If you want to skip to the actual comparison, click here to jump to the Table of Contents. If you want a compelling reason to just buy the Mojo right away, click here! If you just want to read the article, that’s cool too and I would love it if you did, so: Read on!
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Note: There’s no need for the Poly right off the bat. That’s an add on for later. You don’t need it right away, much like you don’t actually need a girlfriend until you’re ready for one. Heh. I just got a chance to demo both but none of the pictures I took with just the Mojo came out good. It’s so symbolic. Lol. A wonderful woman just makes us guys shine! 😛
If you were looking to make a quick decision on which of these to purchase, I can steer you in the right direction. I got a chance to demo both with some great headphones, and my conclusion is this:
The Hugo 2 does provide a bit better micro detail, cleanliness, and air, but it’s a very small difference and it took quite a bit of A/B testing for me to come to that conclusion. Most people won’t hear that big of a difference in passing, and that’s the honest truth.
It is my opinion that you should save your money and just purchase the Mojo without hesitation. It provides 98-99% of what the Hugo 2 is capable of at a fraction of the price. The Law of Diminishing Returns is something that I write a lot about in my articles, and it’s even more evident in the case of Amps and DACs. Yes, there are subtle differences between various amps, but by and large, it’s much easier to discern the differences in headphones than anything else in this hobby.
I’m of the mindset that the difference between Amp A that costs over $1000 and Amp B which costs much less is like organic peanut butter vs. regular. Yeah, the ingredients are a bit better, but it tastes almost the same, and it’s still peanut butter at the end of the day. If we were to get really technical about it, yeah, organic peanut butter definitely has a different texture and it’s not as thick as peanut butter with added junk in it. Still, is it worth all that extra money? Depends on who you ask.
As for the Mojo..
It’s a bit more of a pleasant conversion as far as the DAC is concerned. The Hugo 2 seems like it’s trying really hard to impress you at times, and while it doesn’t fall flat, it’s overall less of an enjoyable listen due to it’s sometimes extreme sense of sterility.
“For all its technical greatness, however, the Hugo 2 simply doesn’t sound musical. Vocals are that one degree too cool, the treble is that little touch too sharp and punchy, and the balance is simply off. There’s no humanity to the music that comes from the Hugo 2, and that becomes apparent over a longer listening session with good headphones.”
Still, the Hugo 2 is incredible as far as pure detail retrieval. But so is the Mojo. It has a bit more of a warmer, laid back vibe to it (while still retaining all of those great details) which I think will resonate with more people including myself. So why spend more money than necessary?
Awesome! Well I have some news for you: The Mojo is the best Amp/DAC I have personally heard, and rivals pretty much anything above it’s price point that I have tested. This includes:
a $2500 NAIM DAC V-1
the $2700 Hugo 2
a $2200 Sony TA-ZH1ES
and a $1400 Bryson BHA-1
All of those are rough estimates and do fluctuate a bit.
Are those amps better? Perhaps, but it’s not enough of a difference for me to throw that much more money at people.
It also pretty much blows everything else I’ve heard out of the water as far as lower priced stuff.
The Mojo brings music to life in a way that must be heard to believe. Let’s run down why it’s so good:
The Mojo will instantly improve the sound quality of any track you throw at it. A lot of Amp/DACs can make that claim, but the sound that the Mojo pumps out is indeed better across the board. Soundstage, detail retrieval, dynamics, clarity, atmosphere, texture, resolution, instrument timbre, vocal intimacy, you name it – it’s all more natural and realistic to a startling degree. I had my doubts about whether a roughly $500 piece was that much better than something in the entry level category or even a step above that, but the Mojo quelled my doubts from the get go.
The Mojo is very versatile, and works with anything that can output coax, optical, or micro USB. You can use it as a Gaming rig for your console or PC, and it performs magically – revealing every minute detail you could possibly ever imagine. It does this with music as well, with eyebrow raising precision and accuracy. There’s simply nothing else you could possibly ever need above this price point, unless you’re an audiophile or just simply willing to experiment. For everyone else, the Mojo is certainly an end game piece of equipment.
In addition to that, you can plug two headphones into the Mojo for comparisons sake, or simply to share music and movies with a special friend. 🙂 I can’t think of another DAC that provides this feature off the top of my head.
Price to performance ratio is beyond astounding. Like I mentioned before, I tested the Hugo2 vs. Mojo with a pair of HD600’s as well as some other headphones. Though the Hugo 2 provided a tad more micro detail and clarity, it wasn’t enough of a difference to warrant the price jump in my opinion. There’s a sense of clinical accuracy and sterility that can sometimes be overwhelming. A lot of people can’t really handle all that, and it’s understandable because I have a tough time with it as well. Simply put, there’s a reason Chord made the Mojo. It provides mind blowing sound quality at a fraction of the price for the average listener who wants the best out of their purchase (and the best out of their headphones). Even an audiophile would be hard pressed to look for better sound after hearing this thing. It really is that good. No hype. No BS.
I’ve only heard a few Amp/DACs thus far that have truly blown me away. One was the Bryston BHA-1 playing back Over the Hills and Far Away through a HIFIMAN HE400i. Learn more:HIFIMAN HE400i Review!
It was the first time I felt like I was hearing the music in a way that the artists intended. It had this astonishing realism that I really have yet to experience since in it’s fullest capacity.
That is, until I heard the Mojo.
I got those same sorts of feelings, as every intricate sound came to life and came together in a way that made you go:
“Yeah this is what music is supposed to sound like.”
I got that same sort of vibe listening to Time by Pink Floyd out of the same Bryston. It was like David Gilmour’s backing guitars were actually breathing. As if they actually had a life of their own.
With the Mojo, I got this same feeling with the song On Again by Honors. It was as if the female vocalist was speaking/singing directly to me. That’s how intimate it was. It felt like she was right in front of me almost, ready to give me a kiss. 😛
Let’s get into the technical and not so technical differences!
Similarities & Differences
Both provide coax and optical output.
Both have exceptional build quality, although the Hugo 2 is certainly heavier and clunkier.
Both are a breeze to set up once you understand how they prefer to be handled. More on that in the Chord Mojo DAC Review! In fact, hooking up the Hugo to my PS4 was a breeze. I basically plugged everything in and it worked immediately without me even having to go into the settings!
Sound. We discussed it at the start, but the Hugo 2 does indeed provide a bit better of a conversion, a little more clarity and detail, and certainly more raw sterility. Does this make it better? Depends on who you ask. In my opinion it doesn’t. It just means it’s a bit cleaner, and maybe not as enjoyable as a Mojo. The Mojo, while still technically proficient, has a tilt of warmth which makes it immensely more enjoyable in my estimation.
Price. The Mojo is much more affordable for a wider variety of people. This makes it a logical choice among-st audiophiles and casual hobbyists alike.
Buttons. The Hugo 2 has an “input” button to scroll between sources while the Mojo does not. So basically, if you’re using a Hugo 2 with a Gaming console and then switch to listening via USB from your PC, you’ll have to press the button until sound plays. For me this was a little weird. It was like putting a blindfold on and swatting at a pinata. Yeah you’ll probably hit it, but it’s a bit of an educated guesstimate. Still, not that big of a deal I suppose.
Outputs. The Hugo 2 provides RCA/Analog outs while the Mojo does not. This may be important to you depending on what you’re using as a source.
Portability. The Hugo 2 is much less portable than the Mojo. I can put the Mojo in my pocket and move around with it quite easily. The Hugo 2 is much more cumbersome and I wouldn’t really recommend lugging it around, although it is possible. It’s not huge or anything, but definitely larger than the Mojo.
Jacks. Both provide 2 separate headphone jacks, but the Hugo’s is a 1/4″ jack and 3.5mm one. The Mojo provides 2 3.5mm jacks.
Features. The Hugo 2 provides an (X-PHD) for adjusting the crossfeed between left and right channels, the input button that we discussed above, a filter button for changing the frequency response, and a power button. The Mojo provides a power button and volume buttons.
Volume discrepancy. Speaking of volume buttons, the Mojo’s volume controls are in fact buttons while the Hugo 2’s volume control is that large all seeing eye thing in the center. You don’t press it; you instead scroll with it using your finger and it changes colors depending on how loud the sound gets. I really liked it!
Aesthetic. Going off that, the Hugo 2 looks like some sort of new age space alien UFO thing. It’s got a strange aesthetic. The Mojo 2 is a bit less flamboyant but still looks like something out of Austin Powers 😀
As I mentioned in the open, my recommendation is most certainly the Mojo today.
The Hugo 2 is a bit technically superior, but it’s such a small difference and you may not even like the fact that it sounds cleaner. This is because it loses some of it’s musicality and warmth in the process of rendering everything so darn sterile!
The Mojo has a bit of a warmer tilt to it and sounds a lot more natural to my ears. It’s also more portable and a heck of a lot more affordable! It’s a match made in heaven with all headphones, and will serve you well for years to come.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.