CES & THE Show 2014 • Hot Product

British electronics specialist Chord has taken a step into the portable world with Hugo ($2150), a headphone amp/DAC that brings high resolution to the mobile and home listener. Cased in machined aluminum, Hugo is based on the work Chord did for its QuteHD and EX DACs, but it has considerably greater efficiency for extended operation and, more significantly, greater processing power thanks to the Xilinx FPGA (field programmable gate array) chipset. Hugo takes no power from USB connections and it can run for a quoted 11 hours from lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. It has five inputs, including micro USB, for high- and low-resolution sources plus RCA coax at up to 384kHz. Alternatively it has a Bluetooth AptX receiver for wireless operation.

According to Chord's John Franks, Hugo is capable of inducing a "sappy happy look of pure pleasure" in users familiar with the built-in output of their devices. In specs terms, it runs at 32 bits and accepts DSD. It can also power low-impedance headphones -- up to three pairs -- and even bookshelf loudspeakers thanks to the power on tap. Apparently the name derives from "You take it wherever Hugo"!

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