With their most recent product, the Mojo (see here), making quite the splash this week, it’s would apppear that the UK’s Chord Electronics have re-calibrated their aim. The US$599 device isn’t only for hardcore audiophiles but for mainstream users, specifically who already own a decent pair of headphones and are now looking to feed them with better sound quality but without surrendering their everyday music source: the smartphone.
Looking at it from a slightly different angle: rather than develop their own digital audio player a la Astell&Kern, FiiO or Pono, John Franks and Rob Watts have stuck to what they know best: DAC and amplifier design, with the silver bullet being Watts’ FPGA-hosted ‘WTA Filter’ and D/A conversion process.
Instead of moving into the migraine inducing world of software and interface development, Chord have brought the Mojo to market such that it makes use of your existing smartphone’s interface, with Spotify, Pandora and Tidal all joining the party along side more audiophile-centric/hi-res-capable apps like Onkyo’s HF Player (for iOS/Android) and USB Audio Player Pro (Android only). The key message is that with your phone supplying the ones and zeroes, the Mojo doesn’t discriminate.
However, Joe Public and his buddies might not be so well versed in the ways of audiophile-grade portable audio. Something that’s probably second nature to Head-Fi hangers. What follows isn’t for those already hip to the scene. With Mojo taking fresh aim at the mainstream, we’d expect to encounter a greater proportion of newcomers. If that’s you, you’re in the right place. My intent here is introduce the Mojo in the flesh, to show how it connects to both iOS and Android devices and to touch on some of the issues when ‘bricking it’: piggybacking a third party DAC and headphone amplifier to one’s existing smartphone.
My only concession to audiophiles here is this: these videos were shot and edited with iMovie on an iPad Air 2 to which the the Mojo was attached, thus providing D/A conversion and go juice to the HiFiMAN HE-400s – a terrific, streaming-service capable setup from top to bottom.
Further information: Chord Mojo