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It’s not too often we get to rave about portable headphone amp/DACs revolutionizing our sport, but the Chord Electronics Mojo unit is certainly worthy of effusive praise. Everything about it from its impermeable aircraft-grade anodized black aluminum metal casing to its three lighted ‘scroll ball’ controls to the effortless freewheeling dynamics emanating from such a tiny device screams “game changer.”
Even just judging from the way the build feels rock-solid and satisfyingly weighty in the palm of your hand to the high-performance array of digital connection options, you can obviously tell the Chord Mojo is a miniature audio Hercules geared for discerning listeners employing the very best music sources and headphones possible.
All sonic credit goes to the proprietary Chord Electronics D-to-A topology designed by renown digital audio guru Rob Watts. The sound is not only fully neutral to use a popular term but even evanescent - there’s just no sonic coloration added by the little Mojo. Instead, we hear a lightning-fast dynamic grip that showcases your favorite music in a deep-relief light and shadows presentation with equal balance at both ends of the acoustic spectrum. The raw power lurking under the Mojo’s smoothly rounded bonnet is quietly controlled until demanded, and the innovative engineering makes the need for master gain switches superfluous. Plug in whatever killer headphones or in-ears you want to use, and the Mojo instinctively knows how to handle them.
The Chord Mojo sample frequency input is indicated by Logan’s Run -ish gradient color-coded lights glowing underneath the scroll balls and sample rates range from 44 kHz up to 192, 352, 384 and 768 kHz as well as DoP DSD files (DSD 64; DSD 128 and DSD 256), thus allowing the Mojo to perfectly dovetail with basically any high-end audio connection you can find. USB and mini-coaxial are fully supported all the way up to 768 kHz along with digital optical connections up to 192 kHz.
The Chord Mojo audio input selection is 100% automatic; when more than one input is connected, the default prioritization is USB first, coax second, then optical last. After the initial 10-hr start-up charge cycle, the Mojo charges surprisingly quickly via the dedicated USB charger plug and it can be simultaneously charged and used to listen to music if needed. Approximate battery run time per charge is 10 hrs. The battery status/charging indicator on the side panel is a nice little plus, an often overlooked but critical visual warning that notifies you when its time to plug in the unit before the music suddenly, disconcertingly stops mid-jam.
Two 3.5mm headphone outputs grace the front panel so you and a friend can share the tunes. As another Chord Electronics design feature, the headphone outputs can also be configured as true line-level outputs for those audiophiles wishing to employ the Mojo as a dedicated stand-alone DAC.
We used the Chord Electronics Mojo with everything from the Audeze LCD cans to the Mr Speakers Ether C to a Sennheiser HD800S to a set of custom-molded Ultimate Ears 11Pro IEMs with equally spectacular results. We heard no semblance of dynamic restriction or congestion regardless of the headphone choice. Somehow, the Mojo seemed to effortlessly improve and foreground the top traits in all our varied headphones best sonic characteristics. It nicely steadied the occasionally spiky high-end of the HD800, added breathy vocal space and dimension to the UE11 Pro in-ears, and lended a potent dynamic drama to the planar-magnetic Ether C headphones, while solidly tightening the low-end in all the above. Of course, its not a miracle worker and lower bit rate source files (i.e., under 192kHz) can begin to show dynamically limited or grainy artifacts given the unflinching resolution of the Chord Mojo, so it logically follows that uncompressed music will enable the unit to really shine at full luster.
The Mojo’s audio DNA is directly descended from the much more expensive and significantly larger Chord Hugo portable amp/DAC, which has universally garnered stark-mad raves from anyone who’s ever heard it. Given the superior portable form and near-perfect execution of the Chord Mojo, the mobile audiophile world of headphones has just gotten a whole lot better sounding.