Chord Electronics Poly review – Mojo wireless module
- Impressive build quality
- Renowned Chord Electronics design
- Adds local storage to Mojo
- Allows Mojo to link to your NAS wirelessly
- Opens up future possibilities
- Adds weight and bulk
- Buying Mojo and Poly needs £1k
Last month I was at the official launch of the Poly wireless module for Chord Electronics’ Mojo DAC. As you can imagine, I have been using it almost daily and now wish to share my thoughts with you.
Chord had been promising the release of the perfect mate for the Mojo for a while. After reviewing the Mojo, I was one of those counting down the days.
If you’re not up-to-date with what I am chatting about, the Chord Poly is a wireless streaming module designed specifically for use with the Mojo.
Since sharing a rather dazed first look with you (I was floored by flu later that day) it is time to give it a full review.
Chord Poly design
If you’re familiar with the Chord Mojo you will already know about the solid build quality of these units. The Chord Poly follows its Mojo partner down the very same path. In fact, everything I’ve encountered by Chord Electronics is well put together.
The Poly not only matches the Mojo in build quality but also in terms of aesthetics.
The same matte-black paint is featured here. As is a gently contoured aluminium case.
Poly is also dressed with its name in the same font as the Mojo too.
Naturally, this module is also the same height and width as the Mojo so that the two products fit almost seamlessly together.
At one end of Poly you have a pair of microUSB plugs. These match the Mojo’s ports. In this case one is for feeding the Mojo with tunes and the other is a charging pass-through.
There are also plastic rods that enter the COAX and Optical ports of Mojo, but these don’t do anything more than help make the join sturdier.
Whilst, at the other end, there is a microUSB port for charging and a microSD card slot. You will also notice a pair of status lights.
The microSD card slot means you can store all your music on the Poly, but it can also access files on your network or mobile device through Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.
Inside, the Poly is equipped with military-grade circuit boards. Crammed on these is what amounts to a Linux computer with data server, DLNA receiver, Wi-Fi hub, Bluetooth and microSD card reader functionality.
This makes the Poly’s 60mm x 82mm x 22mm dimensions even more impressive. No, there is no little touchscreen on Poly. Why? Because they are unnecessary.
[amazon_link asins=’B0171LBE78′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’gadgnews-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=”]Needless to say, Poly would be pretty pointless without Mojo.
If you recall, the Mojo is the multi-award winning portable DAC and headphone amp. It boasts a pair of 3.5mm headphone outputs that can also be used as line outputs to power a full hi-fi system.
It has three controls, but these are no ordinary buttons or dials. No sireee. Instead you are presented with a trio of translucent balls. One is for power and the other two for volume up and down.
However, they also multitask using colours to indicate certain things. The power one changes to show file bit-rates, and the colour of the volume ones indicates volume level.
What’s in the box?
I was fortunate enough to be treated to a special presentation package. However, when you buy the Poly module you will receive:
- Poly Wireless Streaming Module
- micro to USB charging cable
- Configuration pin tool (like the SIM pins you get with mobile phones)
- Registration card
- User Manual
Why do I need wireless?
[amazon_link asins=’B074PBNGPB’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’gadgnews-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=”]Let’s, for the moment, ignore the convenience of not having your source device strapped to your portable DAC/amp. What Poly does acknowledge, however, is the amount of smartphones hitting the market without headphone jacks. True, these might come packing dongles but, you know. It’s not ideal.
Furthermore, you buy a DAC/amp and the makers kindly bundle a little USB cable. How often are they sporting a USB-C plug? Never, in my experience.
Now we go back to convenience. As much as I have enjoyed other DAC/amps I have tested, they all required that little USB umbilical cord to my source device. That source device has generally been my phone. This means that every time I need to text, call, or update my socials, I have to whip out this double-device held together by eleastic bands. True, seeing the bemused and sometimes concerned expressions from my co-commuters can be amusing, however, user-friendly it is not.
So, having your phone free of cables, as well as being unburdened by fat FLACs, certainly does make sense.
Chord Poly with Mojo performance
The Chord Poly’s raison d’être is to squirt high quality Wi-Fi audio in to the Mojo’s DAC and amplifier. This could be way of your chunky-filed NAS (Network Accessed Storage) selection via DNLA, AirPlay or Roon.
You can also transmit more commonly encountered music sources over Bluetooth 4.1 should Wi-Fi not be available.
You cannot, however, transmit from Poly to wireless cans. But then, this has been designed for high resolution digital audio enjoyment so there is a valid argument that this would be a pointless addition. However, I still feel this could be a valid option for those wishing to use the Mojo’s lovely amp wirelessly on the commute.
When you have Poly attached to Mojo, when you recharge the unit you will actually be recharging both devices. Handy, huh? I’ve been averaging just short of 10 hours play time before needing additional go juice.
As a DAP
As well as slurping up that invisible music from your network or mobile device, the Poly has another interesting function.
It can also be employed as a self-sufficient Hi-Res Digital Audio Player (DAP). All you need to do is insert a microSD card containing music files. From there you can still control Poly over a shared Wi-Fi connection or Bluetooth using a DLNA app on your smartphone (more about this later). This essentially turns the Poly into a wireless server that can play your music files by remote control.
File support is huge from this dynamic digital audio duo. The expansive list includes ACC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA and MP3.
Also, compatible sample rates from PCM files are 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz and 768kHz, plus it’ll play DSD64-DSD512 (Octa-DSD).
This array of audio accessability should keep all head-fi audiophiles happy.
Chord are currently working on a special smart device app that will not only control Poly but make the set up more streamline. Dubbed ‘GoFigure’, this is as yet to be relesased. However, but we are expecting it to land very soon.
So, while we are awaiting the arrival of the GoFigure app I used BubbleUPnP as the DNLA control app. This also enabled me to plug into Qobuz and Tidal accounts for Hi-Res Audio streaming.
Chord Poly set up
Poly Wi-Fi Configuration
Wi-Fi configuration enables you to stream audio at the highest quality wirelessly to Poly via your local Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi setup will also allow you to access the music on your micro SD for playback from Poly.
- Make sure Mojo and Poly are connected and turned on
- Plug in a headphone to Mojo with the volume lowered
- Use the included pin tool to press the ‘Config’ button for 5-seconds (this will put Poly in Access Point mode and the P Status LED will flash ‘green and blue’)
- Poly’s mode status will play audibly through the Mojo headphone output
- Open the WiFi settings on your mobile device and connect to Poly
- Once connected you will have access to Poly’s internal settings via web browser (note: Poly is only compatible with 2.4Ghz networks – this threw me as I generally hook everything up to 5Ghz as a matter of course)
- Select Wi-Fi Settings and enter a device name for Poly, then the network SSID and Password for your Wi-Fi
- Save your settings and reboot (takes approx 10-seconds)
- Now you can access Poly via Wi-Fi to stream music to Poly via DNLA, Apple AirPlay or Roon. Or playback music from the microSD using the DLNA app.
Connecting to Poly via Bluetooth
Connecting to Chord Poly via Bluetooth is simple and pretty much pairing any other device. Once hooked-up you can stream audio from your mobile device, tablet or smartphone directly to Poly.
- Make sure Mojo and Poly are connected and turned on
- Find Poly in your device’s Bluetooth settings and select it
- Enter your provided PIN number when prompted and now you’re connected
Playing music from a microSD card
Once you’ve performed the Wi-Fi Configuration for Poly you can connect to Poly via a DLNA application on your smartphone or mobile device.
The DLNA app uses Poly as a remote server so you can play music directly from the microSD card.
- Insert your microSD with Hi-Res files into Poly and wait for the flashing green light
- Download your choice of DNLA app. I used Bubble UPnP (free) but others are available
- Open the app
- Select Chord Poly as your output device (Renderer)
- Select Chord Poly as your Server
- From there you can access all your music and folders on the microSD
- Select any song to play
Using the Chord Poly and Mojo via Bluetooth I seamlessly streamed music from my smartphone using the installed Tidal app. Connection range is stong and stable (in reality not just in terms of a untrustworthy chant). In fact, I could move Poly a good 20 feet away from my phone before I got any dropouts. It was also impressive in the usual tricky areas such as Kings Cross and Liverpool Street stations at rush hour.
Furthermore, when you consider everything else this wireless receiver is doing, this is quite a feat.
Using the device in its self-contained DAP mode, the connection between the Chord unit and my smartphone was only required for basic control (track selection) as volume can be controlled by Mojo balls. So no issues here regarding drop outs as music was being played from the device’s internal storage by way of a microSD card.
This combination of wireless receiver and DAC/amplifier packs a powerful punch.
Streaming audio from Tidal, the Mojo’s DAC and amp really made the difference here. Also, there was not even a hint that the device was not physically connected to my phone. There wasn’t any drop out or unwanted audio artifacts. That was an impressive start.
The sound quality Chord Mojo owners have come to expect is very much still in effect.
However, it was using the Mojo/Poly duo as a standalone DAP that the new module made total sense.
Just the installation of the free DNLA app and a few tracks thrown on the SD card and I was away. All the hi res audio that generally stays locked up at home is now available in my pocket. I am so hoping that this 200GB microSD card appears in the Black Friday sales! Even if it isn’t I can see me getting it anyway.
The Poly’s clean and accurate transportation of the music through to Mojo’s multi-award winning amp/DAC combo is a joy to behold.
The musicality remains but with the added bonus of using a device that has already won many fans. Also, having on-board storage means that you can free-up space on your phone or tablet. That’s a win for everyone!
Finally, as a desk-based system at home. I love it. All the digital music stashed on my NAS drive, computer, laptop and phone are easily accessible, not to mention what Poly has on its microSD card.
All that music from one compact device. Gorgeous!
Chord Poly review conclusion
If you already own Mojo and want to increase its already impressive skill set, buying a Poly is a no-brainer.
If you are considering a Digital Audio Player as well as a great DAC and head amp for home use, then Mojo and Poly can deliver that too.
Poly is a truly impressive addition to Mojo. Yes, it does add a little bulk to the Mojo. However, this wireless streaming module also opens up more possibilities for Mojo owners.
This only drops a few points as the Wi-Fi configuration may be a bit baffling to some. This will no doubt be simplified once Chord Electronic’s own app hits the stores.
The additional module also makes this an awesome compact desk audio system.
This is a very solid, in every sense of the word, piece of audio hardware. You will not be disappointed.
Price and availability
You can buy the Chord Poly right now for £499 from leading Hi-Fi stores and Amazon UK.