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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

More thoughts on Mojo

Why does the Chord Mojo sound so damn good? Its developer, Rob Watts says it is about interpolation filters and transients … May be.  I do wonder however, if there is other processing going on that he is not admitting to.  I mean, a faithfully produced sound wave is a sound wave, is it not? Yet different DACs do sound different!

I have spent a little time analysing the sound from the Mojo and comparing it with the inbuilt  DAC in my Cambridge CXA60 amplifier using a CD source. Perhaps not a fair comparison, you may suggest in view of the price differential, but instructive none the less.

First there is the sound level out-put to consider. This is certainly higher than through the inbuilt DAC .  Perhaps this is to be expected since the Mojo is a headphone  amplifier as well as a DAC. So the first thing you have to do is volume match when doing an A/B comparison. A bit tricky when switching back and forth.

Once I have approximated the level, I still notice that the sound has more dynamism or punch, has broader sound stage, the positioning of voice and instruments more defined and the tonal qualities detailed and natural with a clean clear finish.  There is a sense that the voice or soloist jumps out at the listener, grabbing your attention. It is as if the music is saying “hey listen to me, don’t I sound good!?” And so you keep listening, even to what is previously familiar.

So what makes this happen? I can’t help but think there is more going on than simply more faithful reproduction of waveforms.  I wonder if other processing such as dynamic range enhancement and phase and frequency adjustments are being applied to the output. These were long ago applied by those seeking a more realistic experience from the old analogue audio equipment. We had “dbx” dynamic range enhancers, audio equalizers to compensate for deficiencies in speakers and room acoustics, and phase shifters to create a more 3D sound experience.  It only takes a small adjustment in decibels to change our perception of sound so minimal tweaking of the amp output signal could do wonders…

At the end of the day though, it probably does not matter as I love it and the accolades for the musical sound that Mojo produces roll in…. It truly is a wonder, but there is still part of me that wonders too.....

Some links to Chord interviews if you are interested...

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