Chord Electronics is an iconic name in the English audiophile community, to me, it represents excellence in HiFi and Chord makes sure you know that it is proud of its heritage and the British flag is placed proudly on all its packaging. I spent 2 hours with Chord Electronics at the very prestigious Goring Hotel in London for the launch event of the Poly and it was very snazzy indeed with champagne flowing. What impressed me the most at this fantastic launch event was the amount of R&D and technology that has gone into the final product that is the Chord Electronics Poly. It is one of a kind for sure and there is no other product on the market that even comes close to what the Poly can offer.
I have always liked the Mojo's sound quality and it has won many awards from every reputable HiFi magazine I can think of. It has an outstanding sound quality which is hard to rival at its price point and you will have to pay considerably more to come close to the quality of the Mojo. Now with the Poly, you do not have to own an expensive DAP to stream music instead you can combine the Mojo & Poly to have a truly portable high-quality DAC and network streamer, with your smartphone controlling all the functionalities.
Features and Build Quality
The Poly is a small piece of kit and at £499 not a cheap option when you add to it the cost of the Mojo, but it is packed with features. With some serious R&D invested in the Poly. Like the Mojo it is made from a solid piece of a precision-machined billet aluminum and has a black anodised casing, it has a 10 layer PCB and this type of hardware is rarely seen in such a compact unit. With all major network possibilities and file types supported, DNLA, AirPlay and Bluetooth 4.1 and PCM sample rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz,717.6kHz and 768kHz. DSD is available when using the Micro SD card which is not limited by size, you could also migrate all your music from your smartphone to the SD card to free up your phone's memory. The Poly contains a LiPo Lithium Polymer 2200mAh battery with an approximately 9hr usage from a single USB charge. Both the Mojo & Poly can be charged together off the one USB chord. The unit is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android phones/tablets, Windows and Mac OS X computers and DAPs. A separate leather casing is available which holds both the Mojo &Poly and it is of a high quality which really does make the package feel extremely polished.
Chord Electronics is due to release an APP which will also assist in setting up the Poly which at the time of writing is not available and has to be configured by pressing in the configure button, recessed into a tiny hole in the Poly and can be quite fiddly if you are not technically minded. More info and tech specs can be found on Chord Electronics Poly page HEREPerformance and Sound Quality
For testing and reviewing purposes, I am using the brilliant Audeze iSine headphones which are a perfect match for this combination of Mojo & Poly. I am using a variety of APP's on my iPhone to play music through the Poly and music stored on various Micro SD cards. The main ones that I have been playing around with are Onkyo's HD player APP and 8 Player with 8player offering DLNA access so that I can play music over my network at home.
There is not many portable DAC's that can come close to the Chord Electronics Mojo's versatility and can easily be slotted into a full HiFi system such is its quality of playback and this also extends to its HeadFi part and probably its most used purpose. Once the Poly is connected it turns the Mojo into a fully capable network and media player but with an excellence rarely seen in portable units.
Listening to Neil Diamonds - All-Time Greatest Hits
in 24bit 192Khz streaming from my WD Cloud HDD, the Mojo & Poly sounds simply superb with great timing and bass that has a solidity that I have not heard from any of the DAP combinations that I have tried over the years. Brother's Love Traveling Salvation Show is a fine recording with excellent instrument separation and minute details that I have not heard on this track before, it manages to dig deep and present a full-on sound-stage with the brass section rasping without any hint of harshness, the left to right stereo image created is staggeringly good seeing as it is just a HeadFi system that I am listening to.
On to Art Pepper & Eleven Modern Jazz Classics
in 24bit-176Khz and once again I am treated to a delightful rendition of Anthropology with a snappy percussion and sweet sounding brass section that has an almost jump out and touchy feel to it, it just seems to pop with energy unlike previous listening sessions which have sounded dull in comparison. Shaw Nuff has a real energy to the recording and for once I am hearing all the separate mute tones that the trumpet has to offer with varying levels of detail and layers not picked out by previous players and DAC's.
Something a bit more recent Jamiroquai's - Automaton
in 24bit 44.1Khz and it has an, even more, kick in the bass section and a more tangible sensation with larger sonics if that is at all possible in HeadFi listening, but it seems to be the case with the Chord Electronics Mojo & Poly. Carla has some great ambient tones that seem to shimmer all around you that it pulls you deeper into the music and I soon forget how quickly time is passing me by.
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
It seems that Chord Electronics has really pulled a cracker with the Poly, if you are lucky enough to already own a Mojo then the addition of a Poly is simply a no-brainer and if you are serious about your HeadFi then this has got to be at the top of your Christmas list.
The sound is simply sublime when streaming in your network and when on the move it turns your smartphone into one of the best DAP's available such is the level of quality. The Sony NW-WM1A used to be my go-to DAP but Chord Electronics has certainly changed that and this is my preferred way of listening when on the move or even at home too.
The Poly is a totally awesome product from Chord Electronics with a thoroughly deserved Outstanding Product awarded.
Chord Electronics website