Chord Mojo £379

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

De­spite the un­ques­tion­able value and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the USB DACS on the pre­vi­ous page, noth­ing quite brings ‘Mo­bile Joy’ like the Chord Mojo – which stands for ex­actly that. It can be seen as the per­fect por­ta­ble DAC so­lu­tion for those who crave Chord’s Hugo 2 (£1799, below) but stut­ter at its hefty price.

It takes a while to get used to the de­vice’s con­trol lay­out. Three ball-like but­tons take care of power on/off and the vol­ume level. The power but­ton sim­ply lights up in dif­fer­ent colours de­pend­ing on the sam­pling rate of the in­put sig­nal (red for 44.1khz, green for 96khz, white for DSD). Sim­i­larly, the light­ing be­hind the vol­ume but­tons changes ac­cord­ing to level. It’s a lit­tle con­fus­ing at first, but soon be­comes sec­ond na­ture.

The right con­nec­tions

The Mojo fea­tures mi­cro-usb, op­ti­cal and coax in­puts, though the lat­ter takes the form of a 3.5mm jack rather than the usual RCA or BNC, and a sec­ond USB con­nec­tion for charg­ing only. Out­puts are lim­ited to a pair of 3.5mm jacks. There’s even the flex­i­bil­ity to add Chord’s ded­i­cated stream­ing mod­ule, the Poly (£500), for those that can af­ford it.

Un­like most ri­vals, Chord re­fuses to use off-the-shelf DAC chips in­side its con­vert­ers, in­stead us­ing pow­er­ful pro­gram­mable pro­ces­sors loaded with pro­pri­etary, built-from-the-ground-up soft­ware to do the job. It’s largely why Chord has en­joyed the suc­cess it has.

Once up and run­ning, it’s a fab­u­lous per­former (and promises to be so for eight hours from a full charge). Ste­vie Won­der’s In­nervi­sions on DSD is grip­ping from the un­mis­tak­able open­ing bars of

Too High right through to the end of the al­bum. There’s am­ple de­tail and the kind of in­sight into the record­ing that noth­ing we’ve heard at this price can bet­ter.

But it’s not the ex­cel­lent res­o­lu­tion that im­presses us most. It’s the Mojo’s abil­ity to or­gan­ise all that in­for­ma­tion into a co­he­sive and mu­si­cal whole that makes it stand out. It can con­vey power and scale when the mu­sic re­quires, but also has the fi­nesse to make the most of the sub­tler pas­sages too.

We’re also im­pressed with the Mojo’s re­fine­ment. Its trans­parency means poor record­ings (and sources) will be easy to spot, but this DAC won’t go out of its way to be nasty. So in much the same way as it was last year (and the two years be­fore that), the Mojo re­mains the one to beat at this price.

The Mojo of­fers much of the Hugo 2’s fidelity and de­tail but for a good deal less

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