Audio by mark jones

Chord Electronics first took flight from the aviation world, where engineering without limits means uncompromising standards. This concept designed by company owner John Franks has helped shaped their philosophy since the company’s inception in 1989.  Chord’s first amplifiers were supplied to the BBC, followed by world-leading studios including Abbey Road, Sony Music (New York) and later, The Royal Opera House.

Chord’s reputation within the professional world generated demand for a domestic range encompassing the design, engineering and build standards demanded of the finest pro equipment. Today, Chord applies proprietary technologies to all of their British-made products and proudly deliver studio-grade audio performance across the entire Chord range.

Other Products by Chord Electronics
DAVE
$14,800

DAVE is Chord’s flagship DAC, a true reference-level product, loaded with their latest-generation FPGA technology.

DAVE is the most advanced DAC Chord has ever made. It features the very best conversion technology available, using proprietary techniques never seen before, making DAVE the most advanced DAC/preamp amplifier in the world. DAVE stands for ‘Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis’, a moniker that best reflects the product’s capability; a device so advanced and with so few compromises, that it is absolutely truthful in the extreme — a standard that all other DACs on the market simply cannot hope to match.

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DAVE technical specs
  • Dynamic Range127.5dB (AWT)
  • THD + N127.5dB (AWT)
  • Digital inputs4x 75Ω S/PDIF BNC Coax – 44.1kHz to 384kHz1x AES XLR – 44.1kHz to 96kHz2x Fibre Optic TOSLINK – 44.1kHz to 96kHz1x USB Type B – 44.1kHz to 768kHz (16 – 32bit) – PCM and DSD
  • Analogue outputs:1x Stereo Pair of Unbalanced RCA1x Stereo Pair of Balanced XLR1x ¼” TRS Jack Headphone Output
Hugo TT 2
$7,195

Developed from the multi-award-winning transportable Hugo 2, the Hugo TT 2 is bigger, better and more advanced in every way.

Hugo TT 2 has been radically redesigned from the ground up, not only with beautiful new casework by Chief Designer, John Franks, but with 5x the processing power of the original Hugo TT and double that of the multi-award-winning Hugo 2. Hugo TT 2 distils over 20 years of digital development by Rob Watts and takes advantage of the very latest technology.

As expected, it delivers radically improved technical specifications and measurements across the board and exhibits drastic sonic benefits over its predecessor with 768kHz PCM and DSD 512 playback. Hugo TT 2 sets a new benchmark in table top audio, only being eclipsed by DAVE.

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Hugo TT 2 technical specs
  • Dynamic range127dB ‘A’ weighted
  • Noise4 uV ‘A’ weighted (high gain), 1.7 uV ‘A’ weighted (low gain) with no measurable noise floor modulation
  • Connectivity (inputs) 1x USB Type-B, 2x Coax BNC, 2x Optical & Bluetooth
  • Connectivity (output)Stereo XLR, Stereo RCA, 2x 6.5mm Headphone jack & 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Connectivity (digital output)2x DX BNC (expansion outputs)
  • PCM support44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz. 16 – 32bit
  • MaterialsPrecision machined aluminium casing with steel ball bearing buttons, gloss black acrylic signal window, glass viewing portal, and dot matrix display. Available in a choice of two colours – silver, and satin black
QUTEST
$2,099

Qutest is a standalone DAC whose performance belies its compact dimensions. With DAC architecture based on the award-winning Hugo 2, Qutest offers class-leading digital conversion.

Qutest is Chord’s ‘pure’ DAC (it does not contain headphone amplification or rechargeable batteries like some of its range stablemates) and is designed to improve sound quality in the home. It is the latest evolution of their most affordable standalone DAC, the multi-award-winning 2Qute, which it directly replaces.

Qutest, which is a What Hi-Fi? Star of CES 2018,  is based on Chord’s award-winning proprietary FPGA technology developed for the class-leading Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp, giving it proven class-leading technical and sonic performance. Perfectly equipped to bring the benefits our digital technology to a wide range of connected devices, it features a galvanically isolated USB-B, optical and coaxial digital input, giving an instant performance upgrade, plus the ability to modernise ageing digital source components.

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QUTEST technical specs
  • Connectivity (input) USB Type B (White): 44.1kHz to 768kHz – 16bit to 32bit2x BNC Coax (Red): 44.1kHz – 384kHz – 16bit to 32bit1x Dual data mode input (using both BNC coax inputs together): 44.1kHz to 768kHz – 16bit to 32bitOptical (Green): 44.1kHz to 96kHz – 16bit to 24bit
  • Connectivity (output)1x stereo pair of RCA (Left and Right)
  • PCM support44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz. 16 – 32bit
  • DSD supportNative playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)
  • MaterialsPrecision machined aluminium casing with polycarbonate buttons and glass viewing portal. Available only in Jett Black.
HUGO M SCALER
$6,295

Using technology first seen in the flagship BLU MKII digital/CD transport, the Hugo M Scaler is a standalone upscaling device containing the world’s most advanced digital filter. When used with a dual-BNC-input Chord Electronics DAC, it is capable of redefining digital audio sound quality.

The Hugo M Scaler brings the unrivalled advantages of Chord’s ground-breaking FPGA-based WTA (Watts Transient Alignment) filtering technology to digitally connected audio devices, dramatically improving sound quality. Although optimised for use with selected Chord Electronics DACs (for the maximum 768kHz upscaling/decoding benefit), the Hugo M Scaler can be used with other DACs with suitable inputs, subject to their decoding capability.

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HUGO M SCALER technical specs
  • Connectivity (input)1x Galvanically isolated Type-B USB, 2x Coax BNC and 2x Optical
  • Connectivity (output)1x Galvanically isolated dual BNC (enables upscaling to the maximum 768kHz), 1x BNC S/PDIF and 1x Optical
  • PCM support44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz. 16 – 32bit
  • Other FeaturesThe most advanced digital filter in the worldAdjustable sample rate output (with pass-thru mode)Video mode (for lower latency)Auto video and source selection‘DX’ controls for a future product design