Audiophilia, an endless pursuit of music perfection, a vicious cycle in where audio and music enthusiasts go lengths just to hear that extra few percent of perceived better audio quality at the expense of your wallet. It is an addiction and I love it.
Chord Electronics LTD, a manufacturer of high-end electronics since 1989 from the United Kingdom is a company known by enthusiasts to produce some of the best portable amplifiers and DAC in the market and we were asked to try out their latest headphone amplifier/DAC that will be available on our shores very soon.
What is a DAC or a digital-to-analogue converter, though? Basically, it is a function that converts digital signal (in this case, music to an analogue signal) in order for your speakers, headphones or in-ear monitor amplifiers to produce sound. What it does is to ensure that the music files that are being amplified will not suffer degradation and produce the clearest sounds possible.
Enter the Chord Mojo, Chord’s foray to our little niche of portable high-end audio. It is a well-built portable headphone amplifier and DAC in one that promises to add pepper to your music. Made from a single block of precision machined aluminum, the Mojo feels premium, robust and could take a beating. Compatible with Windows, Linux, Android, iOS and Mac OS, the Mojo can be adapted to a lot of portable devices out there.
Making sure that your digital inputs are covered, the Chord Mojo has an optical in, coaxial in and USB in that will ensure no generation loss will happen from your computer, music player or even your smartphone! Additionally, it has two analogue outs than can power almost any earphone or headphone in the market for up to 10 hours of high resolution audio.
Now that we’ve got the basics of the Chord Mojo covered, the most important question would be: how does it sound? In order to properly assess this beauty, I’ve spent a few days listening to music at least 2 hours each day with it using a high-fidelity music player, a laptop or my smartphone. I’ve also used Apple earbud earphones, the Fostex TH7 headphones, the HiFiman HE400s, the Vsonic GR07 Bass Edition in-ear monitors and my favorite and modified Audio-technica IM03.
For my aural pleasure, I’ve listened to various albums, such as: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave, Taylor Swift – 1989, Up Dharma Down – Capacities, Adele – 21, Queen – The Best of Queen, Metallica – S&M, Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns, our small community’s favorite testing album Nina – Live! all in FLAC (or lossless format) and a copy of a high-resolution audio: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody just to compare the difference of FLAC to Hi-res.
Top tip: Always listen to music you are familiar with when trying new equipment, so that you can hear all of the nuances!
How does it sound? After a few days of playing around with the Mojo, it was apparent off the bat that there is an improvement in sound quality over my analog amplifier. The middle frequencies in which you can here the vocals and guitars have come a bit more forward, the details retrieval, especially in the upper range frequencies, is exceptional since it was like hearing new instruments and details when I was listening to Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls from the S&M album. The bass was tighter, but the very first thing that you’ll notice is the sound stage getting wider. Everything got clearer and the music got smoother! This little thing is something that an enthusiast needs to listen with!
At an estimated price of Php31,000.00 when it gets released in our market, I can say that it is worth every peso. Why? With High resolution becoming a thing in the audio world, a portable high resolution music player will cost you somewhere between Php10,000 to Php100,000! The value proposition of the Chord Mojo is that any current smartphone will have the ability to become a music transport for high resolution music!
Now, how was my experience listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in high resolution format? I can definitely say that there is a difference in quality over my FLAC format, but the difference could be more on the mastering of the album, especially that most of my FLAC albums sounded as good as the only file I had in high resolution. I never knew that Taylor Swift could sound so good.
It was a sad day when I had to box the test unit and return it so other reviewers can enjoy it. If I had deep pockets and could burn Php31,000, I would. Some people may say that I am crazy, but it is an addiction and once your ears are opened, there is no turning back.
Interested in trying the latest and greatest in portable audio? Head to: Egghead: Experience Audio Porn At Its Finest – Try Before You Buy