Chord Hugo 2 TT Review

Chord is a British brand of audio gear that has somewhat of a legendary status amongst the audiophile community. Rob Watts is the brainchild behind the their digital to analog converter line consisting of products such as the flagship DAVE to the portable budget Mojo. The middle child of their lineup are the Chord Hugo and the tabletop version, the Chord Hugo TT. This set of impressions will cover my time with the Chord Hugo 2 TT, which is one of Chord's newer DAC/Amp products that retails for $5500 USD.

The Chord Hugo 2 TT was loaned to me by community member JB77. Jeremy has been a wonderful soul who has lent out several pieces of gear to me for a quick spin of the past year. Thanks again!

The Hugo 2 TT comes in both black and silver models and this review is the black model. The TT is a desktop version of the Hugo 2 portable DAC/Amp combo that features more power and I/O. This Hugo 2 TT has three headphone outputs in the front, with one 3.5mm output, and two 1/4 inch outputs for multiple headphone uses at a time. On the other side of the front panel are buttons for power/standby, crossfeed, and input selection. The center of the Hugo 2 TT is the Chord signature color-changing marble that controls volume by spinning it, and changes color based on the volume level.

The center of the top of the unit has a see-through window that is also color-coded based on the music input. This windows allows one to see inside to the main board of the unit. The case is all metal and extremely well-built and put-together.

I only tested this unit using USB-input, but there's also options for toslink, coaxial and BNC connectors. As this is also a DAC, there's also output for balanced XLR and RCA. Some people have used the XLR output to drive headphones, however, I have not tried this myself.

Sound Impressions

The Hugo 2 TT is just a nice sounding unit. That's what I have to say first and foremost. It's really nice, with great resolution, a slightly warm sound that is quite intoxicating and a soundstage that can open up quite nicely with the crossfeed function, which has 4 levels total. There are also 4 different DAC filters, however, I primarily stayed on the neutrally-tuned default setting for this trial run. 

I primarily listened to this unit with two headphones and two IEMs:

Hifiman Arya and ZMF Verite over-ear Headphones
Hidition Viento-B and Unique Melody MEST Custom IEMs

With the Hifiman Arya, I really enjoyed the subtle differences between the Hugo 2 TT and the Topping A90 solid state amp and Feliks Elise OTL Tube amp I typically use. For the Arya, I normally use the Elise as a tube preamp for the A90 to get the high power along with the softer tube effects. With the Hugo 2 TT, I find that the harshness of the Arya mostly go away and I'm left with a very detailed and nice enjoyable sound that is reference-in-nature, but also very soulful and inviting. With the Arya however, I did not like the use of crossfeed. The changes tended to bring out a harsher Arya signature which I did not appreciate, and the Arya has already a nice open soundstage as it is.

On the other hand, with the ZMF Verite, I preferred to let the crossfeed function go wild. I enjoyed the Verite pairing as well. Even though, I still think the Verite sounds better with a higher impedance amplifier than that of the Hugo 2 TT, and I still prefer it on the Elise MK2, the Hugo 2 TT still provides a good experience. I think the crossfeed, in this case, improves the Verite sound significantly. In my actual listening, I find that turning this function on does raise up the upper mid-range a little bit, although I did not measure it to find out. It's this general area of the Verite that I do not like that much as it's a bit scooped out and I tend to want to EQ it to "correct" it to my liking. 

When I switched over to IEMs, I went with the smaller 3.5mm port on the TT. From what I understand, the output impedance of this unit is somewhere around 1.5 to 2 ohms, which can actually do some stuff to my two primary custom monitors. If you also have impedance sensitive IEMs, please keep this in mind.

With the Hidition Viento-B, I found the Hugo 2 TT sounded great! The Viento-B typically lowers the upper mid-range and treble with impedance gain, and this small subtle amount of impedance gain, coupled with the euphonic Hugo 2 sound makes it a nice combination. I kept the DAC settings mostly at default, but cross-feed sounds fine with the Viento-B up to about the midway setting.

The MEST typically increases bass quite a bit with impedance, and is much more sensitive than the Viento is. With the Hugo 2 TT pairing, I found the MEST to really start to sound a bit too warm and congested, and even a little muddy. I wasn't a huge fan of this pairing personally and didn't spend a great deal of time with them together.


Well, this Hugo 2 TT is a nice looking, well-built and wonderful sounding unit. I am enamored a bit by it, but its price tag is quite steep, at $5500 USD retail. The color changing marbles are also a looker, and I like my gear to have clean and modern aesthetics and I think Chord really hit it home with their styling.

This is a pricey unit though, and its hard to recommend it to just anyone and I highly recommend listening to this set, and also its bigger, pricier brother Dave while you're at it. Chord makes some nice units with plenty of flair. This is no different.