Chord Electronics has chosen International CES 2015 for the world debut of both the new 2Qute, a compact DAC (£995) and the Hugo TT, a new ‘desktop’ Hugo with improved connectivity and performance, plus remote control, an alphanumeric LED display and a USB-B digital input (£2,995)

2Qute

The new 2Qute takes the technology from Hugo and adds it to the Qute EX. The result is a DAC for 2015 with “class-leading Chord_CES_QUTEspecification, outstanding technical measurements and proven sonic performance”.

2Qute advances the award-winning Qute EX DAC into 2015 with the latest Hugo specification. Essentially a Hugo in a Chordette chassis, it brings the latest FPGA DAC technology into an affordable home-system-orientated unit. 2Qute contains the same Spartan 6 FPGA that features in the Hugo. The 2Qute also boasts low distortion levels of 0.0003%.

The 2Qute offers support for up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24- bit/192kHz over optical. DSD64 is supported on all inputs and DSD128 is supported via coax or USB (all via DoP). The new DAC also gains a handy switch to easily move between coax, optical and USB digital inputs.

The device features a Class 2 USB input which, because of the 2Qute’s home-system orientation compared to Hugo’s more mobile aspirations, has been galvanically isolated. This has been achieved using a novel technique which allows for very high data rates of up to 384kHz; the input is driverless on Apple and Android devices, with (ASIO included) drivers for Windows devices.

“The progression of the Qute, a 10,000 digital-tap-length series of award-winning DACs started with the original product just four years ago, with the original 192kHz-capable Qute. It was followed a year later with the HD suffix when we gave the Qute full 384kHz capability, and the EX suffix followed when DSD capability and double-DSD (64 and 128) was added.

“All of these units famously used the same discrete pulse-array DAC board and it’s well known that Chord Electronics chose not to use industry-standard off-the-shelf chips sets. The development of these ground-breaking DAC designs gave Rob Watts, our design consultant, the proving ground for a totally new and holistic type of DAC design which was to become the mobile and desktop DAC, Hugo.

“Hugo has since become the benchmark by which all other DACs are judged and has just shy of 40 recommendations in the press; Hugo’s sonic credentials are undeniable. However, this gave Chord a problem: some customers were less keen on a mobile-orientated product in their home systems and felt Hugo had too many superfluous features for home use. They loved the idea of a simpler and ostensibly lower-cost DAC, but wanted the award-winning sound quality that only Hugo, with its digital tap-length of 26,000, can achieve.

“Rob Watts completely redesigned the Qute’s circuit board in order for it to contain Hugo performance levels without the mobile features, such as the volume control and batteries. Because the redesign was so extensive, we felt the Qute had to have a MkII designation, but 2Qute sounded undeniably better, so the name stuck!”

Hugo TT

The original Hugo, which has become one of Chord Electronics most successful products, was launched at CES exactly one year HugoTT_CES20158CHORDago, aimed at both home and mobile users. Hugo TT, however, is firmly pointed at home users and adds some exciting new functionality.

Hugo TT gains a new larger chassis, remote control, an alphanumeric LED display with input/sample rate data, and improved sonic performance thanks to supercapacitors.

The Hugo TT is ready for studio-master-quality (DXD) music files and supports up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24-bit/192kHz over optical, plus DSD64 on all inputs and DSD128 via coax or USB (all via DoP).

In a key upgrade over the original Hugo, the Hugo TT benefits from a high-quality asynchronous B-type USB connection for both the SD and HD USB input. There are two further digital inputs: a (new) BNC coaxial and optical (TOSLink).

The Hugo TT also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry.

The Hugo TT retains the same Spartan 6 FPGA that enabled Hugo and has the same specification and measured performance as its mobile sibling.

Being a home-orientated device, the Hugo TT has been designed to run continuously from the supplied charger, however Chord’s engineers have also improved the battery and added Supercap energy storage, a technology seen in F1 where supercacitors back-up the car’s batteries by sharing the load and charge demands, thereby protecting them. They serve a similar purpose in the Hugo TT, extending the battery life as well as “improving dynamics and demanding transients in recorded music”.

Chord Electronics’ founder and owner John Franks on the new Hugo TT

“The idea for the Hugo TT came when we realised that Hugo’s performance was such that many customers were using the device as a reference desktop unit, when really it was primarily designed for mobile use. So, Hugo was not optimised for use in home systems: a minority of audiophile cables with the very largest RCA and USB terminations sometimes proved difficult to accommodate and the shorter range of the original mobile Hugo’s Bluetooth pairing distance could sometimes cause problems in larger homes.

“We noted all the suggestions from desktop users and we definitely took notice when people indicated they loved the sound of Hugo and would buy one in an instant if it had additional XLR outputs, greater input visibility and a remote control! So, we set about making a people’s Hugo to address as many of these wishes as possible. We also doubled the battery storage and added 10,000,000 microfarads of supercapacitor back-up across the batteries. None of these features would have been possible within Hugo’s existing dimensions, but in the larger Hugo TT, they are all comfortably inside.”

 

Sponsorship button

You must be logged in to leave a reply.