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CHORD HUGO TT2 DAC/PREAMP + KRAFTWERK PSU combo

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Well I had an interesting audition this morning of the new Chord Hugo TT2 DAC/Preamp  thanks to bhobber.

It was nice to hear a reference class DAC & also a chance to see if a Kraftwerk PSU would make a difference vs the standard supplied 15v 4A SMPS unit.

I was not expecting much change as I have read all Rob Watts info regarding the super caps in the Hugo TT2 which provide huge peak current on demand. Never the less I was pleasantly surprised at the improvements I heard when swapping to the Kraftwerk PSU. Mainly a bit more air & separation around instruments & vocals plus the resolution also seemed to increase. Now this is just my opinion & certainly not blind tested. I don't currently make a 15v 4A PSU so I used my multi out Kraftwerk PSU set to 15v which only has about 1A capability at that voltage. I was using the Hugo TT2 in DAC mode so the 1A was probably enough. Now for amp mode & using headphones or speakers you would definitely need a 4A PSU. Fortunately Tortech Australia make a 15v 5A external  AC to AC adaptor/transformer which is ideal.

Using this transformer plus a slightly modified version of my Kraftwerk 12v 4A I can make a 15v 4A Kraftwerk PSU which will be ideal to power the Hugo TT2. I currently have the boards & one transformer so I will build a unit ASAP. Estimated cost will be around $500.

 

 

 

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Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Well I had an interesting audition this morning of the new Chord Hugo TT2 DAC/Preamp  thanks to bhobber.
It was nice to hear a reference class DAC & also a chance to see if a Kraftwerk PSU would make a difference vs the standard supplied 15v 4A SMPS unit.
I was not expecting much change as I have read all Rob Watts info regarding the super caps in the Hugo TT2 which provide huge peak current on demand. Never the less I was pleasantly surprised at the improvements I heard when swapping to the Kraftwerk PSU. Mainly a bit more air & separation around instruments & vocals plus the resolution also seemed to increase. Now this is just my opinion & certainly not bind tested. I don't currently make a 15v 4A PSU so I used my multi out Kraftwerk PSU set to 15v which only has about 1A capability at that voltage. I was using the Hugo TT2 in DAC mode so the 1A was probably enough. Now for amp mode & using headphones or speakers you would definitely need a 4A PSU. Fortunately Tortech Australia make a 15v 5A external  AC to AC adaptor/transformer which is ideal.
Using this transformer plus a slightly modified version of my Kraftwerk 12v 4A I can make a 15v 4A Kraftwerk PSU which will be ideal to power the Hugo TT2. I currently have the boards & one transformer so I will build a unit ASAP. Estimated cost will be around $500.
 
 
 
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Very interesting Clay , have been meaning to ask you about a PSU for my Chord Qutest which is 5V.

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Hi Clive,

Chord supply a 5v 2A PSU with the Qutest & unfortunately my highest current 5v PSU is only 1.5A.

It would probably be enough but one SNA member tried it & did not notice an improvement sound wise.

I think the Kraftwerk 12v 4A PSU's make the biggest sonic difference so I'm happy to do a custom 5v version of that if you like.

It would be total overkill but I think the big current capacity of the 4A unit definitely has a big impact on the sound quality.

As usual if you don't hear an improvement I'm happy to take it back.

Just waiting on the 12v 6A transformers at the moment - due Wed/Thursday.

 

 

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Hi Clive,
Chord supply a 5v 2A PSU with the Qutest & unfortunately my highest current 5v PSU is only 1.5A.
It would probably be enough but one SNA member tried it & did not notice an improvement sound wise.
I think the Kraftwerk 12v 4A PSU's make the biggest sonic difference so I'm happy to do a custom 5v version of that if you like.
It would be total overkill but I think the big current capacity of the 4A unit definitely has a big impact on the sound quality.
As usual if you don't hear an improvement I'm happy to take it back.
Just waiting on the 12v 6A transformers at the moment - due Wed/Thursday.
 
 
I can't say I know the meaning of the word "overkill" in this game ! [emoji53]
Will be in touch via PM - cheers for the info !

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Sounds good but better be quick tho as I'm running out of cases fast & can't get any more until after Xmas,

Cheers Clay

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2 hours ago, evil c said:
3 hours ago, Gieseler Audio said:
Well I had an interesting audition this morning of the new Chord Hugo TT2 DAC/Preamp  thanks to bhobber.
It was nice to hear a reference class DAC & also a chance to see if a Kraftwerk PSU would make a difference vs the standard supplied 15v 4A SMPS unit.
I was not expecting much change as I have read all Rob Watts info regarding the super caps in the Hugo TT2 which provide huge peak current on demand. Never the less I was pleasantly surprised at the improvements I heard when swapping to the Kraftwerk PSU. Mainly a bit more air & separation around instruments & vocals plus the resolution also seemed to increase. Now this is just my opinion & certainly not bind tested. I don't currently make a 15v 4A PSU so I used my multi out Kraftwerk PSU set to 15v which only has about 1A capability at that voltage. I was using the Hugo TT2 in DAC mode so the 1A was probably enough. Now for amp mode & using headphones or speakers you would definitely need a 4A PSU. Fortunately Tortech Australia make a 15v 5A external  AC to AC adaptor/transformer which is ideal.
Using this transformer plus a slightly modified version of my Kraftwerk 12v 4A I can make a 15v 4A Kraftwerk PSU which will be ideal to power the Hugo TT2. I currently have the boards & one transformer so I will build a unit ASAP. Estimated cost will be around $500.
 
 
 
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Very interesting Clay , have been meaning to ask you about a PSU for my Chord Qutest which is 5V.

If this helps at all, I had a 12v Kraftwerk which I tried on my Chord 2Qute, and I was already running an MCRu Linear Power Supply, and could also run it off my Uptone Audio JS-2 Linear power supply. Totally over-specced for the 2Qute, so didnt expect an improvement, but holy-moly, totally transformed the 2Qute. When I switched back from the Kraftwerk, the 2Qute sounded like it was playing through a pipe. The tone and soundstage massively improved with the Kraftwerk. No guarantee that the same magic would happen to the same extent with the Qutest, but worth considering as the Kraftwerk is by far the best power supply I've used in all my years owning and playing with HiFi gear.

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1 hour ago, Gieseler Audio said:

Sounds good but better be quick tho as I'm running out of cases fast & can't get any more until after Xmas,

Cheers Clay

You have mail ! ;)

 

1 hour ago, Max Headroom said:

If this helps at all, I had a 12v Kraftwerk which I tried on my Chord 2Qute, and I was already running an MCRu Linear Power Supply, and could also run it off my Uptone Audio JS-2 Linear power supply. Totally over-specced for the 2Qute, so didnt expect an improvement, but holy-moly, totally transformed the 2Qute. When I switched back from the Kraftwerk, the 2Qute sounded like it was playing through a pipe. The tone and soundstage massively improved with the Kraftwerk. No guarantee that the same magic would happen to the same extent with the Qutest, but worth considering as the Kraftwerk is by far the best power supply I've used in all my years owning and playing with HiFi gear.

That is exactly the kind of endorsement / insight I needed.

The Qutest is virtually an updated model from the 2Qute so should be the same - appreciate your input ! 👍

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That member was me, I tried Clays psu on the Qutest and it wasn’t better, slightly worse tbh. The Dac sounded tense to me, plus the psu got very hot running the Qutest, but that was my experience. I’m running a iFi iPower low noise PSU now and it’s slightly better than the stock psu. 

Edited by Sime V2

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That member was me, I tried Clays psu on the Qutest and it wasn’t better, slightly worse tbh. The Dac sounded tense to me, plus the psu got very hot running the Qutest, but that was my experience. I’m running a iFi iPower low noise PSU now and it’s slightly better than the stock psu. 
Well I'm glad getting the Kraftwerk PSU then - rather than the standard PSU you tried which Clay openly mentioned.

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On 10/12/2018 at 12:06 PM, Gieseler Audio said:

Using this transformer plus a slightly modified version of my Kraftwerk 12v 4A I can make a 15v 4A Kraftwerk PSU which will be ideal to power the Hugo TT2. I currently have the boards & one transformer so I will build a unit ASAP. Estimated cost will be around $500.

A bit busy right now - and will say more later.   But Clay please put me down for one - will pay when you let me know the exact price.  May need one for the M-Scaler as well - you need to check that out.

 

And Clay is not even using the M-Scaler - he has one of those as well - we will see what it does.

 

Some guys wanted comparisons of Clay's DAC with the Chord and it will happen.   Remember this DAC produces 18W out and can drive speakers direct.   Clay's supply into the amp that drives the speakers - now that will be interesting - especially with the M-Scaler in the picture.

 

Thanks

Bill  

 

 

Edited by bhobba

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Hi Guys

 

A bit more on this.   I  got Mike to get in a Chord Hugo TT2 and associated up-scaler to direct connect to the new speakers he will be building - its his his high efficiency papyrus speaker with the seas exotic bass driver and tweeter,   Details of the speaker will be clearer when Mike has finished my magnesium's - but that's held up because the resistors have been snafued by customs and Mike needs to go through hoops like traces on the package and what not to sort out what is actually getting them.   The pain of being a small maker.   Anyway i will likely be something like 92db sensitive but only go down to about 50hz.   However the DAC has normal  RCA outputs as well as XLR's (they go to the speakers) to connect to a subwoofer(s). 

 

Ok this DAC is very interesting - it actually produces 18W which can be fed direct into speakers.   And its built to be compatible with the M-Scaler (which of course will also work with Clay's Dacs):

https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/hugo-mscaler/

 

Clay will check out if his power supply makes a difference with the M-scaler as well, and what it does to his DAC's.

 

He has to buily some temporary cables to get it working so it can be checked out.   If it works out well I may have reached the end of my journey - just two boxes - the M-Scaler and DAC.

 

Anyway Clay has stuff to build, but hopefully can find time to complete the checking out of this interesting combination.  I will then be checking it out and if up there will see about getting some high end cables then a formal listening session against a number of other DAC's - including Clay's DAC's, both DS's, Grandinote etc.   Should be VERY interesting.

 

Clay - no hurry mate - just want to let people know its coming.   I may even be able to talk (or is that con?) Mike into holding a GTG - but that depends on how good this combo is.

 

Thanks

Bill

 

 

 

Edited by bhobba

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Hi Guys

 

Just had a chat to Rob Watt's about the power supply thing - here is what he said:

 I wouldn't bother with another PSU as disconnecting the supplied PSU (for 10 seconds) produces no audible change. Linear PSUs generally do not have the RF filters built into SMPS and so normally sound brighter with the illusion of more transparency - but they are actually worse, and measure a lot worse due to lots more LF noise and magnetic noise, with higher leakage currents. The PSU I use has been selected, and measures identically to a battery supply using high bandwidth measurements.

 

So the test is - disconnect the supplies and see what happens to the sound.   Certainly we will try it at our careful listening tests.

 

Thanks

Bill

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6 hours ago, bhobba said:

 If it works out well I may have reached the end of my journey - just two boxes - the M-Scaler and DAC.

Hi Bill,

do you see any advantage with the M-Scaler in comparison to software upsampling with HQPlayer or Audirvana+?

With non-Chord DACs you can upsample with the M-Scaler via SPDIF to 384kHz maximum.

Which DAC allows 384kHz via SPDIF?

So I think it makes sense to use M-Scaler with Chord DACs only.

In comparison you can use Gieseler DACs  or a good NOS-DAC like the new Holo Spring2 and reach 1536kHz or DSD1024 (if you want and with a capable computer for software upsampling)

I prefer software upsampling because it is much more flexible and much less expensive.

Best regards

 

Matt

 

PS: Another point:

Maybe in two years Chord launch a new M-Scaler which makes the existing one obsolete. With software you are always up-to-date.

Edited by matth

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On 12/12/2018 at 4:14 AM, matth said:

Hi Bill,

do you see any advantage with the M-Scaler in comparison to software upsampling with HQPlayer or Audirvana+?

With non-Chord DACs you can upsample with the M-Scaler via SPDIF to 384kHz maximum.

Which DAC allows 384kHz via SPDIF?

 

Yes.  Rob's up-sampling is state of the art - it uses 1 million taps on the filter.   He claims it was a revelation doing that.   Listening tests will be needed to confirm it.

 

The Chord DAC's go further than 384khz - Clay's DAC's go that high - Chord goes to 768khz.  Then the DAC, at not 1 million tap precision of course, goes to 28mhz - you just feed that into an output transistor and have a simple  resistor and capacitor network shorting that high  frequency.   It also takes the output, digitizes it, and feeds it back into the up-sampler to get the lowest distortion,   That's how they get 18W to drive speakers directly.

 

Thanks

Bill 

Edited by bhobba

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52 minutes ago, bhobba said:

Yes.  Rob's up-sampling is state of the art - it uses 1 million taps on the filter.   He claims it was a revelation doing that.   Listening tests will be needed to confirm it.

That means you have not listened to it yet?

 

Matt

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1 hour ago, bhobba said:

The Chord DAC's go further than 384khz - Clay's DAC's go that high - Chord goes to 768khz.  Then the DAC, at not 1 million tap precision of course, goes to 28mhz - you just feed that into an output transistor and have a simple high value capacitor shorting that high  frequency.   It also takes the output, digitizes it, and feeds it back into the up-sampler to get the lowest distortion,   That's how they get 18W to drive speakers directly.

As I said M-Scaler makes sense only with Chord DACs.

Nearly all other DACs are limited to 192kHz with SPDIF and 28MHz is a little bit higher than the DSD512 of the Gross.

How is the sensitivity of the speakers you want to drive with 18W?

Thanks

 

Matt

Edited by matth

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@matth I wouldn’t buy the M-scaler for a DAC that couldn’t go to 768khz. 

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33 minutes ago, Sime V2 said:

@matth I wouldn’t buy the M-scaler for a DAC that couldn’t go to 768khz. 

For me a big drawback of the M-Scaler is that it works in the Chord ecoystem only.

Ask Miska on CA forum, the developer of HQPlayer, what he thinks about taps.

Now we have one million taps, in two years maybe 2 million , in four years 4 million and so on. The obsolete gear appears then on the second hand market. Taps is a great buzzword for marketing. 

Good luck for all who want to go this path.

 

Matt

Edited by matth

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Taps = size of the filter. e.g reconstruction (interpolation) filter. 

The ideal wide bandwidth filter is infinite in size(#coefiecients) but of course that can’t happen so a filter is truncated (finite). Lower frequencies require longer filters. 

Rob Watts says his very large filters make an audible difference to the sound of Chord DACs. 

Not everyone agrees with RW. But the Chord DACs do sound very good. 

Other designers such as Ted Smith believe that once the filter is large enough ensuring the precision of the processing is very high and that the precision is carried throughout the operations is more important.

RW prefers PCM , TS prefers DSD. 

Both use FPGA which allows for designers if they want to use their own implementation of filtering rather than rely on a chip manufacturer’s filters. 

 

Here is another link. 

https://dsp.stackexchange.com/questions/8685/filter-order-vs-number-of-taps-vs-number-of-coefficients

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Hi everyone - OK just trying to get this back on track regarding if there is any benefit to using a good linear PSU with the Chord Hugo TT2.

(we can start a Hugo TT2 review/impression as a new thread)

 

First up I did a couple of quick measurements on the Chord supplied 15v 4A PSU.

Very impressive!  This is definitely the best SMPS I have measured regarding noise/ripple.

 

Left scope grab is the Chord PSU with a 1A restive load - just a whisker of ripple - note scope on 5mv vertical scale.

Right shot is the Kraftwerk 12v 4A PSU with the same scope setting & load - basically the noise floor of the scope.

 

Next I use a AC milivolt meter to look at the AC content/noise.

First photo is the Chord   3mV  now that is really low for a SMPS.

Next shot is the Kraftwerk  -  just a smidgen over .1 mV - not super low but 30x lower than the SMPS unit.

 

Next test was a subjective non blind listening test.

For me anyway there is no doubt at all the the sound considerable improves using the linear supply.

Presence comes up as well as a heightening of the sound stage & bass lower & more extended.

What I want to do next is get some other people to do the comparison & do some blind testing.

I was actually using the 12v 4A Kraftwerk  which is fine for the Chord in DAC mode but in amp mode driving headphones or speakers you would definitely need 15v.

Interesting stuff!


 

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I forgot to mention the Chord sounds totally amazing even on the standard PSU

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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On 13/12/2018 at 4:36 AM, matth said:

That means you have not listened to it yet?

Not yet.

 

Its Christmas time and people like Clay etc who normally help me are really busy.   It needs a special speaker cable with an XLR on the end.   Just speaking to Raw99 and he has some time to do it.  I am dying to hear it as well but a bit of patience is required here.

 

Thanks

Bill

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On 13/12/2018 at 5:51 AM, matth said:

Ask Miska on CA forum, the developer of HQPlayer, what he thinks about taps.

Miska and Rob have a long standing disagreement that boils down basically to what a Tap is.  But yes - really you need a Chord DAC that has the two BNC inputs for 768k to make it really shine.

 

Technology is advancing at a break neck pace  - the M-Scaler needs the current best chip out there - it has 78 cpu's and Rob was just able to get out of it 1 million taps.   As soon as technology allows he will experiment with even more taps.

 

I someone wants to know what a tap is say so and I will give a detailed explanation - but now - have to go to lunch.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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On 13/12/2018 at 8:39 AM, Gieseler Audio said:

First up I did a couple of quick measurements on the Chord supplied 15v 4A PSU.

Very impressive!  This is definitely the best SMPS I have measured regarding noise/ripple.

 

Left scope grab is the Chord PSU with a 1A restive load - just a whisker of ripple - note scope on 5mv vertical scale.

Right shot is the Kraftwerk 12v 4A PSU with the same scope setting & load - basically the noise floor of the scope.

 

Next I use a AC milivolt meter to look at the AC content/noise.

First photo is the Chord   3mV  now that is really low for a SMPS.

Next shot is the Kraftwerk  -  just a smidgen over .1 mV - not super low but 30x lower than the SMPS unit.

 

Amazing Clay, simply amazing.  Rob is very keen on his PS saying its battery ruler flat - its pretty good - but yours is better.   I am really looking forward to the PSU you are building me.

 

😋😋😋😋😋

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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