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Chord Electronics Hugo TT2 DAC now comes with an astonishing 98,304 taps. Noel Keywood listens in – then adds the new M Scaler for a few taps more. 






Products from Chord Electronics are always fascinating – even exciting, sometimes confusing. And that’s just what I found when reviewing Hugo TT2 with M Scaler. Notes in the handbook allude to the ‘power’ of Hugo TT2’s audio outputs. Chord Electronics explain there are discrete power amplifiers in Hugo TT2 that can drive loudspeakers direct, especially sensitive horn loudspeakers. We drove a pair of Tannoy Westminsters – large horns – from a portable Mojo in our January 2016 issue. Could Hugo TT2 drive loudspeakers, slashing system cost? More later!

   Let’s look at cost. Hugo TT2 is priced at £3995 – a substantial sum. The TT means it is a table-top version of Hugo, more expensive and without batteries. It has a partnering 100 Watt power amplifier that you’ll see in many website shots, TTOBY, price £2899. However, it will drive any power amplifier. M Scaler is £3495 and I talk about this separately on following pages just for clarity.

   It’s as a super high-technology DAC that Hugo TT2 is presented – and usually talked out – using Chord Electronics own and unique digital-to-analogue convertor (DAC) designed by Rob Watts. Manufacturers normally buy in DAC chips from outside suppliers. What you get here is a highly-specialised and continually advancing design from Mr Watts that, our measurements show, out-runs all else except ESS (although AKM get close). However, Rob Watts states that where other designs have digital filters with hundreds of taps and make compromises as a result, Hugo TT2 now has 98,304 taps in its filter, fed by a x16 oversampled signal. M Scaler ups this to a massive 1 million taps, again fed by a x16 oversampled signal.  



The illuminated volume ball on a shaft at front, connected to green potentiometer behind. Six green super-capacitors (left) bolster the power supply. At right is the Bluetooth radio module. At centre the square black FPGA chip that holds the WTA filter and DAC.



Chord Electronics sent us M Scaler with Hugo TT2 so we could hear the difference, a task made easier by our Martin Logan electrostatic loudspeakers. And our ability to measure the thing: there are only two analysers in the world able to do this – they have one, we have the other. Interestingly they quote a class-leading 127dB dynamic range and we measure 128dB from amplifier output, or 124dB from DAC output – both outstanding values.




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