Chord Electronics continues its brilliant run of DACs with the Hugo 2, an update to a class-leading product that just goes to show you can improve on greatness.
The Hugo 2 is a portable, multi-talented DAC, delivering around seven hours of battery life from a single charge, though in truth it’s more likely to be part of a home system due to its size and its level of performance.
It features all the inputs and outputs you could realistically require, with optical, coaxial and mini-USB connections, all of which deliver hi-res audio. The USB input handles music files up to 32-bit/768kHz, while music can also be fed wirelessly to the Hugo 2 via aptX Bluetooth. Both 3.5mm and 6.3mm headphone socket outputs are included, too, as well as a pair of stereo outputs for connection to an amp.
As well as input selection and volume, the Hugo 2 lets you tweak cross-feed and filtering to hone in the sound. Chord Electronics’ great differentiation, its bespoke, custom-coded Field Programmable Gate Array, is also back in supercharged form.
Where sound is concerned, it’s difficult to find meaningful fault with the way the Chord Hugo 2 converts and delivers your digital audio files. The bigger the file and the more information it has to play with, the greater the detail and fidelity of its performance. But in all circumstances, the Hugo 2 serves up a detailed, dynamic and punchy performance.
Timing is perhaps its strongest suit of all – it brings complete unity to your music, alongside a crispness and clarity to the overall sound.
From one extreme of the frequency range to the other, the Hugo 2 is a smooth, neutral listen. It arranges the pieces into a convincing whole where bass is balanced against treble in the most crystal-clear manner.
There isn’t another DAC around at anywhere near this price able to communicate sound so confidently and impressively. It remains a superb slice of hi-fi and our What Hi-Fi? Awards 2018 best DAC over £1200.