Chord Mojo – Review

Some of you may have read my review of Hugo. I was really impressed by that product and what Chord managed to do, not to mention in what size.

It’s been a while since Mojo appeared on the market and I don’t know why I didn’t try to hear it until now. Recently a friend of mine bought it and he was floored by its performance.

I didn’t need to hear more to try it for myself. Due to the generosity of Chord’s dealer in Romania, HighEndAudio.ro , I now have the chance of sharing my experience regarding Mojo with you.

 

Build Quality and Looks

You have any idea what struck me first? Its puny size! I was caught by surprise when I’ve seen it. I knew it was small, but I didn’t expect for it to be that small. It’s smaller than FiiO X5, or Aune B1 for example.

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Mojo is a Chord, so you would imagine that the build quality is very sturdy. It seems to be a small solid metal brick. It’s actually made of aircraft grade aluminium. Chord also offers a very nice looking protective case for it.

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The design is quite simplistic. You don’t have any display, just 3 round buttons that change colors. It takes a little getting used to it, but after a while, the minimalist design comes in handy.

The power button changes color for example to show you what sample rate is playing at the moment.

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Also the volume buttons have different lighting depending on the volume. You should be very attentive when plugging your headphones into Mojo, especially if you switch to a more efficient headphone after a more power hungry one. It’s small, but this little guy has power and it could hurt your ears from the loud volume if you don’t pay attention.

For more information, you can read the manual here.

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Specs and Features

Mojo is small but Chord managed to add 3 inputs on this little guy: USB, Optical, Coaxial. Besides this, it has 2 3.5 headphone outputs. Yes, two people can listen to Mojo in the same time.

Mojo Features:

  • -Mojo was designed for the music loving Smartphone owner.
  • -It is powerful, but small and comfortable to carry.
  • -It works with your iPhone or Android phone.
  • -Mojo is also compatible with your Mac or PC
  • -Mojo has three digital inputs – USB, Coaxial, and Optical.
  • -Mojo charges in just 4 hours to provide up to 10 hours use.
  • -You can use any pair of headphones with Mojo, from 4Ω to 800Ω.
  • -With two 3.5mm analogue outputs you and a friend can listen too!
  • -Mojo plays all files from 32kHz to 768kHz and even DSD 256.
  • -Mojo is fully automatic and remembers its last used settings.
  • -Its case is precision machined from a single solid block of aluminium.
  • -Mojo is entirely designed and manufactured in Great Britain.

Technical Specs

  • -Output Power @ 1kHz
  • -600 ohms 35mW
  • -8 ohms 720mW
  • -Output Impedance: 0.075 ohms
  • -Dynamic Range: 125dB
  • -THD @ 3v – 0.00017%

The specs are quite astonishing. 125dB dynamic range and such small thd at this size is just amazing. There are a lot of considerably more expensive full sized DACs that would dream to have those specs.

It seems that Mojo offers 4.2V in max output mode and 3V on fixed (line out) volume, which is quite a lot. I was curious to see how it handles Audeze LCD-4, which is quite a power hungry headphone, and Mojo made it sing quite nicely. I was very impressed!

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Listening Impressions & Tests

The tests were performed with Audeze LCD-4, Meze Classics 99, AKG K553,  Ultimate Sound US3D, FiiO Ex1,   Aune B1, iFi Micro iDsd, Audio GD Master 9, Audio GD Master 10, Martin Logan Ethos Speakers. 

As you can read from above I’ve played quite a lot with Chord Mojo the last few days. You may ask why such extensive tests? Simple question! I love Mojo so much, so I wanted be sure that what I am hearing is real.

This little magic box sounded amazing with anything I gave it, from iems to Audeze LCD-4, which was an extreme surprise. If you read my LCD-4 review, I have stated that those headphones are not quite easy to amplify. Not only that it manages to give them sufficient volume but it also gives them “mojo”, making them really enjoyable.

Ok, don’t expect them to have the bass/soundstage you have in a big amplifier, but you will get good speed, detail,  energetic transients and great vocals.

I also tested it as a dedicated DAC with my speaker system and it sounded amazing, and I cannot see why it shouldn’t be used like that in a big system. I actually think that it is better than most full size DAC at that price or even 10 times more expensive ones on the market today.

If you read the review of   Aune B1you know that I love that amplifier. It was only natural I tested it with Chord Mojo as DAC.

Mojo does a great job on its own and in some ways it surpasses it.

For example B1 cannot handle LCD-4, while Mojo wasn’t just  up the the task, but also got an A+, making these pretentious headphones sing. However, adding B1 with moderately power hungry headphones, decompresses the soundstage and makes it more holographical, adds bass depth, voice presence and intimacy and a generally more natural sound signature.

On the other side, Mojo alone is slightly more detailed, has a little more focus around the leading edges, and a little faster sound in general. It’s like when you apply sharpness effect over an image.

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The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (Live)

The first thing I noticed were the voices which made me feel in the scene near the artists. The voices on Mojo are amazing and it achieves this level of quality with the superb textures, details and liveliness. Another thing I noticed was the clarity of each note, the excellent imaging and black background this little guy is capable of.

Susane Vega – Tom’s Dinner

This is the version without instruments, just with Susane’s voice filling the scene. I got goosebumps over and over again on this song. The voice was so real and well textured that I felt her breath in my ears. Also the echoing effect was superbly reproduced. Lovely experience!

Leonard Cohen – Heart with no companion

The song starts with just the instruments for a while. Every instrument, every note was crystal clear and sparkly. When the guitar plucks entered the scene it was like someone came with a guitar inside your ear or really close to it. Got goosebumps all over. But hang on tight, there’s more! When the voices enter the scene it’s like they’re taking your ears for a dance. I didn’t just listen to this song, I lived it!

 Pink Martini – In Stiller Nacht

Excuse me sir! Do you have time to speak about voices? Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but I feel the need to punctuate this. This song is a reference for me. I love those voices and Mojo takes you on a ride on each and every voice from the quire. The level of the detail of the textures is just amazing, making them incredibly real. You can concentrate on each of them, you can feel all their breaths.  Forgot to say that the background is pitch black.

Dawn and Hawkes – Love you forever

I am not going to say anything about the voices in the song from now on, but you can extrapolate the same qualities I described above. Ok, let’s talk about rhythm, detail and speed. Yes, Mojo excels at all of those categories. End of story! The guitars have explosive plucks with energetic and detailed extension, showing excellent transients with strong attack and detailed and fast decay. Mojo’s got rhythm! It’s so fast and energetic that I just couldn’t stop myself from dancing along with the song!

Handel: Water Music Suite No.2 in D, HWV 349 – 12. Alla hornpipe

If you’re a fan of classical music, you just need your mojo! All the instruments have amazing focus, detail and textures. The imaging is top class and you can off the floor of the background. The soundstage is a little intimate, but you can expand it with an external amplifier like Aune B1 for example, which also adds some soul to the music.

Noisia – Alpha Centauri 

Let’s see if Mojo can bass. This is a fast song and Mojo ran circles around it in the speed and punch department. It gave energy, impact, rhythm to the song making it really hard not to jump around. The detail and control of the bass are also exemplary. The depth is not in the same class with the other two, but you can fix this easily by adding an Aune B1. This means that the DAC section is excellent in all categories: punch, speed, control and depth. The amp needs a little more depth but it’s not something that can’t be fixed.

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Oh boy…how Mojo rocks! I was sweaty at the end of the song. So much…energy…such precision and speed, such vibrating textures on the electric guitars, such electrifying voices…Rock on! At the end of the review I want to smash the guitar and get off scene :))

Duke Ellington – Rhapsody in Blue

The level of textures on each instruments, the level of presence and detail is breath taking. If you concentrate on any instrument in that scene it will hypnotize you. This song is like a journey. It’s like your dancing on each note, feeling every instrument, it’s a roller coaster of emotions.

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Sumary

Bass

The bass has excellent speed, control and punch. The amplification section might need a little more depth, but adding another amplifier like B1 in the mix and using Mojo just as DAC gets you there. The level of detail and textures in the bass section is exemplary.

Midrange

The midrange is breath taking. It has such full of life and detailed textures that it brings everything to life. Will talk about the voices below.

Treble

The treble is very detailed and full of sparkle end energy. It’s not harsh, but don’t expect Mojo to hide recording or transducers’ flaws. If paired with the right gear, it can be just as impressive as the other parts of the frequency range I described above.

Voices

The voices are in a class of their own. What makes them so great are the wonderfully detailed and pulsating textures Mojo is capable of breathing into them. They just become alive and vibrant. You live the experience with the singer, you get emotionally involved in the song! Not to mention that there were some cases where I enjoyed the voices with Mojo more than with Analog Dac.

Details

Another area where Mojo has mojo and gets to be ridiculously impressive. Details are popping out from each corner of the song, bringing to attention even very subtle things, but in a somewhat relaxed and natural manner (quite more so than Hugo for example). Once I got really startled from hearing something in the orchestra and believing it was in my room.

Transients

The transients are excellent, showing strong attack and very fast decay. The sound gets to be tactile or can tickle your ears when the song dictates. It leads to a fast and energetic listening experience.

Soundstage & Imaging

The soundstage from Mojo alone isn’t very expansive, but it’s well determined and the positioning is very well done. With B1 it expands and becomes more holographical.  The imaging however is ridiculously impressive, showing excellent focus on each instrument and clear leading edges.

Energy

Mojo has a way of making the music very energetic and full of life. It does this through excellent timing, vibrant textures, excellent details and fast, but explosive transients.

 

Small Comparison to iFi micro iDsd

I am doing this comparison because it is in the same price range with Mojo and I loved that product very much. Until Mojo, this was my go to product to recommend, especially if you want a office audiophile setup or even a for your home, giving the excellent price performance ratio it has.

While I still love iDsd and it still has some very nice features that makes it very versatile, overall Mojo was quite ahead from a technical perspective. iDsd has a more organic/fuller and relaxed sound with better presence on the voices. It also has stronger amplification that is also wonderful even with very efficient iems which is also available with Mojo, but with the latter you really have to watch the volume, not to burn the headphones and your ears.

For example with LCD-4 iDsd had a more decompressed soundstage and a little deeper bass than Mojo alone. While Mojo is also very good with iems, you have to be very careful not to start up the unit on the wrong volume. iDsd has some switches that makes this harder to happen.

Besides these points, Mojo wins in every other deparment: speed, accuracy, imaging, details, clarity, etc. While iFi iDsd is still very good in these departments, it just cannot keep up with Mojo.

Conclusions

I am sorry with all the superlatives I’ve written until now, but Mojo is just one of those products…

I missed this level of excitement! I would be excited about Mojo, even if was a full size DAC, but having this level of quality in such small size is just amazing.

Now I finally understand the name. Chord’s got Mojo! Every audiophile needs his fix, and with Mojo he can get it anywhere.

I consider Chord to have reached one of the most important achievements in the audiophile industry with Mojo and I once more take off my hat to them!

From my perspective and experience, Mojo is the best buy DAC out there today!

If you want to try one for yourself, you can go HighEndAudio‘s showroom in Bucharest.

Pros

  • Very good bass with good speed, punch, detail and with added amplification also excellent depth
  • Excellent, emotional, clean & detailed midrange
  • Very good treble detail and energy without harshness
  • Very good dynamics, transient speed and energy
  • Excellent details
  • Holographical soundstage
  • Stunning voices
  • Very good build quality
  • Best price/performance ratio I know in the audio industry in the DAC section
  • Quite capable amplification (LCD-4 runs quite nicely from it)

Cons

  • The soundstage is quite intimate, even if holographical
  • Should have a safety switch or something like that for IEM use

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