Review: Chord Hugo
Buffs your audio, but it ain’t cheap
If you crave the finest quality sound then portable audio devices can be a tinny nightmare. Slip this slice of portable DAC magic into your pocket, though, and you’re good to go.
The Hugo is a small, highend headphone amp packing a new 32-bit DAC (digital to analogue converter) that takes the digital signal from any source, be that a smartphone, iPod, laptop or hi-fi separate, and buffs it to a shine before outputting to your headphones (or through stereo RCA outputs if connecting to speakers).
Setup and operation is a little eccentric and, while Apple and Android users are good to go, Windows fans require extra driver software. Unsurprisingly, though, audio performance is stunning with a pleasingly natural sound whether you’re listening to MP3s ripped from CD or a fancy lossless format. Admittedly, it’s difficult to see how a headphone amp can cost this much, but crafted from aircraft-grade aluminium, with a magnifying porthole that allows you to peek at the blinking circuitry and colour-changing digital volume dial contained within, this is a thing of beauty for sonic purists.