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Chord 2yu review

Paired with the 2go, Chord's 2yu offers an intriguing take on a premium digital source Tested at £449 / $650 / AU$1100

5 Star Rating
Chord 2go/2yu
(Image: © Chord)

Our Verdict

This talented Chord 2go/2yu pairing is a versatile digital source if you already have a DAC in your system

For

  • Excellent detail resolution
  • Impressive feature list
  • 4TB storage file compatibility

Against

  • Needs to be used with an outboard DAC
  • No dedicated streaming app
  • Could do with a proper display

We first reviewed Chord’s 2go streamer module a little more than a year ago. At the time it was partnered with the company’s award-winning portable DAC, the Hugo 2, and the result was a spectacular performer that was as at home in the home as it was for out and about use.

Chord had announced the 2yu digital interface module back then, but with one thing and another it has taken a while for it to become available for review. What the 2yu does is take the 2go’s digital output and offer it up in USB Type-A, optical, coax and BNC form.

Note that the 2go doesn’t work without either the Hugo 2 DAC or 2yu connected to it. Go for the 2yu option, as we have for this review, and you’ll need an external DAC in your system to get a sound. It’s also worth knowing that the 2go/2yu pairing needs to be powered, so using it out and about is off the menu.

Chord 2yu tech specs

Chord 2go/2yu

(Image credit: Chord)

Digital audio outputs USB Type-A (up to 768kHz, DSD256); BNC (192kHz, DSD64); Coax (192kHz, DSD64); Optical (192kHz, DSD64)

Weight with 2go 361g

Dimensions with 2go 115mm (H) x 100mm (W) x 22mm (D)

The Chord 2go is a hugely ambitious design, and way more than just a basic DLNA music streamer. It has two microSD card slots, which together can handle up to 4TB of stored music files, provided you can source suitably large capacity cards. The great thing about being able to store music is that the Chord works as a server, so any other device on the same network can play those music files too.

Add embedded Tidal and Quboz music streaming services along with internet radio and there’s a useful range of built-in music sources. Things get even better when you factor in Bluetooth (shame it’s just 4.1 A2DP rather than aptX HD), Apple Airplay and the ability to work as a Roon endpoint.

While we always recommend hardwiring the network connection, the 2go can connect wirelessly as well. This operates in the 2.4GHz range and works without issue during our testing. If there’s a problem with your network, the 2go can also set up a hotspot to connect to your device directly.

Compatibility

Chord 2go/2yu

(Image credit: Chord)

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to file compatibility. The 2go will play any file you have up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD 256. During our testing we switch between different file types and resolutions, and the Chord handles each change with unfazed slickness. We are pleased to report that this pairing proves impressively stable during our time with it and certainly feels more responsive than the company’s earlier efforts.

The 2go/2yu is set-up with Chord’s dedicated Gofigure app, which is now more robust than before. It still feels a little clunky and the layout is functional at best, but once the initial set-up is done you won’t have cause to use it much. The company doesn’t have a dedicated app for playback though, so here you’ll have to use a third-party alternative. We get on well with mConnect, though there are a number of other options available too.

Build

Chord 2go/2yu

(Image credit: Chord)

We have little grumbles as regards the physical build, too. These are beautifully made components machined from aluminium. Despite taking up only as much space as a coaster, they exude an aura of luxury no price rival in our experience can match. Sure, some won’t get along with Chord’s trademark glitzy styling and multi-coloured lightshow, but there’s alway the dimmer switch to take things down a notch or two.

It would be handy to have a proper display though. While the lights give some indication of signal resolution, there’s nothing quite like having it spelled out. It’s particularly handy if either the product or the app stutters (in our experience pretty much all streaming products do this at some point).

Sound

Chord 2go/2yu

(Image credit: Chord)

We use a range of DACs with the 2go/2yu, from the obvious choices such as Chord’s Qutest and Hugo TT2, to the digital sections of the Naim ND555/ 555 PS DR and Linn Klimax DSM/3. The little unit works consistently and without issue with each one. The rest of the system is our reference Burmester 088/911 Mk 3 amplifier and ATC SCM 50 speakers.

It’s hard to separate the performance of the 2go/2yu from the sound of the partnering DAC, but certain things remain consistent as we swap between the number crunchers. We’re aware of a high level of resolution and the ability to render vocal and instrumental textures in a convincing way. We listen to Nina Simone’s Feeling Good and the presentation is packed with insight from Simone’s passionate delivery to the rasp of the brass section.

There’s a pleasing sense of organisation here, giving a presentation that sounds composed and controlled. Through it all we are aware of Chord’s trademark clarity, and the equally recognisable slightly cool tonal balance. If you’re looking for sonic richness or a smooth, easy-going balance, Chord’s products aren’t what you are looking for. They tend to be open, even-handed but just a little lean. It’s the kind of presentation that encourages analysis rather than easing back in a sofa and relaxing.

We switch to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and are impressed by the stereo imaging. It’s expansive and precise, the dense instrumentation layered in a convincing way. Used with the Hugo TT2, things stay focussed and locked into position even as the music gets more demanding.

Verdict

Chord 2go/2yu

(Image credit: Chord)

The Chord 2go/2yu/Hugo TT2 combo doesn’t produce the most authoritative presentation we’ve heard, and could certainly deliver dynamic contrasts with more punch. But, consider that most alternatives get nowhere near the precision and insight of this package, and it’s clear that this Chord trio is right at the cutting edge of performance at this level. The same would be true if the more affordable Qutest DAC were swapped in instead of its pricier sibling.

The 2go/2yu certainly doesn’t fit into any neat hi-fi category, but it’s a carefully considered and superbly specified piece of kit. Partnered with a suitably capable digital-to-analogue converter, this could be all the digital source you’ll ever need.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Build 5
  • Features 5

MORE:

Read our round-up of the best Music Streamers 2021

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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