It isn’t contentious to suggest that the hi-fiindustry has a traditionalist streak. For many companies, the maintaining of traditional principles is vital to their perceived heritage and in extreme cases this extends to making the same physical product for years at a time. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and there are other companies with a reputation based on the desire to continue to push the technical envelope. This system is what happens when you combine two such brands.
Chord Electronics has been pursuing avant-garde solutions for 30 years. Nowhere has this been more apparent than with digital audio. Since the arrival of its groundbreaking DAC64, it has eschewed traditional DAC chips in favour of custom-programmed FPGA (field-programmable gate array) units. While the concept has changed little in the Hugo TT2 DAC/ preamp seen here, the execution is almost unrecognizable. Where the DAC64 offered support for 24-bit/ 96kHz music files, the TT2 offers 24-bit/768kHz. Finding music files at this sample rate is akin to hunting for unicorns, which is where the Chord Hugo M Scaler comes in.
The M Scaler is also designed around an FPGA, but it isn’t a DAC. Instead, it takes incoming digital signals and runs them through a bespoke filter and upsampling process. This takes a 44.1 or 48kHz signal (or multiples thereof) and upsamples it 16 times so that the output rate is 24-bit/ 705.6kHz or 24-bit/768kHz. As the Hugo TT2 is also a preamp, this means that the duo is in effect a complete and comprehensively specified front half of a system.