Chord Electronics has unveiled Hugo 2, a new version of its portable DAC, featuring all-new casework, new features, plus “next-generation technical and sonic performance” for £1,800. In its precision-machined aircraft-grade aluminium case, Hugo 2 is distinct from its predecessor with a sharper, lower profile design and four spherical control buttons. The spheres, which are top-mounted to allow for possible expansion side-modules, illuminate with colour-coding information, they control power, input, filtering and crossfeed functions. The top-mounted volume-control sphere has been retained and made larger for more intuitive operation.
The new design and additional functionality has been introduced in anticipation of greater indoor use within both desktop and conventional home audio systems. The inclusion of a full-function remote control adds further flexibility while the line-level output mode of the original has been retained. The latest FPGA and advanced WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filters have been implemented in the Hugo 2, “bringing a wide variety of performance improvements in a number of areas. Performance gains have been made in timing accuracy, noise reduction, headphone amp power and dynamic range.”
The device offers four digital inputs (optical, coaxial and USB) plus extended-range Bluetooth, with high-resolution file playback up to 768kHz and up to DSD512, via its USB input. Analogue outputs include 2x RCA, plus 3.5mm and 6.3mm headphone outputs. A four-function switch filter offers user-selectable frequency-shaping, bringing warm and soft or transparent and incisive presentations. For headphone-listening, Hugo 2 retains the popular digital crossfeed function of the original and offers three operation modes. The system cross-feeds a partial 400 millisecond-delayed and shaped signal from each left and right output to the opposite channel. The system being designed to duplicate the effect of listening to speakers.
Battery playing time is specified as around seven hours and two modes of automatic charging are now included using the dedicated Micro USB charging port: fast (1.8 amperes) and slow (less than one ampere). An indicator shows charging and battery-charge status. New digital DC servos have replaced the inline capacitors in the original output stages and reduce distortion while improving the power-drive performance and capability of the output stage.