So I admit that this is a little. Later than I had originally planned to have this review out, life getting in the way and all that, but finally here it is, my review of the Chord Mojo & Poly.
I purchased these myself as a pack that also includes a case (more on that later), I was hoping that gofigure (the poly configuration app) would be out by the time it came to publishing this review, but as I understand it’s still stuck in approval limbo, so I’ll have to update this review after it is released, though for the most part it doesn’t affect my opinion of the Mojo-Poly combo.
The Mojo comes packed in a fairly small box, the box has a picture of the Mojo on it as well as the usual specifications, overall while full gloss colour its nothing too over the top.
Inside the box you will find the Mojo held securely in place with some foam packaging and a very short USB cable……and that’s it, now I like minimalism as much as the next person but I do feel a manual could have been included, still I guess everyone has the internet and it’s hardly a difficult product to use.
Onto the Mojo itself, its design, like 90% of dac/amps is a rectangle, though in this case it is a rounded rectangle and the volume and power controls are significantly different from anything else not made by chord, but more on that in a sec.
So on the top of the device you get three buttons, the leftmost button is the power switch and shows the source quality being played via a colour coding, next you have the volume up in the middle and volume down on the right, again using a spectrum of colours to show what the volume currently is. Adjustment of the volume is very easy, the increments are quite small so you can fine tune it for sensitive IEM’s, you can also hold both buttons in on power up to set the device to line out volume.
On one end of the device you have two 3.5mm headphone jacks, not sure why they decided to put two in but I guess you can share with a friend if your phones have similar sensitivity/impedance. On the other end there is a USB in, USB charging port, optical in, and coaxial in. Under the USB charging port there is a LED which shows the battery status, again using a colour code. The Mojo also has four rubber feet that keeps it in place on your desk.
The first thing that stood out compared to other DACs/AMPs/DAPs when listening to the Mojo was the superior separation and its presentation of micro-detail. The sound produced is incredibly articulate, its very easy to pick out the individual instruments and vocals in a track, the definition and detail is simply amazing.
In addition to the detail I was stuck by the crispness presented, the sound of cymbals is near perfect, they sit above the music, completely un-muffled and clear. This is potentially the Mojo’s strongest trait. Now I’ve harped on about detail so I should clarify, I wouldn’t describe the sound as analytical, the amplification section has a slightly warm feel to it, making the Mojo sound alive, not at all sterile.
While the Mojo is incredibly detailed, it thankfully isn’t too harsh on lower-quality sources. So stuff like Youtube still sounds quite good with the Mojo bringing out the best in it without ripping it to shreds. That said, there is a limit where bad is bad.
My predominate listening to the Mojo has been with the Chord Poly as a source and my Campfire Audio Jupiter’s, which have a fairly laid-back sound, but offer incredible detail. I have also done a bit of listening with my Sennheiser HD650’s and more recently Campfire Audio Cascade’s (impressions with these will have to wait for later).
I was not initially impressed with the pairing of the Mojo and the HD650’s but on further listing I’ve found the articulate crispness starting to come through. I can also hear much greater separation than I normally hear with Modi 2 – Vali 2 stack. The micro detail I heard on my Jupiters is there, but not nearly as obvious, the 650’s are simply not as resolving.
The soundstage on the Modi/Vali feels, if not better, more realistic than the Mojo, but the Mojos is preferable to the Opus #1′ so it might just be the Vali’s tube injecting a little more life into the music. I did however find the bass on the Mojo to be tighter and cleaner than either of the other two.
On the whole I really can’t fault the Mojo, there might be some features I’d like it to have and it could probably be slightly cheaper, but it’s really at the pinnacle of truly portable audio, I give it a 9/10.
Just like its partner in crime the Poly comes in a reasonably sized gloss box. Inside the box you will find Poly packed in the same sort of foam as Mojo, however unlike Mojo Poly comes with an instruction manual (and rightly so, as its certainly less straightforward) as well as a configuration pin, a slightly longer yet thinner USB cable and, a Roon voucher for a two-month free trial.
The Poly has the same rounded aluminium shape as the Mojo, but has no buttons save for a configuration pin hole and also has a plastic corner to allow for greater wireless reception.
On one end Poly has two male USB connectors and a couple of plastic pins to connect it to the Mojo, on the other end you get a USB charging port (this also charges the Mojo while its connected to Poly), a micro SD card slot, the small configuration pin hole, and a light-pipe and LED that shows the batter status of the Poly and Mojo (the Poly’s LED also shows its connection status, flashing if there’s no wireless connection).
The Poly feels fairly solidly attached to the Mojo, but it doesn’t take much force to connect or disconnect, so if your planning to use them together on the move then you will probably need a case (which my pack came with, but more on that later). To use Poly all you need to do is power on your Mojo and the Poly will automatically power on shortly afterwards.
To set up the Poly you use a pin to push the configuration button on the end and then connect to its network, doing so opens up a web page where you can enter network details that Poly will then automatically connect to in the future. In this set up screen there are also some other options including setting your Poly to Roon mode. In future all of this will be replaced by the Gofigure App, the greatest benefit to this being the ability to easily swap between normal and Roon mode as well as being able to add networks on the fly, which currently is inconvenient to say the least.
Now to actually use the Poly you need a smartphone (or computer, but I think that defeats the purpose a little) and for Poly and your control device to be on the same network (I haven’t filled with it too much but there is also the possibility to stream to the Poly via Bluetooth as I understand it). Now there are a few options when it comes to playing music usingt he Poly, you can use it as a Roon endpoint, you can stream music from your device to it (I use an iPhone and as such stream to it via airplay, it currently does not have chrome cast support but hopefully will in the future), or you can access music on the internal SD card and either play this music on another device (the Poly acts as a DLNA server) or set Poly as the output and play directly through the Mojo. This last method is why I bought this combo as I thought this was a great idea, the ability to store and play music on a portable dac/amp but control it from my phone really appealed to me.
On usability I find for the most part its very reliable, I control Poly using Glider (there a few apps available that will control Poly, but this was the best one I found) which is fairly seamless and easy, but occasionally I simply run into an odd bug somewhere (Poly, Glider, the network? no real way to know) but even then it only means your playing of music takes 30 seconds longer than one would like, not massive in the scheme of things but slightly annoying.
I find the Mojo-Poly combo manages its 9ish hours of battery life quite comfortably, the bigger issue being the drain of power on my phone from being in hotspot mode (I should add, if your willing to sacrifice the ability to use the net, you can connect to the poly’s network instead which is probably a little kinder on your phones battery)
A further point on usability, a case to hold them really is essential to use them on the move. The one that was included as part of the combo is very nice, it’s made of a rubberised plastic of some sort, nice and solid and but nice to touch, and is lined with a kind of fabric to keep Mojo & Poly pristine. Chord also makes a leather one which looks really nice but has a price tag to match.
The Poly is an interesting device, it has more features than I’ll ever use and this is probably my main criticism. I feel a more focused and potentially cheaper device might have been a better choice, and I can’t help but worry about the reliance on 3rd party apps. That said it is a really impressive device and for me personally it does exactly what I want, its a bit useless to score it on its own so I give the Mojo-Poly combo 8.5/10.