Chord Hugo ?

Has anyone (or could anyone) try the Chord Hugo as a DAC in their system. It's getting tremendous attention in the headphone community as a revolutionary DAC that competes way beyond its 2400-dollar price that is up there with the best DACs at any price. I have never heard it so I don't know if this is true, but buzz about it is striking.
I see little about it here, so I thought I would ask. Thanks.
Some of what you have read here on Audiogon may have been from me. I am
listening to the Chord Hugo on my main rig as I type this. It is really an
amazing dac and while I have listened to the headphone outputs, Im not really
a headphone listener so I can't compare its performance as a headphone amp.
As a dac, I am very impressed by the performance. All the detail, layering and
fluidity one could hope for in an audio component.

The fact that it was designed to be portable and thus runs on battery power
creates a few pros and cons. Pros: The thing is dead quiet. I mean silent! Its
footprint is obviously tiny which provides numerous placement choices. It also
doesnt care about a power cable which will save you a few bucks if you are
into audiophile cables. While on the subject of cables, its usb input is of the
micro variety which means, even though it is supplied with all of the cables
you need to hook up to almost any transport, few of us have audiophile grade
usb cables with the tiny micro termination. The cable they supply is ok and
will get you up and running. Also on the cable front, the Hugo is so light
weight that heavier audio file rca interconnects will require you to secure the
Hugo with a weight of some kind if your interconnects apply any weight.

I leave mine on and it is really a revolutionary product BUT....and this may be
a big BUT, it is so small that the on off switch is tough to use if you have large
fingers because it is placed between the charger cable input and the usb
input. Other than those small nits, this dac is terrific! I surmise when Chord
releases their dedicated rack mount dac based on this technology that it will
make waves. Best of luck.
It's just funny how the hugo thread has 4500 posts on the big
headphone site, and there is little here. It is said to be
better than the Auralic Vega, Lampi 7, Ayre qb9, and others,
maybe on par with the Meitners.
Dear RGS

I you can hold on for a few days I can let you know.

My shop Audio Doctor in NJ just signed on to sell the Hugo,
and we do sell the Auralic Vega, M2 Tech, Naim, Amr, Meitner, Emm Labs, Esoteric, Aqua Hifi, NAD, Lumin and many others.

We ordered the Hugo for both its dac and its headhphone capability, we will be putting our Hugo on line in the next few days so I can easily answer your question.
I know what you mean, the head-fi community is quite active. One problem here that will probably prohibit the Chord Hugo from penetrating the market too much is that it is simply not big enough nor "audiophile" enough. It doesn't benefit from an expensive power cord, its just simply fabulous. Its a game changer. Fr instance, I see all the time old dacs trade hands here for multiples of the cost of the new Hugo and I just shake my head in disbelief. A few of the dacs I've owned: Benchmark, McIntosh, Mytek, Playback, Audio Research, Naim, LM, Cary and while they are all excellent and enjoyable the Chord is pretty special.

The people in our hobby have traditionally been reluctant to adopt products that have have small or outside the box/unconventional form factors. Maybe some of the newer entrants to our hobby are less wed to the milled aluminum remote control as a critical arbiter of quality? Maybe the 100 pound slabs of milled aluminum casework are no longer necessary for great sound? What is being done inside the Hugo was not possible even a few years ago. The FGPA would have, according to the designer, required a power supply weighing over 100 pounds to power the processing requirements of the previous generation FGPA technology. We will see what the future holds but the Hugo is the real deal.
Better than a Lampi L7??/ Who said so? I never saw that on the thread. AL owns the Hugo and rates it below the Direct Stream which is below the LAMPI L5!

I have heard favourable comparisons of the L7 to Trinity!
Hugo has great tech, but so-so implementation. Battery limits the dynamics.
When the Desktop Hugo comes out with waaay more taps, then we can start talking. It is reportedly a bit thin sounding now. Heck one hugo owner says he prefers his Qute with a Teddy Pardo PSU.
Wisnon - your summary does an injustice the overwhelming number of positive comments on the Head HiFi thread. The "thin" and "like my Qute better" comments are rare, maybe 1 per each of those. Remember, this is a $2,400 DAC. A Lampi L5 with DSD is 3 times that. Is it the best DAC out there? Probably not. But by most accounts it is remarkable at its price and competes well with DACs at 3 times its price.

It does not seem like Chord is going to do a Qute like packaging of the Hugo technology. I believe the next version is going to be a lot higher price.
The Hugo does both 64 and 128 DSD and by most reports it sounds very good. For those interested, it does convert DSD to PCM. It needs to do that because of how it implements volume and headphone crossfeed. Rob Woods has explained this is detail on the Head HiFi thread.
DTC, I have a Qute HD soon to be upgraded to an EX, so I own both Chord and Lampi and the Lampi L4 is the better Dac so far, especially with DSD.

Hugo has great promise, but until they do the Qute and QBD version with the huge tap lengths, we are yet to see the best of it.

To say its currently better than a Lampi Big7 is a joke though I mean really!
Oh and many people are tweaking trying to beef up the thin sound. Its an underground obsession caused by the battery power supply. That will be corrected when the desktop versions come. We can Hynes/Teddy P the Qute form factor and the QDB factor will have iots own beefy power supply (I hope linear and not SMPS).
No one is comparing the Hugo to a Lampi here but lets make a couple of things very clear: it is at an entirely different level from the Qute line, this is a reference caliber dac. I listened to both versions of the Qute and its a really good dac, the Hugo is really great. Secondly, it is far from thin or lacking in dynamics....somebody is either talking out of their bum or have an agenda. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the only way I could imagine someone thinking the Hugo is thin is they were listening through very inefficient cans. It may or may not compare with other dacs in the opinion of a given user but this dac is extraordinary on its own merits.

Chord themselves consider this an accidental reference dac. They admit they discovered its extraordinary performance after prototyping. While I'm interested in others opinions and system implementations, the excellence of the Hugo is obvious to even the casual listener. Peace.
Winson - I do not expect the Qute format for quite some time. The next product seems to be a QBD type product, but I am not sure it will have more taps. Depends on the chip maker.

As Ghasley says, the number of people who think Hugo is thin is pretty small, at least on the Head thread. There are undoubtedly a small group obsessed with the power supply, but it is a small group. Given their obsession, I am pretty sure they will announce enormous gains by disabling the battery and connecting a linear power supply. Meanwhile, others with enjoy the Hugo as is.

The Hugo is, by most accounts, significantly better than the EX. You might want to skip the EX and go to Hugo. Making a comparison of the EX and a Lampi does not show how the Hugo will compare. By most accounts, Hugo is a significant upgrade from the HD or EX.

I agree that a QBD should be better than Hugo, but it will do so at a much higher price. I think you are not giving the Hugo the credit it deserves, especially at the price.

I know much more about this Dac and its development than you can imagine. I do not speak out of turn. If you do enough reading about to, other than the HF thread, you will understand and yes MORE taps are in the works.

Let me make it clear no way in hell it is better than a Lampi Big7!!!!

Now a tapped up QBD with LPSU who knows?

And let me restate, i think the Hugo is a wonderful and significant development.
Wisnon, so, you've made your point that you are positive that the Hugo is not better than a Big7. I'll concede since I've never heard a Lampizator and likely never will. Once again, no one is saying that it is! It's probably not competitive with a DCS stack either....nor an ARC reference dac.....nor many others.

The point I believe we are trying to make here is that in general there are some really cool developments happening in the digital world right now. Specifically we are saying that the Hugo moves the needle in what may be possible at a reasonable price point presently. the qute dacs, while very good are not at the level at which the Hugo performs. You may disagree, which is terrific....especially in light of the fact that I can not possibly imagine the depth of your immense knowledge of the development of this DAC. Be sure to pick up your telephone when called upon by Chord's r&d department, your input will likely be crucial to their very survival. peace.
Where did I disagree with the digital advances of Hugo???
If I somehow gave you that impression I apologise.

Also, the snide R&D comment is uncalled for. I merely tried to show you guys that I have my own contacts from long ago and I had long ago read the HF thread. I am NOT new to Chord nor to Hugo developments. i was Chord when Chord was yet cool! LoL

I have a Qute precisely because of the FPGA tech. The only point of small disagreement with the tech is that I dont think its the best DSD approach to decimate to 2048FS PCM!

The analog side of Hugo is the weakpoint and its not a real issue as it's a portable battery powered Dac. In full blown desktop version, those shortcomings will very likely be solved and we will see the full potential. Rob Watts is VERY talented. The Qute/QBD currently have the advantage of better power supply and that is half the battle in Digital audio. It seems people forget that analog is the end goal of digital audio and that even the digital data is physically represented by analog constructs (electricity).

I am a fan of Hugo too, but i think the Head-fi site has it overblown as much as this site has it disrespected and ignored (relatively)
Wisnon, I was snide toward you for a couple of reasons.

First, your comment touting your expertise when it is obvious you haven't personally listened to a Hugo. That doesn't help your credibility.

Second, in reviewing your participation with these forums, you tend to shill a few products BEFORE ever hearing them, which you have done with both Lampizator dacs and Job amps. Both I'm sure are fine products, I'M JUST NOT QUALIFIED TO COMMENT BECAUSE I HAVEN'T HEARD THEM PERSONALLY.

I have no vested interest in whether you listen to a Hugo or not, couldn't care. Prior to commenting on performance though it would probably be commendable if you had listened to a product in advance of doing so.
I have had a Lampi for years and I "shill" as you say for Chord too.

I have many trusted pals with the Hugo and one is getting ready to sell it.
There are many convos with influential people behind the scene.

The Job was a no brainer, but I never commented on the sound, just the pedigree. In addition, people were staved for info on this mythical amp and I was the only "layman" to see the relaunched first production batch. Until I recently moved 2 months ago, i lived 5 mins drive away from Goldmund and have developed some good contacts there. Finally, I solicited design feedback from 2 MEGA ULTRA high-end designers in the industry (one workd on the Job circuitry years ago) and both gave the amp rousing paise, especially for the price!

In any case, there is never any reason to be snide. That is unbecoming and you seem classier than that.
Well, now that I have my hands on it, I would say it I enjoy
what I'm hearing quite a bit more than the Playback Designs
MPS5, Burmester 001, and original EMM CDSA and
Modright-Sony 5400ES cd players
I used to own a few years ago. It has more refinement, less
glare (especially in vocals), less digital pain from
something suddenly jumping forward unnaturally, a more
balanced sound from the nice deep transparent bass to the
sweet highs, and lots of detail and focus. The soundstaging
is good too, with good layering, and decent depth. (I would
not call the staging excellent, but certainly very good and
not compressed at all.) But the tonality is superb, along
with image definition and silky but well defined boundaries.
I was listening to some vintage live Joni Mitchell (BBC
1970), live Beach Boys, and live Beatles on youtube, and it
was entrancing. It's amazing I could get sound like this
from youtube. I'm just mainly using this thing as a DAC with
and external headphone amp/preamp (along with Fostex TH900
phones and Quad 12L speakers), an Audioquest Carbon USB
cable, Stealth Indra ICs, and a Shunyata Anaconda Alpha
powercord to my (ancient) Headroom Max amp. I have a Windows
7 desktop. It combines great detail without fatigue to my
ears, which I think is always the primary goal of digital
It's kind of a pain with the usb cables and power wire
coming out of one side and the interconnects on the opposite
side, but maybe there will be a better future bigger version
with a more elegant design for desktop/home use. And the
micro-usb input is also a pain (the Audioquest cable needs
an adapter and is a bit awkward).

I should mention that my main system has an EMM Xds1, and
that to my ears it is the best I have heard, with so much
insight, layering, depth, and ambiance I am not considering
replacing it ever. I have not used it as a dac, just for
Rgs92 - thanks for the observations. FYI - you can get a micro usb Carbon cable so you do not have to use the adapter.
Wisnon, certainly no offense was intended personally with my snide commentary tossed your way. I use sarcasm often as a way of pointing out something that should be called out for its disconnect with logic. I was merely trying to point out that your hyperbole was a stretch in light of the fact that you have never even listened to a Hugo. Your intense desire to be a contributing poster to this thread that solicited hands on feedback on a product you have absolutely no experience with deserved mention, although I probably could have communicated in a better way. In addition, your statement that your friend may sell his Hugo, when balanced with your interraction with "Mega Ultra" equipment designers taken in the context of your own assertions that "we have no idea" the depth of your qualifications makes me chuckle.

I tend to trust my ears, in my system. I have no axe to grind, no financial motives in the industry. I care not whether one person buys one dac, amp, speaker or what have you. I enjoy tinkering with equipment. Ive never owned Goldmund, Job, Tekton, Lampizator or the other brands you mentioned and mention often. They all have great commentary by those who have heard them so I can only assume that for many they fill the need. But, and this is a big should not be analyzing the performance of a component you have never heard. It lacks credibility in every way.
Dtc, thanks for the tip, but I did not see an AQ Carbon
cable with a USB micro-B 2.0 plug anywhere in my websearch,
just the 3.0 micro-B plug, which is the wider one that will
not fit in a 2.0 B port.
But thanks anyway and please correct me if I'm mistaken.
Best to you.
Ghasley, we are cool.

My pal who is selling the Hugo is doding so for precisely the reasons I gave and he intends to get the desktop Hugo when it comes out next year! Others are employing every tweak they can to get more heft via the battery powered Hugo. Not everything is posted online. There are emaoils and phone calls detailing this stuff and not just for Hugo.

You dont have to own all those brands to have an idea. How many brands do reviewers (pro and amateur) own? You dont even have to own a particular model ton understand house sound and to gain insight from trusted pals who have similar experiences and tastes.

Finally, only 6 of us have actually posted on this thread and certainly you and I have contributed the most and managed to widen the debate.

I, like you, have no financial stake in the game, so we are free to say what we like with impunity.

I live in Switzerland, close to some of the mega ultras, as you call them, so is it a stretch to understand that I may just actually know some of them well? LoL
Rgs92 - I did not know the 3.0 micro did not fit. I assumed 2.0 and 3.0 were the same size. Thanks for the tip.
I have a HUGO and have 240 hours on it , the sound keeps improving and I intend to comment on it after 400 hours , be that, the HUGO is not thin sounding and give the battery 5-6 cycles of full charging and you will improve on the dynamic also , for its size , it is amazing , sounding so good that unless you are comparing with the best , you will not regret owning one ! I am saying this on the fact that I am using it as a dac with both USB & SPDIF inputs .

One little amazing dac even not considering its asking price !
Wisnon, thanks for the clarification.

To recap: your friend is selling his Hugo because he believes it to be a little
lean (his opinion matters in his system) however he is going to purchase
the desktop version of the Hugo when it comes out because he, like you
with the portable Hugo apparently, can reasonably guess how it will sound?
I guess he is guessing it will sound pretty good? It probably will! Heck, he is
probably already thrilled in advance with how nicely the midrange is fleshed

Next, is your assertion that many reviewers don't own every product out
there, of course, is true. They do, however, typically have a couple of
references from which they can compare the sound, as they perceive it, of
a given product in for review. I know of no CREDIBLE reviewer who
reviews a product without first hearing it. You are not the first though I'm
sure who has somehow developed this skill. I must say though that I
sincerely believe you to be an honorable person. Someone otherwise might
have taken their preconceived negative biases that were based on
assumption, not experience, and then demoed the equipment in question
after the fact to confirm their preconceived bias. At least you have shown
the character to not do that and to continue to hold those biases without
firsthand knowledge.

You live in Switzerland, which is very cool (thanks for keeping the Pope
safe) and due to the fact that you know some mega ultra equipment
designers (as you refer to them, not me) is also cool. You are correct in
your supposition that you can, through conversations with highly skilled
experts in a specific field, learn a great deal. I'll wager though that none of
those "mega ultra" friends of yours evaluate any audio product
without first listening.
After some experimentation, the Hugo varies in fullness with different USB cables. It sounds very full and sweet and not lean at all with my AQ Carbon. Also, it needs to break in for about 12 hours. It doesn't have a trace of leanness.
(My Oppo 105D can tend to this and therefore I need a Shunyata Anaconda VX power cord and Cardas Golden Cross interconnects on it, then it's pretty much fine. The Hugo resolves things much better than the Oppo.)
I'm getting BIG 7 Lampi. Will leave feedback.


Yes, the ultra megas sometimes evaluate without listening. they look at the design concepts and parts used and get a fair idea of what it will sound like.

There is more to this than meets the eye.

PM me your tel number and we can discuss oflline.
wis97non at yahoo dot co dot uk
Wisnon, thanks for the offer to discuss offline the merits of publishing listening impressions for a piece of gear without ever listening but I simply would rather not, I'm not sure I have the patience to discuss why some people have "special powers" while others do not. You and I can agree to disagree as gentlemen though: i take a firm position that in order to form an opinion, right or wrong, on the sound of a piece of gear that it seems preferable to actually hear one, thats all.

To Ssos101: congrats in advance on getting a Lampi7 but your impressions, while valid if you do in fact get one, probably belongs in its own thread rather than a Hugo thread.

Warm regards to both of you.
Suit yourself.
That was not what I wanted to discuss.

BTW, I didnt intoduce Lampi in this thread. I read the HF thread and did not see anyone saying its better than the Lampi L7 and asked about that. So few people have it, I would be surprised by that comment.
Wisnon, agreed on both fronts.....whomever made the comment(if it was in fact made) that the Hugo was better than the Lampizator 7 was probably just another troll, desperately needing to communicate and appear like they were some sort of expert.

Ssos101 brought it up again and while I would really enjoy reading about someones listening experience with any cool new product, it just deserves its own thread. Best wishes, GH
Hi Guys,

It just happens that we did direct comparisons of many mentioned here DACs. Among them Hugo, Lampi lvl 4.5, Meitner MA-1.

In my view, the easiest way to sum it up, is that one is getting what he is paying for.

Hugo is great little DAC but cannot compete with MA-1. Hugo is great DAC but only better in one aspect then Lampi lvl 4.5 and that is ultimate detail retrieval / resolution which is slightly better on Hugo. In all other aspects Lampi is better DAC in my view without any doubts.

Hugo is anything but lean, and I am surprised that anyone can even suggest this. Hugo is so reach in tonal balance that I perceive it as over contrasted / over saturated and in fact it is a minus for me as it does not sound natural.

The fullness of sound is at same level as Lampi but the increased contrast makes it look as it would be even richer then on Lampi, however as stated before to the extent it sounds unnatural to me.

I also owned Job 225... the hype around it is amazing but I dont rate it at all. On plus sides, it has great flow and fluidity. Depth and natural sound staging but also it lacks resolution and blurres the sound. It makes sound monochromatic and is extremely power cord and speaker cable dependant (it is not a good characteristics IMHO).

So here you go. Those are only my but first hand opinions.

We got in a Hugo and did a listening test of the Hugo vs some of the other dacs, results, Hugo great $2k dac, very good headphone amplifier, if you are looking for state of the art for under $5k the Auralic Vega is very hard to beat.

We are getting in the Aqua Hifi La Voice Dac from Italy around $4k its bigger brother the the La Scala competes with the Meitner DAC 2XSE $15.5k yet sells for half price $7.8k in a direct comparison of the MA 1 the La Scala was superior sounding at the same price range. Fantastic dac!
We got in a Hugo and did a listening test of the Hugo vs some of the other dacs, results, Hugo great $2k dac, very good headphone amplifier, if you are looking for state of the art for under $5k the Auralic Vega is very hard to beat.

We are getting in the Aqua Hifi La Voice Dac from Italy around $4k its bigger brother the the La Scala competes with the Meitner DAC 2XSE $15.5k yet sells for half price $7.8k in a direct comparison of the MA 1 the La Scala was superior sounding at the same price range. Fantastic dac!
I love my Chord Hugo on my desktop system with a Rudistor headphone amp. It is stunning. An Audioquest Diamond usb cable really works well with this system and brings it up a level.
I am thinking of trying digital play back once again after 13 years , back then it just wasn't there compared to good analogue play back.
Where is digital play back today I ask, well to start personally I would not take advise from headfi to try to learn and get any solid information even with 4,500 comments some of which RGS92 mentions at the top of this thread,..?Really?
Then I read Gasley take on audiophiles and why the Cord Hugo hasn't garnered any serious respect here on Audiogon,...WoW,...
In-show - I would not dismiss the Head HiFi discussion because it is long and the one here because of RGS92's and other's comments.

The large number of posts on Head HiFi are largely about hole sizes, cables, and portable players. The ones about the actual sound are small. It just takes a while to get through all the clutter that happened when people were waiting for their units.

There are a relatively small number of people who actually have them and have commented on their sound. Many of who have them are from the UK or Asia, where is seems the product has been more available than in the US. That is partially why there are not as many comments on this forum.

The whole comparison with Lampi 5 and Lampi 7 is overblown. There is not any real talk on Head about that. There is a comparison to the Direct Stream, but that is also twice the price of a Hugo. And it is only 1 person.

The general belief on Head HiFi and other places is that the Hugo is probably as good as anything in its price range and is better than many at higher prices, but as always it depends on the type of sound you like. Unfortunately, there are very few comparisons to similarly priced units, like PS AUdio, MyTeK, Bryston, the new Sony etc. And, there probably will not be until the Hugo is more generally available.

The comments above about the Hugo being "thin" have generally been refuted. It does have a very clean and detailed sound, which may be thin to people who want a big tubey sound. But on Head, the idea that Hugo is thin has been pretty pretty well refuted.

Wisnon's discussion of the Hugo being limited by its battery may be true. However, to include a high quality power supply will greatly change the form factor and the price. Chord will do that, but probably at a much different price. But the comparisons being made are again to units that cost twice as much. Will a big box, linear power supply, more taps version sound better? Most assuredly so, but at a big price jump. It is pretty clear that the portable form factor was not the design goal for the new chip, but that is what was available, so they went with it.

Personally, I am disappointed that the discussion here went down so many rat holes. But that can happen when people have not actually heard and compared the piece being discussed themselves. I hope the discussion will get better once people actually hear the Hugo.

Don't dismiss the Hugo because of the discussion on Head HiFi or here. But all accounts, it is an excellent DAC at its price point. If you are looking at double the price, then there are other options, although Hugo may compete well with some of them. But, at its price point and with the type of sound it provides, most reports say it is a really fine unit.

If you want some other reading, keep an eye on the thread on Computer Audiophile. It is much shorter, but more reviews are expected soon. The main discussion is at the end of the Qute review. There are also many other reviews of the Hugo that are extremely positive.

I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on one. Unfortunately, I buy from a brick and mortar store and most of those types of stores have had a very hard time getting their hands on them. Chord underestimated that number of units for the US and has also had distribution problems here.

The full Hugo story is yet to be told and I think in the end it will be very positive.
I love my Hugo. I prefer it to a Metrum Octave or Weiss Dac2 that I owned previously.
Hi DTC understood,,,,however I never read a single thing on the Cord though I have waded threw some of Headfi's large site from time to time.
You are correct ,evaluations of sound ie recorded quality , quality of Hi-res down loads ect ,chat is near non existent if it exists at all on that site even here on Audiogon threads started on the subject little participation happens.....However I get the notion reading threw profiles of members that low res streaming is just fine .

In shore - One of the common comments on the Hugo is that 16/44 sounds extremely good. Rob Watts, the designer, has said that as his algorithms evolve the difference between 16/44 and higher rez gets less and less. With Hugo he thinks 16/44 and 24/96 are often very close. He believes that the need for high rez has been largely driven by less than optimal designs for 16/44. Since most people have a lot more 16/44 than high rez, its 16/44 quality can be a significant advantage for the Hugo.

If you are at all interested in the technical aspects of Hugo, Watts' comments on the long Head thread are very interesting.
DTC, your comments are generally spot on and I agree with most of them. It is possible that Chord will make QBD and Qute versions of the Hugo (reference digital section with Spartan 6) and prices will likely be a bit over the current Generation products. this couls mean that we see a Qute Hu-Stay(LoL for a slight premium over the current EX, which would mean a similar price to the Hugo, supplied with the current wallwart. This would mean that one could use an outboard PSU like a Hynes SR3.

This would take us out of battery dependence for those looking for an afforable deskbound solution with a great L-PSU. Of course if you want Balanced config and internal PSU, then it have to be the QB-Stay.

The digital section of the Hugo is certainly pushing the envelope with its bespoke design....and SQ is reportedly very good from the owners I know. However, comparison to Mega buck dac is overblown for now. Let's leave that for the desktop versions that Chord will likely come out with least that is the logical unfolding of events as I see them.

Rob Watts and Chord are certainly moving in the right direction.
There's an enthusiastic review in the UK magazine Hi Fi Choice last month edition. Hugo received the editors choice award. Former editor David Price (the reviewer) claimed it as a landmark product. The big difference and claim to fame for Hugo is in the timing and musical flow.
With my interest piqued, I ordered a Hugo yesterday and it is scheduled to arrive today. I will report my impressions.
Wisnon - agreed - I would love a Qute version of the Hugo, but from their comments it seems like they are going to do the QBD version first, which means a Qute version may be quite a way off. One would think a Qute version would be pretty easy to do, but they are a small company. If you know any more about their schedule, I would love to hear it.

I think you are generally correct, unfortunately.

I think the Qute version will be the sweetspot given the ability to hand select the LPSU used with it. The bespoke digital section (timing champ) combined with say a Hynes or a Teddy P L-PSU should be outstanding for any SE setup and it will be relatively reasonably priced.

QBD version is more aimed at the people with matching Chord esthetics and who need full connectivity, ie Balanced, Chord streaming compatibility, etc.
Anyone, What is your choice of music down loads and from whom , hi-res, DSD dxd? ect do you prefer.
What is your music reference recordings when you are evaluating over all performance of said product.
Reading descriptions of "natural sounding" like they are describing an all most living presence with vocals and acoustic instruments perked my attention to give digital another look.
Music server ? CD player or ? at what budget ? However the more
I read the quicker I backed off, It's all over the map though for now I settled on a used sacd player which could be sold at anytime without much or any loss.
Many could be perfectly happy with MP3 play back and hear a real natural sounding deep bass that seems to be the big turn on for some at Headfi.
I use head phones about 5 % of the time they do resolve low level detail some recordings better but this is sub way and traffic ,subtle audience noises during live recordings.
So to evaluate a particular component like the Cord which method of digital streaming / ripped music or Cd playback do you prefer to do this.?
In_shore - For testing, I would start with standard redbook tracks, ones you know well. For most people, redbook is the vast majority of their music. One of the advantages of the Hugo is its ability to play 16/44. Since you have a SACD player, try some SACDs that also have redbook versions on them, assuming your player plays that hybrid format. They are not always the same mastering, so you have to be a little careful, but it is a place to start for comparison.

Downloading hi rez is always a bit of a crap shoot, depending on the mastering. Some of it is remastered from the original tapes with real care and it can be very good. Other is hardly better than the redbook. I would start with music you already have and know well and look for a high rez version of that.

If you are at all technical, I would also suggest using a program to display the frequency spectrum above 20 KHz. You can use Audacity or, I use a little free program call Spek. That will show you if there is really any content in the higher frequencies. If not, it may be the original source did not have any high end content or it may be the high rez is really just an up-sampled redbook.

JRiver Media Center has the capability of converting PCM to DSD and vice versa. It can be a good way to compare PCM and DSD since you know the source is the same. It will even do the conversion on the fly, although going PCM to DSD does take a pretty hefty CPU. Otherwise, you can just use it to convert to a new file.

It is pretty easy to get started with PC audio if you want to go that route. All you need is a PC with a USB out and a software player like JRiver. Connect the PC to a USB DAC and you should be good to go. JRiver takes a little time to set up. You can start with a Schit Modi for PCM or a Schit Loki for DSD for not much money. The Schit Bifrost with USB is more money, but goes up to 24/192, versus 24/96 for the Modi. I would take it slow rather than jumping in with the "ultimate" system.

If you are not used to dealing with computer programs it can be a little daunting. Dedicated systems like the Sony HAP-z1es are a good option for people who do not want to deal with the computer aspects.

Good luck.
OK, 2 days ago at a Pal's place, I had a marathon listening session with 4 headamps, 4 HPhones and 4 Dacs, ie Lampi B7, Hugo, DirectStream and MSB Platinum stack upgraded with Galaxy 2 clocks. No speakers used, just Woo Audio (2)/Senneiser/hugo internal amp and the SennHD800, Stax, BDynamic DT990T and Hifiman HE-6 HPhones.

Suffice to say that the Hugo cannot compete with the big boys. It was shaded by the DirectStream (both were "poor" with DSD and good with PCM). The Lampi and MSB were levels above those 2 others. The MSB being more detailed but a tad harsher/harder than the more silky close that I could see either one being preferred by some depending on taste. Both were superb with DSD.

The Hugo is a great portable, but will be easily dismissed as a desktop once Chord updated the QBD with the Hugo+ digital section. At least that is my prediction based on the past model evolution. The Hugo's power section is just too limited to compete with the haute gamme Dacs of this world, but then its only a fraction of the price and very versatile. It will be interesting to see how the Qute form factor Hugo will fare once paired with a great LPSU as well.

Bottom line is that its an excellent portable and if you expect more than that, you may come away disappointed. For me, the DSD playback was a major disappointment. Its PCM is way better.
Wisnon - Please, add the prices of the units you listened to. It is relevant to the discussion. The idea that a next generation unit at a much higher price may sound better is hardly a revelation. Look, I know you are annoyed by the earlier passing comment comparing the Hugo to your beloved Lampi, but how about being a little more straightforward about price here. It is part of the equation for most people.

Interestingly, the $2,400 Hugo was only "shaded" by the $6,000 DirectStream. That seems like a significant conclusion, unless cost is not relevant.

My experience is that DSD is not poor compared to PCM on the Hugo. In fact, I prefer it in many cases.
DTC, You seem to think that I am trying to slight the Hugo, when I am not. You made a false statement that I knew coud NOT be true, as I knew NO ONE had both a Hugo and Big7 at the time to make such a comparison. I had spoken to The LampizatorNA guys and they were still awaiting shipments patiently, apart for the 1 or 2 seed units they got. The same pal I visited was patiently waiting for his and he made an early order.

Prices of all these units are public info, so I am not "hiding" anything. However, here goes...the Lampi cost $10K, the MSB stack new would retail at $35K, the upgraded from PW2 to DStream Dac cost $5K and the Hugo he paid full retail $2,500.

The Hugo is a great portable device that is very versatile and does not cost an arm and a leg (still not "cheap", but certainly carries a high value). It however is limited by the design implementation and it is MANIFEST when you hear them in comparison to the others. Yes the Dstream is better, but I am not sure it is worth the price difference, but it has one critical sonic advantage I did hear with the treble in PCM. I did not care for DSD with either the Hugo or DStream, they definitely have their sweetspot with PCM material.

Finally, all these Dacs are quite fine and one could be happy with any of them, unless one is an ultra-obsessive audiophile. I just want to point out that there IS a difference that you can hear as you go up the price ladder of these 4 beauties.