Chord Hugo TT2 as headphone amp?

i’m looking for thoughts on using Chord Hugo TT2 as headphone amp for my CDX2.2. forgive my ignorance - i’m assuming digital out bypasses cd players own DAC, so using Hugo as headphone amp necessarily uses as DAC simultaneously ??? I must say i’m very impressed by the reviews, and the possibility of upgrading with m-scaler a year or so down the line seems very exciting. . . . or should i save lots of money and buy a Headline??? it’s all in the listening i know, but would value some opinionation.
oh, and lastly, am i allowed to mention other manufacturers products? apologies if not.

Only you can decide, but I suspect you will very much appreciate the performance of the TT2 headphone amp compared to the discontinued Headline amp.

1 Like

As Simon says, you really need to listen to it but I’ve found the TT2 is excellent as a headphone amp & DAC. I would imagine it will be a case of finding / picking a headphone you like. In terms of power, I’d be surprised if you found some headphones it couldn’t power with ease.

yeah, i thought as much.

i have a pair of hd800s headphones and can not wait to take hugott2 for a test drive with them. i have very high expectations, quite exciting. need to save some pennies first though. i will report back .

thanks for your thought guys.

I tried the Hugo TT2 with your headphones (I have the cans) – it is a very insightful combination! I guess there isn’t much information that the TT2 doesn’t retrieve from a recording, and certainly the TT2 has enough muscle to drive the HD800S. A piece of cake!

Without a question, great recordings will sound great – if not awesome! But poor recordings will sound :poop:. There is nowhere to hide when putting the TT2 and HD800S together…

The HD 800S will take a fair bit of EQ so if you’re running Roon you will probably have a fair bit f headroom to tweak the sound to what you like with the TT2. As @Naim_The_Dragon says, there is nowhere to hide with the TT2, it is very revealing and combined with the HD800S, poor quality recordings will become quite obvious…

but you will find with topflight headphones on the TT2 - poor recordings will or should still sound musical and entertaining - and importantly enjoyable.
To me this is a difference between an outstanding system and merely a good system. An outstanding system makes the most of bad recordings such that they are still enjoyable and musical - a merely good system can sometimes makes such recording not pleasurable to listen to.

Many of my recordings are of varying qualities - and I love many of them to bits and most, including some very poor quality or old recordings, are really enjoyable without any forwardness or etching creeping in.

I find magnetic planar headphones really advantageous here, and my Empyreans go really well with the TT2 (in Hi Gain mode)


My Empyreans are far more forgiving on the TT2 than the HD800s but, EQ was your friend with them and it would have to be a stinker of a recording to not listen to it. The TT2 does have a deeper tone compared to other Chord DACs which also helps.

I probably embarrass myself – I don’t really understand fully what forum members refer to when they talk about “musical”…

On the issue of “enjoyment”, my experience is different. I couldn’t really tolerate poor recordings with a TT2/HD800S – I would consider these Sennheiser “topflight headphones”!

I can get that memory can “taint” hearing – e.g. one might still enjoy a poorly recorded song one grew up with… I listen almost exclusively to classical music, and I cannot tolerate poorly recorded material through headphones (and just my HD800S cum Hugo 2, and even worse from my TT2 experience…)

you are not embarrassing yourself - for me musical means that reproduced audio flows and times like a piece of music - i guess technically it has good timing/low slew across the audio bandwidth, and is reproducing dynamics across the bandwidth - especially when compressed so you can feel the musical timing and rhythm - and phrasing or riffs and your brain decodes this without working too hard.
if a device doesn’t exhibit this - and most noticeable on compressed recordings - then the recording can sound flat and lifeless where your brain has to work harder to make sense of it.

“On the issue of “enjoyment”, my experience is different. I couldn’t really tolerate poor recordings with a TT2/HD800S”
Then I really would try different headphones or trying eq’ ing away the hot spot with the 800s (I have done something similar with my Sennies) where it deviates significantly from Harman curve. There are so many fantastic recordings out there to enjoy - and many are not good quality - to me it would be a travesty to have a system that didn’t let you enjoy these recordings. I uses to have a system that was less obliging of poor recordings - but in the end i couldn’t live with it - as I was finding I was only selecting recordings that I knew would sound good on my system!!! Talk about tail wagging the dog.

1 Like

I could easily imagine a poor classical recording with HD800s being a bit fatiguing. When I had a loaner pair I had to EQ them to enjoy them for longer listening sessions. Some 70’s punk tracks I listen to didn’t come over well on them at all. I could listen to them but I wouldn’t probably go as far as saying I enjoyed them.

Thanks for that, @Simon-in-Suffolk – much appreciated! I haven’t been into high-fidelity for too long, and English isn’t my first language. Having said this, my hi-fi vocabulary might be worse in my mother tongue… The same at work – I would struggle with delivering lectures, for instance, in my first language…

You probably have a point – and I wouldn’t mind a second pair of open-back… :wink: Not sure whether “the boss” would be amused… :scream: I tried Focal’s Clear, and thought these were much more forgiving than the HD800S. But then, good recordings didn’t sound as good… Trade-Offs…

1 Like

The original Hugo TT has my vote as a great headphone DAC amplifier, having worked my way through the Mojo, Hugo and them Hugo TT during a demo, I came away with the lasting impression that the TT was very good and easily drove my Oppo planars giving the tightest and deepest sound of all three, no surprise perhaps.

However, I could not come to terms with the fact that the TT cost almost as much as my whole Naim setup at that time and settled for the Mojo! which imo still managed to better my Naim internal headphone amp. In fact I am still looking for a used TT at a sensible price.

In a nutshell, what’s the difference here between the HD800s and the Empyrean you settled for? What does Meze do the HD800S don’t deliver?


@Naim_The_Dragon In short, I don’t have to EQ the Empyrean at all… Empyrean + Silver cable = very real, full natural detailed presentation that doesn’t leave you feeling it’s missing out on anything. It might not be the in your face detail of other TOTL headphones but it just does everything very well rather than a couple of things amazing and others areas not so good.

The longer bit.

When I first heard the HD800s, I felt the bass was ok but there was an emphasis on detail in the high-mids to highs. Soundstage was impressive but something was missing. Didn’t feel real, it felt a bit hollow. I found it could be improved with EQ but that this in itself could unbalance other areas.

The first time I listened to the Empyrean, it felt rich, full with plenty of detail but not as obvious or in your face as the HD800S. The soundstage wasn’t as big but felt spacious. After a few days it felt a little too heavy and at this point I bought the Meze Silver upgrade cable. This made the difference.

Now I would describe the bass as big, hard hitting, tight and you feel it rather than just hear it. You feel the double bass strings rather than just hear them. Mids are very clear and natural, no bass bleeding into them. The highs are very clean and detailed and smooth. You could sit back and pick through the detail and positioning, it’s all there. Or, you can just relax and enjoy the music. It doesn’t force the detail in your face. If you see what I mean

I hope this helps. Not really the best at describing these things… @Simon-in-Suffolk would probably do a far better job.


Thanks a lot for this @anon23154165!

1 Like

wow, what a wealth of knowledge. i agree the hd800s are very detailed in mid/upper range. i’m really happy with them. i listen to a very broad range of musical genres and think they kick-ass when it comes to electro and violins. my favourite music however is jazz. toonartist - i’ve never heard of empyreans but your description of them suggests they’re very special. i just looked them up. maybe if i win the lottery!!! they sound as if they’d be great with jazz. the warm woodiness of the acoustic bass meets the sizzle of the ride cymbal.

which brings me back to the hugo tt 2. i understand it has 4 different “flavours”. so i take this to mean it will give me scope to rave-on to my electro in one setting whilst transporting me to ronnie scotts in another. hopefully this is the case. i presume one setting will be better suited to certain musical situations. so hopefully all genres can be enjoyed approaching something like equally on any good quality headphones.

god all this talk makes me wanna buy a tt 2 tmrw !

i will report back.

very interesting forum. nice one.

1 Like

Nope, that read pretty good to me :+1:

The TT2 is well suited to multiple genres with or without the different filters.

What I would say about the filters is they are very subtle. Think of them as minor tweaks.

  1. Incisive neutral: This is about revealing max detail.
  2. Incisive neutral with HF roll-off. Basically the same as 1 but with HF noise removal.
  3. Warmer version of 1.
  4. Warmer version of 2.

I mainly use 1 with the M Scaler powered by a Power Bank. If you use the power supply with the M Scaler then Filter 2 is good as it takes away the HF noise that the M Scaler can produce.

In the manual, they describe 3 as “subtle warming tonality.”. So, while it will tweak the tonality slightly, don’t expect an big changes :wink:

thank you. that’s really helpful. good to be armed with knowledge before a test so one can discriminate based on informed expectation :+1: