Need advice on which Chord DAC makes sense for me

Current gear is as follows:

  • Headphones: Focal Clear MG; Focal Celestee; ZMF Aeolus (soon to be delivered)

  • Amp: ampsandsound Kenzie Ovation (soon to be delivered)

  • DAC/SS Headphone Amp: Topping D90/A90 stack

I’m thinking seriously about upgrading my DAC/Amp combo - I find the Topping perfectly fine but kind of uninspiring. The Chord family seems like it truly gets near-zealous reviews from users, and I’m focusing (reluctantly, wallet-wise) on the Hugo 2 TT, seeing as it’s an integrated DAC/solid-state amp. But am I better off with a Hugo 2 (non-TT) and combine that with a different headphone amp?

I’m happy (OK, at peace with) spending the TT2 money if it’s the best fit, but could use some advice from Chord users as to the best recipe for me. And, at least for now, don’t try to sell me on the M-Scaler - I don’t think I could stand the strain…


Hi @Stuart_Rosen I’m at least a Chord fan, albeit with cheaper tastes :wink: , but I know the product range pretty well. The Hugo 2 (not-TT) also has an integrated headphone/pre-amp, it’s just not as good as the one in TT. The key difference is the number of “taps” used to reconstruct the digital signal. This dictates how many filter-coefficients are employed when interpolating the signal between the sample points, in theory you need an infinite number. The TT has approx 100K of these taps, as opposed to the 50K for the standard (non-TT) Hugo.

This is effectively my chosen route but if you want to do this don’t buy the Hugo 2, the Qutest is just that, a Hugo-2(non-TT) without battery or amp and has the same number of taps. If I were you, and if you want to induce my envy, I’d go for the TT if price isn’t an issue. Happy to clarify some if necessary.

Thanks @killdozer. I don’t know that price isn’t an issue, but my preference is to get the best I can afford and stick, rather than chase myself up the ladder. For that reason, I think I’m getting used to the idea of spending what I’d spend for the TT2. It’s just a matter of time…

If it’s worth anything I’m pretty keen on the TT2 upgrade myself, thinking my Qutest and Phonitor 2 would make a nice office “desktop” setup.The money I spent on them would make a decent contribution to the TT2 price though and I think your “aim high” strategy is the right one…

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As I understand it the amp you’re buying has a headphone amp, so do you really need this option from the DAC too? If not, you may be OK with a Qutest if you want to see what Chord DACs are all about without breaking the bank.
If you do want the headphone amp, the TT2 has the most powerful one of all the Chord DACs, and would be the best choice if you want to use it with more demanding headphones.
How well any of these match with your chosen amp I wouldn’t know, but don’t underestimate the importance of system synergy.

My thinking is that I want one great tube amp and one great solid-state amp, and to harness both to a great DAC. Feels like the TT will make that happen.

I have Focals and am about to get a ZMF ounces like the TT will be up to the challenge.

Well, I guess you could say I’m a Chord fan. I have a Dave/Blu combo fed by a Lumin U1 in my main listening area. And I have TT/mScaler fed by a Sonore SE. The TT also feeds a Woo Audio WA6-SE tube amp so I can use the integrated amp in the TT or switch it to DAC mode and use the slightly warmer Woo Audo Tube amp. I love Chord products. One note, If care about MQA, you have to use Roon to unfold and then be fine with no rendering as Chord doesn’t do that (which I like). If you want to start with the TT and then see if you want to add things (mScaler, tube amp, etc) to upgrade that’s a great approach. Don’t think you can go wrong with Chord products and put me in the camp of zealous fan!


I like Chord DACs too, but some people don’t so you should try to get a demo and see if you like their sound, as well as if they match your system. In my experience the wisdom of the internet is not always the best guide to what will work for you.
For me, getting a Chord DAC resulted in changing my power amp once I discovered that I no longer needed a preamp as I could use the DAC volume control.


It almost goes without saying, but it doesn’t and I didn’t say it. As much as there’s a lot of enthusiasm from Chord fans @ChrisSU is on the money, do try before buying.


May not be possible, but there are vendors with generous evaluation periods/return policies.

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Thanks for everyone’s feedback/advice re: the Chord Hugo 2TT. Here’s how I’d like to fully maximize my use of this - please let me know if this makes sense.

Let’s suppose, for this discussion, that I have a new Parasound P6 preamplifier (on its way to me) and let’s assume that I would prefer to feed the Chord DAC into it rather than take advantage of the P6’s own DAC. I don’t know that that’s the case, but I’m just spinning out a hypothetical.

And let’s say I get the Hugo2TT for my desktop/headphone set up.

Can I run the following:

Roon Nucleus to TT2 via USB, which will set up my TT2 as my headphone amp/DAC. But then, via an RCA switch box (Schiit SYS), also feed the TT2 DAC function, via RCA into (a) my adjacent tube amp; and (b) my Parasound P6.

The Parasound and Nucleus are on the other side of a relatively small room, so it’d be a long USB cable from the Nucleus (that works just fine with my current gear) and a long RCA pair into the P6.

What I’m looking for is the ability to maximize my investment in the Hugo TT2, in the event I prefer the Hugo’s DAC to the Parasound’s. (There are a host of reasons I’ll want the P6 even if I don’t use its DAC).

Will that work? Does it make sense?


Hi @Stuart_Rosen In effect the Parasound and the TT2 serve many similar functions and it’s unlikely you’d want to pair them. The main difference I can see is that the Parasound has analogue inputs which the TT lacks, and the TT has digital outputs not present on the Parasound. Feeding the TT analogue output to the Parasound just adds a second pre-amp to the chain. If it’s speakers not headphones that you’re looking to drive (your post hints that) you’ll need active speakers or a power amp on top but why not just drive that direct from the TT2?

A few more details about the amps and speakers you’re looking to drive would help. I’m currently struggling to see what advantages connecting the TT to the P6 will give you.


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It’s not really why I’d buy TT2. I’m just imagining a situation where I fall in love with the TT2 DAC and wondering if I could leverage that into further uses. I’d think that the rca or even xlr input of the TT2 into the P6 would not subject the signal into the P6’s DAC.

I envisioned the TT2 as the engine driving my headphones and my tube amp but trying to think ambitiously as to how much I can harness to the TT2.

The P6 serves all my intended purposes - HT pass through for my KEFs, including sub pass through, and has the inputs I know I’ll need. So I’m definitely buying the P6. I’d only bring these two together if I thought I’d get a better DAC out of the deal.

My original post should’ve mentioned that my P6 is going to feed my Parasound A21+, which will in turn feed my KEF towers.

I’m sort of a Chord fan, and thus a bit biased. At the same time I think you might over-complicate things adding a TT2 to the mix if you already have a brand new preamp with dac. If the TT2 is a winner in that combination it will have to really win in your subjective taste, hard to give any other advice than to try “risk-free”.

With that said I used my old Chord Hugo (original one) with a Hegel H190 integrated amp in my office for two years. That was a clear upgrade for me, in just about everything, compared to the built in dac in H190.

I’m also very much thinking a nice matching preamp can lift the Chord dacs performance even higher. Despite what some say (mostly from a theoretical point of view). I tried twice to use my DAVE as dac and preamp to slim my system (and money spent) but had to abort both times.

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