Chord paint Hugo black – audiophile mobile DAC headphone amp

Chord Hugo dac blackBritish Hi-Fi tech is amongst the best, and I am certainly a fan. At the pointy end of quirky is Kent-based Chord Electronics. Hugo (you-go) is a portable hi-tech box which contains a DAC (digital analogue converter), headphone amp, preamp and Bluetooth receiver.

The latest version of Hugo hit the shelves in the middle of this year in a rather snazzy silver aluminium finish. Now Chord has gone all stealth-mode and have introduced a satin black version.

The NES cartridge-sized (if you can recall what they look like – 100x20x132mm (WxHxD)) device manages to squeeze in a 24/384kHz and DSD capable DAC, headphone amp and preamp with Bluetooth connectivity.

Hugo’s USB connection is capable of handling high res but this clever box of tricks also packs optical and coaxial connections and a second USB input for driverless connection to a legacy computer or even an Android or Apple device via OTG cable.

The more you delve in to what the Chord Hugo has, the more its size and capabilities don’t seem to balance out.

Chord Hugo silver in brown caseFor instance, you can run more than one pair of headphones at the same time, it’ll play nice with headphones that only have a quarter inch jack connection and you don’t even need to be near a power outlet as Hugo’s internal batteries can give you ten hours of cable-free audio bliss on the go.

Since its release, Chord Electronics’ Hugo seems to have redefined the DAC/headphone amplifier genre and is now available in a brand new finish: satin black.

The luxurious new satin black version joins the silver model (above in a rather nice leather jacket), which has been available since Hugo’s January launch, giving greater flexibility for system-matching and integration into existing Chord Electronics systems, as well as perhaps looking more understated for when being used out-and-about.

Chord Hugo and headphonesThe finish is achieved using an anodizing process, which offers a superior black-depth and colour consistency. Both the inner and outer case is treated, offering lasting protection.

The Chord Hugo is also fitted with a £1,400 price tag, but it does look great and no doubt performs excellently.

I would love to put my PM-1 through this. I can sense my V90 DAC, HPA and Blu getting twitchy… although together they cost roughly a third of the price of Hugo – but they do have to stay at home.

 Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
 RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable
 Driverless USB input 16-bit/48kHz-capable (designed for tablets/phones)
 HD USB input 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128-capable
Technical specs:
 Advanced digital volume control
 Crossfeed filter network
 Battery powered for approximately 12 hours operation
 Input, sample rate and volume level indication by colour-change LEDs
 26K tap-length filter (more than double when compared to the QuteHD DAC)
 Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load
 Output power - 1KHz 1V sinewave both channels driven 0.1% distortion
 600 ohms 35mW
 300 ohms 70mW
 56 ohms 320mW
 32 ohms 600mW
 8 ohms 720mW
 THD - 1KHz 3V output: 0.0005%
 Dynamic Range: 120dB
 Output impedance: 0.075 ohms
 Damping factor >100
 Weight: 0.4kg
 Dimensions: 100x20x132mm (WxHxD)
 2x3.5mm headphone jacks
 1x6.35mm (1/4 inch) headphone jack
 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output