Chord’s original battery-powered DAC/headphone amplifier was a hard act to follow, but the new Hugo 2 is a giant leap forward. Inside its ultra-modern aluminium case is a custom-coded digital converter and filter that sounds like nothing else around. Comfortably able to see off any conventional DAC at its price, it’s astounding for a compact music machine, with a vibrant and rhythmic sound. Whether with standard CD or hi-res PCM or DSD, music comes packed with energy and emotion. The Hugo 2 runs for 14 hours from its rechargeable battery, plays practically every format around, includes switchable filters and a uniquely colourful control interface that makes using it fun.