First Listen: Chord Electronics Hugo portable high res DAC/headphone amp

Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Chord Electronics Hugo

Moreover, thanks to the very low power draw of the Xilinx device, the lion’s share of the Hugo’s onboard battery can be held in reserve for powering its amplifier section. The Hugo amp is, in fact, said to be capable of driving quite low impedance loads with a goodly amount of power (720mW at 8 Ohms, 600mW at 32 Ohms). Whilst the Hugo is not the most powerful headphone amplifier we have run across, it is nevertheless capable of driving most any headphone load you’d care to name, up to and including the author’s Abyss AB-1266 planar magnetic ‘phones, which are plenty difficult to drive.

In our full-length Hi-Fi+ review we’ll go into more detail than we will here, but let me give you a quick summary of the Hugo’s capabilities. The Hugo offers TOSLink, coaxial S/PDIF, standard res and high-res USB inputs, and an aptX Bluetooth input. For outputs, the Hugo provides one ¼-inch (6.35mm) headphone jack, two 3.5mm headphone jacks, and a stereo pair of RCA analogue output jacks—where the latter can be configured either for variable or fixed (that is, line level) outputs.

In terms of digital flexibility, the Chord can handle any PCM format from 44.1/16 on up to 384/24 and is DXD capable and can also decode DSD64 and DSD128 files via DoP protocols. Importantly the Hugo is Apple and Android-device compatible and suitable for use the Macs, which need no additional device drivers, or Windows machines, which require a Chord-supplied device driver (included with the Hugo).

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