Chord Mojo 2

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by EagleWings, May 2, 2022.

  1. EagleWings

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    Chord Mojo 2 Review - SBAF Edition

    I am not new to Chord DACs. I have owned a Mojo1 and a Hugo 2 and have tried the Dave with and without M-Scaler a couple of times in the past. I was once a Chord fan boy, as I was led to believe that other DACs don’t hold a candle to the Chord DACs. But I discovered later that there wasn’t much truth to that statement.

    [​IMG]

    Sonic Impressions:
    Depending on where you are coming from, the tone of the Mojo2 will fall anywhere between neutral and neutral-warm. It has an even-handed tone and presentation, with nothing really standing out nor missing. It has a sort of cohesiveness to its sound, which I would say is one of its strengths. An other area, where I am noticing it to be strong is the pace, rhythm and timing, for the lack of better descriptors. Neither slow nor fast. Mojo 2 seems to do these aspects on point. This aspect, combined with the cohesiveness makes for a nice sense of rhythm and flow to the music.

    As with most Chord DACs, the bass leans towards the detailed side rather than authority. While not totally lacking slam, this is not a slammy DAC. At least you get the resolve, texture and layering in return. I know folks who prefer this sort of bass presentation over authority. Mids are neutral in tone and body and it is quite resolving. While there is nothing to fault with its tone, the timbre leaves a bit to be desired (which I will get to in a second). The treble is in line with the mids. Good tone and resolve, and is mostly free of any sort of treble issues. But just like the mids, it doesn't do great timbre. When paired with IEMs or HPs that are free of treble issues, the Mojo2 was a very easy listen.

    Mojo 2 is definitely a highly resolving DAC for its price. But the way it resolves details is a bit different from good R2R and DS DACs in the price range. Mojo 2 does certain low-level nuances and micro-details better than non-Chord DACs. But the non-Chord DACs do texture better than the Mojo 2. Microdynamics would be a matter of taste though, as the Mojo 2 does microdynamics in a more subtle fashion, whereas, non-Chord DACs make the microdyanmics pop out more. Reverb was interesting because, Mojo 2 seems to recreate the positional cues of the reverbs better, while the non-Chord DACs seem to recreate the details of the reverbs better. Decay is an aspect where the Mojo 2 fails, as it ends decays sooner than, what I consider normal or natural. The transients and attacks are quite perfect on the timing scale, but a bit rounded in nature. I would have preferred it to be a tad sharper. Macrodynamics is also a bit on the polite side, as it fails to be macro enough, when called upon.

    Coming to the headstage, I am glad Chord fixed the issue I had with Mojo 1’s stage. Mojo 1 had an intimate stage that worked for genres that required such a presentation. But when it came to orchestral or live music, it fell short with creating the space and ambience. Mojo 2 is able to recreate a more spacious and airy stage, while retaining the ability to do the intimate stage as well. I have always admired Chord DACs for the depth and layering and the Mojo 2 is no exception there. Another area which is an improvement over the Mojo 1 is the separation. Imaging was already quite good on Mojo 1, but because of less warmth and better separation, Mojo 2 comes off as having a touch better imaging.

    Now let’s talk timbre. Mojo 2 doesn’t have an outright offensive or wrong timbre. In fact, in terms of Relative Timbre, where you should be able to tell one instrument apart from another, Mojo 2 performs very admirably there. But when it comes to Absolute Timbre, which is, hearing an instrument in your system and feeling it is the closest you have heard to a real life instrument, Mojo 2 or any Chord DAC for that matter, haven’t quite pulled that off as convincingly as, few other DACs I have heard. This is an aspect that, unless you have heard better you don’t know what you are missing. It is not like the Chord DACs do something wrong. But more like, they lack a certain organic quality. And if you are wondering if it is a matter of oversampling vs non-oversampling, it is not. Because Bifrost 2, Cayin N8 and Wavelight are all over-sampling DACs and these still pull off a more convincing timbre. And the truncated decay and slightly muted texture make things a bit worse on the timbre front.

    Mojo 1 had a warmer tone with a more forgiving treble. It sported a pleasing sound which worked well for the masses. But it was a bit of an outcast in the Chord family in some respects. The Mojo 2 is a step towards that Chord family sound and makes is easy to recognise it as the younger sibling of the Hugo 2. Compared to the Mojo 1, Mojo 2 has less warmth, more clarity, better separation, larger stage and sharper transients. It is also more resolving and a tad less forgiving.

    Hugo 2 is a colder, leaner and a more Hi-Fi sounding device. As already stated, Mojo 2 sounds like a younger sibling of Hugo 2, as it is a step down in most, if not all performance related aspects. But the Mojo 2 isn’t as sterile and cold as the Hugo 2 and has a more agreeable tone, that is more versatile.

    And if you prefer the warm tone of the Mojo 1, or the cold tone of the Hugo 2, you can actually quite achieve that using the built-in EQ on the Mojo 2.


    As a Portable DAC/Amp:
    Mojo 2 works best with IEMs. Mojo 1 didn’t have much headroom in terms of volume adjustment for super sensitive IEMs like Andromeda or Zeus as it would get quite loud within 2 or 3 clicks. Mojo 2 fixes that by having a finer volume adjustment in the lower level, which should have enough headroom to finely adjust the volume for super sensitive IEMs. It does a good job of driving easy-to-drive headphones. But I adding an amp can bring some improvements to the table. It is a matter of preference though.

    I actually quite like the sound of the Mojo 2 as a standalone DAC/Amp for IEMs. But, for portable use I'd rather choose a good DAP over the Mojo 2, as I find it to be more convenient. YMMV. I can see the appeal of the Mojo 2 when using with easy-to-drive Audeze headphones because, if you own a Poly, you can use the Poly as the Roon endpoint and engage the Audeze preset for the headphone in Roon. But if you were intending on using the device as a USB DAC/Amp, most current gen DAPs can function as a USB DAC/Amp, I don't see the appeal of Mojo 2 there either.

    I have never been a fan of the way 300 Ohm Sennheisers sound when driven directly out of Chord DACs. I prefer a good amp in between that can bring out the strengths of the Senns. The story isn’t any different with the Mojo 2. It doesn’t disappoint. But if you have heard what these 300 Ohm Senns capable of on a good desktop setup, it may be difficult to appreciate the combo.

    I get around 7-8Hrs of battery stand-by. Which isn’t great for a portable device. But it is what it is.


    As a Desktop DAC:
    As a desktop DAC (to feed a headphone amplifier), the Mojo 2 has its strengths and weaknesses. The digital volume control on the Mojo 2 is of high quality that I prefer using it over most potentiometers. So I prefer setting the vol pot on my Elekit amp to max and using Mojo 2’s vol ctrl to adjust the volume. But a rotary knob provides a much better UX, over a set of volume-rocker buttons. Chord says its battery management has been optimised that the device can be left connected to its charger all the time and it won’t deteriorate the battery longevity any worse than a regular charge-discharge cycle. Only time will tell.

    What I wrote about its general sonic characteristics applies here as well. It is a good DAC. Like, it is a much better DAC than an iFi Zen DAC Signature and I would pick the Mojo 2 over the Zen DAC Sig 99% of the time. But in the desktop DAC space, it has got some stiff competition.

    Compared to the Bifrost 2, Mojo 2 is better in speed, clarity, separation, imaging precision, transients, micro details and has a more well behaved lower-treble. Bifrost 2 on the other hand has better slam, macrodynamics, texture, midrange timbre and realism. Stridency in the lower treble is my only major gripe regarding the Bifrost 2 as a headphone DAC. If you own a Bifrost 2 and don’t find that to be an issue, I see no reason to get a Mojo 2 over a Bifrost 2 unless the aspects where Mojo 2 does better appeals to you over the Bifrost 2’s strengths.


    EQ and Crossfeed:
    On the EQ side, Mojo 2 offers 4 shelf filters. 20Hz & 125Hz low-shelf filters, and 3kHz & 20kHz high-shelf filters. It is quite effective when engaged and works particularly well, when you all you need are shelf filters. For instance, with the Fiio EM5, I wanted to add some low end and tame the high end. I was able to achieve exactly that with Mojo 2's EQ. It doesn’t offer any band pass filters so you cannot tame a treble peak. For what its worth, taming treble peaks with digital EQ hasn’t quite worked successfully in my experience. As stated earlier, the EQ also allows you to achieve Mojo 1's warm tone or Hugo 2's cold tone.

    Chord’s crossfeed is the best digital crossfeed implementation I have tried. It helps to create a more focussed stage and location of instruments. It also seems to improve the realism and timbre of instrument. Still it doesn't do a very convincing timbre as other devices I mentioned.


    Verdict:
    Mojo 2 falls short in slam, macrodynamics, tactility and timbre, and as a result, it doesn't make me come back for more as a desktop DAC. But I find it to be a good portable DAC/Amp for IEMs. Unless the Chord sound is really your cup of tea or, have invested in the Poly ecosystem, I find it difficult to recommend the Mojo 2, at the current asking price of $845. At that price, I'd rather buy a DAP for portable use, or a desktop DAC for desktop use.
     
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    Last edited: May 4, 2022
  2. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    No type C charging is the deal-breaker for me. I know they kept the micro B for the Poly compatibility but I don't care for the Poly. Shame.
     
  3. HeyWaj10

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    Really glad to have seen this! I've been demoing a Mojo 2 this week, and have been really impressed with it. It's absolutely a considerable step up from the ES9028 card in my Lyr 3. Though, my #1 comparison I'm interested in is Mojo2 vs. Bifrost 2.

    When you say the Mojo2 is better in speed, clarity, separation, imaging precision, transients, and micro detail - how much of a delta is there, in your opinion? Are we talking negligible percentages, or does the Mojo2 completely outperform the Bifrost 2 on those areas?
     
  4. EagleWings

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    Well the delta isn't large on each individual aspect, but it adds up and in the end, what you have are 2 very different sounding DACs. Mojo 2 sounds like a good Delta-Sigma DAC. Whereas, the Bifrost 2 sounds somewhere between a DS and a NOS R2R DAC, borrowing qualities from either camps. If you have heard a Bifrost 2, you might be able to imagine how the Mojo 2 sounds from my comparison. But if you've not heard a Bifrost 2 and only the Mojo 2, it would be difficult to imagine how the Bifrost 2 sounds.
     
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  5. GoldenOne

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    I've posted some measurements of the Mojo 2 here: https://goldensound.audio/2022/05/26/chord-mojo-2-measurements/


    Couple key takeaways:


    1) Amir's measurements show some issues that neither of the units I tested have. I've no idea if it was his unit or something in his setup, but both units I've tested performed better than shown in his measurements. I suspect it might be related to him not galvanically isolating the unit, as a portable device like this will be susceptible to a noisy source like a desktop PC.


    2) If using the Mojo 2 with a PC, a galvanic isolator does improve performance. Whether it's worth the upgrade is up to you, but if you have a USB filter or isolator it's probably best to use it.


    3) Desktop mode had effectively no impact on performance. Well done Chord!
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    FWIW, I actually feel that the Mojo 2 would be a better combo with your Lyr 3 and LCD-X than Bifrost 2. Lyr 3 is laid-back, a bit rounded in the lows. Bifrost is one of the bassiest DACs around, hits hard, but I think the tradeoffs tend toward Mojo 2's favor. The Lyr 3 will complement the Mojo 2's leaner presentation and delta-sigma timbre, especially with the Audezes.
     
  7. androxylo

    androxylo Acquaintance

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    I think I would prefer RCA output for my desktop DAC. If I want to use the DAC for the next 15+ years the 3.5 mm jack probably won't last that much.
     
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  8. limesoft

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    Nice review. I've had the Mojo 2 for few months now.

    I rate it, but it has it's ifs and buts.

    I find it needs a USB decrapifier (or the Poly) otherwise it can sound little too dsp digital in a Chord kind of way, throwing a tonne of details in slightly disorganised manner, scrambling my brain in the process. With some help it calms down, gains composure, focus, realism - essentially improvements across the board and it can sound quite impressive given it's size.

    I find it's amplification stage rather good especially coupled with it's DSP Eq which is quite transparent and with good headroom. It's grain free, clean and dynamic, even driving HD800S with some eq help it can make them move some serious air without obvious strain whilst retaining a wide soundstage. with EQ i can make it sound similar to my Woo WA8.. it sounds like a class A amplifier - not sure if it has one or not but i'm impressed. It's one portable that I don't mind much at all to use with HD800S, and sometimes even look forward to it. Bettering a lot of my other desktop solid state amps (non class A) thanks to it's grain free presentation and transparent eq so I can tweak it's tonality - it essentially becomes a chameleon amp.. I can't overstate enough how nice it's eq is.

    If I'm comparing side by side just it's DAC stage with something like an R2R Hiby RS6 - it lacks that organic realism where the instruments appear out of nowhere with space around them. This is not a Mojo problem but a Chord problem (Qutest has it too) - it's like it's pulsing and bringing all elements to the foreground, building an impressive hologram where I can spot and hear everything and be impressed with all the minute detail it's presenting, but in the back of my mind i feel it's a hologram and not the real deal compared to something like the RS6. Difficult to describe but it's a Chord thing - I've learnt to embrace it for what it is.

    Anyhow, I dig it - it significantly betters the old Mojo sq wise and definitely brings it's own take on hifi demanding some respect.
     
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    Last edited: May 27, 2022
  9. limesoft

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    I find the Mojo 2 has a powerful solid bass that can thunder when called for (even more so than my Hiby RS6) and thanks to it's high quality broad eq you can change it's tonality in a very transparent manner - too bright? just shave of few db on the blue ball setting (10-15khz). You can't change it's detailed and Chord like nature of course but because it doesn't have any of the common d/s nasties like ringing (looking at you RME ADI2 FS), it can be quite chameleon like able to slot in myriad of systems.
     
  10. limesoft

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    Interestingly the Mojo 2 is compatible with the m scaler.. I'd love to hear what improvements are there purely out of curiosity
     
  11. HeyWaj10

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    On the whole, I definitely agree with you. The Mojo2 and the Lyr3 was a really excellent and synergistic pairing. However, I could not overlook the treble tonal/timbral accuracy shortcomings of the Mojo2. It just still sounded delta sigma-y to me, and lacked the timbral variance of instruments in that range that I would expect to hear from my go-to recordings. This is why I've been leaning back towards the idea of a Bifrost 2, as most (if not all) reviews indicate that tone/timbre are its bread and butter. Eventually I will have a listen to a BF2. The Mojo2 was just awesome in most areas, it just came up short in a select few areas that I don't think I could overlook.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    You have tried the optical? Found optical on original Mojo to be less "digital". An extra USB decrap box is too much for a tiny DAC that is supposed to be portable.
     
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  13. limesoft

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    I tried a chromecast audio a while back - i did't hear a huge difference, perhaps it was a touch more relaxed, but i will try again. USB straight out of computer is quite nasty digital sounding, really halves the performance of the Mojo from what it's capable.

    At the moment I use a Chord Poly which sounds really good - as good if not better than Mojo + ifi iUSB Micro 3.. but usability sucks as I can't use it at work due to corporate network that requires some additional authentication which is too much for the little Poly. At home it works quite smoothly with DLNA/Qobuz/Apple Music
     
  14. Clemmaster

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    IIRC, chromecast audio isn’t a great source, even by TOSLink standards.
     
  15. limesoft

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    I used it with ifi spdif decrapifier. I like my decrapifiers
     
  16. goodvibes

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    Yup, price has gotten out of hand and I preferred the Hugo 1 to Hugo 2. I keep a Mojo 1 around with the battery in parallel with a silmic 220uf cap to snap it up but rarely use it, even though it's very good for portable or desktop soundcard use.
     
  17. bixby

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    Is the bifrost 2 referenced in the above the same dac that is currently sold by Schiit labeled Bifrost? And did they kill the DS version of the Bifrost?
     
  18. EagleWings

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    The Bifrost 2 referenced here is the AD chip based Bifrost 2, which was released back in 2019. A week back, Schiit released a new iteration of the device called the Bifrost 2/64 with TI chips. I believe the Bifrost DS was discontinued, when they released the Bifrost 2 in 2019.
     
  19. donunus

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    Does anyone have any special synergy recommendations with full size cans for the mojo2? pricerange maybe 58x to elex etc
     
  20. limesoft

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    HD6XX - Mojo 2 seems to have lot of control and powerful solid bass, akin to class A amplification, and a lively dynamic sound which is clean and without trace of grain - all of these traits complement the 6XX or 650 which can otherwise sound little fluffy and limp out of weak amplification. Mojo 2 lights some dynamite under it's butt.

    With some Focals I tested it with I thought it might be too much of a good thing
     

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