Chord Electronics Mojo 2 REVIEW
This is a review summary written by Terry Ellis February 2022
For the full review please see my YouTube video review linked here
Seven years is a long time in Digital Audio
It was 2015 when Chord Electronics released the Mojo and it made a huge impression on the audiophile world carving out a reference status for itself for its technology and overall sound quality in the portable audio / portable DAC and headphone amplifier market. Its been my go to product for comparing other similar products for review purposes, the question always has to be asked – how does it compare to the Mojo. That question is still true today except the main difference is how does the new Mojo 2 compare to the Mojo
Feature packed familiar form factor
I think Chord have really packed the Mojo 2 full of better technology and lots of new and useful features. The specification is very impressive including an improved Rob Watts WTA filter, 40,960 tap lengths up from around 38,912 taps (corrected thanks @DarkoAudio) in the original, 40 dsp cores with further improvements to the 4e Pulse Array DAC that has lower distortion and out-of-band noise. The Mojo 2 is now DC-coupled with a digital DC servo and while this is all great to know its hard to fully understand what it all means, in simple terms the Mojo 2 is more powerful and in a comparison to the Qutest DAC the spec looks pretty close. The Qutest has 49,152 taps from a 10 element pulse array design, the Mojo 2 is not at the same level but its much closer.
Getting to it still is the new charging circuit that allows you to leave the Mojo 2 plugged in all the time using its “intelligent desktop mode” that isolates the 9% larger battery that charges faster. The Mojo 2 does run noticeably cooler too which is a big deal if you have one in your pocket all day next to your crown jewels.
I think the addition of a USB C connection is a big deal because it brings the Mojo more up to date with current technology, I know of any technical differences between micro USB and USB C that are important for sound quality but I think most people probably have lots of USB C cables kicking around. I was very happy to see it because I don’t own a Chord Poly so for a music source I used both my phone a Samsung S21 Ultra and my IPAD Pro 2021 and both connect USB C and both worked perfectly although I am sure Poly owners will be very happy that the Mojo is fully compatible.
It is a very familiar form factor too, the original Mojo has a little more detail to its aluminium casework but the Mojo 2’s more plain design I think looks better when connected to the Poly which also has the smooth plain type finish. I think both Mojo offer a sleek overall package that feels well built and all the connections feel solid. The one big difference is the four smaller buttons compared to the three larger and that is to give us a menu button for accessing the main new and exciting features.
Crossing a line
I always find it interesting when I try a feature in a new product that makes a question why I have not used it before and that is how I feel about cross feed and its excellent implementation in the Mojo 2. Cross feed is not a new feature per se, its been available in other Chord products for some time and other manufacturers have their own version of the technology, its a method used to try and make headphone listening more like HiFi speaker listening or more stereo and less dual mono such is the case with isolated left and right ear sound sources. In the Mojo 2 cross feed is a dsp controlled sound mode with four options, activated by a press of the menu button followed by clicks of the + button for off and three further levels red, green and blue. I generally preferred red which seemed to have the minimal amount of the effect but its still a significantly different way of listening, I think it emboldens the sound in a faux three dimensional or spatial way and when you disable it music can sound a little flat. I did like the effect more with some headphones than I did with others but overall I enjoyed it, I think it makes music a little more fun to listen to.
Who doesn’t love to tweak
The most exciting new feature of the Mojo 2 without a doubt is the UHD DSP, the ability to adjust the sound without any signal loss or degradation and this is executed by a proprietary 104-bit custom DSP core running at 705/768 kHz plus extensive internal noise-shaping. Impressive technical’ s aside I think the ability to be able to tweak, manage or customise your sound is always a big deal because audiophiles are forever in the pursuit of better, that normally means buying more whereas dsp can give you more without the need to spend. The Mojo 2 has a very simple to use adjustment system that allows you to increase or decrease 20hz, 125hz, 3khz and 20 khz by plus or minus 9db so a huge amount of adjustment is possible.
I found it very easy to sit and listen and make adjustment to my taste. I am sure some audiophiles might try and adjust the sound to standards such as the Harman curve and why not, each to their own. I appreciate a healthy amount of bass in my music and not all headphones deliver enough for me so it was nice to be able to apply some 20hz and 125hz push and better tonally saturate the sound more to my taste. In practice I did find it difficult to make any large dsp adjustments with the headphones I tested which is understandable because I am sure in most cases the designed frequency response is based around what the headphone drivers can deliver comfortably and applying too much push could take the driver outside its “comfort zone” make the headphone sound worse. However even a seemingly small adjustment such as plus or minus one or two db could make s very significant difference to the tonal balance of the sound buts its important to stress you cant dsp some cheap iems and make them sound like high end headphones that is not how it works of course.
Very analogue sound
I tested the Mojo 2 with a whole variety of headphones from Dan Clark Audio, AKG and Beyerdynamic to try and catch it out with difficult loads to drive and different headphone driver technologies and price points, but I failed miserably. Even the 250 ohm Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro posed no real challenge and I actually liked the sound of this pairing more than I thought would. Stepping up to more expensive the Dan Clark Aeon sounded very nice with the Mojo 2 but for me the more expensive still Dan Clark Ether paired particularly nicely and delivered a very tonally rich and draw you in sound showing the Mojo 2 can do control and how it can deliver a very “analogue” like sound, in fact I think the Mojo 2 might need to be paired with headphones at this kind of level to fully show what it can do.
I started my comparison listening with the original Mojo using the Ether and these were great headphones to use because they showed me pretty quickly how significant the sound difference is. For starters the effect of cross feed really stood out but even with it off the Mojo 2’s improved transparency, its much better musicality and rhythm, noticeably better resolution from top to bottom with more detail and soundstage openness and space shone through. In fact I found it hard going back to the Mojo after longer listening sessions with the Mojo 2 because it sounded quite mechanical and compressed in its delivery despite sounding maybe a little warmer or pumped up in its bass delivery, which could initially appeal to some audiophiles in a quick a/b but I think all audiophiles would appreciate the Mojo 2 more past this. It really is a much better sounding unit in all the critical and important areas and it delivers a more refined experience which normally means a product is much more expensive except its not much more expensive at all.
Great news carried over
I think the Mojo 2 is designed predominantly as a headphone amplifier and DAC but the powerful DAC it features will naturally appeal to HiFi enthusiasts who want a high quality Chord DAC sound at a more affordable price point, exactly the same as with the original Mojo. The original Mojo featured a line level or “DAC” mode so Chord were ahead of the curve on that one, interestingly the Mojo 2 doesn’t have that mode. Instead Chord suggest manually adjusting the volume to suit and the Mojo remembers the volume the next time it is turned on. This coupled with the new charging circuit and closer to the Qutest specification makes its even more appealing for HiFi enthusiasts especially considering the digital coaxial input can accept the full 768khz dual data signal from the Hugo M Scaler. When I saw this in the manual I was stunned because I know how awesome the M Scaler technology is and I know how much better it will make the Mojo 2 sound, but it costs £3750 which seems a quite unbalanced price upgrade for a £449 DAC regardless of the inevitable sound quality improvement. Maybe it wont be, maybe this is just intended as a bonus for Chord customers that already own an M Scaler and who might be interested in having a Mojo 2 as well or maybe there will be other more price suitable product developments in the future. I really don’t know, I hope so because that would be really something for lots of audiophiles.
I have been nothing but extremely impressed with the Mojo 2, its delivered the goods in all areas and opened my eyes to some new ones too. I think Chord have taken a very good product and made it not only much better but also much more flexible and I think its a no brainer upgrade for Mojo users.
When it comes to portable audio in 2022 other solutions do offer more convenience, you cannot beat a fully wireless solution for convenience and some wireless solutions sound excellent. Some audiophiles might want balanced headphone outputs, Tidal users might want MQA support and we don’t get those here. Other audiophiles might have wished for a new Mojo with dedicated stereo line level outputs for using it as a DAC in a hifi system, also a wish too far.
I think its great Chord have been able to improve the Mojo to the level they have without increasing the price too much in relative terms for 7 years and the way the World is in 2022. If you get seven years of superb sound before there is a Mojo 3 for £449 I don’t think you can really ask for any more than that.
A Serious Bang for Buck Award is granted in recognition of a products stand out high performance being significantly greater than its perceived price point
For the full Specification of the Chord Mojo 2
See the website here