CHORD ELECTRONICS UNVEILS THREE NEW DIGITAL PRODUCTS AT CES 2017
Next-generation Hugo 2 revolutionises Chord Electronics’ game-changing debut portable DAC/amp
Hugo 2 adds new features, state-of-the-art performance, plus an all-new chassis design
5th January 2017, CES, Las Vegas: Chord Electronics has unveiled Hugo 2, a dramatically redesigned version of its legendary portable DAC, featuring all-new casework, flexible new features, plus next-generation technical and sonic performance (£1,800)
Three years ago at CES 2014, Chord Electronics unveiled a revolutionary portable DAC and headphone amp that became a landmark product in the audio landscape. Recent advances in digital technology have enabled Chord to introduce the next-generation version: Hugo 2.
The new device has been comprehensively upgraded while ensuring continuity with the much-loved original. It introduces the latest proprietary Chord Electronics FPGA technology giving cutting-edge technical and sonic performance, plus exciting new features.Sleek new aircraft-grade aluminium casework
Featuring a newly designed precision-machined aircraft-grade aluminium case, Hugo 2 is distinct from its predecessor with its sharper, lower profile design and four spherical control buttons. The spheres, which are top-mounted to allow for possible future expansion side-modules, illuminate with colour-coding information and control power, input, filtering and crossfeed functions. The top-mounted volume-control sphere has been retained and made larger for more intuitive operation.
The stylish new design and additional functionality has been introduced in anticipation of greater indoor use within both desktop and conventional home audio systems, despite Hugo 2’s obvious portability. The inclusion of a full-function remote control adds further flexibility and the practical line-level output mode of the original has also been retained. New levels of technical performance
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. Four digital inputs
Hugo 2’s connections and switches now feature laser-ablated function-lettering for improved ease-of-use. The device offers four digital inputs (optical, coaxial and HD USB) plus extended-range Bluetooth, with high-resolution file playback up to 768kHz and up to DSD512 (Octa DSD), via its HD USB input. Analogue outputs include 2x RCA, plus 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone outputs. User-selectable filtering option
A four-function switch filter, operated by its own control sphere, offers a useful degree of user-selectable frequency-shaping, bringing warm and soft or transparent and incisive presentations, giving additional flexibility and user control.Crossfeed feature
For headphone-listening, Hugo 2 retains the popular digital crossfeed function of the original and offers three operation modes
from its dedicated control sphere. The system cross-feeds a partial 400 millisecond-delayed and shaped signal from each left and right output to the opposite channel. The system duplicates the effect of listening to speakers and is based on advanced binaural audio research. Battery life improved
Battery playing time is 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. Lower distortion, better output stage
New digital DC servos have replaced the inline capacitors in the original output stages and reduce distortion further while improving the power-drive performance and capability of the output stage. An element of switch-on delay has resulted, but the performance benefits were felt to outweigh the disadvantage. Technical specificationsInputs
• 1x Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
• 1x RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable
• 1x HD USB input 32-bit/768kHz and DSD512-capable
• 1x aptX Bluetooth (extended range)Outputs
• 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
• 1x 6.35mm (1/4 inch) headphone jack
• 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono outputSpecifications
• Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
• Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.0001% 1kHz 3V RMS 300 ohms
• THD and noise at 3V RMS Ref 5.3V: 120dB @ 1kHz 300 ohms A Wt
• Noise 2.6 uV A Wt: no measurable noise floor modulation
• Signal to noise ratio: 126dB A-weighted
• Channel separation: 135dB @ 1kHz 300 ohms
• Maximum output level (to clipping at 1% distortion): 94 mW 300 ohms; 740 mW 33 ohms; 1050 mW (8)
• Output impedance: 25 milliohms (0.025 ohms)Technical features
• Advanced digital volume control
• Crossfeed filter network
• Four-stage frequency-shaping filter
• Fast-charging batteries via Micro USB giving around 7 hours operation
• 49,195K tap-length filter (near double the original the Hugo)Price and availability
Hugo 2 will be available in early 2017, price £1,800 CHORD ELECTRONICS Blu-MKII CD Player
Chord Electronics redefines CD performance with
its new FPGA-based upscaling transport Blu MkII
New Blu MkII offers the world’s most advanced filter technology from its giant FPGA core
5th January 2017, CES, Las Vegas: Chord Electronics has set new standards for CD sound quality with its new Blu MkII, an upscaling CD transport which uses the very latest FPGA technology to implement advanced proprietary filtering and upscaling techniques £7,995
Known for its world-class amplifiers and its class-leading FPGA-based (Field Programmable Gate Array) DACs, Chord Electronics has implemented the latest FPGA technology into a next-generation CD transport. The new Blu MkII, which will replace the original Blu, incorporates a powerful new FPGA core with extraordinary capability.
Chord Electronics’ Digital Consultant, Rob Watts, has harnessed the power of the new Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA, which has a standout 740 DSP cores, to develop sophisticated WTA (Watts Transient Alignment) filtering and upscaling algorithms which can output digital data at 705.6kHz (16 x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution). When partnered with the critically acclaimed DAVE DAC/preamp, with its 705.6kHz-capable digital inputs, the Blu MkII sets a new technical benchmark for CD performance, while redefining sound quality from the medium.
At the heart of the Blu MkII, lies Rob Watts’ new WTA M-Scaler technology, which incorporates the most advanced filter of its kind in the world. Rob Watts has developed completely new filter architecture for the Blu MkII, to ensure maximum memory efficiency and to allow the FPGA to run with sufficient speed.
The enormous processing power of the Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA has enabled a key breakthrough in tap-length (the technical indicator of how complex the interpolation filter is). To perfectly reconstruct an analogue signal, an infinite tap-length filter is required. The original Chord DAC 64 (1999) had 1,024 taps; Hugo (2013) 26,000 and DAVE (2015) 164,000. Each successive increase in tap-length, together with continuous improvements to the WTA algorithm, has given significantly better sound quality.
The new Blu MkII offers an incredible 1,015,808 taps! This remarkable capability takes transient accuracy to a completely unprecedented level: it becomes simpler to perceive the leading edge of transient notes, creating a life-like sound-field. Bass definition is massively improved, with greater ability to follow the tune. Sound-staging, instrument separation and focus are also noticeably better, along with vastly improved variation in instrument timbre. Blu MkII with DAVE: the world’s most advanced CD playback system
The Xilinx XC7A200T consumes an enormous 10 amps of current, so it couldn’t be implemented in DAVE as the sheer amount of current could upset DAVE’s comprehensive signal-processing. The engineering solution was to isolate this new FPGA and employ an external scaler — Blu MkII has (RF-isolated) 705.6kHz outputs to feed DAVE directly. The combination has created the world’s most advanced CD playback system. Completely revised on the outside, too
The Blu MkII has also undergone extensive revisions on the outside. Chord’s Chief Designer, John Franks, has streamlined the aesthetic with a beautiful new top-plate that simply features the most commonly used functions. A useful display gives track information etc. and Chord’s elegant hinged self-supporting lid design offers a touch of class when loading/removing discs and positions the disc-puck perfectly. It also automatically stops play when lifted. A full remote offers further control options.
A comprehensive suite of high-performance connectivity is offered, including (for the digital outputs): AES (to 176.4KHz); single optical, single S/PDIF and dual BNC S/PDIF; the dual BNC S/PDIF output transmits up to 768kHz into Chord’s DAVE DAC/preamp using twin cables.
The Blu MkII also features a BNC S/PDIF digital input, meaning that it can also be used a standalone high-performance upsampler,
for use with other digital sources, such as streamers, in addition to its primary function as a CD transport. This enables a digitally connected device to benefit from the Blu MkII’s advanced FPGA technology and if deployed, DAVE’s class-leading digital-to-analogue conversion.
Further features include Chord Electronics’ legendary proprietary high-frequency switching power supply and a dedicated CD-only laser mechanism for an uncompromising performance. A dedicated equipment support (in the Blu MkII/DAVE image) is also available for a supplement.
Like all Chord Electronics’ products, the Blu MkII is hand-made in the UK and features a precision-milled chassis, crafted from aircraft-grade aluminium.Technical specifications
• Digital outputs: AES (to 176.4kHz); 1x optical, single BNC S/PDIF and dual BNC S/PDIF (768kHz-, 384kHz- and 192kHz-capable)
• Digital inputs: 1x BNC S/PDIF
• Frequency response: DC to 20kHz +/- 0.0000001dB
• In-band ripple DC to 20kHz: +/- 0.0000002dB
• Stop band rejection: -135dB
• THD and noise 24-bit input: -144dB (defined by input)
• WTA tap-length, 16FS filter: 1,015,808 taps
• Dimensions: 335mm x 105mm x 170mm (WxHxD)
• Weight: 7kgPrice and availability
Blu 2 will be available in early 2017, price £7,995 CHORD ELECTRONICS Poly
Chord Electronics’ Poly brings wireless, network and SD playback to the award-winning Mojo DAC
5th January 2017, CES, Las Vegas: Chord Electronics has unveiled Poly, a revolutionary new network module which is set to introduce high-res wireless streaming, SD card and network music playback to Mojo, with both smartphone control and playback £499
Chord Electronics’ new Poly module enables the award-winning Mojo headphone amp/DAC as a fully fledged high-resolution wireless network music player, streamer and SD card playback device, and offers wireless playback and control from smartphones. Poly removes the need for a wired link between phone and Mojo for the first time, and allows a world of content to be decoded and played back using Chord’s proprietary DAC technology.
Poly is based on a condensed high-level PC, with data server, DLNA receiver, Wi-Fi hub, Bluetooth module and SD card (using MPD) functionality, and highly sophisticated software. Poly acts as a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hub and can access music in a number of ways including streaming over Wi-Fi, network storage devices (NAS) and collections stored on SD cards using Mail Player Daemon. Bluetooth connectivity and AirPlay functionality provide real flexibility with smartphones and enable mutilple Mojo/Poly combinations to be used throughout the home, providing a high-quality multi-room streaming playback solution.
Highly advanced yet miniaturised as a plug-in module for Mojo, Poly has been designed for full control using the best (and most familiar) user interface in the world — the smartphone. When connected to Mojo, Poly conveniently slips into pockets, bags and handbags — it doesn’t need to be hand-carried or regularly checked like other players. Mojo was always a smartphone-enabling device and the same is true of Poly.
Poly is compatible with the latest high-resolution-audio file types and supports PCM files up to 768kHz resolution and DSD64 to DSD512 (Octa-DSD). Poly’s high-quality SD card reader/player frees up smartphone memory and storage, so vast libraries no longer need be kept locally on phones.
Chord Electronics and its design partners have made Poly’s high-speed technology fully mobile: Poly includes a rechargeable LiPo battery giving around nine hours playback from a sub-four-hour charge using the device’s fast-charging circuit. Both Mojo and Poly can be simultaneously charged using Poly’s Micro USB connector. Poly is precision-machined from aircraft-grade aluminium and hand assembled in the UK.Playback
Poly can be controlled with a wide range of music playback apps for both Android and iOS devices, with AirPlay offering additional
compatibility and intuitive operation with enabled devices. Poly also integrates with advanced music players such as Roon (excluding SD cards). Supported file types (to be confirmed) include: ACC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA and MP3.
The name is derived from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘a large number’ or ‘many’. The moniker is ideal for a product that is capable of incredible, wide-ranging functionality. Features and specifications:
• Materials: Precision-machined aluminium casing with black anodisation, opaque black wireless signal window and silicone feet
• Battery: Rechargeable LiPo (Lithium Polymer) 2200mAh
• Play time: 9+ hours
• Charging: Sub-four hours, 2-amp Micro USB input. Both Mojo and Poly can be simultaneously charged via Poly’s Micro USB
• Connectivity types: Bluetooth A2DP and Wi-Fi 2.4GHz
• Storage: Micro SD card — unlimited maximum capacity
• Playback support: Roon, DNLA, AirPlay and Bluetooth playback
• Files supported: (to be confirmed) all major file types including: ACC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA and MP3
• PCM sample rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz,717.6kHz and 768kHz
• DSD via DoP sample rates: DSD64 - DSD512 (Octa-DSD)
• Devices supported: iPhone; iPad, Android phones/tablets, Windows phones/tablets/PCs, Mac OS X computers and DAPs (Astell & Kern etc)
• Dimensions: 50mm (L) x 62mm (W) x 22mm (H)
• Playback of SD card audio. The file data is pushed to the phone for selection within a dedicated (MPD Music Player Daemon) app. When playback is initiated the command is sent to Poly for output via Mojo
• Playback of audio from a host device to Poly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. File data is read by the host’s MPD music player app and pushed to Poly for output via Mojo
• Roon playback pooled from multiple sources inc. storage from host devices, network storage and streaming service storage simultaneously. All audio playback will be pulled through to the Roon application for decoding then pushed back out to Poly to output audio via Mojo
• Playback of audio stored on local networks. Music on connected network storage devices can be accessed via W-Fi, for example, a Synology drive read by Poly, decoded and output through to Mojo for playbackPrice and availability
Poly will be available in early 2017, price £499Chord Electronics website