New arrival at Chord Electronics and successor of the British brand’s best-seller, the Chord Mojo 2 DAC/headphone amplifier was announced with great enthusiasm at its release. Marketed at €599, the Chord Mojo 2 incorporates a proprietary DAC compatible with 32-bit PCM/768kHz and DSD 256 streams. Also benefiting from new features inherited from the brand’s high-end electronics, will the Chord Mojo 2 be more than just an update of its illustrious predecessor?
Chord Mojo 2: packaging & accessories
The Chord Mojo 2 is delivered in a small, simple white cardboard box. On the front is the Chord logo as well as the model and an illustration representing the device. The back features some information about the device, including battery life, compatibility with the Chord Poly extension for Bluetooth wireless listening and streaming, and the words “Made in Britain”. Inside the box is the Chord Mojo 2, snugly wedged inside packing foam. It comes with a short USB-A to micro USB cable, safety instructions, a card explaining the ports and another summarizing the features and color code of the control spheres. Presented in the same simple manner as the first Mojo, the Chord Mojo 2 is just as quick and easy to master right out of the box.
Chord Mojo 2: presentation
The Chord Mojo 2 DAC and headphone amplifier is a model designed for mobile and desktop use. Compatible with 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD 256 digital streams, it features USB-C and micro USB inputs, coaxial and Toslink optical connectors and a micro USB port for battery charging. As for outputs, the Chord Mojo 2 headphone amplifier DAC has two 3.5mm mini-jack headphone outputs. While the presence of micro USB connectors on a device released in 2022 may surprise some, it is the absence of balanced mini-jack 2.5mm or 4.4mm outputs that surprised us most.
As with all of the British brand’s electronics, the build quality is second to none. The Chord Mojo 2 follows the design of its predecessor with an extremely robust black aluminum chassis and backlit glass spheres for the controls. From the first time you hold it in your hand, the build quality is obvious. The Chord Mojo 2 is heavy (185g), resistant and can easily be carried in a pocket or in a bag.
Under the chassis of the Chord Mojo 2, there is a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) processor entirely programmed by Chord to ensure the conversion of digital signals into analog. It offers an even better performance than the previous version. A new UHD DSP has also been integrated as well as WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filtering for an even lower noise level. Chord also announces an improvement of the battery life which allows about 8 hours of playback when the battery is fully charged. This is not the only improvement made to the battery as it inherits the intelligent desktop mode implemented on the Chord Hugo 2, the brand’s high-end DAC/headphone amplifier. Once the device is fully charged, this feature allows you to switch to direct power in order to preserve the battery life.
But the Mojo 2 doesn’t stop at optimizing the components, no matter how advanced and masterful. In fact, the most obvious change right out of the box is the presence of an M (menu) button next to the power button and the volume control. This menu button provides access to an equalizer over four frequency ranges (20Hz, 125Hz, 3kHz, 20kHz) with an amplitude of +/- 9 dB, as well as a crossfeed function to adjust the balance of the channels and a function to lock the device, which is very practical when carrying it in a pocket or bag. Lastly, the Chord Mojo 2 has an output power of 90mW into 300 ohms and 600mW into 30 ohms. This allows it to efficiently power in-ear monitors as well as demanding hi-fi headphones.
Chord Mojo 2: key specifications
- DAC and headphone amplifier for portable and desktop use
- Output power of 90mW into 300 ohms and 600mW into 30 ohms
- Compatible with 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD256 streams
- Proprietary DAC: FPGA processor programmed by Chord engineers
- Improved WTA filter
- 8 hours of battery lie
- Intelligent desktop mode
- 4-band equalizer (20Hz, 125Hz, 3kHz, 20kHz)
- Adjustable channel balance
Chord Mojo 2: listening conditions
We connected the Chord Mojo 2 to a Windows computer to listen to tracks saved locally (PCM and DSD), but also to access the Qobuz (Sublime+ subscription) and Tidal (Family subscription) streaming platforms. The Chord Mojo 2 was connected to the PC using an Audioquest Cinnamon USB A to micro USB cable and we mainly used the FiiO FH7 and FiiO FA9 in-ear monitors.
Chord Mojo 2: listening impressions
The Chord Mojo 2 took a while to turn on. While the first Chord Mojo took around 7 seconds to start up, we counted 22 seconds from the moment we pressed the power button on the Mojo 2. Chord has done an excellent job in optimizing the protection of components against interference. Although the original Mojo had noticeable background noise when we placed our phone on it, its successor is completely free of this problem.
From our very first listening session, we were literally amazed at the difference between the Mojo 2 and the original version. Whether using CD or Hi-Res quality files, the Chord Mojo 2 exhibited greater clarity, an excellent sense of scale and impressive musicality. With the track Wild World by Cat Stevens on Qobuz (24-bit/192kHz), the acoustic guitar benefited from a beautiful clarity. We could hear the pick rubbing on the strings and the piano filling the background of the soundstage while the vocal inflections of the singer were strikingly natural. The track was full of emotion and it was difficult not to turn up the volume.
The same sense of scale and clarity could be heard with Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son (16/44). All the instruments were perfectly reproduced and given enough space while keeping a nice balance. Using the built-in EQ, we tweaked the lows and midrange a bit to get a more powerful kick drum and rounder, warmer bass. A real success with the Kansas track. The equalizer is easy to use and you get used to the color code very quickly.
From the soundtrack of the movie Whiplash, the track “Caravan” (24/96) had great energy and very refined layering. The double bass effectively paced the track, the brass instruments enjoyed a dynamic range that brought the track to life, while the drums led the way, punctuating the piece with impeccably clean snare drum hits. The drum solo parts were strikingly realistic, notably thanks to the dynamics and richness of the timbres that provided a very natural sound.
The Chord Mojo 2 was at ease with all musical styles and its integrated EQ is a real advantage. We really rediscovered the FiiO FA9 IEMs, which we found a bit too tame with the original Chord Mojo. The Mojo 2 can easily be paired with a wide selection of headphones and in-ear monitors, regardless of their sound signature. The Mojo 2 also keeps its promise regarding autonomy, with a battery that holds a charge better than that of the first Mojo, even though listening time remains limited to 8 hours on a full charge. The intelligent desktop feature is a welcome addition, allowing you to leave the Mojo 2 plugged in without fear of damaging the battery’s performance.
Chord Mojo 2: compared to…
iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon: 32-bit/352kHz and DSD512 DAC, MQA compatibility, aptX HD and LDAC Bluetooth receiver, unbalanced and balanced headphone output, digital and analog inputs, the iFi Audio DAC has plenty of advantages. While the Mojo 2 takes a back seat in terms of features, it’s because Chord favors simplicity over musicality. More open and detailed, the Chord Mojo 2 makes a statement with its smoothness and sense of scale. The Chord tips the scales in its favor with its built-in equalizer.
Chord Mojo: comparing the Chord Mojo 2 directly with its out-of-stock predecessor is inevitable. Better battery life, reduced noise level, better sense of scale, more pronounced musicality and new features including an intuitive and efficient equalizer… Chord does much more than a simple refresh and provides a real textbook example of a perfectly executed update.
Chord Mojo 2: who is it for?
The Chord Mojo 2 is for audiophiles looking for a DAC/headphone amplifier for listening to music on the go or at home. The Mojo 2 is as much in its element connected to a smartphone or laptop as it is sitting on a desk. Its durability, sound performance and versatility make it an excellent investment for anyone looking to enjoy high-resolution audio reproduction for years to come. Accompanied by quality headphones or IEMs, the Chord Mojo 2 will let you take full advantage of high-resolution streaming systems such as Tidal and Qobuz.
Chord Mojo 2: conclusion
Because it is our reference DAC/headphone amplifier, we are very familiar with the original Chord Mojo’s performance. To be completely honest, we were expecting some slight improvements over the previous model, but we didn’t think it would really justify the purchase of a Chord Mojo 2 if you happened to already own the first one. That was without counting on Chord’s willingness to reclaim its status as the best DAC and portable headphone amplifier under 600 €. The brand has accomplished this, and the Mojo 2 occupies the vacant position left by its predecessor.
So, should owners of the first Chord Mojo upgrade to the new version? Let’s just say that it’s with a heavy heart that we’re sending the Mojo 2 back and that we’re really tempted to replace our first generation model. As for those who criticized the Mojo for being too neutral, they will be pleased with this new version and its customizable equalizer. The Chord Mojo 2 is also compatible with the Chord Poly network player, which provides wireless audio streaming capabilities to fully enjoy your music.
- The spacious and open sound
- The musicality with all genres
- The integrated EQ
- The robust build
We would have liked:
- A balanced headphone output