When the Chord Electronics Hugo portable DAC/headphone amplifier arrived on the scene back in 2014, it took the high-end headphone world by storm. The paperback book-sized Hugo was brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed, and bristled with technical advancements and evidence of outside-the-box thinking. Indeed, the portable Hugo provided a DAC section so good that it could and routinely did exceed the performance of standalone high-end DACs that cost as much if not more than the Hugo itself.
However, not long after the launch of the original Hugo, Chord Electronics began work on an even more ambitious headphone amp/preamp/DAC called the Hugo TT, where ‘TT’ stands for ‘Table Top’—the environment for which the Hugo TT was explicitly created. What’s more, the Hugo TT offers expanded functionality that enables the product to step beyond the headphone amp/DAC category to serve as a full-featured digital preamplifier suitable for use in full-size hi-fi systems.
What exactly are the differences between the original Hugo and the Hugo TT? One of most important differences is that the Hugo TT provides a rechargeable battery that offers fully twice the capacity of the original Hugo’s battery. Then, beefing up the power supply further still, Chord equips the Hugo TT with a 10,000μF bank of super capacitors, which are said to, “smooth out the instantaneous power demands”, made upon the unit. By design, the Hugo TT is set up so that it can be, ‘permanently connected to the (included) AC power adapter’, meaning that the adapter can top off the battery’s charge level as needed. In day-to-day operation, however, the Hugo TT always runs directly from its battery/super capacitor-equipped power supply—not from the AC mains.
Hugo TT also offers a somewhat different and arguably more versatile mix of digital inputs than the original Hugo. Specifically, the TT provides dual asynchronous, galvanically-isolated USB B-type jacks, one serving as a driverless 16/48-capable Standard Definition input, the other serving as a High Definition input supporting 32/384 PCM playback and DSD 64/128. The High Definition USB input does not require additional drivers for use in Apple or Android systems, but does require installation of a Chord-supplied driver for use in Windows systems (the requisite driver is supplied on a USB-type memory stick).
Other digital connections include an optical TOSLink input (24/192-capable) and a BNC coaxial digital input (32/384-capable). Finally, Hugo TT incorporates an A2DP/aptX Bluetooth input (16/44/48-capable) that offers up to 30m of range.