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Chord Electronics announce Hugo M Scaler

  • ‘One million taps’ – the spec sheet boast of Chord Electronic’s BLU MKII transport and upscaler – a CD ‘player’ whose digital output takes a CD’s 44.1kHz sample rate and pumps it up: 8x to 352.8kHz carried over a single BNC interconnection but 16x to 705.4kHz when paired with Chord’s own DAVE DAC via twin BNC hook-ups.

    Doing the heavy mathematical lifting is Rob Watts’ interpolation filter. hosted by a Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA and reportedly his most advanced to date. The filter calculates new samples to “redefine sound quality from digital audio” where “transient accuracy is taken to a completely unprecedented level”. Chord refer to this as “the most advanced digital filtering technology in the world”. Hence the need for an “unprecedented” 1,015,808 taps — over five times the number found in Chord’s flagship DAVE DAC.

    The sting? The BLU MKII sells for a cool eight thousand British Brexit pounds and to a large extent assume the presence of silver shiny discs.

    Officially launching at CanJam London this weekend, Chord’s Hugo M Scaler dispenses with the BLU MKII’s CD transport to leave the upscaling functionality applicable to digital signals arriving via one of five digital inputs: 2 x BNC, 2 x TOSLINK and galvanically isolated USB, the latter DSD256 compatible but upsampled to PCM for “much better attenuation of DSD noise and distortion”, according to the British manufacturer.

    Bring smartphones. Bring Macs and PCs. Bring network streamers. Bring CD/DVD players. The Hugo M Scaler will talk to them all.

    On digital outputs, we note TOSLINK and BNC for which a 44.1kHz input signal can be upscaled to 176.4kHz and 352.8kHz respectively.

    However, the Hugo M Scaler isn’t only for Redbook source material. A 96kHz input can be upscaled to 192kHz for TOSLINK output or 384kHz for its BNC spill.

    Don’t be fooled by the Hugo M Scaler’s form factor that apes Chord’s TToby and Hugo 2 TT — it can be connected to ANY DAC capable of the corresponding sample rate accommodation.

    If not, “pass-through” mode allows the user to tailor the Hugo M Scaler’s output sample rate to the DAC. “Video mode” reduces the unit’s latency to minimise lip-sync issues when watching movies or TV and per Chord’s Hugo 2 and Mojo, the Hugo M Scaler varies the colour of its spherical control buttons to indicate source and incoming sample rate. A remote control is supplied.

    However, to exploit the Hugo M Scaler’s full upscaling functionality we look to Chord’s DAVE, Hugo 2 TT or Qutest where a pair of BNC interconnects carries the digital signal from upscaled output to DAC input: 705.6kHz from a 44.1kHz input and 768kHz from 96kHz.

    The Hugo M Scaler will sell for £3495 – under half the BLU MKII’s asking price. Shipping begins Q3 2018.

    Further information: Chord Electronics

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

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