Chord Hugo £1400
It might be idiosyncratic in design and use, but the Hugo still bosses other DACS at this price
If you’re going to be spending this level of money on a headphone amp for your desktop set-up, you’re serious about music quality. Luckily, all three of these DACS are too. Simaudio’s Moon Neo 230HAD is the most affordable option of the three but has plenty to offer, with a bold, open sound and enthusiastic, fluid midrange.
It’s an enjoyable, easygoing listen, but trips up with less-than perfect organisation when rhythms get busy, and has a slightly soft character. These downfalls, despite its more affordable price tag, are enough to deduct a star against its competition, though it remains a good option to audition.
More complete than ever
The recently updated Naim DAC V1 showed itself to be just as good as when we heard it a couple of years ago, and now with its added DSD capabilities it’s a more complete proposition than ever.
Its build and ease of use are second to none, and its connectivity is extensive enough not to leave any system wanting.
Performance is equally impressive, with a very precise, authoritative sound that’s full-bodied and weighty, not to mention filled with detail. Its direct character means it’s not the most relaxing listen though, and it can be a little unrelenting if matched with equally assertive speakers, but it’s still five stars for this expressive, dynamic DAC.
Finally, our Award-winning DAC at this price, the Chord Hugo, proves once again why we chose it. Its presentation might not have the sonic body of the Naim or the Moon, nor does it have the most straightforward control system, but it makes up for that in every other way.
Subtle, dynamic and superbly timed, it brings the best out of your music, plus its Bluetooth streaming and portability (thanks to its rechargeable battery) only make it more of a convincing buy.
As such keeps its five stars, not to mention its place at the top of the pile of DACS at this price. Can the multi-talented Hugo ever be topped at this price? Right now, that job’s looking very tricky indeed.