The original Hugo, which has become one of Chord Electronics most successful products, was launched at CES exactly one year ago, aimed at both home and mobile users. Hugo TT, however, is firmly pointed at home users and adds some exciting new functionality. Hugo TT gains a new larger chassis, remote control, an alphanumeric LED display with input/sample rate data, and improved sonic performance thanks to supercapacitors.
Chord Electronics has built on the extraordinary success of its genre-defining Hugo DAC/headphone amplifier, with the CES world debut of Hugo TT (Table Top). The new larger desktop-orientated device offers wider connectivity including a USB-B input, XLR outputs, two ¼-inch headphone outputs, plus improved performance and features.
Advanced sample rate capability
The Hugo TT is ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files allowing music lovers to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. Hugo TT supports up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz over optical, plus DSD64 on all inputs and DSD128 via coax or USB (all via DoP).
In a key upgrade over the original Hugo, the Hugo TT benefits from a high-quality asynchronous B-type USB input which covers both the SD and HD USB input stream. With two further digital inputs: a (new) BNC coaxial and optical (TOSLink), any connected component with a digital output can benefit from the Hugo TT’s advanced sound quality.
To fully integrate with today’s digitally stored media, the new Hugo TT also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry, so even without cables, music can still be enjoyed.
Spartan 6 FPGA
The Hugo TT retains the same high-performance Spartan 6 FPGA that enabled Hugo to redefine the DAC genre in 2014. It has the same specification and measured performance as its mobile sibling, a device that “broke all records” for dynamic range in leading UK hi-fi magazine, Hi-Fi World, in the summer of 2014.
Being a home-orientated device, the Hugo TT has been designed to run continuously from the supplied charger, however Chord’s engineers have also improved the battery and added Supercap energy storage, a technology seen in F1 where supercacitors back-up the car’s batteries by sharing the load and charge demands, thereby protecting them. They serve a similar purpose in the Hugo TT, extending the battery life as well as improving dynamics and demanding transients in recorded music.
Chord Electronics’ founder and owner John Franks on the new Hugo TT
“The idea for the Hugo TT came when we realised that Hugo’s performance was such that many customers were using the device as a reference desktop unit, when really it was primarily designed for mobile use. So, Hugo was not optimised for use in home systems: a minority of audiophile cables with the very largest RCA and USB terminations sometimes proved difficult to accommodate and the shorter range of the original mobile Hugo’s Bluetooth pairing distance could sometimes cause problems in larger homes.
We noted all the suggestions from desktop users and we definitely took notice when people indicated they loved the sound of Hugo and would buy one in an instant if it had additional XLR outputs, greater input visibility and a remote control! So, we set about making a people’s Hugo to address as many of these wishes as possible. We also doubled the battery storage and added 10,000,000 microfarads of supercapacitor back-up across the batteries. None of these features would have been possible within Hugo’s existing dimensions, but in the larger Hugo TT, they are all comfortably inside.”
Advanced digital volume control
Crossfeed filter network
Battery-powered for power supply isolation
Input selection identification and remote volume up or down indication is via alphanumeric display and colour-changing LED display
26K tap-length filter
Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load
1x Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192KHz-capable
1x BNC coaxial input 32-bit/384kHz -capable
1x HD/SD USB B-type input up to 32-bit/384kHz
1x3.5mm headphone jack
2x6.35mm (1/4-inch) headphone jack
1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output
Fully balanced via XLR connectors
DAC OF THE YEAR
What can I plug into my DAC?
DAC's will usually have a number of inputs. Coaxial and Toslink Optical are the most common, while USB is still also very common.
The Optical and Coaxial connections can have a CD player, network streamer, television, dvd/blu-ray disc player, game console, and some computers.
The USB input can handle pretty much any kind of computer, or a phone with the appropriate adapter (OTG for android, Camera Connect Kit for iOS devices).
- What is a DAC?
Every digital device with an analog output has a Digital to Analog Converter of some kind. In the case of phones, televisions, and computers, they are usually stuck on as an afterthought, or just to do the job of creating analog sound to be amplified and played through speakers.
Having a standalone DAC is a worthwhile investment in any modern Hi-Fi system, essentially all the circuitry involved in creating that signal you can hear from the 1's and 0's is housed in its own box, with usually a much better design than what you would find in your television or computer.
A DAC can be useful to connect digital devices to an analog amplifier if the amplifier doesn't have digital inputs. Or if you are after a cleaner, more refined sound.
Things to listen for in higher quality DAC's are separation of sounds (how well you can hear a single voice or instrument in the mix of all the others), "textures" of sounds (raspyness of a bow being drawn across the strings of a double bass), or the clarity of echo's and quiet noises among loud instruments.