….if I were starting on my audio journey again…. I might have opted for this Chord Hugo 2/2go arrangement and be done with it!
This is a niche review of the Chord Electronics 2go & 2yu combination. If you have a Chord Hugo 2 this one’s for you. If you don’t, this is still for you because if I were starting on my audio journey
again knowing what I now know about costs, fidelity, speakers, cables, interconnects, power conditioners, etc, I might have opted for this Chord Hugo 2/2go arrangement and be done with it! With a decent pair of headphones, this is audio nirvana, surely headphones deliver the most immersive audio experience?
The Chord Electronics Hugo 2 is an absolutely sparkling DAC, it has space, clarity and is a premium headphone amplifier option. But that is all Hugo 2 is, it has no networking capability which means you are tethered to the desktop or a wired source or you’re limited by Bluetooth resolution. Enter the Chord Electronics 2go which is (literally) a bolt-on network streaming device for use with the Chord Hugo 2. Very interestingly, it has a couple of SD slots which makes the 2go a great value music server option, in my view.
Separately the 2yu, in place of the Hugo 2, can partner with the Chord Electronics 2go and it offers the creation of a network bridge for use with another DAC. The 2yu takes 2gos transport output (essentially) and presents a digital bridge to coaxial, optical or BNC outputs.
The Chord 2go is a brilliant idea, enabling transportable network access with the Hugo 2. Essentially, using the metal locating screws (like dowels) supplied in the 2go box you bolt it to Hugo’s slots where the power and USB inputs normally are. Once the locating screws are in place you use an Allen key to secure the 2go and the resulting block of electronics is weighty but still portable. I’ve been using the Hugo 2/2go combination around the house, essentially for ease of use in the lounge with my preferred ‘proper’ headphones and controlling the music with my smartphone.
The 2go has its own battery supply for use with the 2yu. Interestingly, and this could be a stability thing with Chord, the 2go only uses 2.4gHz Wifi (or ethernet) and not 5GHz WiFi.
I don’t think this is a combination I would walk about with but maybe on a train journey, with WiFi these days, I might tuck this combination in my rucksack, the battery would be more than adequate for a long journey. There are two Micro SD slots in the 2go which are capable of reading 2TB a piece!
The 2go doubles up as a network bridge without the Hugo 2 but with a 2yu. The 2yu bolts onto the 2go in the same way with the locating screws being reused. The resulting combination is a networked digital transport that can connect to a DAC.
What the Chord 2go combinations here do not have is a network player App to send your music to the Chord Electronics 2go. As an Android user, I have been using the mconnect app which is perfectly acceptable, but playlist building is poor on it. Whilst I recognise that Chord Electronics is about the physical dedication to audio excellence it might be nice to have a decent player in the same way Auralic has advanced their electronics with their excellent App (notwithstanding it is only available on Apple iOS!). That said, I’m sure Chord Electronics would say one simple word in response: “Roon”. Of course, they are right.
The Hugo 2/2go combination is very solid with the two pieces of ‘aircraft grade’ aluminium CNC machined chassis matching up with precision. There is no sense of wobble or instability which is reassuring.
The 2yu, which really only works with the 2go, has the four polychromatic spherical controls that are such a feature of the Chord Electronics range. They control output selection, power, mute and light dimmer functions.
The Chord Electronics 2go is retailing at £995. The 2yu is retailing at £450. There is a premium leather case for the Hugo/2go combination at £99.95 or £109.95 for the carry version with a strap.
I’m listening to the Hugo 2 Chord Electronics 2go combination with the T+A Solitaire P-SE headphones or Focal’s Radiance headphones around the house for some premium armchair relaxation. I’m using the same headphones into my Questyle CMA 400i headphone amplifier with the 2go/2yu combination which is perfect because otherwise this needs a desktop computer input usually but I now have it freed up using the coax digital output from the 2yu.
It is best to charge up the Chord Electronics 2go and then physically bolt it to the Hugo 2 with the locating screws provided, a small Allen key is provided to tighten things up, it was dead easy for me. After that, you go to the Chord GoFigure App to set the 2go up, this was great on Android, and it took me 1 minute to have it up and running.
Separately I put the 2yu coaxial output into the Questyle headphone amplifier (obviously this arrangement could be improved with the Hugo 2 or a Hugo TT of course) and I have now a nice quiet corner elsewhere in the house with a side table, maybe a glass of wine, where I can disappear.
I’ve found 2go connectivity with WiFi or ethernet to be perfectly stable if I’m honest. I’m finding the access to the two micro-SD cards to be really handy with mconnect. The mconnect app handles my networked stored USB backup as well to the 2go so it is all coming together quite nicely here. I have seen 1TB micro SD cards from Lexar at just £140 on Amazon UK recently, the SanDisk ones are available but the prices do vary so pay attention.
It is really time to listen to some music and with the accessibility of the micro-SD cards I can turn to MD126, my favourite of the Radiohead Hacked Minidiscs that are the almost finished tracks from OK Computer. I notice, for the first time, with the Hugo 2/2go combination the clarity in Thom Yorke’s vocal, the ps and the ks, in particular on their last cut of Exit Music (For a Film). It really is the most engaging track that savages the listener at the end as the song rolls away. There is an unbelievable level of detail here, for example, I have not heard some of the detail in the Ryan Adams Live at Carnegie Hall recordings, particularly the piano version of New York, New York. This detail is more noticeable through the Hugo 2 headphone output in the T+A Solitaire Ps which displays its prowess over the Questyle headphone amplifier comfortably. That the 2go can expose this difference is a nod to its clarity of performance.
Being in a relaxed environment with the 2go/Hugo 2 on my lap with just the headphone wires for company, I undertake the ritualistic flick around the Hugo 2s filters. I noted from my review of the Hugo 2 I preferred the third option, ‘warm’, filter 4 is ‘warm with HF roll off’; in other words, both of these filters add a degree of colouration that may appeal to the vinyl user but really they kind of defeat the object of the high degree of fidelity in the Hugo 2, particularly with a decent pair of headphones (T+A Solitaire P-SE headphones) and a great quality recording. I settle for filter 1 in the end, on this occasion, thankful I can garner a marginal difference in my listening pleasure. I will add, I have no sense of fatigue from the Hugo 2/2go combination, despite prolonged listening.
The headphone experience, as we know, is the most immersive and detailed audio experience you can have. In my view, if you only spent your money on this Hugo 2/2go combination you would have the highest-end audio listening experience that might not be bettered with any HiFi stereo system with any pair of speakers you could name, this really could be money well spent (and saved)!
This Hugo 2/2go combination is a really great bit of audio kit and if it was all you had you wouldn’t want for much more than a good pair of headphones. The micro-SD cards in the 2go offer a really attractive networked storage alternative. The accessibility, stability and clarity of the arrangement with the Hugo 2 have been a notable bonus for me.
The 2go/2yu streaming transport combination offers the highest value streaming option to a standalone digital DAC.
If the Hugo 2 was an Editor’s Pick, then the Chord Electronics 2go, which improves it, must be as well, surely.
Micro-SD card server
Clarity of presentation
Playlist builder on mconnect
Full details of the Specification are on the company’s site