Though iPods and .mp3 players have been replaced by the smartphone, there's still a place for an stand-alone mobile streaming system. Because most smartphones can't stream high-quality audio files (or don't do it well) and have difficulties driving hi-fi headphones, having a dedicated streamer, DAC, and headphone amplifier can drastically improve your music listening on the go. To assist with that, Chord Electronics has the Hugo 2 and 2go combination. Even better, when you get home, this combo can plug right into your home system and offer its services to your hi-fi set-up.
Writing for The Ear, Richard Barclay tried out the 2go and Hugo 2 from Chord Electronics. He begins by explaining the technical and physic specs of the combination. The 2go Streamer connects directly to the Hugo 2 using the two micro-USB plugs secured with some ingenious set screws to create a monolithic streamer/DAC player. The 2go adds the ability to play directly off two MicroSD cards, stream from nearly any streaming service, or be a music server using its internal WiFi hostspot ability. Using Chord Electronics' GoFigure app, you can configure and stream through your 2go and utilize the advantages of the Hugo 2 on the go or in your desktop system. But how does it sound?
Barclay tested the 2go with multiple sets of cans and also in his home stereo system. He noticed that despite there being an extra "step" between the music and the ear, there was no distinguishable distortion. Additionally, being able to stream directly from the Hugo 2 without an additional USB tether adds a convenience dimensionality that can't be understated; especially when the quality isn't diminished.
I found streaming lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz audio from a MacBook and iPhone to 2go via Airplay almost sonically indistinguishable from piping the same content directly into Hugo 2 by USB. Airplay of course has a 16-bit/44.1kHz ceiling so expect the margin to widen when streaming high-res audio. The latter sounds noticeably better when streamed to 2go using a network protocol – whether that be from a commercial music streaming service like Tidal or Qobuz, local NAS or from microSD storage – and unlocks Hugo 2’s full sonic potential.
Finally, Barclay loved the 2go's hotspot feature. This feature allowed the 2go to create its own WiFi network to stream music from the microSD cards using the GoFigure app. So, if your broadband is down due to maintenance or you're somewhere without an internet connection, the 2go can give you hours of "off-line" music streaming.