Review: Chord Electronics MOJO Headphone Amplifier/DAC
With the release of HUGO a couple of years ago, and HUGO TT more recently, Chord have stamped their authority on the DAC and headphone amplifier market, thanks to designer Robert Watts and his devotion to the cause.
HUGO raised loads of eyebrows when first announced, its small form factor meant portable audio could be taken to another level, and it was. Mighty big claims were quickly backed up by the HiFi press and enthusiasts and with its success, shortly after came the bigger ‘TT’, the not-so-portable version.
Whether it was what Robert Watts had learned from the development of those two products, or the market potential they saw for portable audio, likely both, work soon began on the next product. In fact, we now know the idea for the next product started back in 2012.
NEVER SAW ‘EM COMING
MOJO, a smaller DAC and headphone amplifier was a well-kept secret at Chord HQ. The quirky naming conventions at Chord prevailed, the name stemming from ‘Mobile Joy’. I prefer ‘BUDDY’ myself, but that’s just me.
A DSD capable DAC and headphone amplifier small enough to fit in your hand, a worldwide press embargo had punters guessing just what the extravagant product launch would be.
They never saw MOJO coming. Neither did we really. The company renowned for true high-end components had already laid the foundations for a market that would see the Chord name become more well-known, and they’d shake the market up with a revolutionary new product that was affordable for most enthusiasts.
In the portable audio category, companies are racing to produce “hi-res” digital audio players, but Chord’s main man, John Franks, had the vision and the smarts to realise that consumers already had a device capable of doubling as a ‘DAP’ in their pockets. The humble smartphone; makes and takes calls, allows for selfies on-the-go, and of course plays and streams music. It just sounds bad!
Of course smartphones were never designed primarily as a music device. Built to a very cheap price, the inbuilt DAC is not of ‘audiophile’ grade quality, moreso “simple and crude” as Franks puts it. Nor is the headphone output anything to get excited about.
“What if we could fix that?”
Yes Mr. Franks, you’d be on to something indeed.
Apparently, 4,000,000,000 people own mobile phones. That’s a big market to tap into. Wish I’d thought of it!
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers to headphones. Marc also founded Melbourne's International HiFi Show.
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