Chord Electronics has offered what may well be the greatest headphone DAC/amp combo ever — and they call it DAVE.
You can queue the 2001: A Space Odyssey music at any point.
Shown here with a top-of-the-line LCD-4 from Audeze, the DAVE ($13,300 US; $16,000 with matching stand) is a technical tour-de-force that we met (and covered) back in Munich. An FPGA-based design, that novelty is just the beginning.
I’m on record as holding that novelty isn’t necessarily a good thing, but here, the end result is undeniable — music, played back through the DAVE and over the pinnacle of Audeze’s planar magic, was sublime. Deep bass, with real impact, had convincing nuance and texture. Transients had real bite — a complaint I’ve had with some implementations of FPGA tech. And if headphones can be said to showcase anything approaching a truly realistic sound stage, this was one of the most convincing demo’s I’ve yet heard.
My unqualified recommendation? If this is within your reach, do it. Ska-doosh.
Moving down the table, I next came across the Hugo TT. At $4,795, the TT is the bigger, badder and much more exciting version of the Hugo everyone — and I mean everyone — has been raving about.
I’m going to offer that trying the TT immediately after the DAVE was probably not the way to fall in love with it — and since I actually own and love my pair of Fostex TH900 headphones (demoed here with the TT), I was really trying to. Sonically, I think the DAVE is in a different league entirely, if you’ll pardon the cliché, but there are similarities … just not many. Don’t get me wrong — the TT is quite good, but I think I may well be ruined.
Which is why the Mojo, at $699, is my darling baby.
We’ve got two of these out in the PTA network, but the upshot is that this little bugger is amazing. For the price, it’s freakin’ fantastic. A truly portable DAC/amp, the Mojo is more compact than the Hugo, seems easier to use, and — [gasp!] — may sound good enough that would-be Hugo owners can safely reconsider that $2,500 purchase and just reinvest the almost $2,000 in a set of super-cans.
Got to see a prototype leather Mojo traveling case — availability is TBD — that comes with a nifty magnetic latch. Assuming they can keep the price down, I’m gonna say it’s going to be a must-have accessory.