Probably the last thing you want from me is the suggestion of an extra electronic dooberry to take on holiday. Believe me, if I could find a way to lighten your gadgety load this summer, I would; but if you like listening to decent quality music on the beach, you may want to find space in your bag for this portable DAC and amplifier from high‑end Maidstone audio company Chord.
The quality of reproduction expected by discerning music lovers has risen dramatically in recent years and no mobile phone really cuts it any more. Phones just aren’t loud enough and the music they deliver is too drab. Plug in good headphones and they sound even more disappointing.
One solution is to use a portable high-resolution music player from the likes of Astell & Kern, Sony and others. Any of their offerings will give your ears and mind the immersive and exciting escapist treat they crave; problem is, they all involve expense and labour. Rebuying all your favourite tunes in high-quality formats and downloading them from computer to player is time-consuming and tedious, unless you’re a real hobbyist, or retired.
The Chord Mojo, however, is the best device I’ve found for converting your mobile phone – compressed, deficient music and all – into something akin to a serious music player. I can’t say it will make silk hifi from a sow’s MP3, but it’s not far off. The Mojo is specifically designed to work with mobile phones and is very powerful and effective, making so-so music not only much louder, but richer and sharper – with a more defined bass, sweeter midtones and more pronounced stereo. On some tracks the difference for me is not unlike switching from AM radio to FM.
Last November I introduced you to the Oppo HA-2 from China, which does a similar job to the Mojo but doesn’t offer such a dramatic sound upgrade. It is, however, a much slicker design. Chord is a classically English, eccentric brand, which in tech terms can mean the aesthetics – look, logo, website, even packaging – are questionable. But at the same time, the build quality, solidity, materials, functionality and, I’d say, integrity are unbeatable.
The Mojo, then, is an awkward yet brilliant little miracle box. It also works with computers, and even though it’s somewhat tricky to connect, especially to an iPhone, I thoroughly recommend squeezing one into your holiday suitcase. Sorry about the extra palaver.