Chord Electronics unveils Hugo M Scaler at CanJam 2018

Chord’s Hugo M Scaler utilises Chord’s most advanced FPGA-based WTA (Watts Transient Alignment) filtering technology (designed by Rob Watts, Chord Electronics’ Digital Design Consultant) to upscale 44.1kHz digital audio up to 705.6kHz – 16 x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution – before it is passed to a suitable DAC.

It can extend upscaling performance to 768kHz (from 96kHz input data) for Chord DACs with 768kHz-capable dual BNC inputs: DAVE, Qutest and the new Hugo TT 2 that was launched at the Munich Show earlier this year. But it can also be used with other DACs with suitable inputs - subject to their decoding capability of course.

To give the technology some context, the WTA filtering has over a million tap lengths compared to the Hugo’s 26,000 and DAVE’s 164,000. An infinite number of tap lengths is necessary for the perfect construction of an analogue waveform, and Chord has hit the million mark using the processing power of the new Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA chip.

£3495 (which is what the Hugo M Scaler costs) may be a lot to fork out for an upscaler, but after we tested the filtering technology in the BLU MKII upscaling digital/CD transport (£7995), we can certainly vouch for its effectiveness.

The Hugo M Scaler features five digital inputs: two BNC, two optical, and a galvanically isolated USB Type-B socket that’s compatible with DSD and PCM data, with DSD upsampled to PCM.

Outputs, on the other hand, include optical, coaxial and galvanically isolated dual BNC, the latter of which enables upscaling to the maximum 768kHz resolution (again, from 96kHz data).

The Hugo M Scaler’s chassis size aligns with the TT (Table Top) series and has been designed to be stackable with other units in the range. Those familiar with Chord Electronics products won’t be surprised to see the illuminated fascia-mounted spherical controls for input selection, output sample rate and ‘video mode’ for lower latency.

The upscaler has an adjustable sample rate output (with pass-thru mode), subject to the technical limitations of the output type (192kHz optical; 384kHz BNC; 768kHz dual BNC).

The Hugo M Scaler will be available in the autumn.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.