- Mojo: 2x 3.5mm headphones sockets (also line-out), Micro USB, coaxial and optical inputs
- Poly: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Roon, DLNA, microSD slot
- 9-hour playback from 4-hour charge
- Manufacturer: Chord Electronics
- Review Price: £898.00/$1347.00
HANDS-ON WITH CHORD’S PORTABLE HI-RES AUDIO COMBO
The Chord Mojo is, in my opinion, the best pocketable DAC and headphone amp you can buy. If you want to feed Hi-Res Audio from your mobile to your high-end headphones, you need a Mojo. But how about if you don’t actually want all those massive music files clogging up your phone storage? That’s where Chord’s new Poly add-on comes in.
The Poly piggybacks the Mojo, adding a microSD slot for unlimited tune capacity, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for streaming and control. So you can now keep your Mojo (with added Poly) in your pocket while you use your phone to wirelessly control the tunes the Chord combo pumps out of your headphones.
Maybe that makes it sound too complicated. Think of this as a Hi-Res Audio player without a screen, so it needs to borrow your computer or mobile device’s display for controlling it. Better?
The Chord Mojo itself isn’t cheap at £399/$598.5, but the Poly is an additional – wait for it – £499/$748.5. So we’re talking big money for a PMP that doesn’t even have its own screen. This better be some slick customer, eh? I got a chance to try a near-final sample at the Bristol Sound & Vision show.
Both in terms of aesthetics and build, the Poly is the perfect match for the Mojo. The same matte-black paint on a gently contoured aluminium case, the same font for the Poly name emblazoned across the top, and the same height and width so that the two products fit almost seamless together.
The two Micro USB plugs on the Poly’s side slip neatly into the corresponding sockets on the Mojo’s side, with one for feeding the Mojo with digital music and the other basically a charging pass-through. The latter means both the Mojo and Poly can be simultaneously charged via the Poly’s Micro USB port to give a total of nine hours’ playback from less than four hours of charging.
Inside, the Poly has military-grade circuit boards, on which are crammed what’s basically a proper computer with data server, DLNA receiver, Wi-Fi hub, Bluetooth and microSD card reader functionality.
The Poly I used didn’t have working Bluetooth, but a Chord representative made it clear they’re only putting that in as an extra, and expect customers to use the Poly as a Wi-Fi hub for the best sound quality. They were controlling the Mojo/Poly via a DLNA app on an iPad, as well as the Roon app on a laptop, although the latter proved flaky – Roon’s issue, however, rather than Chord’s. They had tunes loaded on a microSD card, but the Poly can also access files on your network too.
The design’s still being tweaked and added to, but the Poly’s confirmed file support includes ACC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA and MP3. Compatible sample rates from PCM files are 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz and 768kHz, plus it’ll play DSD64-DSD512 (Octa-DSD).
If you’re unfamiliar with the Mojo, it’s a little pocket powerhouse of a DAC and headphone amp, with a pair of 3.5mm outputs that can also be used as line outputs for hooking up to a full hi-fi system. It has three controls, all of which are styled as odd translucent balls – one for power and the other two for volume up and down. These ball-buttons glow different colours to indicate status, with the power one changing depending on file bit-rates, and the colour of the volume ones indicating, er, the volume.
From what I could tell, the Mojo/Poly double-team is exceptionally good. The Mojo is without peer at its price, and the Poly upgrades it to a world-class DAP with a quirk that actually turns out to be a positive – the lack of screen and UI means you’re left to pick from an app that suits you, rather than having an interface forced upon you.
The only things I have against it at this stage are the combined price, and the overall size if you wrap it up in the optional leather case (which I probably would to ensure the two parts stay safely together).
If you’ve already got a Mojo, you’re probably salivating at the prospect of adding the Poly. It seems to be a slick upgrade in every way, turning an awesome DAC/headphone amp into a powerful network streamer and portable Hi-Res Audio player.
How well it works day to day remains to be seen, but I’m looking forward to finding out closer to the Poly going on sale in April, when we’ll have a full review.