Early review table mess

Later in time...

The original Head pie logo. 

Real pie, real headphones.


 Hugo 2 with Van Nuys cover

Chord Hugo 2 review
- A. 'Reddog' Jones


An interview with Chord from December, 2015.

"Hugo 2 is a powerful DAC and headphone amp that builds on the ground-breaking original. Designed for both home and mobile use, Hugo 2 transforms headphones and audio systems’ sound quality with its cutting-edge proprietary DAC technology." - Chord website

Hugo 2 as seen at a Tokyo Headphone show - photo expatinjapan

Hello my name is Andrew Jones and I have been to headphones/ personal audio for about 4 years now. I own all of my equipment and my reviews have not been paid for. I just like to spread my passion for personal audio by giving good, honest reviews.

Source : Apple iPad Pro > Tidal or Questyle QP1R >select titles Dac/Amp : Chord Hugo 2
-Amps used for review:
Cavalli Liquid Carbon
Schiit Audio Jotunheim
-Headphones and IEMs used
Audeze LCD i4 and iSine 20, Focal Utopia,  HiFiman HE1000 MrSpeakers Alpha Prime, Ether, Ether C, and Aeon Flow Closed Meze 99 Classic, OPPO PM-3 and Beyerdynamic DT 880 600 OHM.

I have been been looking for a good sounding portable DAC / AMP, to compliment my iPad Pro work station. I have been reading about all sorts of products, and then out of the audiophile wilderness I started to hear fantastic stories about the Chord Hugo 2. And for the last 5 to 6 months I have read scores of impressions and reviews on the Chord Hugo 2.
And then I read a review by a trusted audiophile and friend, in which he said the Hugo 2 was as good if not better as the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil. The mere notion of having a Yggdrasil sitting in the palm of my hand driving my favorite cans as I walked about jamming out; drove me to order a beautiful Black Chord Hugo 2.

The Chord Hugo 2 showed up in a very sturdy box, that kept the H2 safe, during delivery.
Inside the box came the sexy black H2, with a nice assortment of cables and the remote control.
The remote is nice, sturdy, and small. It is ideal for playing with the sound, while on the move, just point at the H2 and do what ever tweak you wish.
Likewise the Hugo 2 is a finely crafted piece of audio equipment, that is definitely bit larger and beefier than my Questyle QP1R or cell phone. But none the less, the H2 and QP1R fit nicely into my leather audio bag.

The Chord Hugo 2 is designed quite well, on one side of the H2, one hooks the micro USB cables to a USB source and to a dedicated charging port.
On the other side of the Hugo 2 one can connect a CD player or DAP using a fiber optic connection. Also one can hook up a Desk Top AMP and just use to the DAC portion of the H2.
And finally one connects the headphones to the H2 using 1/4 or 1/8 jacks.
On the front/ top of the H2, there are 6 lights, that change color to indicate chosen functions. 4 smaller lights indicate Filter, Input, Crossfeed and Power. The larger light indicates Sample rate of the source and the other light indicates volume.
The remote control can be used to alter any function.

Once I had plugged my IPad Pro into the H2, I was just awe struck by the sound of the Hugo 2.
This plucky, little black box of a DAC / AMP sounds spectacular, so natural and so resolute, that I got goosebumps as I heard the sound. The only other DAC to give me goosebumps was the Yggdrasil.
My oh my the H2 definitely sounds as good as the, Yggdrasil, especially depending upon the source.

The H2 has great hitting bass, that does not muddy up the mids. And the mids are ever so natural sounding, with such great detail.
On one track of Frank Zappa’s I could hear the different level of applause, from faint to heavy. And in one of the Dave Brubeck tracks i can hear one of the drummers drop his sticks as Brubeck was on a tangent. Likewise female vocalist like Kate Bush, Grace Jones, and Rebeca Pigeon ( Spanish Harlem) sound breathtaking. Furthermore male vocalist sound so natural sounding. Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash, and Frank Zappa sound so real so life like. I dis enjoy Zappa sing/ play Uncle Remus, through the H2.

The treble seems spot on to my humble ears.. I dislike overly bright tracks like as I dislike the sound of finger nails scratching across the chalk board. I thought the treble was detailed and delivered just the right details for what ever the track called for.
And as amazing as the H2 sounds, one could tweak the filters and crossfeed, to alter the sound to meet ones tastes. I rarely tweaked with the filters but it is sweet knowing I could do so.
Moreover the natural, detailed sound leads to a outstanding, detailed, holographic soundstage.

My He1000 and Focal Utopia’s soundstage sound so three dimensional. one can place the instruments all around the listener. Classical music by Mozart, Beethoven or Wagner sounds spectacular, with such a detailed, holographic soundstage. It is very surreal to be able to listen to such great TOTL sound, while walking about town. The magic is matching the right track to the environment that I am strutting through.

What shocked me most about the Chord Hugo 2, was how powerful it’s AMP section was. I used the H2 to drive every one of my headphones and my cans just sounded great. The best synergy between the Hugo 2 and my many headphones was the Audeze LCD i4.
The bass and mids on the i4, through the H2 just blew me away. The bass was so deep yet controlled. The mids were musical yet ever so natural sounding. Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell, through the H2and i4 gave me goosebumps as I sipped a shot of espresso, at the local Brista shop.
Normally I needed to be tethered to a desktop rig to hear such beautifully detailed music, and yet to quote Zappa, I am “Free as the Wind” while using the Hugo 2.
The sunset never seemed so seemingly magical, as I kick back, under a shade tree.

The second best sounding headphone, driven by the H2, was my Focal Utopia. The bass and mids seem to come alive through the Hugo 2. With the Hugo 2, stashed in my leather audio bag, I felt decadent strutting down the sidewalk, with my Focal Utopia strapped to my head, jamming out to some Beethoven. Clock Work Orange kept popping up into my mind lol.

Finally the third best sounding can out of the amazing Hugo 2, was MrSpeakers Ether.
The soundstage, bass, and mids have this light magical quality. I can only imagine how the Ether Flow must sound out of the Hugo 2.
I was greatly surprised by how good the Beyerdynamic Dt 880 600 OHM sounded driven by the Hugo 2. To get the best out of the Dt 880, I had to have it hooked to my Liquid Gold and yet the H2 did a great job.

I hooked up the Hugo 2, too my amps and was convinced that he Hugo 2 could be used as a free standing DAC. I know I can pair either my Liquid Carbon or Jotunheim AMP to the Hugo 2 to have a versatile system, while out on vacation, or for what have you.

I think the Chord Hugo 2 is a greater sounding DAC/ AMP, although a bit pricey, but it does sound as good as the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, especially when one factors in the fact it can drive so many cans so brilliantly, without the need for a stand alone amp. And I just love the Hugo 2 because I can enjoy such great music while on the go. But I also like using this about device as a desktop device as i type and use my IPad Pro.

The Chord Hugo 2 is a superb sounding TOTL Dac and amp. I have found myself immersed in the music when listening to my tracks, it is versatile and well built.
It is akin to a modern day harp as used by the audiophile muses of old to inspire and captivate the listener.  The sound is so good, that moment of enjoyment seemingly lasts forever...


-Chipset: Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
-Tap-length: 49,152
-Pulse array: 10 element pulse array design
-Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
-Output stage: Class A
-Output impedance: 0.025Ω
-THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
-THD and noise at 3v RMS: 120dB at 1kHz 300ohms ‘A’ wighted (reference 5.3v)
-Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation
-Signal to noise ratio: 126dB ‘A’ Weighted
-Channel separation: 135dB at 1kHz 300Ω
-Power output @ 1kHz 1% THD: 94mW 300Ω
740mW 32Ω
1050mW 8Ω
-Weight: 450g
-Dimensions: 130mm (L) x 100mm (W) x 21mm (H)
-Boxed Dimensions: 220mm (L) x 122mm (W) x 85mm (H)

-Materials: Clamshell precision machined aluminium casing with polycarbonate  buttons, acrylic signal window, and glass viewing portal. Available in a choice of two colours – natural silver, and satin black
-Battery: 2x Rechargeable custom Enix Energies 3.7v 9.6Wh Li-ion (lithium-ion (2600mAh) batteries*
-Tap length filter: 49,152 – 10 element Pulse Array design
-Play time: In excess of seven (7) hours
-Charging: Nominal four (4) hours via Micro USB at 1.8amps (fast charge) – Nominal eight (8) hours at 1amp (slow charge)
-Connectivity (input): Micro USB (White): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit
-Coax via 3.5mm Jack (Red): 44.1kHz – 768kHz – 16bit – 32bit
-Optical (Green): 44.1kHz – 192kHz – 16bit – 24bit
-Connectivity (input wireless): Bluetooth (Apt X) (Blue): 44.1kHz – 48kHz – 16bit
-Connectivity (output): 1x ¼” jack headphone output
-1x 3.5mm jack headphone output
-1x stereo (L & R) RCA output
-PCM support: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and 768kHz.
-DSD support: Native playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)
-Volume control: Digital, activated in 1dB increments. Last known state saved upon shutdown, with exception of line-level mode
-Line-level mode: Activated via dual press of middle ‘Source’ and ‘Crossfeed’ buttons. Line level = 3v via all outputs. Reset by power cycle
-Power saving mode: Auto-shutdown after ten minutes of input inactivity
-Driver support: Driverless with Mac OS X and Linux, driver required for Windows OS

* Non-user-serviceable batteries are covered by a limited 18-month warranty from initial date of purchase. For full terms and conditions please click here.

 User Configurable Options:
-Filters (Digital):
Incisive neutral (Ultimate reference) (White)
Incisive neutral HF roll-off (High Frequency roll off) (Green)
Warm (‘Smooth’) (Orange)
Warmer HF roll-off (High Frequency roll off) (Red)
-Crossfeed (Digital IIR):
Off – No Crossfeed
Level 1 – Light
Level 2 – Medium
Level 3 – Heavy

 Control options:
Remote control (included).

HiFace by M2tech - A juicy Italian DAC
-review by Ta-ke

My experience with M2tech products are from the audio shows, where their larger builds always look elegant in style and there is a feeling the brand always design gears in pico size, which actually fits the local lifestyle here in Asia.
Located in Pisa, Italy - it makes me curious what their other products do, and that's why I messaged our admin expatinjapan and had him loan me the formerly reviewed HiFace Dac- a DAC that packs in high specs in a very compact housing.

Hi-Face was originally reviewed on Head pie here:

The first glance at the HiFace DAC: is it..... the same as the Head pie color scheme? Yes it is! The refreshing orange color definitely adds some marks to our impression ratings. 
The casing, as you can see, is quite a bit longer than any thumb drive you have seen. However the overall weight is very light and it isn't fragile at all. 
According to some online info the DAC is packed with dual clocks and a PCM5102 chipset from Burrbrown which supports 32/384 decoding, definitely not an outdated spec till now.

The packaging is very simple, the unit fits in a small paper box and additional info can be found on web. 
A driver is required for hi-res replay on PC and i have it pre installed, it could be easily found on the official site and allows tweaks on buffer size, for Macs it requires no driver, simply plug and play. 
If you are new to such controls, smaller buffer size is always preferable and you have to adjust it till you hear no distortion.

My sound impressions are based on my Macbook pro and desktop PC.

Not surprisingly the unit sounds quite clean and neutral alike its bigger brothers,
treble is controlled and the bass is dynamic and not shy, the output is strong and you could feel the power. 
There is little hiss on both my systems and if you bring it out to work and pair with small cans/ IEMs that are not too sensitive, the noise level should be forgiven. 
Driving power is definitely higher than expected from a USB powered device however the highs seems a bit harsh to me on the Ocharaku, it sounds better on my old GR07 with a more neutral presentation and more treble control. 
I have been switching between tracks and the unit does sound better on higher resolution recordings, some 32bit well mastered samples sound very airy and dynamic and there are no glitches playing back.

Moving on to headphone test, I have the JVC mx10 to test.
The output seems to feed the headphone pretty well, it would definitely be better to have a higher driving power but the dac plus a small amp could be the solution. 
Sound is clean and bass quantity is acceptable but there is a little bit too much treble for me, perhaps bassy headphones or smaller headphones will work better. 
I would definitely prefer adding an amplifier to the system but the clarity and quantity of bass is acceptable with the HiFace DAC alone

Overall the HiFace DAC is a fun device to use, it packs in quite a bit of power and would be able to handle high resolution files. The mobility is good and the device with high output is usable at home where you could simply plug it into your home system and link up hifi/small speakers.

The HiFace DAC is currently available for (roughly $200 - $250 USD) and you should try it out shall you be looking for the missing link between your laptops and earphones on the go!


About Author: Ta-ke
Loves to find the best pairings for his gear to make them shine, loves photography and tea

General specs (more information to be found on their website).

Hi-End Async 2.0 Audio Class USB 384/32 DAC

Input 1 x USB A type male
Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack socket

Input USB 2.0 Audio Format,

Output stereo analog
Sampling Frequency
44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4khZ, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz

16 up to 32 bit

Output voltage:
2.0Vrms @10kOhms
Frequency response:
5-22kHz (fs=44.1kHz)
5-150kHz (fs=384kHz)
112dB (@ 1kHz, A-weighted)

8.8(d) x 1.4(h) x 2(w)

Power Supply:
5V DC from USB bus

0°C to 70°C

20gr approx.

Highest quality stereo analog audio up to 384kHz/32bit available on your PC, Mac, Linux computer, iPad or Android tablet.
2.0Vrms line output level, 112dB THD+N.
Very low jitter oscillators, asynchronous 2.0 Audio Class USB.
Also drives most medium- or high-impedance headphones.
Highest value-for-money.

Compact size (2x1.4x8.8cm) with hi-end performance hiFace DAC has been conceived to make hi-end equipment performance at hand to budget-conscious audiophiles, without any compromise. One hiFace DAC and a laptop, Mac Mini or even an iPad make for a hi-end music file source at the cost of a middle range digital interconnect.

The hiFace DAC includes all necessary features to be the perfect DAC for all kind of hi-fi systems: asynchronous data transfer mode on USB 2.0, compliancy to USB 2.0 Audio Class (no drivers needed for MacOS, IOS, Linux and Android), very low phase noise oscillators and last-generation conversion IC capable of 384kHz and 32 bits.

Windows users will enjoy it in Direct Sound, Kernel Streaming, WASAPI and ASIO (depending on the OS version), while Mac users will be able to take advantage from Integer mode and Direct mode.
While the hiFace DAC output is purposely designed to give its best with amplifiers’ and preamplifiers’ line level inputs, it may also be used to drive medium- and high-impedance headphones: try it with iPhone’s in-ear headphones.
Well this is our fourth installment of crappy Head pie memes.

As usual culled and collected from the Head pie Facebook page....

We seem to have ventured rather to the wastelands since the last post.

Memes: Part one
Creative, fun and funny

Memes: Part three
a bonanza of crud and edginess
(Sorry I had the wrong link)

Memes: Part two (short)
short n sour

Things have entered the dark age of #headpiesucks

So salty.........

(Meme-ed by Alex's request)

fill it in yourself and stick it on your website. LOL

Its ok I dont understand all of them myself, and I made them...

#headpiesucks #HPiztehbestest