Yeah, I know, it’s been too long. I finally had time to give these two guys a better a comparison for those still interested.
The original Hugo is still so damn musical. Still a wonderful DAC, regardless of its age. The biggest benefit of having the Chord Electronics Hugo 2 is the micro-USB charging port. Super convenient when you have an external battery.
Now that I’ve had more time to go over the filters, it turns out I enjoy the “red” mode, which is the warmest mode with the HF roll-off. In this mode, the Hugo 2 wins on all fronts:
- Much sweeter treble
- Better weight, texture, and body
- Improved timbre and truer tonality
- Much more dynamic
- More transparent
- Better bass definition
- More vivid, resolving, and energetic
- Superb layering and delineation – Hugo 1 sounds flat in comparison.
Some may actually still prefer the more intimate and cozy sound of the original Hugo.
So basically the same thoughts I had two years ago, but with a different filter. It was no contest when driving the Sennheiser HD650s. There was just more rhythm, detail, shape, and clarity.
If you could still find an original Chord Hugo in the used market…it’s a steal. It was great for its time, and it still sounds fantastic today.
— end update —
Just a quick post about my impressions regarding the new Chord Hugo 2. The original Hugo is my daily driver and it remained the best portable DAC for years. I was able to do a decent amount of A/B at SoCal CanJam 2017. I had my custom JH Audio Angie with me for the face-off.
- Chord Hugo / Chord Hugo TT / 2Qute / Mojo – 26,000 taps
- Chord Hugo 2 – 49,152 taps
- Chord DAVE – 164,000 taps
- Chord Blu Mk.2 + Chord DAVE – 1,015,808 taps
Outside of the Blu II, I currently or have previously own all of these DACs. After listening to some of the world’s best DACS, I wholeheartedly believe FPGA tech is the way to go. It’s going to be interesting, especially with Rob Watts is at the helm.
So how much of an audible difference does 19,152 taps make? A whole lot.
Going through a few tracks off Abbey Road and some standard audiophile recordings (You could hear “Hotel California” in every booth. I kid you not). It really only took a handful of tracks to realize the kind of upgrade you’re getting. The Chord Hugo 2 has 4 filters:
- No filter
Those aren’t the official names of the filters but I was basically given those general descriptors at the table. No filter sounds best to my ears. #nofilter
The original Hugo has a warmer tonality but the benefits of the Hugo 2 are substantial:
- Much better transparency
- Resolution of the finest details in a recording
- Extraordinary layering and separation. This was my biggest takeaway from the comparison.
- A greater sense of air and acoustic space
- More accurate timbre from instruments and vocals. There’s a realism and naturalness that the original can’t match.
- More dimensional in every way
- Coherent and tight throughout
- Much blacker background
- Maintains control even through busy recordings (Metallica).
Swapping back to the original Hugo, the things I noticed:
- Much flatter and smeared presentation
- Delineation is very poor (shocking I know, but this is what happens when you A/B)
- Not as well extended on both sides of the spectrum
- Bass is not well controlled and sounds a bit bloated at times
Of course this is just a direct comparison so it’s not to speak ill of the original Hugo. It’s still the best portable DAC until the end of April 2017 🙂 The Hugo 2 transformed the way I hear the Angies and made me realize how much of the music I was missing.
Anyway, I’ll give it a proper review once I could get my hands on one. Hopefully I’ll be able to pair it with a 64 Audio Tia Fourte 😛
Good early preview, thanks. Had a short listen myself and agree its one helleva DAC.
Yeah…one guy told me an EL-8 + CH2 sounded better than the HE-1. lol
Well written. Hugo 2 should be a lot of fun.
Thanks Peter! I think we’ll be seeing a lot of old Hugos on the market.
I wish you to enjoy your tia Fourte. I hope you receive them soon :-). Keep me posted please. I am indeed very tempted by the Fourte… IF is is as good as the SHURE KSE1500 that I loved but sold because I start be be feed up by the multi-pieces portable set-up (3 pièces : A&K100 + Mojo + SHURE)
One last question: did you find the tia Fourte confortable ? Aren’t they top big ?
My Roxane are really too big to be confortable while my SHURE KSE 1500 was perfect fit, small enough to stay “all inside” my ear.
Hey Bertrand, thanks for you kind wishes! hm I didn’t find any comfort issues with the Fourte. They provided comply tips at the table I think.
Hi！Can you compare hogo2 and dave？Is there a huge difference between them？ ；）
Lol, I’m quite sure there’s a huge difference between them but I’ll do the comparison anyway.
Owned Hugo and AK 380cu previously, demoed 1Z recently and very impressed indeed.
Read someone mentioned Hugo 2 and 1Z sound similar, do u share the same impressions?
I’ll find out in 3 weeks. 🙂
I’ll find out in 2 months 🙂
Based on what you heard, would you say Hugo 2 is better than TT?
I’d have to do an A/B when it comes out. When I compared the Hugo and the Hugo TT over a year ago, the TT was cleaner, more refined, blacker, and had more air. It still maintained a very similar sound signature though. With the Hugo 2, they sound like different DACs IMO.
Really? It’s like a never ending slick oil campaign. Something new comes out and now all of a sudden the original Hugo is “much” flatter, delineation “very” poor, and the base is bloated. Either you just like “new” stuff and over exaggerate a little or you’re a inside salesmen.
The delta in SQ was definitely larger than I had expected. Once released, I suspect most previous owners would agree. Do the comparison yourself, if you believe my impressions were an exaggeration, consider yourself lucky 😉
What are your impressions about the Ak300? Considering it’s price to performance ratio? What it lacks and shines in terms of sound… Thanking you in anticipation of your response.
I’ll be doing more testing for DAPs in near future, I haven’t really A/B’ed many of them but I do really like the new Sony flagship. My primary curiosity is whether it’s better than just a hacked android phone. Will keep you posted!
looking forward to your review
Me too. Jay, have you gotten a Hugo 2 yet? I’ve had mine for the last few weeks and am really impressed by what I’m hearing!
wich DAC is the better: Hugo (original) or 2 qute?
I suspect the 2Qute is better although I haven’t done the direct comparison.
Hopefully there will be a new 2Qute 2 with the new features of the Hugo 2 as I don’t need the headphone amp and I like the form factor.
How do you compare Hugo 2 vs iCAN Pro ? As they priced close
Hi guys- is it my imagination or somewhere on the site someone mentioned running a Qutest off a battery and it made a massive improvement???
If so- what battery was that?
Cheers and you folks are the gold standard on reviews- truly going the extra……65 miles!
I think I used this: https://amzn.to/31tH6GN
Different power banks do sound different so that’s something to keep in mind. But most of them will add smoothness and fullness. Some of them will change the tone or make the sound softer.