Chord Mojo Review

Chord Mojo Review

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Chord Mojo Review

I’m listening to Chord’s new Mojo Digital Analog Converter (DAC) and amp as I write this. I’ve flown almost 4,000 miles to have THIS musical experience.

My hand trembles a little as I hook Chord’s new DAC to an Astell & Kern 120 II media player and a pair of JH 16Pro Freqphase In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) with our Moon Audio Silver Dragon V1 IEM headphone cable. Here is what I hear…

Dead quiet.

You would be surprised how hard “dead quiet” is to create. We live in “noisy” times with signals and devices fighting each other for bandwidth and signal strength (why we prefer cables to WiFi). There is a pause in the music and no background hiss. Background hiss was the only Hugo complaint I ever had. On quiet passages there was a small hiss when listening on high sensitivity IEMs. The hiss wasn’t bad enough to not LOVE Hugo’s sound benefits.

Detail and clarity is amazing. Music is in perfect control. No sterile-ness to his DAC’s sound. Mojo is very musical.

IEM users prepare to be spoiled by Chord’s new Mojo. Heck I think headphone listeners are going to be spoiled too, but the Mojo is SO PORTABLE IEMs come to mind.

Drew’s English Mojo

Chord Electronics new Digital Analog Converter (DAC) and headphones amp named Mojo brings the best performance at a price (less than half Hugo) sure to bring new listeners to the many benefits of adding a DAC to their headphone and digital music listening gear. Listening to Chord Hugo for the first time years ago at CES my jaw dropped.

My jaw dropped again listening to Chord’s new Mojo DAC. The Mojo isn’t as long as an iPhone 6 and it is a little more than twice the iPhone’s thickness.

I only have one question. How did Chord fit sound quality like this in such a small footprint?

Answer: Rob Watts has done it again! He is the brain child behind all the digital design at Chord Electronics.

Chord Mojo Connections

Chord Mojo Connections

On one end of Chord’s new Mojo there are 2 USB Micro B connections, 1 for charging and 1 for connecting to your computer or iDevice. The Mojo also comes with a Mini 3.5mm Coax digital input and a standard size toslink connection for digital input from media players such as A&K (Astell & Kern), iBasso or whatever portable media player you have with a digital ouptut.

At the opposite end Mojo hosts 2 sets of 3.5mm headphone output jacks. On the top of the unit is 3 “scroll balls”, almost exactly like the singular scroll ball on the Hugo and the Hugo TT. One scroll ball is for power you push and hold it to turn the unit on or off. The other 2 are used for volume control. One for up (+) and one for down (-).

Plain simple and effective. Mojo is built like a tank. You will have a tough time breaking this thing. Bullet Proof!! Something James Bond would carry are things that come to mind. Chord’s founder James Frank’s love of airplane design is front and center again.

I was lucky. Seated at John Frank’s table with his lovely wife and daughter I was treated to a sneak peak at a cool Mojo add on. Chord will have a 4 accessory butt plate that will plug into the end to hold digital connections.

I played with a prototype 3D printed piece. The printed plate swallowed up an Apple CCK cable thus providing a nice and short connection to your Apple iPhones and iPads.

Chord Mojo Accessory for Digital Connections

Chord Mojo Accessory for Digital Connections

Chord Mojo & iPhone 6

Chord Mojo & iPhone 6

It is cumbersome to use an Apple CCK dongle along with a USB cable to hook up non-Apple MFI certified Amp/Dacs to Apple iPhones and iPads. Chord’s new plate solves that pain in a short neat clean  way.

The other plates will be a Bluetooth, a Wifi (UPNP) and/or a SD card reader. The Bluetooth butt plate allows connection to Bluetooth without cables (need to hear this as cables usually produce better sound). The Wifi butt plate allows connection to an UPNP device like a computer to pull audio from a mass music library. And the SD card reader is for audio file storage.

These new Chord add ons will be similar to the Aurender Flow. The Aurender Flow also acts as an external hard drive when connecting to a tablet or computer with a single USB such as the Microsoft Surface. These devices tend to have small internal memory. Chord’s add ons provide an external place to store and connect music files.

  

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Written by Drew Baird

37 Comments

    1. Drew Baird

      The Mojo is a warmer presentation. The Hugo is a more analytical detailed sound. The Hugo also obviously is more flexible for use with Desktop/home and portable use. It has more connection options and longer battery life. The Mojo is really only a portable piece. Not to say you cant use in a home system but I dont. The Mojo is ridiculously good for the price.

  1. Scott

    Received my Mojo today. I am in love haha.

    Great review.

    I would love to hear more about these ‘plates’. In fact if the SD plate allowed for basic media controls I would wet my pants I think. However we shall see 🙂

  2. Stephen Reeves

    If I am reading this right, Chord won’t pay Apple for the chip in the Mojo (or Hugo) but they WILL pay for the chip in the buttplate? The buttplate appears to be about 2/3 the size of the Mojo itself making the entire unit 3/4 the size of the iphone and twice as thick. Am I the only one who thinks this is backward? If portability is really the goal, then having the Apple chip inside the Mojo would have been the most convenient. The Apple version could then be priced slightly higher to cover the cost of the certification. I have a CEntrance HiFi M8 (purchased from Moon Audio) that followed that philosophy. With the idevice version there are no extra parts to carry. (still sounds good too). Here is another option; I have the newest version of the ipod touch (could also use your iphone) that I use a Moon Audio 3″ cable to connect to the OPPO HA2 portable headphone dac/amp and it performs very nicely, is small, and oozes a quality feel and look. I use a set of JH audio JH 16pro IEMs with freqphase myself, just like Drew did for his evaluations.

    1. Drew Baird

      It is not the cost that is the issue. Rather the fact that Chord would have to turn over any device that implemented Apple’s chip to Apple for review. This means Apple then has Chords proprietary Dac circuit to dissect and study. I can’t blame Chord for not wanting to reveal their technology. I see it that Apple is backwards as they make it too difficult to interact with their products. The Butt Plate eliminates one cable and actually makes the Mojo longer which provides a better fit to the phone lengthwise. Another issue is Apple will not certify a cable an all in one Lightning cable that has the CCK chip in it so that we can eliminate the need for the CCK and another cable. I am hoping this will change in the future since they have no removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. We plan to meet with Apple soon on multiple new cables we want to get approved. Only time will tell the best solutions.

  3. Kermit Short

    I’m nearly sold, but I am not part of the Apple Borg. Does this work with Android? Specifically, Samsung Note 5? I’m assuming that an OTG USB cable will be necessary, but do I also need one of the aforementioned “buttplates”?
    I’m also dying to know if you get all the audio benefits out of Bluetooth as well, so when you find out, please let us know!!

    1. Drew Baird

      Correct an OTG is required such as from here:
      https://www.moon-audio.com/silver-dragon-form-fit-usb-cable-by-moon-audio.html
      https://www.moon-audio.com/black-dragon-form-fit-usb-cable-by-moon-audio.html

      If longer cables are required with straight connectors see here:
      https://www.moon-audio.com/silver-dragon-usb-cable.html
      https://www.moon-audio.com/black-dragon-usb-cable.html

      Blue tooth is good but the wired connection is always better sounding. Especially on High Rez audio like 24/192 and DSD files.

    1. Drew Baird

      The Mojo has the better Dac. The Flow has the better Headphone amp. Both are fantastic but serve possibly different purposes. The Mojo is small and makes for a very transportable device. Not to say you cant use the Flow portably but I would not strap it to a phone and put in my pocket. I use the Flow with the Dell Venue tablet mostly. I use it when travelling like on a plane. The Flow also makes for a great desktop amp. The Mojo I use almost exclusively portably with a phone. The Flow is quieter with very sensitive IEMs. But overall the Mojo sounds better by a small percentage. But with Bigger harder to drive phones the Flow can control them better.

    1. Andrew

      I checked out the Chord website and the different features of the Mojo. A few things stood out. It wasn’t clear if there was a “line out” vs just plugging in directly from the ear phone out. The Flow has a line out setting and I’m pretty sure it by passes all headphone amplification coloration. Also, it wasn’t clear what the storage, if any, is possible. The Flow will take up to (at this point) a 1TB MSSD drive. While it is convenient to be able to listen to the music stored on a phone, does it make sense to spend so much on a device that will play hi-res files, but be limited to the storage of a phone? 128 gb isn’t what it used to be. What about when you just want ONE piece of electronics rather than two and cables?

      1. Drew Baird

        Yes the Mojo can put in Line Out mode by pressing both the volume buttons at the same time. The Flow is a unique device and is the only of it’s kind to offer an external hard drive inside of. The drive can only be accessed if connected to a computer. So for tablets like the Microsoft Surface or Dell Venue tablet that have only one USb connection and not much onsite storage being able to combine a Dac and external hard drive in one chassis is fantastic. But this storage cant be accessed from being connected to a phone. You can only access from a computer.

    2. Andrew

      It I were buying for a home system, there are so many other options. While reviews focus on new, some older equipment may have very nice tonal character at a fraction of new price. Older Esoteric or TEAC or even a more current rDAC from Arcam will give more input options.

  4. Justin taylor

    Please help I have a pioneer xdp 100r ,chord mojo how can I listen to tidal or a streaming service or would I Be better to sell the pioneer and use my iPhone with mojo

    1. Nichole Baird

      No, we would not recommend these two as a pair. We do not have a good toslink option to fit between these two players. Because of the recessed toslink mini socket on the Questyle QPR1, none of our mini to toslink cables will fit. You will have to use the toslink adapter that comes with the Questyle and the standard toslink that comes with the player. This is not a good portable solution. We are looking for a better solution and will update the blog and website once we do. In the meantime, see this post where we explain the How to Add Music to your Questyle Players .

  5. Yasith Siriwardena

    Im going to purchase the Astell & Kern AK70 after long consideration. My im moving from my i device. So pls let me know the best way to connect the AK70 to the Mojo.

    Also AK70 alone produces good bass, when Mojo Come into the mix the bass is more neutral? how true is this.

    Gear I use HD650/ DT 770 PRO 250ohms/HD599/DT 1990Pro (well this is my bros 🙂 )

    Above i saw mentioned in couple of blogs.

    1. Nichole Baird

      The Mojo does the heavy lifting for the Pioneer. The Pioneer just becomes a source device and controller. The Dac in the Mojo is several notches above the dac in the Pioneer and yes, you will need either the Black Dragon or Silver Dragon USB Form Fit cable 6″ with straight Micro B to Straight Micro B connectors in OTG config. https://www.moon-audio.com/silver-dragon-form-fit-usb-cable-by-moon-audio.html or https://www.moon-audio.com/black-dragon-form-fit-usb-cable-by-moon-audio.html

  6. Rick

    Is there a difference in sound/versatility/storage between an iPod Classic/Mojo vs AK70/Mojo? I will be listening through either Ether C’s or a new pair of IEM’s.

    1. Nichole Baird

      You can not compare the 2 as the Ipod Classic can not be used with the Mojo. If you are starting from scratch, order the AK70 and Mojo as it is a killer combo. There is nothing that can touch the sound quality of the Mojo in this price range. If using your iPod is important, and since the iPod does not have an OS like the iTouch/iPhone/iPad, you can not use with the Mojo. The Mojo is not MFI Apple certified therefore, it does not have an Apple Coprocessor to tell it to output digital audio. So in this case, I would recommend going with the RHA DacAmp1 with our Silver Dragon LOD cable:
      https://www.moon-audio.com/rha-dacamp-l1-portable-headphone-amplifier-and-dac.html
      https://www.moon-audio.com/silver-dragon-iem-lod-to-usba-cable-for-apple-idevices.html

  7. Russ

    Hey! If I have a iPod classic and a Cypher Labs Solo -db, could I use the Coax digital output of the Solo to connect digitally with the Mojo? And if so, what cable would I need?

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