CHORD 2Yu REVIEW

Chris Baillie takes a listen to the Chord Electronics 2Yu network bridge costing £449 and designed to be used with the company’s 2Go.

Chord Electronics 2Yu

A familiar design if you know Chord’s Hugo and Go2

WHAT CAN CHORD 2Yu DO 4Yu?

When playing music from high-quality computer files became a thing, over15 years ago, the popular solution was often to use a laptop; ‘Mac & DAC’ anyone? Things then moved on, and we started using NAS drives (Network Attached Storage) for convenience. Over the last few years we have seen the uprising of high-end servers, from the likes of Naim, Innous, Melco, Auralic, and Lumin amongst others, with the best of these giving a considerable uplift in performance over the traditional IT-based solutions.

Chord clearly wanted to approach this from a different angle to the other players in the market, bringing to the table products that are both discrete and flexible, in that they can be used with both portable and home systems. I have been using 2Go paired with the Hugo2 DAC for around six months. You can read my thoughts on this pairing in a previous review for HiFi Pig. 2Yu enables 2Go to be used with DACs other than the Hugo2, which slots neatly together with 2Go and is then powered via the ‘wall wart’ PSU which also then feeds 2Go. Together, this can create a high-quality server, with up to 4TB of storage space, along with the ability to stream from the likes of Qobuz, Tidal, or even internet radio.  An obvious benefit here is that memory cards can be swapped out very quickly, simply by replacing the Micro SD cards. Not only does this mean you could potentially have even more storage at your disposal, but it’s clearly much easier to swap out a failed Micro SD card than replace an internal drive. A quick Google search revealed that 2TB Micro SD cards don’t seem to be freely available in the UK, but no doubt that situation will change.

Chord Electronics 2Yu 2

Easy to read and colourful “buttons” as with other Chord products.

BUILD AND FEATURES OF CHORD 2Yu

Like every Chord product I’ve come across, 2Yu is built to a very high standard, using aircraft-grade aluminium and available in either silver or black. There are four coloured lights, which also act as buttons to power on and off, change output and mute. There’s also a button marked ‘DIM’, which changes the brightness of all the other buttons. There are two inputs on one side, which are fed from the connecting 2Go. On the other side are outputs for optical, coax via both BNC and RCA, plus a USB A socket. 2Yu is designed to be paired with 2Go, the two snap together and are secured by fitting two pins, supplied in 2Gos box, which you fit and then secure using two small Allen screws. This is where I fess up and admit to not realising the same pins and screws were supposed to be used to secure 2Go to Hugo2, which I have been using for the last six or so months without realising they are there to prevent potential damage caused by the units coming apart during use! In my defence I had used the pairing solely in the supplied leather case, so no harm done but I should have read the manual! Continuing with the topic, having to swap the pins and screws over when swapping 2Go from the main system connected to 2Yu, to Hugo2 for portable use, is a tad inconvenient and I can imagine them getting dropped and potentially lost, if such a swap is done in haste. You have to use the combination of power from the supplied 5v ‘wall wart’ power adaptor, which is connected via 2Go. I refer readers to my review of 2Go/Hugo for features referring to 2Go. I will add here though that 2Go can be connected to your network using Wifi and includes Bluetooth A2DP and Apple Airplay. 2Go/2Yu can be used as a Roon endpoint, which although I wasn’t able to test this time, I have previously used my Chord Poly with Roon, so would expect 2Go/2Yu to work just as well.

Chord Electronics 2Yu

All the connectors are in the right places for simple connectivity.

SOUND QUALITY

Strictly speaking, the sound quality changes are I experienced are between using 2Yu and 2Go together, as that is the only way in which 2Yu can be used. I used this combination as a digital front end in my main system, consisting of the following set-up – Moon 780D Streaming DAC, Moon 600i amp, Totem Forest Signature Speakers. Analogue interconnects and speaker cables Tellurium Q Ultrablack 2, Audioquest Coffee USB, Audioquest Cinnamon Optical, Sean Jacobs digital RCA coax and Sean Jacobs mains cables. I still had the Melco S100 and ADOT fibre kit, reviewed recently for HiFi Pig, which I used to feed Ethernet to 2Go. It is perfectly possible to use 2Go/2Yu in Wifi-only mode, which didn’t seem to detract from performance when playing music from SD card, although wired sounded better when streaming from Qobuz.

I was able to compare 2Yu/2Go to both my Melco NA1/2 server and for context my PC, using J River. Music  was loaded onto 2Go, using 2 x 1TB Sandisk Ultra Micro SD cards

Chord Electronics 2Yu

A closer look around the back of the Chord 2Yu

As I have a lot of music in DSD, I predominately listened via USB as the other outputs don’t support this format. Whilst there were slight differences to the sonic balance between USB, coax and optical, I couldn’t rule out this being more down to the different quality of the cables I had available, with the Audioquest Coffee being far more expensive than the other types at my disposal. It is worth noting that many other network bridges, only offer Ethernet, and/or USB outputs and so this is a plus for the Chord unit. Users of older DAC’s will therefore be pleased to be able to connect 2Yu via optical or coax. All listening was carried out, with 2Yu connected to my Moon 780D DAC.

The first thing that struck me was how fast tracks could be both selected and played via an MPD app, such as M.A.L.P. for Android. The Melco only operates over UPnP, which is much slower to respond. Using SD cards rather than an HDD no doubt helped in this respect. Chord’s YouTube channel gives details on recommended Apps available to control 2Go.

First up was an SACD rip of the Bill Withers album ‘Live at the Carnegie Hall’. Here I got a very upfront sound, full of life and detail. There was a reasonable sense of the recorded acoustic and some sense of depth. Nice smooth top and extended bass, with the vocals locked dead centre stage and very lifelike. I was then able to play the same track via the Melco NA1/2, which surprised me in giving a more extended soundstage and generally more airy presentation. This led to the soundstage sounding a little more open, with better placement of instruments within it and a noticeably better sense of soundstage depth. The Chord combo was still very enjoyable though and as the Melco retails at exactly double the price of the Chord combo the apparent differences were not unexpected.

I then listened to the newly released 24/96 download of David Gilmour’s On an Island, firstly via the Chord combo and then the Melco. The Chord units gave a nicely detailed sound, which was very enjoyable. However, the Melco did present a bigger and again more open soundstage. I noted that on the track This Heaven, the acoustic bass sounded somewhat more lifelike and dynamic when fed via the Melco.

Next, I tried a stream from Qobuz of the new album from War On Drugs’ I don’t live here anymore – Qobuz 24/48. Via the Chord combination, the music streamed seamlessly using the Android App ‘Bubble UPnP’. I got a pleasing, upfront presentation, again with plenty of detail. Here I had to compare the stream directly via my Moon 780D DAC’s MiND streaming board, which admittedly costs several times the cost of the Go2 &  2Yu combined. The Chord combination was connected to the USB input of the Moon DAC, both 2Go/2Yu and the Moon were connected to the Melco S100. To be fair the sound was more involving and dynamic and with a noticeably better sense of soundstage depth when listening via the Moon’s MiND streaming board, but I suppose there should be expected given the price difference.

Clearly, the Melco feeding the Moon DAC gives an appreciable performance advantage but the Melco does cost around double the price of Chord pairing. To level things out I decided to feed the Moon 780D via my PC, using J River over the network, via the Melco S100. I listened to a CD rip of Goldfrapp’s first album, Felt Mountain. I’m guilty of not having played this album for years and I was quite impressed by how good it sounded when fed from the PC. Via the Chord 2Go/2Yu the sound was smoother and more detailed, with a sense of acoustic that was only hinted at via the PC. Vocals were smoother and more lifelike and the music was more engaging. As before, the Melco was better again, following a similar pattern to the other tracks I played. I feel the performance gulf between the PC and the Chord pairing demonstrated how much better performance is achievable via a dedicated server over a PC.

Chord Electronics 2Yu

When mated with 2Go.

CONCLUSION

Summing up, I feel that the pairing of 2Yu/2Go offers a significant upgrade over using a PC as a digital source and, for Hugo2 owners who want a high-quality server that they can use with a DAC that’s already in their main system, for £450 2Yu is a no brainer. For those using high-end systems, who don’t have any future plans to use 2Go with a Hugo 2, you can obtain better performance from a high-quality full-sized unit, albeit at a considerably higher price.

My system is very revealing and, in less extravagant systems, I feel the differences I heard would be far less pronounced. As mentioned before 2Go/2Yu has the major convenience advantage over a traditional server in that the storage medium can be swapped very conveniently, much-reducing concerns of drive failure, although, as ever, backing up your valuable music collection is essential!

I feel the combination of 2Go & 2Yu would make a great server in a desktop or bedroom system, where the use of full-sized components would be prohibitive, and feeding something like the Chord Hugo TT or even the Chord DAVE. Many users wanting to add streaming capability to their system, perhaps via the digital input on an existing CD player, to make use of its internal DAC, but don’t have the shelf space for a bigger server will love 2Yu/2Go.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality:

As ever with Chord, it is first class and exudes quality

love the styling and lights

Sound Quality:

Clean and detailed, with an upfront presentation. As mentioned, it lags behind my reference unit in certain areas, but in context of the price difference and the flexibility of splitting 2Go from 2Yu and using 2Go to feed Hugo2, it offers an enjoyable performance that’s a considerable step up from using a computer to feed your DAC.

Value For Money:

The performance level for the price is good value. The unique ability to split your server between your main and portable rig, for some users, is going to make 2Yu exceptional value for money.

We Loved:

Paired with 2Go can provide greatly improved performance over using a computer to feed your DAC

Typical Chord striking design and solid build quality

A unique product that allows you to use your music server in both portable and home setups

Unlike many other servers, can be used on a WiFi network

Provides both coax and optical outputs in addition to USB, unlike much of the competition

Can be used as a Roon Endpoint

We Didn’t Love So Much:

The performance lacks a little sense of soundstage scale and depth compared to the, admittedly more expensive, competition

Elevator Pitch Review: Great addition to the Chord range, which allows you to split the use of 2Go between home and portable setups, or for the pairing to be used as a discrete server in their own right. Usual Chord superior build and unique styling.

Price: £449.00

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Baillie

Supplied By Chord Electronics Ltd

Technical Specifications

Compatibility:

In order for 2yu to inherit streaming/music transport capabilities or function as an audio interface, a connection with 2go is required.

Power supply:

Micro USB (5v 1amp minimum required) – through 2go

PCM and DSD support:

44.1kHz – 768kHZ | DSD 64 to DSD 256 (Dependant on output)

Sample rate converter:

Integrated, automatic downsampling is provided if a higher sample rate is being played than the output can support.

Digital audio outputs:

USB Type-A (44.1kHz – 768kHz / DSD 256)

BNC Coax (44.1kHz – 384kHz /DSD 64)

RCA Coax (44.1kHz – 384kHz /DSD 64)

Optical (44.1kHz – 192kHz / DSD 64)

Processing power:

2000MIPS

Weight with 2go:

361g

Dimensions with 2go:

115mm (H) x 100mm (W) x 22mm (D)

Read More Posts Like This

  • Chord Electronics At CanJAm

    Great Britain’s Chord Electronics will be exhibiting at CanJam SoCal 2015 this weekend, America’s biggest dedicated ‘head-fi’ event. The Kent-based company will be showing its new Hugo TT desktop DAC/headphone amp which was launched at CES in January 2015 and starts production in April. Chord will also be demonstrating its mobile-orientated Hugo DAC/headphone amp. Rob Watts will be joining Chord…

  • Chord Electronics At Whittlebury

    Chord Electronics contacted Hifi Pig to tell us they will be exhibiting at the National Audio Show 2014 (Whittlebury Hall show) courtesy of Chord dealers Fanthorpes Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Lounge. Two distinct systems will be on display at the show: Fanthorpes Hi-Fi will have a full Standard system (pictured) and Hi-Fi Lounge will have a dedicated Hugo area with three…

  • Chord Electronics to make its NAMM show debut as it celebrates 30 years of UK audio manufacturing. Great Britain’s Chord Electronics will be making its NAMM show debut this month as it celebrates 30 years of UK audio manufacturing in both the consumer and Pro Audio worlds.  Based in Kent, England, the wholly owned British company will be bringing several…

Comments closed.