UK-based Chord had some big news to unveil at CES. In a press conference located in their suite on the 34th floor of the Venetian, 1 brand new product and two serious updates were revealed to audiophile publications along with a hands on look at the new gear.
Digital designer Rob Watts took the team through the paces of the new updates which most notably included a new replacement to the popular desktop portable Hugo. For roughly the same price, the new DAC sports new innards in the form of a new chipset which promises improvements in “timing accuracy, noise reduction, headphone amp power and dynamic range.” Also updated are 4 switchable digital filters, improved battery life and a new output stage. The Hugo 2 allows for its own crossfeed function for headphone listening as well as both 3.5mm and 1/4″ jacks with .025 ohms of impedance. Casework has been revised but maintains the fun, color-intensive scheme of buttons and dials of the original. The presentation was rich with technical details, and even included an interesting spec of “49,195K tap-length” which is nearly twice the amount of the previous gen. This term was referenced as several points in the presentation as a capacity for conversation capabilities. Many other Chord products also referenced large numbers in this regard, with a new CD transport utilizing the highest taps – even more than the previously released DAVE DAC from the company.
The Blue MkII is a companion piece for the DAVE and sports much of the same styling and footprint as the high end digital converter. The Chord design team appears to take the math and the science of their task very seriously, preferring to forge a new trail at increased cost rather than take the path of least resistance with standard programming and off-the-shelf chipsets. Upgraded internals, filters and algorithms separate the new 2 from its previous entrant. Rob Watts chose the dated CD format for a reason. He wants to breathe new life into the countless collections of music that have already been aggregated by enthusiasts and started to collect dust as streaming and vinyl have slowly stolen the spotlight in recent years. He has attempted to create the absolute best translation of the disc, but like many things best, it comes at a premium. The new Blu 2 should be ready for primetime in early 2017 for £7,995 ($9,793 USD).
The final product introduced was a very clever solve for the heavily distributed Mojo. Answering the call for more playback options, the Poly brings along bluetooth, wireless streaming and a SD card slot into the equation. Totally revved for mobile phone pairing or simply a transportable desktop companion, the new add on converts the entry level decoder into a substantial orchestra of options. Wireless choices include AirPlay and Roon compatibility, while the SD slot can even decode up to DSD512. The miniature makeover includes its own internal 22oo mAh battery capable of 9 hours of playback and will charge the Mojo through its micro USB input. Expect an early 2017 sale date for around £499 ($612 USD).