Chord Hugo 2

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Cellist88, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    "Sneakers" will return in relatively short order.

    For now I'm embracing my new title with a silly shot from Sunday morning.
     
  2. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    nah I'm enjoying what I assume is the face behind the man!
     
  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    That'd be me ... even if uploading it as an avatar has mangled it significantly.
     
  4. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    My avatar is also me. I type with my nose.
     
  5. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    Here's a fun fact, although the music falls apart and the sound is down right cacophonous, the Hugo 2 with it's headphone out will get my HE 4 louder than my Balanced NFB10ES2, back to normal listening levels and the sound is from the Hugo 2 is very soft, not much definition, an both transients/dynamics don't quite resolve...

    Also some digging in the Chord Threads has revealed that the headphone out isn't simply a Variable line out from the dac, it is amplified by a series of transistors,
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  6. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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  7. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    That UI is seriously odd, the LEDs don't bother me but the Non Standard Coax is wonky... I don't have an adapter either

    Did some listening tonight with my Nhoord Red V1, mostly sound-stage an imaging tracks from the Chesky Binaural Demo disc, fed Optical in from an iRiver H140. Orignal Track was 24/192, track was down sampled to 16/44.1 for use with the H140, Volume matched out of the on board headphone out for each unit, SE 6.5mm on the Hugo 2 and 4pin XLR on the NFB10ES2

    4 surround voice
    Drum an Bell Around Mic
    Center Height Shaker Test

    With Four Voices
    ,

    Both the NFB 10ES2 and Hugo 2 placed each voice as stated. Front Right, Rear Right, Rear Left Front Left,

    As the voice got closer the nosier NFB10ES2 didn't resolve the dynamics as well as the Hugo 2 did. Also The Hugo had a more accurate sense of left center right, with each voice drawing closer to center as they moved closer the NFB10ES2 though resolved a difference in height, the front left voice always sounds a tad higher than the rear left

    With Drum an Bell,

    The Hugo 2 was blacker, with better transient resolve in the lows, the drum's release rang out longer it was audible down to a quieter level than what the NFB10ES2 resolved, the NFB10ES2 how ever had a more prominent attack, each hit was fuller, heavier more dynamic, the decay from that attack to the release point was quicker, and the drum audibly settle'd sooner.

    On the flip side the Bell sounded a bit rolled off with the Hugo 2, the NFB10ES2 had both better attack an extension for the bell as it rang, it resolved the release of each hit to a quieter point before silence

    The sense of movement was clear'er with the Hugo 2 as well, the drum and bell moved from front, to left, to behind, to the right and then back to the front. The NFB10ES2 placed the sound originating from the front slightly above the sound originating from behind,

    Finally with Center Height an Shaker,

    The Hugo was not able to clearly resolve the sound of the shaker as it moved from below the mic, to level with it, and finally up above the mic. Rather all sounds that should originate below sound more in front, once they were level with the mic then they proceeded to move upwards

    The NFB10ES2 resolved height, both below and above the mic much more accurately, you could very clearly hear the mic coming up from beneath you

    So with the easier to drive, smaller Nhoord Red V1 I have to say I enjoyed the Hugo 2, did an excellent job with a cohesive image from left to right, and was excellent as resolving the low end transients with a driver that's a little rolled off on the bottom end, it also brought good vocal dynamics as well, but it's sound stage was a bit short an it lacked dynamics on both of the extreme ends in comparison to the NFB10ES2


    After I finished, I tested my findings with my HE 4 out of the NFB10ES2 with Coax input from the Etir. With the Etir as the point of entry, the NFB10ES2 had the same blackness as the Hugo 2 with Optical input, so with Drum and Bell it was equally capable of resolving the drum as it settled and more dynamic

    Additionally the strange up hill tilt I experienced with the Nhoord Red, was not present with the HE 4. I'd imagine that up hill tilt is the result of the smaller driver on the Nhoord an the taller image presented by the NFB10ES2, Though I always hear that tilt with smaller drivers playing that track,

    testing the HE 4 out of the Hugo 2, I got a more "intimate" image with the Hugo 2, both the drum and bell sounded closer to the mic, where as moving to the NFB10ES2 the sound opened up, dynamics were also lacking with the HE 4 out of the Hugo 2. That said, for testing the internal amp I of the Hugo I chose the Nhoord Red V1 because it's much less demanding. Tomorrow's tests will be with the Nhoord Red V1 an HE 4 again and my Pico Power, so I can eliminate the influence of a different amp from each unit
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  8. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    The fact that you have to explain this implies that the design fails fundamentally at offering proper "affordances", which is one of the main goals when designing a physical user interface. Sounds, frankly, like a load of old wank.

    Also, if you're going to roll your own everything (for no good reason), you need to be prepared to test it; not just for usability, but durability- especially in a unit designed to be occasionally portable.
     
  9. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    ...or that one simply didn't review the 2-page users manual ;)
     
  10. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    The manual was necessary for proper operation, but @Kattefjaes is also correct, literally everything I've ever owned uses 1 of 2 volume control schemes. For Chord to change it and put a color'd ball for volume is like selling a car with a color coded speedometer and a big ball for controlling your throttle. Yea it makes them "different" but it's unnecessarily complicated, another fun fact the Line Out color is also a level in the volume scheme... and again one visual cue representing two VASTLY different listening levels is unnecessary and careless imo, My question is how much money was spent developing this new Volume Pot? I like that one interface both adjusts the volume level and displays said level, but maybe develop a cleaner chassis that doesn't have so many gaps in the seams before we reinvent the wheel

    Sadly I don't have that unit on hand to give you any feed back
     
  11. AllanMarcus

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    @Mshenay

    Chord has been using the colored ball volume for years. It's not like it's new, but it might be new to you.

    I can understand not liking it or having to read the 2 page manual to learn how to use it, but not even knowing it's there might put you into a different class of user :)
     
  12. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    Your right! This is my first Chord Product, change is what drives progress so who am I to dispute the validity of replacing a traditional volume knob, it's neat that as you increase the volume the frequency of the light emitted also increases, as the sample rate increases so does the frequency of the light emitted from the center Panel as well. Certainly a different theme from almost every product on the market, intuitive when you think about it but kinda "screwy" isn't it

    Though in all honesty, I didn't notice it because I place my iRiver H140 and my LG v20 right on top of the Hugo 2. It completely covers up that little colored ball and the larger LED Window, like a lot of people I like to stack my portable gear, with my DAP on top of my dac/amp, since it's what I primary interface with. I even have a little cork insert between the two to add some protection to the chassis of each. My HM901 and PicoPower sit like this as well, and thankfully the Pico Powers volume is on it's side, which makes the two very convenient to carry around and operate

    In theory it's very cool, but how piratical is it, how approachable is it? @Kattefjaes is right how durable is it? An when it does drop, how will it hold up?

    Sound compared to my HM901,

    I listen with Igor Levit's- Aria With 30 Variations and Miles Davis So What, each feed line out into my Pico Power,

    With the HM 901 everything pops more, In So what the bass has more defined transients, the attack is heavier, the decay sharper more defined, the release of each previous note hangs a little longer, even as the next is played atop of it, the echo of the horns is much the same, with the HM 901 it's just a little more audible and hangs around a little longer, it's by no means distracting, more or less everything is that way, more dynamic, hanging a little longer, better defined tactility ect...

    Imaging is again much the same, the HM 901 gives me an even stronger sense of depth and presents a more cohesive sound stage as a whole, the softer sounding Hugo 2 is a bit disjointed in comparison, The high hats sound separated from the percussion with the Hugo 2, the high hats are to my left and about level with center with the percussion to the left and more behind center, switching into the HM 901 the high hats are now also placed slightly behind "center" and closer to the percussion, the Bassist's notes swing from left to right throughout this track, lower notes are stronger in the right, higher notes on the left. The Hugo 2 separates them a little more, where as the HM 901 keeps the bass track more cohesive, it's stronger on the left or the right, but still there on both channels. I have a sharper overall image with the HM 901. VS the Hugo 2 Optical which is disjointed and a little diffuse

    Igor Levit's Take on Aria suffers much the same, there's a lack of power in the lower key strokes and the final strike in particular settles too quickly with the Hugo 2, from the 901 it hangs around just a little longer

    Ambient noise is place further back and behind with the HM901/Pico Power vs the Hugo 2 which sounds more above than it does behind.

    The only audible advantage the Hugo 2 has over the HM901, is it's stock internal amp. The internal Amp of the Hugo 2 is a HUGE improvement over the stock board in HM 901. The HM901's internal stock amp is soft and hazy compared to the quality of the Line out Into my old iBasso PB2 and my current Pico Power, I never used it and it was a drain on the already terrible battery life of the HM901. I never had any desire to upgrade the amp module in my 901 either
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  13. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    Tonight I listened to the Hugo 2 and NFB10ES2 fed into my Garage 1217 Project Ember and my ZMF Eikon

    Something I've noticed is the Optical Input on the NFB10ES2 when then fed out the RCA's into my Ember II is utter garbage, thin... disjointed... no resolve of micro detail at all, just "noise" literal noise, and the mid range for Igor Levit's First Aria variation was rendered with this thin lifeless and very obvious terrible ringing, bad very very very bad. Swapping to the Coax input resolved literally all of these issues,

    Moving on to the Hugo 2 I have a ground loop issue if I don't plug the Hugo 2 in to charge, the Hugo 2 proved much blacker than the NFB10ES2, with a smoother [in this case pleasing] tone in contrast to the very noise and digital sounding NFB10ES2. The Hugo 2 was more full bodied and actually resolved the micro detail that the Optical Fed NFB10ES2 pushed out as noise, in addition to providing a much more cohesive sound stage!

    The Line out of the Hugo 2 is proving rather impressive

    Compared the Hugo 2 Line Out iFi Micro iCan SE rig to the Etir ->NFB10ES2 -> Ember II rig, with the XC volume matched and the same tracks

    Overall, I enjoyed the Hugo 2/iFi iCan SE combo the best for the XC, While not as resolved as the Etit -> NFB10ES2 -> Ember II, it was smoother. I'm finding the Hugo2 to be a very black but natural dac, transients are not as hard as with the HM901 or NFB10ES2. It's a lot more natural, though the imaging lacks a little height. How ever the level 1 Sound Stage ASP on the iCan SE adds some of that missing height back into the sound as a whole.

    The Etir ->NFB10ES2->Ember II is more technically correct but the XC's obnoxious glare stands out quite a bit more with this combo

    Optical output from the iRiver H140 is horrific, with USB from my LG v20 and literally EVERYTHING opened up, there more detail, the sound stage went from hazy to well defined, as did the overall sound. Highs were not longer harsh and lacking extension, the bass was no longer fuzzy and soft
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  14. Chianti

    Chianti New

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    Two steps that (for me) make Hugo 2 suck less:

    1. Use external headphone amp. Vorzuge VorzAmp Pure II is nice for portability and good match (tested with HD800, Utopia, Kaiser Encore, Z1R). Fixes major issues e.g. with Z1R which were bad straight out of Hugo 2.

    2. Partially defeat Chord upsampling by software upscaling. Primarily necessary to reduce blooming mids. E.g. use HQPlayer or Audirvana and go all the way to 705.6khZ for redbook.

    As a result going to keep Hugo 2. Many issues remain, but interesting enough to retain as play toy. Before workarounds 1. and 2. was going to sell it for sure.
     
  15. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    Didn't you had the chance to compare it versus chord mojo?
     
  16. Chianti

    Chianti New

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    No - never heard Mojo - sorry, no comparison. Why?
     
  17. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    I'm evaluating if hugo 2 worth the 2k price difference...
     
  18. Chianti

    Chianti New

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    Warning - you shouldn’t give a rat’s ass (...) - TL/dr second Hugo 2 unit is failing. First one was broken volume control, this one is making a faint rattlesnake/jackhammer noise every 10 seconds when charging.
    Transported exactly twice (in a separate case), always used on tables, not dropped/water damage/ ...
     
  19. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I was going to say that that's incredibly unlucky, particularly given that you only got your replacement on Friday ... but I'm past the point where I think luck has anything to do with it. Given the number of reports of failed, failing and/or noisy units, even in the usual "everything is awesome" echo chamber that is any Chord thread on Head-Fi, I'm really starting to believe that there are some genuine QC/BQ and/or design issues with the Hugo 2 (and that's taking into account the higher propensity for people to post when they have issues than when everything is fine).

    Whether that's exacerbated by Chord trying to meet what appears to be pretty solid demand, or is something more fundamental I'm not sure. I'm not going to find out the hard way, however! After "not getting into the tour" for the thing on Head-Fi, I ordered a unit for myself (from the UK due to better availability - in theory, and a usefully better price). Delivery on that has been pushed back eight or nine times now, and I've lost faith that I'll see it an relevant enough time frame to make it worth buying just to review.

    So, I've cancelled my order.

    I'll source one as a loaner/audition unit via other channels for the "Life after Yggdrasil" review once they're easily available and aren't failing all over the place. That'll probably put back when the thing gets reviewed quite a bit, I'm sure.
     
  20. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Don't blame you, @Torq - minimise Chord-related hassle.

    I'm actually morbidly curious to hear the Hugo 2 alongside my Gungnir Multibit, as a recovering Mojo owner, but clearly not quite as curious as you! Maybe if a loaner materialises out of thin air some day...
     

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