Chord Electronics Hugo TT 2 DAC vs. Naim Reference DAC


For now without integrated amplifier…

But following the thread of the Naim APP Update (Naim App Update 👎🏻), where, apparently, the App is great, but finally it seems to have quite a bit of crumb, and since I am very satisfied with my Cyrus Stream Xa and, fundamentally, with the operation of its App, Cadence, I am starting to value other system upgrade and completion options that allow me to bypass the NDX2 and the Naim App; I’m sorry, it must sound fantastic, but I can use simplicity and functionality, and, at that price tag…, I’m valuing the bridge DAC option, which would allow me to keep my current sources, improving them.

In this sense, the question is, as the OP title reflects: Naim Reference DAC or Chord Electronics Hugo TT 2…?

The truth is that the reviews on both devices are magnificent, but It throw me a little back the age of the Naim Reference DAC device, unchanged since 2009…

What assessment do you deserve the subject…?

Thank you in advance and greetings to the forum.

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Naim vs Chord DACs have been the subject of a huge amount of discussion on this forum, especially on the old forum platform:
You will be able to spend hours reading various opinions there, although ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste more than anything.


Thank you, @ChrisSU; as always, ready to remove and to help.

I’ll look at it, of course.

A special greeting for you and another for the forum.

Again I can only agree 100% Chris.

@newcomer Is Naim Reference DAC a Naim DAC with 555PS. In which case I used to own one and it was excellent, but when I heard Hugo I preferred it and when I heard Chord DAVE I preferred it. Now, I think DAVE is a very good DAC, but not one for long term listening until … you add MScaler as in Blu2 DAVE. And then, digital replay is as good as I’ve ever heard it. Oh and lose the preamp and let DAVE drive your power amplifier directly for even greater clarity.

The music is more alive, more engaging, less fatiguing, less hifi and I’m running out of hifi review cliches.

That is my opinion and this forum is littered why my enthusiastic posts about Chord kit, but there are some who dispute my findings and prefer the Naim signature sound. Am I right or are they right? And what is right in any case?

Audition is the only to find out. Digital replay from Naim, Linn and Chord is superb, which is the superbest is something only the listener can answer.

Technically, Naim uses an old TI Burr Brown DAC chip that it rings every drop of sound quality from, Linn uses a modern AK DAC chip from Japan with discrete PSUs for each stage, Chord doesn’t use a DAC chip, but instead a Field Programmable Gate Array on which it builds its own Pulse Array DAC. The Digital Sound Processing for each implementation also differs. However, that still doesn’t help decide which sounds best.

So you have my view I use Chord for CD and Linn for vinyl with their respective DACs, but I could easily enjoy Naim as an alternative. The ND555 was not available when I made my choice though I’d most likely still be where I am now: very happy with what I have.


@TiberioMagadino. Thank you also for your kind and informative opinion.

By Naim Reference DAC I mean Naim’s large DAC, not DAC-V1; but no PSU.

Although I could accommodate both, I don’t have too much space, and aesthetically, Chord Electronics solutions seem more attractive and functional to me; and finally, from what you say and comment around, the thing seems to depend more on personal tastes.

I will mature it, because at the moment I am not in too much of a hurry as I find myself without amplification; with the SN2 returned by failure with less than a month and a half of use, and waiting for the SN3, which today told me the dealer who, for the time being, neither they have it in stock, as they are waiting for the units from Naim UK.

We will see…

Thank you and greetings, :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

…you can read and gain a lot of information from the forum.

I have learned that there are a lot of discussions where I do not share in the same problems as others while having the same equipment.

I have the XPS DR > NDX 2 > SN 2 three box system and for the longest time a two box system. For all the issues reported with the ‘APP’ my NDX and now NDX 2 has been controlled via the APP on my iPad successfully using my NAS, TIDAL, and internet radio 99+% of the time.

My emphsis has been a simple solution with great sound and have found it.

Look forward to reading about your journey when your SN3 becomes available.


To take this even further, remove the amp too, and run your speakers directly of a TT2, which is what I do. Core/NDS/XPSDR/TT2 to Dynaudio excite 12’s. I get goosebumps quite often, voices and notes just float in the air as if no stereo is even in the room, just you and the artist. Not too many Chord users here seem to of tried this, so I may be a pioneer, but an extremely satisfied one. The purest playback I have ever heard, and I soon should be adding an Mscaler for even more realism/ clarity. Rob Watts, Chord DAC engineer/inventor, or whatever you want to call him runs B&W 803D3’s at home off a TT2 directly, so why not me too.


What’s a reference DAC.

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I had the full Dave/Blu2 setup with a fortune invested in Ansuz digital cables to avoid the noise from the Blu2 getting to the ground plane of the Dave. When it was all done I just didn’t get “immersed in the music” as the saying goes. I decided to go back to Naim 100%. Everything was replaced with Naim kit including power and signal cables, The Naim ND555/555PS pair now feeds a Naim SN/2/HiCap pair. A Naim SN/3 is on order to replace the SN/2.
They say you can never go home but I did.


They are as DACs go, like chalk and cheese. They use different reconstruction filter techniques and very different architectures.

Digital to Analogue conversion as a consequence of the sample theory is an inexact process… it is ultimately lossy. The design engineers focus on specific area they wish to address… this results in different performances upon critical examination … you effectively choose the method and consequently DAC that works with how your brain best listens to audio.

The NDAC and ND555 use traditional Texas Instruments ladder variant DAC chips (PCM1704K) with IIR low pass reconstruction filtering… and focus on the electronics to get the best sonic performance from those chips.

The Chord Hugo TT2 uses a proprietary Pulse Array converter, using FIR low pass reconstruction filtering and using very simple output and current to voltage electronics to reduce colouration. (But at possible cost of more device variation)

Each reconstruction filtering method has pros and cons… especially to do with processing noise and demands on power supplies, phase distortion (transient smearing) and timing resolution.

Chord focus on a bespoke FIR windowing algorithm (WTA) using an ultra low power FPGA processor whereas Naim who do things quite differently focus on implementing its recursive IIR filter in an Analog Devices DSP processor engine (SHARC)

This all results on different renderings upon critical listening, whilst with casual background listening one might notice no difference (other than possible tonal presentation which is not really related to the DAC method)

Only you can can decide which rendering method you prefer as it will almost certainly vary from person to person, as well as resolution of down stream system and speakers.


Agree with Simon

They’re different sounding sources and for me I like what Chord sources do for my music with the beautiful mid range, refined and extended highs and solid bass. Their timing is impeccable.

Others may prefer a Naim source which sound different and really are good fun to play music on

I mean they sure do sound Rhythmic with equally solid bass and good midrange.

Choose either one that you prefer.


Yes, my mood is also to solve in the simplest way, with as little stockpiling of black boxes as possible, and trying to make the most of the ones I already have.

Of course, when I finally have this system set up and experienced, I’ll upload my impressions and some pics. Although at the rate it goes, I begin to doubt that it may be before my retirement… :crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face:

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@NO-QUARTER Yes, I read it around. But how do you do this…? I understand that some spawn of XLR to 4mm banana plugs type is needed.

In addition, I find some glues:

  • It restricts to digital-only sources.

  • If not through Chord Tobby, the maximum 18 W RMS stenuns a little fair, and even the Tobby’s 100 W in 4 Ohms, at least for the K6 in my room dimensions.

  • Besides, again I’d have to get rid of an SN3 i don’t even have.


As I’ve pointed out above…

@leatherneck I’m glad you’ve finally got it right, but precisely these continuous round trips are what I’d like to avoid.


@Simon-in-Suffolk I understand they are both different conversion architectures and system and personal tastes dependent; but, unfortunately, the circumstances are not adequate to demo them, less in my system.


Well unfortunately no one else can really decide for you it’s like someone guessing what your favourite colour might be…
But perhaps a nice shade of blue and a nice shade of green could be equally pleasing… or you might find green does it for you.

So if you can’t evaluate, them I would choose on other matters such as physical appearance, flexibility, availability and price.


Hi newcomer
Yes I made up my own cables, I went out and bought a nice soldering gun, took some old speaker wire, some old XLR cables, stripped the wires back, then soldered the appropriate wires together. I covered the connections with that shrink rubber stuff you can buy. The cables are kind of ugly, but work great for now until I can buy proper ones. I only have digital sources, and live in an apartment building, so quality low volume listening is required for me. Chord (Rob Watts) is working on new digital amps for people who require more power, without losing the incredible transparency attained by running direct from one of his DAC/Preamps. I realize this is not an ideal setup for everyone, but for my current living situation, it is perfect.


@Simon-in-Suffolk Thank you; I appreciate much your contributions and feedback.

Personally, I find green usually does it for me, :wink:



Hi, NO-QUARTER; I imagined it.