The Chord Electric Hugo M Scaler, it just changes everything!
The Hugo M Scaler is a small, almost square component powered from a supplied 15V wall plug and controlled with either a small remote or the front-panel buttons.
It features five digital inputs: a galvanically isolated Type-B USB, two coaxial S/PDIF on BNC, and two TosLink optical. (DSD data is converted to PCM with a 6dB reduction in level.)
The M Scaler doesn’t have analog outputs, but it has three digital outputs: one coaxial BNC S/PDIF, one optical, and a pair of galvanically (what a cool word) isolated BNC jacks that enable upsampling to 705.6kHz or 768kHz—but only when used with compatible Chord Electronics DACs.
The M Scaler will work with other D/A processors from other manufacturers, but only, of course, up to the maximum frequency the DAC can accept. Other DAC’s paired with the M Scaler indicated it was receiving data sampled at 384kHz
The Hugo M Scaler
… is a small, almost square component powered from a supplied 15V wall plug and controlled with either a small remote or the front-panel buttons.
So what does this little square thing do?
Simple really if you are a HiFi geek, but if not then read on.
The Hugo M Scaler takes the digital file and repairs it, adding back the information lost between the samples, then it sends the repaired file to the DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter).
With 705,600 samples per second, a huge amount of important information that was lost when creating the 44.1 digital file is now recovered. The more samples, the closer you get to the original analog signal. The Hugo M Scaler in essence places 15 additional new musical samples in between each original musical sample, resulting in an astounding improvement in the recreation of the original music signal.
The Hugo M Scaler takes a rough stair step CD quality waveform and transforms it into a smooth analog-like waveform. That quantum leap in sampling brings a breathtaking amounts of detail, accuracy and realism to your music.
Does it make a difference?
I must admit when Chord announced the M Scaler I really thought everyone would be ordering one but in reality the take up was slow, in NZ at least.
As a Chord dealer we were lucky enough to hear one of the first ever units. Within hearing the M Scaler it took less than a minute for me to hear the difference and immediately ordered one for myself. I then had to wait for the product to be officially released and arrive into NZ. Like a kid in a candy shop, this was painful as you cannot un-hear what it does.
How striking was the difference?
Well for someone like me that had a pretty big collection of vinyl and a damn good vinyl setup to sell all of it for the incoming M Scaler should tell you how good it is. Never ever ever has digital media, CD, FLAC, or downloaded music ever sounded so analogue, and so good!!
Pretty much everyone who has demo’d one thru Rapallo have purchased one. A customer told me it is the single biggest upgrade he has ever given his system, so you can’t ask for more than that really.
I get asked a lot what it does to the presentation, well even though it is up-sampling CD to 16x its original resolution to 705.6kHz, it isn’t just the spades of more detail you experience but for me it is a more open and effortless presentation with more depth. It seems as if the up-sampling is adding more refinement to the digital file. As I have mentioned above, once you have heard it, to then take it away is difficult to live without.
If you’d like to experience the M Scaler for yourself please just get in touch to either arrange a demo or feel free to take it home to try in your system, it is actually booked out for the next 2 weekends (its been out on loan for the lockdown), but any time after then should be fine.
I will close this blog by saying, in all my years of owning or demonstrating HiFi components, never has any product had such a profound and deep impact on my system. If you think this is a load of drivel lets see what Brooke says after the lockdown 4 weeks with the M Scaler and our demo Klipsch Forte III’s.
Once again Rob Watts and Chord have definitely worked their magic.
The Chord Hugo M Scaler is possibly one of the most intriguing journeys I have had in a long time when writing a review. I will also say its possibly one of the most difficult write-ups I have had to do also. Not because it was bad, quite the opposite, it is rather brilliant.
It is more about how to describe that brilliance in easily understood words to the headphone and portable audio crowds because the changes are like nothing I have experienced before in this hobby. The concept of a ‘lens’ on your music is apt, the idea that dynamic range and how ‘vivid’ your best setup can sound can be improved is relevant. However, you need a revealing setup to get the benefits.
Is it the final step or the fabled ‘end game’? No, because the M Scaler is but one piece in a long chain. Improve other aspects of that chain and it is likely the M Scaler will happily shuffle up another level to match that improvement. I would actually argue it helps everything else get a little closer to being an ‘end game’.
Going modular does retain the shelf life of the M Scaler immeasurably. Not only is my ‘humble’ Qutest DAC transformed but it leaves me wondering what if I had an even better Chord DAC or connected it to a more expansive HiFi speaker system? Something perhaps where the results are more readily detected and shared?
Well, that’s just GAS now, isn’t it? The M Scaler may well be world-class, but my wallet is definitely 3rd rate. Bah humbug!
Hugo M Scaler + Chord DAC = Awesome
I’ve listened non-stop to the Hugo M Scaler connected to a new Hugo TT 2 DAC (new and shipping soon) for days. As John Darko’s RMAF post notes, the M Scaler has a magic knob – the Output Sample Rate button. Switching the scaler in and out of the signal path is like visiting the optician.
“Better or worse,” my optician asked as a lens slid in that weird robot face tool they use. A glass would drop, and clear vision returned. I’d click the M Scaler’s Output Sample Rate button, and music detail, beauty, and full sound returned. Hearing more musical detail, clarity and a bigger soundstage and make going backward impossible.
The improved transient accuracy of the longer filter makes instrumental timbre clearer, tightens bass and dramatically opens up the soundstage. (Keith Howard quoting Rob Watts on M Scaler sound benefits).
Yep, I’d click the M Scaler in and better dimensionality, resolution and razor-like focus returned. Playing with “sharp” and “smooth” digital filters on the TT2 was fun too. The “Sharp” and “Smooth” filters require more explanation than I have time for today so I’ll add to these initial Hugo TT 2 impressions soon.