Chord Mojo 2 Moveable DAC/Headphone Amplifier: Overview

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Technology

If you are a member of the Head-Fi group, Chord has been element of your daily life for the earlier decade with its award-profitable, and often groundbreaking goods. Whilst lots of of the British brands products are very high priced, there are a growing number underneath $1,000 that advantage serious awareness from both equally headphone fanatics and songs listeners on the lookout to assemble a initial-class system for possibly the property or desktop. Products like the Chord Mojo 2 supply a level of complex sophistication you never see in pretty several products and solutions in the value assortment or even over it.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier with iPad and IEM

Some history…

Chord Electronics was established in 1989 and put in its early many years earning amplifiers for the expert industry. Right now, they continue to run out of their headquarters in Kent, but the item line has expanded to include things like both equally house methods and moveable equipment.  

Rob Watts has been the major designer and engineer at the company and the driving power at the rear of some business shifting products in the desktop and moveable audio categories.

EIC Ian White, sat down with him at the modern CanJam NYC 2022 and arrived absent unbelievably impressed with each his design and style philosophy and the myriad of products on display screen at the demonstrate.

We have invested some time with solutions like the Chord Huei and found out that Chord can produce nearly everything at this stage and hold the exact variety aspect and high-quality — and continue to make it attainable.

Watts has been really vocal about his designs and how they established Chord apart from a whole lot of firms and his thoughts about MQA. (Really don’t hope Chord to help MQA anytime shortly). Chord is distinct in that they design their DACs employing a field programmable gate array (FPGA) alternatively of a committed DAC chip.

For a smaller British business with a handful of workforce, this is a large enterprise. Most providers count on ESS, AKM, or Cirrus Logic to present the DAC chip and awareness of the inner workings of the DAC.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier in pocket

Chord practically models their DACs from the floor up a whole lot of the work is focused on the application which allows firmware modifications on Chord units that would call for components changes in most other firms items. 

Proponents will refer to Chord as a true company whilst other businesses utilizing chip DACs are basically assemblers. Detractors will issue to the prices of the Chord lineup and recommend that in-residence R&D brings about price ranges to be significantly larger than equivalent products and solutions by other rivals.

Even though that may well be true — the fact is that Chord features some of the ideal sounding audio factors in the environment and most of them can contend with products and solutions that are considerably a lot more costly.

The Chord Qutest is probably just one of the ideal sounding DACs underneath $3,000 and it doesn’t value any where near that.

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When the 1st era Mojo (mobile Joy) arrived on the sector, the dongle truly didn’t exist still and most men and women were both applying a DAC/Amplifier or a DAP.  It was not unusual to see stacks of devices wherever one supplied the supply and yet another the DAC/Amplifier functionality.

The Chord Mojo delivered wi-fi cellular phone consumers an choice that was as great or greater than most DAPs on the market. Quick ahead a several several years, and the Mojo is nonetheless usable but the market place has shifted substantially.

For starters, the Micro-USB ports on the Mojo now day it for the reason that most equipment now use USB Sort-C ports. The Dongle DAC current market has shifted anticipations of what a portable gadget must be as perfectly most individuals now count on a more compact and lighter gadget.

The Skinny

I was pretty thrilled when Chord announced the new Mojo 2 simply because its predecessor was so great, but was still left scratching my head when I noticed the initially photos.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amp Left Side
Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amp Right Side

The Mojo 2 is incredibly equivalent to the to start with era Mojo, with the exception of a 4-button handle program (3 on the original) and a USB Type-C enter. It is the identical dimensions and shape and I wouldn’t say that the weight has modified all that significantly. With the exception of the aforementioned USB Form-C input, the connections are the similar.

The fourth button provides a new tone control to the current electric power/enter change, and the volume adjustment buttons. The outputs are still dual 3.5mm ports on the conclusion opposite the inputs Chord is not a proponent of well balanced audio, so I didn’t hope to see them bow to marketplace strain and consist of a 4.4mm port.

Chord Mojo2 Portable DAC/Headphone Amp with Poly Streamer

These who have invested in the Chord Poly that extends the function of the Mojo into a streamer will respect the actuality that port placements are the exact same as the previously design which implies that Poly end users are not remaining out in the rain twiddling their thumbs.   

Internally, a new technology of FPGA features much more substantial changes. Chord phone calls it the UHD DSP or Ultra-large Definition Digital Sign processor, and even though most of the sector debates 16-bit/24-bit DACs, the Mojo 2 works by using a 104-bit/768kHz FPGA central main.

104-little bit?

Certainly. We know that there is not music however at that little bit charge but that’s not the place of the style and design.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier Box Front

The DAC makes use of Delta-Sigma logic but with noise shapers that use a significantly higher frequency than most Delta-Sigma DACs which allows for preservation of the smallest element of the initial sign.  

Chord has a podcast with Rob outlining the changes made to the sound shapers and how it impacts the over-all audio top quality. In a nutshell, the average Delta-Sigma DAC converts the 5 or 6 most significant bits and then utilizes a responses mechanism (sounds shaper) to reconstruct the remaining bits fairly than basically changing the total 16 or 24-little bit sign. 

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This lets for a speed enhancement about comprehensive depth conversion but implies that usually the micro-information are at best, an estimate of what was in the original observe. 

This is why proponents of R2R like it over Delta-Sigma DACs mainly because R2R converts the overall signal alternatively than making use of opinions. R2R delivers a host of other issues though, so Chord finds the best resolution to be a Delta-Sigma design with sound shapers functioning at considerably larger than typical frequency. 

With comparisons manufactured 5 instances more generally than the normal chip based mostly DACs, extra detail is preserved and much more dynamic selection as very well.   

The other significant gain of the FPGA DSP model is that tone controls can be implemented on any sought after portion of the frequency range with out degradation of sound high-quality. The fourth button introduces a menu technique that presents entry to crossfeed adjustments and the lossless tone controls so end users can tune the Mojo2 to their precise headphone or IEM.

The tone controls offer 4 bands, lessen bass, mid bass, reduce treble, and higher treble with 18 actions of adjustment in each and every band. The quantity handle vary is from +18 dB to -108 dB, with two discrete attain degrees providing even additional flexibility.  

Together with the modifications to the FPGA, the Mojo 2 now employs a electronic DC servo with a new interpolation filter design and style throughout the 40 DSP cores. This allows even more cut down sounds and enhance SNR as the new style and design eliminates the coupling capacitors made use of in the past model.  

The FPGA is also utilized for battery administration in the Mojo 2 providing it a great deal enhanced charging rates as very well as longer and cooler operation. I experienced no issues having a complete 8 hrs of listening time at ordinary listening degrees (78 dB).  

The other great detail is that the Mojo 2 bypasses the inner battery completely when in desktop mode which assists protect the battery lifestyle.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier with DAP

The Audio

With all the new technological innovation underneath the hood, we’d hope the new Mojo 2 to seem substantially different than its predecessor — but at first pay attention you may well be underwhelmed.

The adjustments to the seem are incremental and the Chord household sound is very a lot nonetheless in play. The dynamics and detail are the two improved with more micro-depth as opposed to the original while all over again, it may possibly choose direct A/B screening to actually discover some of the smaller sized nuances.

The spot exactly where I assume the distinction in the first and the Mojo 2 is most apparent is in the soundstage wherever the Mojo2 has a fantastic live overall performance sense to the seem with instrument spacing and imaging easily besting the previous model.   

For all those that are not in like with the close to neutral tonal signature, the tone controls now give the user to the possibility to make the Mojo 2 as bass significant as any person could realistically expect and it does so with no notably muddying the seem.  

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I have usually praised bass strengthen circuits that offer you little gains while retaining the transparency (iFi X-bass), as commonly the even larger the increase — the much more it veils the audio.

Chord does look to have solved this as I was able to add +5 methods to equally the low bass and mid bass and not drop clarity in the approach. At the excessive stop, I do feel it overwhelms, so even if cleaner than ordinary, I see the actual reward of the tone controls being the 1st 3 or 4 steps where by calculated adjustments can be built relatively than an all-out assault on the original signature.

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier Kit

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Chord Mojo 2 is between the finest sounding portable DAC/Amplifiers I have read to date and it competes very well with matters like the Centrance M8 V2 ($749 at Amazon) which I use as the benchmark for what a transportable DAC/Amp can be.

The develop is very reliable and the UI even though acquiring a bit of a learning curve, is nonetheless miles forward of most dongles that offer you minimal or no manage floor at all. The issue for lots of will be value. At $845 retail in the Usa, it is a large pill to swallow when most dongle DACs are retailing at $299 or a lot less and even the M8V2 is $100 a lot less.  

The issues that make the Mojo 2 really worth the cash are that it is the maximum resolution DAC at any time provided in a portable product and revelatory seem top quality that is challenging to disregard.

Its tone controls are quickly greater than fairly significantly any other gadget I have analyzed devoid of likely to a total parametric EQ, and for these now invested in the Chord ecosystem, the Mojo 2 maintains compatibility with the other Chord modules (Poly).

Chord has generally experienced a cult-like adhering to and I suspect the Mojo 2 will proceed that craze with proponents pointing to all the technological improvements though detractors level to the selling price.

The Chord Mojo 2 is near the top rated of the pyramid with issues like the Centrance M8v2, but it also sits in the vicinity of the top in value which will retain it from advertising as broadly as it might otherwise.

Where by to get: $845 at Amazon | Audio46 (currently backordered)

Chord Mojo 2 Portable DAC Headphone Amplifier Box Back

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