. These are to select a filter, input, change the crossfeed options, and a power switch.
The newest feature of the Hugo 2 is the ‘Filter’ button. This alters the sound slightly depending on which option you choose. These filters progress from the neutral, sharpest sound, through to the warmest. This customisable option is great news for anyone looking to personalise their listening experience to suit each individual track. The difference is subtle, but big enough to make a noticeable effect over extended periods of listening.
The default setting is called the Hugo filter, and is shown by means of a pearly white light. This is the most neutral sounding option available. The next option is of the green Hugo HF+ filter with high frequency (HF) roll off, in case the sound is too harsh for your delicate auricles. The orange and red filters are the Mojo and Mojo HF+, respectively, (after the Chord Mojo, of course!) which gives the sound a warmer low tone and a bit more power to your bass and mid tones. The red is the softest filter, and the HF roll off allows you to hit those high notes without the over-sparkling trebles.
This new feature is incredibly fun to play around with and experiment, so we recommend you fiddle with it until you find one that suits your listening style best.
Make no mistake, this is a high spec piece of kit.
As seen previously on the Hugo, the 4 digital input options are as follows;
Red – Coaxial
Green – Optical
Blue – Bluetooth (now with extended range!)
White – HD USB
The Hugo 2 can handle high-resolution file playback up to a staggering 768kHz from the coax and USB inputs, as well as up to DSD512 from the USB input.
It will be worth noting that if you plan to use the HD USB input for playback, the downloadable driver is available on Chord’s website, as well as on a CD provided with purchase of the unit. Without this, your Hugo 2 will not be recognised by a Windows device. The Hugo 2 is also compatible with Mac OS X and Linux, but no driver is necessary.
The analogue outputs include 2x RCA, as well as a standard 3.5mm and the larger 6.35mm (¼ inch) headphone jacks.
We also see the return of the adjustable crossfade options seen on the Hugo predecessor, with the X-PHD button. This feature allows headphone users to listen to their music for longer with less fatigue by mimicking playback through speakers, as it can be jarring for our ears to have strict left and right channels with no crossover. Whilst this causes a very slight reduction on the accuracy of a track because you are mixing the left and right channels, it naturally imitates what you would experience listening to speakers. Chord have based this on advanced binaural research over the years, so you are sure to never get tired of listening to your Hugo 2.
Whilst the default setting is off, the X-PHD button will turn red upon selecting low crossfade (30dB), green with moderate crossfade (60dB) and blue to indicate heavy crossfade (90dB).
So, there you have it. This little beauty weighs in at 450g, and measures just 130mm x 100mm x 21mm.
We are looking forward to testing this unit more thoroughly when it is officially released. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with us about our experience with the unit.
Hugo 2 will be available in our Edinburgh store by the end of May for you to try. It’ll be music to your ears.