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Chord Electronics launch Hugo TT at CES 2015

  • Hard to believe that it’s only been 12 months since the UK’s Chord Electronics formally launched the Hugo DAC (reviewed here) with which many audiophiles have since fallen in love. Now, only a year on, John Franks and co. are back with a bigger, badder take on the Hugo. This one’s called the Hugo TT because it’s intended for TableTops.

    How did we get here?

    The idea for the Hugo TT arrived when Franks realised that so impressed were people with the original Hugo’s sound quality that they were using it in main rigs as opposed to on the road as originally intended. Me? I think it’s one of the finest sub-$3k DACs I’ve heard to date. The Hugo’s sound quality more than qualifies its US$2500 sticker price but that it also rolls headphone listening and portability into the deal makes it an unassailable bargain.

    Into the TT iteration comes fresh connectivity in the way of XLR outputs, two ¼” headphones outputs on top of a single 1/8″ socket, aBNC digital input and asynchronous USB reception, both with Type B socketry more common on ‘audiophile’-grade USB cables. Remember: the original Hugo ran with micro-USB inputs.

    Then there’s a remote control for source selection and digital domain volume attenuation – kept honest by the same Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA loaded with Chord’s custom code – and LED display to show settings. According to the press release the Hugo TT’s FPGA has “has the same specification and measured performance as its mobile sibling”.


    But there’s more.

    In surrendering portability, the Hugo TT has been designed to run continuously from the supplied wall charger. However, the battery has been doubled in size and is now ameliorated by 10,000,000 uF of supercapacitors providing greater power storage potential than the standard capacitors found in the original Hugo. The Hugo TT packs a power supply double act about which Franks says, “We use them (supercapacitors) in the same way that Formula 1 racing cars use them: they give the batteries more time to ramp up their chemical action, extending battery life as well as improving dynamics and a providing a faster response to demanding transients.”

    (Keener observers will know that Vinnie Rossi’s forthcoming LIO amplifier will also deploy supercapacitors).

    This new internal circuit regime was reportedly only possible with the Hugo TT’s larger chassis. All of this points to a potentially superior sounding product and so it should: the Hugo TT will sell for £2950.

    Hang tight for photos of the Hugo TT’s debut at CES 2015 this very week.

    Further information: Chord Electronics

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    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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    1. Exciting times for audiophiles at the moment especially for those of us who adopted the streaming to dac philosophy well before the proliferation of new products such as the hugo. On this side of the pond the newspapers are reporting the new Sony Walkman’s ridiculous high cost player but focusing on the high quality sound using high resolution files. Maybe just maybe we’ll have more high resolution meda to feed the hugo in the not to distant future after all.

      • Yes that’s also being launched this week; the 2 Qute has reportedly been Hugo-ified!

    2. As an update to this, I have established that Rob Watts has also included FULL galvanic isolation on the USB on the Hugo TT including reference circuitry so it should certainly sound better than the Hugo. Especially with the F1 super-capacitors.

    3. I was quite amazed by the Hugo and own the device … while the FPGA dac architecture in itself is certainly incredible in terms of resolution and low level detail I’m not so convinced anymore by the fact that it uses class D as means of amplification, after a couple of months I find it a tad fatiguing and unnatural in the highs.

    4. Pierre I’m sorry to disillusion you but HUGO has a class A output it’s not a class D as you had wrongly assumed. Also I’d suggest you try listening to some new music as you might find it less fatiguing.

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