Chord Electronics Hugo TT 2 Review
My Favourite so far
I have had the luxury and privileged position of spending time with and reviewing all of Chord Electronics DAC products in the last few years and the Hugo TT 2 is without a doubt my favourite. Its both fully featured and fully equipped to provide outstanding sound quality to a huge variety of audiophiles with different preferences of use.
A Perfect Modern HiFi Component
Chord Electronics are a modern HiFi manufacturer constantly pushing the visual and technical boundaries with their product designs solving multiple problems with single solutions. I have noticed a trend with modern HiFi components being designed with the same goal to either be lots of things to one audiophile or maybe one thing to lots of audiophiles. It appears four is the magic number, well at least the magic minimum numbe, most modern HiFi components are designed to fulfil at least 4 different system functions – think about it
The Hugo TT 2 fits this criteria perfectly because it is can be used as a stand alone DAC, a preamplifier, a headphone amplifier, a Bluetooth receiver and if you choose to it has the output capability of driving some speakers.
A Perfect Distinction
One of the stand out features of the Hugo TT 2 is how well it performs across all the functions it offers, most critical being the the DAC, the core of the TT2 and as every other function is intrinsically linked to the DAC its quality shines through all of them.
The DAC section of the Hugo TT2 is very typical Chord and if you are familiar with the companies DAC’s by my saying its performance sits perfectly between the Qutest and the DAVE will mean a lot to you. There is fantastic clarity, detail retrieval and organisation to the TT2’s sonic presentation with genuine balance and poise. I really like the balance of sound from the TT2 DAC section as it has a smoothness and ease to how it presents sonic pictures with a more forgiving nature compared to the technically higher performing DAVE. If you have heard the DAVE and are a fan of its raw to the bone presentation then the TT2 may seem a little soft, but I find the TT2 sonic balance to be perfect.
A Good PRE too
I have used the Hugo TT 2 lots as DAC and Pre Amplifier combined mostly with Chord’s TToby power amplifier and one could argue these are designed to be a perfect partnership beyond the matching form factor. It is an excellent partnership offering a fast and transparent sound that is very detailed and highly engaging. I have also used the TT2 as a DAC and Pre amplifier with the infamous McIntosh MC275 Tube amplifier with different but equally excellent results.
The TT2 has a special volume control system, the ball on the front turns to raise and lower the volume changing colour to match the volume and which is an extremely cool feature that I really like.
The sound quality from the DAC Preamplifier combo of the TT2 is very much like the DAC section clean, clear, fast, detailed, very precise and on point. I think the sound you hear will be dictated more by the amplifiers characteristics than any from the TT2 as a preamplifier. Perfectly Good.
A mighty fine Headphone Amplifier
In an ideal world a reviewer would have experience with every type of product on the market at every level but in reality that is very difficult so I hold no shame in admitting that at this time I don’t have huge amounts of experience with various high end headphone systems. I have reviewed the Sonoma M1 and Focal Grand Utopia so I am no stranger to them either.
More recently I have spent a lot of time with the excellent Chord Mojo and the excellent iFi XCAN both offering fantastic DAC Headphone amplifier performance for the money in different ways. After spending a week with the TT2 used mostly for monitoring the audio during video production and also for music listening review purposes its quality shone far above the more affordable two mentioned. The TT2 offers a higher level of control and resolution to how it presents sound, again the smoothness and ease of sound that I find is present and with my Audeze LCDX headphones I soon found myself really wanting a TT2 for my desk to work with and enjoy. The form factor, the sound quality the whole experience of using the TT2 for headphone duties is equally premium as used in a HiFi system and is perfectly good.
Can even be used as an Amplifier, even if not designed to be one.
I need to clarify something very important that I might not have explained clearly in the review video, the TT2 is not designed to be an amplifier or replace one, however it has incredible power output of 18 watts at 8 ohms from the XLR balanced outputs. This means the TT2 can be used as an amplifier if the owner wishes but I would advise the owner to do so with the right speakers, high efficiency speakers to ensure you don't expect too much of the TT2 - remember it is not an amplifier.
I didn't have the right speakers or the right cables to test this aspect of the TT2, I will admit I am very keen to hear what sound might be achievable from not having an amplifier so maybe one day.
If that was not enough
One more function to speak about is the Bluetooth receiver within the TT2 making it easy to stream music directly to the DAC and there is AptX support.
Up gradable too
With the addition of the Chord Hugo M Scaler its possible to significantly upgrade the DAC section within the Hugo TT2 to a level above even the Chord DAVE in some regards, not all of them.
As the DAC and the preamplifer and the headphone output, even if used as an amplifier are all intrinsically linked the Hugo M Scaler upgrades every aspect of the TT2 - NICE!! I love products you can upgrade they are perfect.
A simple Conclusion is often the best one
There is a very simple conclusion with the Hugo TT2 it is a brilliant modern HiFi component that offers fantastic performance across all the main functions it offers. The brilliant DAC section at the core sets a platform for the TT2 to really shine. I have spent many happy hours listening to the Hugo TT2 among different systems but always with a common characteristic and that is enjoyment, I seem to enjoy listening to music more when the TT2 is in the system so take from that what you will.
So there it is the Chord Electronics Hugo TT2 is a perfect modern HiFi Component, it delivers fantastic results across all its functions with no weak links I can see.
A Special Performer Award is Pursuit Perfect Systems highest accolade and is in recognition of exceptional product performance regardless of price