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Chord Hugo USB DAC headphone amp


Chord Electronics

Moon Audio

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Chord Hugo 2 Preorder Now

The Chord Hugo is a reference-level portable headphone amp/dac for PCD and DSD audio.

HUGO has truly raised the bar when it comes to portable high end audio.

Regular Price: $2,195.00

Now only: $1,995.00

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Hugo Main Features:

  • Playback up to DSD 128 and 384kHz PCM
  • Includes Chord's award-winning FPGA DAC
  • Drives the most demanding high-end headphones
  • Excellent for home and mobile use with 12 hour battery life
  • 5 digital inputs including Apt-X Bluetooth

Top 4 reasons we added the Chord Hugo to Moon Audio’s lineup of portable headphone amps:

1. The Dac in the HUGO is not a standard off the shelf wolfson or Burr Brown chip that everyone else uses so the decoding is just spectacular.

2. The Hugo can be used as a desktop or portable headphone amp/dac and it converts usb, pcm, dsd, and tons of other formats.

3. We love the sound, it’s just jaw dropping and it can drive just about any headphone on the planet, even hard to drive ones like the Sennheiser HD800.

4. It has an AMAZING 12-14 hour battery life. WOW, need I say anything else?

More Details of the Hugo

Hugo is the world’s most advanced headphone amp/DAC, offering five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus advanced 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback for today’s high-resolution DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) music files. Based on the same FPGA DAC technology that has helped establish Chord Electronics as an authority in digital audio. Named Hugo (because you can take Hugo wherever ‘you-go’), and it offers studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability, all from a palm-sized player.

Use as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a reference-level source component in a static system, it brings the renowned digital audio expertise of Rob Watts and Chord to serious headphone listening, enabling consumers to experience a world of super-high-resolution music via their headphones. Hugo offers unsurpassed performance and technology and is unrivaled in the marketplace, thanks to its bespoke technology, FPGA circuitry and advanced file-playback capability.

The Chord Hugo DAC plus headphone amp is ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files. Hugo by Chord can decode sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM), allowing audiophiles to experience music in true high definition, along with the best possible reproduction of CD-quality music. The Chord Hugo also benefits from two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz. Thanks to two additional digital inputs, coaxial and optical, any connected component with a digital output will also benefit from Hugo’s advanced technology.

Building on the strengths on the (two-years’-running) What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision ‘Best DAC’ QuteHD, the Chord Hugo dac also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry, so even without cables, high-quality music can still be enjoyed.

In addition to 384kHz PCM files, the Hugo by Chord can also process DSD 128 data using the latest DSD-over-PCM standard (DoP). Whether using Mac OS or Windows OS, Chord Electronics’, the manufacturer of the Hugo, own proprietary driver software is provided, removing the restrictions of current operating system audio playback.

Chord's Hugo even has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours. Hugo takes no power over its USB input (as this is severely limited with many partnering products) and only takes signal data, therefore, Chord's hugo is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Further features include an advanced reference-grade digital volume control that does not lose bits.

Like all Chord Electronics products, Hugo is built to last. The casework is precision- machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, with a bright silver hard-anodised finish. Complementing the design is a top-mounted ‘porthole’ that gives users an intriguing insight into the internal circuitry, which changes colour with differing incoming sample rates. 


Important Notice: The available digital audio stream depends on your device and operating system. For a list of compatible devices please visit Extreme DSD.  *Note that some devices need 3rd party software to function. 

Hugo Manual

Chord Hugo Color Charts

CNET Hugo Review by Steve Guttenberg

Audio Stream Hugo Review 

HiFi+ Hugo DAC Review

Sound News Hugo Review


Have Questions?

Find answers to common questions on our guides.



Additional Info

Main Features:

  1. Playback up to DSD 128 and 384kHz PCM
  2. Includes Chord's latest award-winning FPGA DAC
  3. Reference-class amplifier drives the most demanding high-end headphones
  4. Home and mobile use with 12 hour battery life
  5. five digital inputs including Apt-X Bluetooth


Turn on the power switch. Hugo will cycle through the sequence of colors and then be ready for operation. Select the input you wish to use and plug in the input cables and headphones as appropriate. Adjust the volume to a comfortable listening level.

Driver Installation

If you are using the high definition (HD) USB input with a Microsoft Windows™ Vista, 7 or 8 PC then you will need to install the driver software on the supplied CD or via the chord electronics website. ASIO drivers are also included. Apple™ or Android™ platforms are driverless and do not require any driver to operate.

Bluetooth Input

Hugo can play music via a Bluetooth enabled device. Hugo supports standard A2DP Bluetooth audio or the higher quality APTX Bluetooth audio codec. Select the Bluetooth input indicated by a blue source light and then follow the instructions on your device to pair with Hugo. The pairing code is 0000 if required.

Coax Input

Connect a coax digital signal to the yellow phono socket. Select the coax input indicated by the red source light.

Optical Input

Connect an optical digital signal to the TOSLink socket. Select the optical input indicated by the green source light.

SD USB Input

The standard definition (SD) USB input allows for music playback up to 16bit 48Khz. This input does not require any drivers and will be compatible with nearly all mobile phones / tablets and other source components with USB connection. (USB drivers and USB memory sticks / cards are not supported).

Using an OTG (on the go) USB cable or the Apple™ Camera Connection Kit Hugo can be connected directly to a phone or tablet.

Select the SD USB input indicated by the yellow source light.

HD USB Input

The high definition (HD) USB input is the highest quality method of digital playback. This input is asynchronous and uses Hugo’s own highly accurate clock circuit. This input will support 384KHz PCM/DXD and also DSD64 and DSD128 in DoP format. No drivers are required for Apple™ and Android™ devices but for Microsoft Windows™ you must firstly load the drivers on the supplied CD or download them from our website.

Using an OTG (on the go) USB cable or the Apple™ Camera Connection Kit Hugo can be connected directly to a phone or tablet.

Select the HD USB input indicated by the white source light.


Up to 3 sets pf headphones can be connected at the same time to share the listening experience. There is one larger 6.35mm jack socket and two smaller 3.5mm sockets. The high current output stage will work with headphone impedances as low as 4 ohms or up to several hundred ohms so there are no restriction on headphone type or choice.


Plug in the supplied wall adapter to charge Hugo. The bright white charge light will illuminate through the lens. When fully charged (approx. 5 hours) the charge light will switch off. It is safe to leave the power adapter connected continuously to charge and power Hugo. The charge status is indicated by a color changing light under the lens. Blue is fully charged and this will change through green to red as the batteries discharge. When there is no power left the light will flash red and the output will mute.

Sample Frequency Lights

Each digital sample frequency received will cause Hugo to illuminate different colors to indicate correct operation. The sequence is as follows:

Red – 44Khz, Orange – 48Khz, Yellow – 88Khz, Green – 96Khz, Light Blue – 176Khz, Dark Blue – 192Khz, Light Purple – 352Khz (DXD), Purple – 384Khz (DXD).

White indicates DSD operation at either DSD64 or DSD128.


There are 3 crossfeed modes that enhance the listening experience to give a more spatial ‘out of the head’ stereo sound field. Using advanced filtering and delay the normal headphone stereo image is converted to give the effect of a much bigger sound stage as though you are listening to large loudspeakers or live music. The modes are indicated by the crossfeed light under the lens as follows:

No light – normal mode with no crossfeed, Red light – minimum crossfeed (9dB 700Hz), Green light – medium crossfeed (6dB 700 Hz), Blue light – maximum crossfeed (4.5dB 700 Hz).

Volume Bypass

Press and hold the Crossfeed switch while turning on to activate volume bypass mode. The volume control will illuminate light blue to indicate line level output. Using bypass mode Hugo can be used as a standalone DAC into a preamplifier with volume control. Volume bypass mode will set the volume on all outputs including the headphone outputs to full level. Do not plug in or use headphones when activating bypass mode.



• Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
• RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable
• Driverless USB input 16-bit/48kHz-capable (designed for tablets/phones)
• HD USB input 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128-capable (for computer/laptop playback; requires driver installation on Windows, others TBC)


• 2x3.5mm headphone jacks
• 1x6.35mm (1/4 inch) headphone jack
• 1x (pair) stereo RCA phono output

Technical specs

• Advanced digital volume control
• Crossfeed filter network
• Battery powered for approximately 14 hours operation
• Input, sample rate and volume level indication by colour-change LEDs
• 26K tap-length filter (more than double when compared to the QuteHD DAC)
• THD: 140dB
• Headphone output: 110dB SPL into a 300ohm headphone load


• 3 years


Money well spentReview by Darell S.
I spent quite a bit of time researching "headphone amplifiers" and portable DAC's before I stumbled on the glowing reviews of this little wonder. For once, believe the hype. The technology behind the chord DAC is an expression of pure love for music. I listen with sennheiser HD800's, as Stax 009's driven by a Blue Hawaii SE. I drive them with, among other things, the ONKYO app on my iphone loaded with high res files. The result: choral works are revealed to be tapestries of sonic delicacy previously undreamed of. Violins hover in space and you as the listener percieve the subtle movements of the violinist as he bows his instrument. Soloist voices take on a quality of gripping immediacy. Yes, some of what this DAC is capable of requires expensive hardware at the transducer end of the chain. But to be fair I have spent lovely afternoons by the river with my wife listening to Tidal streaming on the same phone, over AKG 712's and the joy of music was unflawed. What will happen, though, is your buddy will excitedly offer to let you listen to his little portable amp/dac that is not a Chord product, that he paid a thousand dollars for and he thinks is the new sliced cheese, and you will have to struggle to conceal your disappointment that it just doesn't sound very musical. Because, now, you know what does. (Posted on 2/16/2017)
As Good As I ExpectedReview by alexkhan
I recently decided to get serious about listening to music (well, being in a better financial situation than before is a part of it!) and started looking into various headphones and DAC/headphone amps. I travel a lot on business trips to Asia so I wanted something portable as well as something I can use at home in a stationary system.

I work in the musical instruments and music (recording artists) industry so I obviously care about audio quality very much. I work with high-end manufacturers and world-class artists so I can say that I'm quite critical and demanding about what I expect out of "great sound".

After some research, I settled on the Jerry Harvey Audio Layla CIEM and the Sennheiser HD 800 S for my headphone needs and the Chord Electronics Hugo and Mojo DAC/headphone amps. I'm looking at the JH Audio CIEM (custom molded) and the Mojo for travel usage and the Hugo and HD 800S for home usage.

I have to say that I really can't be happier about the choices I've made. The Hugo has everything I'd want or need - including the ability to connect to my audio system which also doubles as musical instrument and studio amplification needs. I'm no hardcore audiophile and can't afford to be one but I appreciate great sound more from an MI industry professional and working with great musicians.

I tested the Mojo and Hugo with "midrange" ($300~600) headphones that I've had for some years as well as the "high-end" gear like Layla and HD 800S. Obviously, the "high-end" headphones blow away the "midrange" headphones and earpieces I've been using but I was also very interested in how the Hugo and Mojo do with the midrange stuff to develop a reference point. My previous DAC/headphone amps have been the JDS O2/ODAC and J5D which I had been happy with and consider very good performers for the money.

The Hugo (as well as the Mojo) just seem to lift a blanket off of the music. The clarity and the musical "sheen" around the notes you hear are quite amazing. This is just with the "midrange" headphones and earpieces. Of course, when I put on the Layla CIEM and the HD 800S through the Hugo it's lights out and I feel like I'm in aural heaven.

Being in the MI industry, I do know that there's a point of diminishing returns with high-end gear. Seriously, what's the difference between a $3000 guitar and a $6000 guitar or a $15000 guitar? Not a whole lot as far as the sound is concerned. I look at the Hugo as that $3000 high-end guitar that can go right up against the $6000+ guitar. The Mojo is the $1000 guitar that performs almost as good as the $3000 guitar. That's how I look at it.

The controls of both the Hugo and the Mojo take a little while to get used to but they're cool. And the flexibility of the in's and out's is a real plus. Now I can listen to music together with my wife and/or the kids with the multiple headphone outs and enjoy the pristine sound of the Hugo or the Mojo.

I can't say I've compared the Hugo to DACs that cost twice as much or more. I'm sure that's where we get into the point of diminishing returns. It's about paying 2 or 3 times more on something to get 2~3% "improvement". It's cool. I can relate. All that matters is that the buyer/user is satisfied. I went out on a limb to get the Hugo myself but I feel confident that it was money very well spent and that it actually provides value. It sounds awesome with all the clarity, definition, soundstage, musicality, and the sweetness on the highs that I find so important. (Posted on 2/16/2017)
Hugo vs. MojoReview by Gil
I'm coming from the Mojo and have been using the Hugo for several weeks now. For me the improvement in detail and grip on the music (especially the bottom end) is not subtle. Biggest surprise: how sumptuous 16bit sounds through the Hugo. (Posted on 2/16/2017)
Hugo DACReview by Ajay Chowdhury
I have the hugo DAC and the Astell and Kern AK 100. Its a match made in heaven. I use it with my JH audio and in my bedroom audio systems. It is as musical as my main room audio that has several tube and vinyl gear. (Posted on 2/16/2017)
Great DACReview by Ajay
Its the best portable item i have ever bought since my first sony walkman. (Posted on 10/18/2016)
Great Headphone Amp/DACReview by dilemnia
The Chord Hugo is one of my favorite components. It's a true audiophile portable device. Acts as portable DAC/headphone amp and high-quality preamp. I went from an Oppo HA-2 to the Hugo and never looked back. It sounds fantastic and it's well built. It initially replaced the HA-1 and my musical fidelity v90 DAC before I moved on to the Auralic Vega.

The design and controls are somewhat quirky - small recess for interconnects would not allow ALL interconnects and the hard to reach recessed power button would not turn off easily. The round class window on top would probably let you see the dust that the unit would collect inside the casing overtime. And lastly, the headphone jack recess would not allow L-shaped earphone jacks to connect easily - such as the Sennheiser IE800.

With all that said, it's the sound that matters. I take it anywhere on trips with my Senheiser HD600 and absolutely love it. (Posted on 5/24/2016)
I really love the Chord Hugo. Sound stage and imaging are exceptional. It has outstanding dynamics that I have not heard before.

It is a perfect match with my HD800 Headphones as I feel it adds some bottom end and smooths out the treble while still being absolutely crystal clear.

Vocals are also very clear without sounding sibilant. The mids are to die for. The Hugo really takes you deep down into the music and brings out all of the instrumentation with excellent separation.

You simply hear more of the mix. I now understand why so many People love this product and you can add me to the list (Posted on 1/9/2016)
Chord Hugo Is A Revolution In Digital SoundReview by Marty
Listening to the genius father of Chord Hugo (Rob Watts) discuss his many misgivings about digital music I only understood about every third word. I did understand "harsh and non-musical" as Rob's main problem with digital music. The difference between Rob and me is he knows how to do something about it.

The good news for me and all of us these digital music days is we get to BUY Rob's and Chord Electronics founder John Franks' invention - the Chord Hugo. I've spoke with Moon-Audio.com's founder Drew Baird about the Chord Hugo frequently.

Drew knew he was hearing a revolution on his first audition at the Consumer Electronics Show. I trust Drew's ears and knowledge and the Chord Hugo lived up to everything adjective he used (and then some).

I really appreciated learning how to connect my Chord Hugo to my Apple laptop and iPhone too. The Hugo's sound is seductive, musical and open. The warmth is back in digital music even if I can't understand Rob's or Drew's explanation of why.

Doesn't matter, the Chord Hugo adds new dimensions of fun and listening joy to my Fostex TH900s and Shure SE846s with Silver Dragons all the way around (at every connection). Chord Hugo is not cheap, but then great things rarely are.

My thinking was in for a penny, in for a pound since the Chord Hugo made every other investment that much richer. Life is short, buy the best stuff and then put it in or over your ears. (Posted on 9/8/2015)
Audio Nirvana!Review by Tom
For a lot of good reasons, I have been away from the audio "good stuff" for a number of years. Recently, I decided to return to the fold in the company of a Hugo with LCD-3 cans.

If you want an absolutely first-rate unit, you won't find a better one than Hugo., plain and simple.

Moon Audio made it spectacularly easy with service you would expect when making such a purchase.

Highly recommended. (Posted on 9/5/2015)
SatisfiedReview by Abuhayat
I live in Dubai, i was desperate to get a Hugo from any part of the world through a genuine source. Thats when i came across Moon Audio. Its a marvellous store with marvellous service who does international shipping. I ended up buying Auzede LCD-3 from them again within a month, though LCD-3 is not hard to get from other places.

A Hugo and a LCD-3, how lucky am I :) (Posted on 5/9/2015)
You have to hear it to believe it!!Review by JR Garcia
I never had a chance to audition the Chord Hugo before I purchased it, so I was dependent on reviews and comments posted on various tech and audio websites, as well as Head-Fi threads.

I have to say I was quite surprised at the overwhelmingly positive feedback this little unit was receiving, and now I understand why. Suffice to say it has made all my music better! I'm currently using my iPad with a Silver Dragon usb connection, listening through HD600's and Noble K10 ciems. SQ is fantastic, full bodied yet naturally detailed, with the depth, power and clarity of a desktop system. And it's all wrapped in a beautifully constructed, precision made aluminum body.

It all spells quality, front to back, top to bottom! So much has been said about the sound quality, the only thing I can add is an affirmative that you won't be disappointed by the musicality it brings to all your favorite tunes! (Posted on 4/27/2015)
Amazing ProductReview by JJ
The Chord Hugo I purchased from Drew is an amazing product, and far surpasses my expectations of what a DAC/amp of this size could sound like. Everything you have read about the HUGO is absolutely true. The sound is so clear and beautiful that it gives me goosebumps every time I use it.

It's portable and I take it everywhere with me. I use it currently with a 8.1 Samsung laptop, a 1 foot Silver Dragon USB cable, and I rotate between three different earphones. The SE846 (recabled with silver dragons), an Audeze LCD-X with Drew's Black Dragon V2 cableing and Furutech connectors, and a JH Roxanne iem.

The beauty of this setup is that I can plug all three earphones into the Chord Hugo at the same time, and choose between the three at a moment's notice. I will be getting the new Chord Hugo TT for desktop use. I really believe in the company and their products. Thank you, Moon Audio. (Posted on 4/4/2015)
FANTASTIC !Review by Michael Ford
I wrote another review under the name of The Old Mad Dog but I feel compelled to write another because I've spent time with Hugo and now understand all of its little nuances.

First, Toslink out of an Apple is great. But, now having received the Silver Dragon USB, even better.

Second, the crossfeed switch. I've had devices with such switches before or crossfeed built in - and so what? They all sound like 1970's Quadrophonic sound. HOWEVER, Hugo has a crossfeed switch that not only works, it works on the fly as you're listening. And, it's use - AMAZING. The spatial tonality and instrument separation is unlike anything you've ever heard before. It's just like being in the 8th row of a concert setting. Only you don't have to stand through the whole thing with a BIC lighter in your hand.

I thought the Fostex TH900 headphones were pretty good. Then I got the Hugo and thought they were great. Then I got the Silver Dragon USB cable and figured out Hugo's crossfeed switch and I am 100% set (at least until I go to Drew's booth at next year's RMAF CanJam).

This is absolutely a sound investment to use as a reference point for years to come! (Posted on 12/11/2014)
Truly OutstandingReview by The Old Mad Dog
As with Daniel. I won't mimic all of the Hugo reviews. At my ripe age of 64 (that's a little more than 9 dog years), I have tried virtually everything and I'll leave it as this...

With the Fostex TH900 / Silver Dragon V3, this is as good as it gets. The only system I've owned that was better was a Goldmund Turntable with Straight Line Tracking, Mark Levinson Class A Amps and Preamp and the infamous Levinson modified Quad Speaker system. But that's comparing a system which cost well over 40 times as much as the Hugo and that was 30 years ago!

I'm sold and a believer in a solid product which matches the reviews and doesn't need the hype.

(Posted on 11/25/2014)
Unmatched portable USB DAC headphone ampReview by Daniel
There are myriad glowing reviews of the Hugo, so there is no need to mimic them (mine is used with an Audeze LCD-XC - suffice to say that it will make your higher range cans sing. For my primary environment, I must stick with closed cans).

I prefer the Hugo to the iFi micro iDSD for the former's stunning performance across all parameters (oops, did I just dip into a "review?") - and I don't mind the iFi sound. However, sometimes I miss an analog input available in the latter, but oh well. (Posted on 11/25/2014)

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