If you’ve heard of the revolutionary Chord Hugo in your audiophile journey, then I present to you its little brother.
This product was released 6 years ago, but don’t worry; this article will keep you up to date.
Welcome to my updated Chord Mojo Amp/ USB DAC review!
I’ve compiled everything you NEED TO KNOW if you plan to purchase this piece of audio gear.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at this thing!
Chord Mojo DAC Overview
Chord Electronics Mojo is an award-winning pocketable headphone AMP/DAC that enables Hi-Fi sound quality on the go.
Just pair it with ANY mobile device, computer, digital audio player, PC, or any other device that allows audio outputs through USB, Optical, or COAX, and you’re ready for musical bliss!
The magic of the Mojo is that it can be a standalone DAC for your desktop setup (I’ll explain this in later sections.)
Chord Mojo Features
So, what exactly makes this USB DAC/AMP so special anyway?
The main selling point of the Mojo is its RAW PROCESSING POWER.
Inside the Mojo is the Chord Custom FPGA DAC chip that bypasses the internal DACs of your audio devices, giving you clearer digital audio conversions.
This FPGA chip allows for a whopping 500 times more processing power than other DACs on the market.
The high-precision digital filtration gives the Mojo great audio quality!
In addition to this, as a headphone amp, the Mojo supports up to 768kHz and DSD for audio files.
I was initially disappointed to find that this product doesn’t offer any gain switch or bass boost control in terms of audio enhancements.
This is simply because the Mojo doesn’t need it! It even guarantees zero distortion at higher volume levels.
- Great Audio Quality
- Best Portable Sound Possible
- 3 types of inputs (USB, Optical, COAX)
- 2 headphone outs and a USB charging port
- Great Ergonomics
- High-performance DAC
- Long-lasting Battery Life
- Great for enhancing low impedance headphones
- Heats up while charging
- Volume control lag
- The unit does not come with any kind of connection cable
- Very long charging time
- Heat causes battery loss
- Expensive battery replacement
What to Look For in an Amp/DAC
When looking for amps or DACs, there are a lot of factors to consider to give you the best results possible.
Here’s what I recommend looking into, but make sure to do your research before choosing the best product for you!
The obvious reason for getting an amplifier/DAC is to improve and achieve great audio output quality.
This is crucial for any piece of audio gear.
Finding an amp or DAC with the best sound may take a little bit of trial and error, but the right one for you will come along!
If you listen to music all day long like me, then you’ll need an audio enhancer capable of lasting throughout your desired listening time.
“The longer, the better” is the golden rule for portable amplifiers and DACs.
This also includes charging time. Some devices take longer to charge than others, so the shorter the charging time, the better as well!
Who doesn’t want the privilege of choosing where to source their music from?
The number of digital inputs is very important because it allows multiple connections to a variety of audio devices.
Output impedance is another factor that’s related to the headphones you can use.
In my experience, the lower the impedance, the more headphones it can support.
However, audio gear with a higher impedance funnels you into using high-end headphones.
Deep Dive Into the Specs
For the next few sections, I’ll be taking a closer look at the inner workings of Chord’s devices!
In this section, you’ll learn how to use them and how they can help and enhance your listening experience.
Build Quality And Design
Chord’s products are famous for their quirky minimalist designs and great build quality.
The Chord Mojo is made from a CNC aluminum chassis, making it very durable and retro.
This durability is a huge plus, as you can even drop the device and not get a scratch!
(I’ll say this just in case, but please don’t drop it on purpose for the sake of testing its durability.)
Here are the specifics:
- Weight: 180g (0.4lbs)
- Dimensions: 82mm (l) x 60mm (w) x 22mm (h)
This portable DAC/AMP is slightly bigger than a deck of cards, making it easy to bring anywhere, anytime!
NOTE: All the inputs and outputs are labeled accordingly.
Round LED Buttons
Another unique feature in the design of the Chord Mojo is its globe-looking buttons.
These LED-powered globe-shaped buttons serve as the power button and the volume controls.
However, they don’t stop there!
The LED color also serves as an indicator for volume level, bit rate, and battery level.
The globes feel nice and tactile and are very responsive, which I liked. However, manually changing the volume level takes quite a few seconds.
The globe-looking buttons have 2 illumination levels.
Just briefly tap both the volume globes at the same time if you want them to brighten or dim.
Charging the Mojo is done through one of the two micro USB ports. However, it takes a long 10 hours of charging before its first-ever use.
The Mojo features an internal battery that lasts 8 hours. Compared to other audio equipment, this has a relatively long battery life.
On the other hand, charging the Mojo will usually take about 4 hours.
The battery level is indicated as the power button cycles through these colors.
You may ask, “Can you charge it while simultaneously using it”?
Technically, yes, but I DON’T RECOMMEND using it while it’s charging. Not only will it take much, much, longer, it’ll also get very HOT.
So, if you don’t want such an uncomfortable feeling while playing your music, leave it alone while it’s charging and let it cool down for a while before using it.
NOTE: When charging, you’ll need at least 1A current.
The volume level is indicated through the illumination of the volume globes.
Another thing I like about the Mojo is its extended range of volume at the maximum and minimum points.
This gives you absolute pre-amp control over your volume!
At the minimum point, the “plus” button will stop changing color, while the “minus” button will continue to cycle through colors until it reaches mute.
Conversely, at the maximum point, the “minus” button will remain constant while the “plus” button will change color until both buttons turn white.
A convenient function of the Mojo is that it saves your volume level and brightness setting after turning it off.
This means there won’t be any resets to your preferred volume and brightness.
Moving on to the techy stuff!
The Chord Mojo offers 3 types of inputs:
- 1x micro USB 768khz/32-bit Capable Input
- 1x 3.5mm Jack COAX 768khz/32-bit Capable Input
- 1x Optical TOSLINK 96kHz/24-bit Capable Input
- A micro USB charging port
These auto-sense micro detail inputs make the Mojo extremely versatile because it can play almost any kind of audio file.
You can gauge the sampling frequency through the LED indicators present in the volume buttons.
The Ergonomics of the Outputs
Seen on the hardware of the Mojo are two headphone outputs that allow two pairs of ears to listen at the same time.
- 2x 3.5mm Headphone Jacks
These outputs offer 35mW into 600 Ohms.
To put that into perspective, most headphones have an impedance of 8-600 Ohms, meaning you don’t have to worry about the Chord Mojo’s pre-amplification power.
Most users of the Mojo overlook the Line Level Mode, which gives access to 3 volts of output, allowing for a direct connection from your computer to your audio system.
Hold the volume buttons until the LED turns light blue to use this mode.
I recommend using this mode to connect to speakers, mixers, and other complex audio gear, as it might damage your headphones.
NOTE: 3 Volts of output is higher than the power of a CD player.
Quick List of Tech Specifications:
- Output Power @ 1kHz – 600Ω 35mW
- Output Power @ 1kHz – 8Ω 720mW
- Output Impedance: 75mOhms
- Dynamic Range: 125dB
- THD @ 3v: 0.00017%
The Mojo brings out the best musical sound from your headphones and doesn’t feel congested.
For a portable AMP/DAC, the Mojo’s sound signature is a lot warmer, making your music listening experience more VIBRANT.
Its natural analog output has great instrument separation qualities, making you feel like you’re right in front of your favorite band!
If you’re worried about the bass and treble quality, let me put those worries to rest!
- The bass is very deep but not to the point of overpowering the other instruments.
- The low-end bass offers great tonality and is perfect for mid-range level audio files, from spoken poetry to rock music.
- In terms of treble, the texture and quality are quite smooth. But the smoothness might not be for you if you’re looking for more of a sparkling treble.
High-resolution signals aren’t a problem for the Mojo!
It supports DSD playback through the DoP Standard 1.0 with 0xFA/0x05 markers.
Furthermore, the Mojo is capable of playing DSD 256 (4x).
One small thing I really like about the Mojo is that it can automatically detect when a pre-emphasized recording is being played.
It will then set the correct and most suitable de-emphasis filters, which lower the noise of the audio.
The Mojo has an interesting benefit BEYOND upgrading your digital music experience. If you’re an audiophile and a gamer, I recommend reading this next part closely.
The audio quality amplifies your gaming audio, making it seem like you’re there in real life!
Sound gives you an advantage in first-person shooting games like Valorant, Call of Duty, and Battlefield; since hearing the enemy team tells you where they are.
You can use it in any game, for that matter, as it enhances the experience altogether!
With the Mojo, “clutch” final moments will come your way!
The Mojo comes in a small box that shows the sample frequency photo above.
You also get a short charging cable nestled within a foam cushion to protect it from damage.
I was disappointed that the unit doesn’t come with a manual, but you can read it here.
Other Accessories By Chord
Chord Electronics is rather clever with its cable marketing, as they offer you supplementary cords and other necessities you may need for the unit, all within the official Mojo Cable Pack.
This pack includes the Poly and the Mojo case! Let’s take a look at them!
The Chord Poly is a pricey piece of audio equipment sold separately from the Chord Mojo.
However, once attached to the Mojo, you can stream your enhanced music via Wi-fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and other networks!
This enables its user to experience hi-fi audio without needing a USB cable.
Furthermore, Chord offers a Mojo case to protect your device from bumps, drops, and damages.
I like to think of it like the Gucci handbag for my DAC/AMP!
NOTE: The Chord Poly + Mojo combo also comes with a case.
Preparing to Use the Chord Mojo
Setting up the Chord Mojo can be quite confusing since it’s compatible with multiple devices. Don’t worry, because I’ll give you a rundown.
Here’s a list of things you’ll need for each device.
- Your Apple device should be iOS 6 or later.
- Have an Apple camera connection kit.
- Prepare a USB 2.0 to micro USB cable.
- Download the Onkyo HF app.
- A micro USB 2.0 OTG (On the go) adapter.
- For later Android models, you’ll need a micro USB 3.0 OTG adapter.
- Download either the USB Audio Player Pro or the Onkyo HF
NOTE: Some Android phones would require you to turn off the Bluetooth to allow for audio playback.
- Micro USB 2.0 (OTG) adapter.
- 2 pole to 2 pole 3.5mm stereo cable.
- USB 2.0 to micro USB cord.
NOTE: Remember the line-level mode? You’ll need to use that when connecting to your stereo.
Astel & Kern Media Players:
To use an A&K media player, you’ll only need a mini Toslink to Toslink cable. Simply connect the headphone out of the media player to the Optical input of the Mojo.
However, this does not apply to the Astel & Kern Jr. Music Player.
iBasso DX90 or DX100
Connecting the Mojo to the DX90 or the DX 100 is quite simple!
All you’ll need is a 2 pole 3.5mm mini plug to a 2 pole 3.5mm mini plug.
FiiO X3, X5 First Generation, X5 Second Generation:
For the FiiO X3, you’ll need a 2 pole 3.5mm mini-plug to a 2 pole 3.5mm mini-plug.
For both the FiiO X5s, a 4 pole 3.5mm mini plug to a 2 pole 3.5mm mini-plug is necessary.
For gaming consoles like the PS4/Xbox, the steps for connecting and preparing are as follows:
- Connect an optical cable from the back of your console to the optical input of the Mojo.
- Run a USB cord from the front of the console to the micro input.
- After opening the devices, go to Settings > Sound & Screen > Audio Output.
- The audio output should be “Digital Out”
- Go to Devices > Output Device, it should say something along the lines of Chord Mojo.
Take note that the input format should be Linear PCM.
Sound Setting Configuration
I’m happy to say that the Mojo’s compatible with both Mac and Windows!
Here’s a quick tutorial on setting it up on each operating system.
Before pressing the power button on the Mojo, I recommend that you install the USB driver from Chord’s website.
If you don’t have time to visit the website, don’t worry!
An automatic download feature is provided and adjunctly triggered once the Mojo is plugged into your computer.
Use a USB A to micro B USB cord to connect the Mojo to your computer.
Once that is finished, you can move on to doing the following:
- Open the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound.
- Right-click on the Mojo and press the Properties tab.
- Rename it to Chord Mojo and click apply.
Then click on the Supported Formats and make sure that ALL resolutions are checked OFF.
Go to the Advanced tab and set the default resolution format to 32 bit, 384000 Hz (Studio Quality).
Lastly, set the Mojo as the default output device and prepare for great sound.
- Open the System Environment Setting > Sound option.
- Then select the Mojo as your default device.
Furthermore, tweaking the audio output is as follows:
- Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup.
- Then choose the Mojo and configure your sample rates and audio setup.
Cleaning and Maintenance of The Mojo
Cleaning the Mojo isn’t anything special or too difficult.
Just spray a clear type of window cleaner onto a soft cloth and wipe away any blemishes, like fingerprints and dirt markings.
I should reiterate this: NEVER spray your cleaning solution directly onto the Mojo, as this’ll cause direct damage to the device.
List of the Best Headphones for the Mojo
You can bring out better sound quality from the Mojo using full-sized headphones.
I can’t complete this Chord Mojo review without a headphone selection!
Here are some of the best headphones to pair with the Mojo:
- Aeon 2
- Audeze LCD-MX4
- Beyerdynamic Amiron
- Focal Utopia
- Hifiman Sundara
- Philips Fidelio X3
- Sennheiser HD650
DON’T LIMIT yourself to the headphones I’ve listed here! As I mentioned earlier, the Mojo is amazing with low-end and high-end headphones.
List of the Best IEMs for the Mojo
If you don’t like using headphones, don’t worry because the Mojo works great with IEMs too!
Here are some of the best IEMs to pair with the Mojo:
- Beyerdynamic Xelento
- Campfire Atlas
- Dita Fidelity
- Dita Truth
- MoonDrop Blessing 2
NOTE: IEMs by Ultimate Ears and Sennheiser are also good picks for the Mojo.
Where is the Mojo Manufactured?
Unlike many products in the market, the Mojo is made and produced in England.
Chord uses the finest components and advanced machinery to create high-quality products like the Mojo or the Hugo 2.
You’re guaranteed a reliable build standard and tank-proof design with the Mojo.
To help make your choice easier, I’ve picked up some reviews from customers of the Mojo!
Complaints Against the Mojo
Let’s start with some negative feedback.
As of 2021, there have been many user reviews that have stated concerns about the quality control of Chord Electronics Mobile Joy.
The obvious complaint mentioned earlier was that the Mojo gets hot. However, most DAC/AMPs also get warm while being used.
Other users have said that the Mojo dies after a few months of usage. You wouldn’t want that since you expect a pricey DAC/AMP to last a few years.
The Mojo has a 12-month warranty, so if your unit dies, you can still replace it.
However, I’m disappointed to say that Chord’s customer service department tends to be unresponsive to requests for reimbursements.
One American user tried to get customer support but was left unsatisfied.
- The user claimed that Chord doesn’t do any warranty work for customers outside the UK.
- What’s worse is you will be redirected to a third-party company in the US, but you may not have any luck there either.
The internal battery of the Mojo also has some issues. It fails to hold a charge after the one-year mark, and replacing it through Chord is costly.
Lastly, the unit itself may be unreliable. Some users have experienced the Mojo shutting down for unknown reasons.
Though there are many complaints about the Mojo, it’s not all bad!
Positive User Testimonials
Many users have also expressed their satisfaction with the Mojo.
One user stated that compared to other DACs and AMPs, the Mojo is still one of the best budget products out there.
The Mojo is praised for its portability and ease of use at home. It also compares favorably to pricier amps or DACS.
Another user was pleasantly surprised with the durability of the Mojo’s aluminum chassis, praising its sturdy build.
- The user recounts their experience of dropping the Mojo and preparing to see a scratch, only for it to remain free of any damage thanks to the sturdy metal body.
- If anything, you can remove minor scratches by simply rubbing your finger on them!
In terms of sound standards, one user noted that the Mojo enhances the audio output of their mobile device exponentially.
- They noticed a significant difference between playing music through their iPhone and the Mojo.
Additionally, another user was astounded when they paired the Mojo with their headphones.
- The user was stunned by what they heard.
- Additionally, the user listened to some classic songs with the Mojo, and they were amazed by the soundstage.
Lastly, a certain user was at a loss for words when they received their Mojo.
True enough, many customers were very satisfied with their experiences with the Mojo.
Cheaper Alternatives Worth Checking Out
If the magical Mojo is too pricey for you, here are some cheaper alternative DAC/AMPs with great quality.
The Oppo HA-2 is a budget option that’s beloved in the Hi-fi community.
Here is a comparison guide to help you compare it to the Mojo:
- The power of the headphone outs offers 30mW into 300 Ohm.
- It also has a lower output impedance of <0.5, making it highly compatible with loads of other audio equipment.
- Unlike the Mojo, the onboard features offer bass boost and gain switch controls.
- It’s shaped like a phone, making it super portable.
iFi Audio xDSD
The iFi Audio xDSD is a cheaper alternative that supports roughly the same range of frequencies as the Mojo. It’s capable of supporting files up to 24-bit/768kHz.
I recommend the iFi Audio xDSD for its X-bass and 3D-Soundstage features that can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch.
Lastly, the xDSD can decode Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) audio files. These features and specs make it the perfect substitute for the Mojo.
The FiiO Q5 is regarded as the versatility master of AMP/DACs.
It sports a line out, Bluetooth connection, and multiple AMP modules. This product also comes with cables, so you won’t have connection problems with the device of your choice.
In terms of portability, it stacks great with your phone.
The sound is quite neutral, but I find that the FiiO Q5 treble has more sparkle compared to the Mojo.
JDS Labs C5D
The JDS Labs C5D offers the perfect channel balance with its zero-crossing detection. It’s the perfect AMP/DAC for sensitive IEMs.
The C5D features dual gain levels paired with a multi-position bass booster to fully customize your sounds.
It has a relatively low output impedance of 0.62 ohms, ensuring a natural frequency response from your headphones.
As a DAC, the JDS Labs C5D offers ultra-low jitter.
NOTE: This product has been discontinued, so you can only find it through re-sellers.
The FiiO A3 is a portable headphone amplifier with a sleek build design.
It offers a discrete bass circuit design that you can access through a switch. The bass booster effect doesn’t interfere with the overall sound output when turned on.
It has a strong battery which allows users to playback for up to 16 hours.
I should mention that the FiiO A3 is not a DAC, so keep that in mind!
Final Thoughts (Overall Grade B+)
The Mojo has engaged many music lovers and immersed them with great sound quality. It offers great macro and micro details.
I recommend this to audiophiles and gamers who want to upgrade their sounds and overall audio experiences.
Consider getting the Mojo if you want:
- Studio-quality sound
- Durable hardware frame
- Great build design
- Dual analog outputs
- Digital input variety
- A powerful DAC
However, as I mentioned in this review, Chord Mojo is not perfect.
Keep these points in mind before purchasing this product:
- It gets hot
- It could shut down randomly
- The battery quality is questionable
As a final question, is the Mojo still worth it?
I’d still say YES, because of its great ergonomics and impeccable sound.
Amps/DACs are great pieces of audio hardware that can turn your sound UP to the next level!
I hope you learned from this Chord Mojo DAC review and that I was able to help you come to a decision!