On my neverending dac quest I listened to the chord hugo the other week, I had read the review here and a glowing report in HFC and saw some very interesting threads in the Naim forum.
I listened in store with a rega cd source to the hugo feeding a supernait and Spendor D7's and was swapping it with a Naim V1 which is my current dac favourite but has not really impressed as have stated here before.It is the best I have heard but only by shades and I could not justify the price of buying one so was waiting to get a s/hand model for £800 and have been getting close.
The dealer had not heard a Hugo in a system before either as they had only just got them in, he said he had been quite impressed on headphones but this is a naim dealer . I was expecting the usual slight improvements for a mad price for a tiny box.
I had my usual batch of cd's and started with Neil Young On the beach through the V1 which sounded fantastic, the Spendor's were incredible, it was as good as I have heard on a hifi and I always feel naim source and amplification work well together.
Switched to the Hugo and heard a slight difference at the start then the drums came in and the depth and texture appeared that I had never heard before, then the music started to swirl and flow around the speakers in quite an unusual fashion, the vocals carried more detail but in no way harsh, the depth and width of soundstage was vastly improved. The sweet sphere of sound seemed to have become an ocean.
I was quite taken aback by this as was the salesman, I had in no way anticipated such a change in the whole sound quality , depth and the way the music flowed was staggering.
I tried various othe tracks, rock reggae, classical, many older recordings and every time the difference between the dac's was so obviously apparent that after a few listens the Naim sounded flat, dull ,two dimensional and a bit lifeless.
Roxy Music's Take on me from Avalon was phenomenal, I used to use this for testing vinyl but the cd I heard has never been better to my ears, by quite a long way.
The salesman was also staggered at the difference and this was principally a Naim dealer, I now see what all the fuss is about on the Naim forum ( maybe why there are a lot of ndac's coming up on ebay ?).
For the second time in a month hifi has thrown me a curve ball, I was in no way expecting to be in anyway impressed with this dac, all others I had heard had slight improvements one way or another but the diminishing returns at the higher end of my budget had never really been delivered.
I also don't like the looks of it, it is not black, it is a bit fiddly, aesthetically very unpleasant but the sound was something else.
This was a couple of weeks ago and I have convinced myself that the large difference was due to the system I heard it on and this level of difference would not be as noticable on my system. The Spendor's are a fantatic speaker, totally out of my range but a fabulous sound, I quite liked the A6's but too light in bass at low listening level but the D7's are superb.
I am going back for another session on the Hugo using a lesser system to see if the hugely impressive sound I heard is still there, again comparing with the V1 using the xs amplifier, not one of my favourites, and see where I end up.
I am fighting hard not to like this product, it is more than I would have considered spending and to me it looks horrible but the sound has seduced me wanting to go back for more !!
I will update next week, thanks for reading if you got this far.
ps. I apologise for not writing up sooner but the changes on the site have really done me in, everything keeps jumping around, I am certainly not a fan, is this what the kids want !? I am enjoying slipping into old fartdom with out all this flashing and jumping,what a load of twerk !