In this Chord Mojo 2 review, we’re listening to a headphone amplifier and DAC with some serious heritage. The original Chord Mojo is, arguably, the product that properly legitimised the entire ‘portable DAC’ market for people who take sound seriously – and seven years after it launched, Chord is ready to replace it.
The Chord Mojo 2's upgrades aren’t all that numerous, but they are significant. There is more flexibility where digital connections are concerned now, and there’s greater scope for the user to trim the sound to their own satisfaction (or to that of their favourite headphones, at least).
The acclaim and success enjoyed by the original Mojo emboldened any number of rival companies to make products that rivalled it for the title of best headphone DAC – so Mojo 2 doesn’t have the market all to itself, not by a long chalk. AudioQuest, Cambridge Audio and iFi (to name but three) all saw the Mojo for what it was – a game-changer – and responded with very strong alternatives of their own.
Somehow, then, the acknowledged market leader finds it has it all to do. And still manages to do it – if you're looking for an easy way to make the most of a pair of the best wired headphones when listening from a laptop, tablet or phone, the Mojo 2 is an absolutely top-tier choice.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Price & release date
The Chord Mojo 2 was released in February 2022, and in the UK it officially for £449. Prices aren’t confirmed for other major markets at the time of writing, but we expect worldwide availability will follow.
Not an insignificant sum, it’s true. But it compares pretty reasonably with the competition, and let's not forget that this is a high-aiming product for audiophiles, despite the pocketable size.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Features & what's new
Ignore the fact it looks like it was shoehorned in at the very last moment, and the appearance of a USB-C socket to connect Mojo 2 to your source of music is a very welcome addition indeed. It’s a shame the battery still has to be charged using the antiquated micro-USB alternative, though, since that means another charger to carry if the rest of your tech has moved on to USB-C. Maybe micro-USB will make a retro comeback and be all the rage soon (although I’m not holding my breath).
The other significant new feature is the appearance of a fourth ‘control sphere’ and the functionality it accesses. Chord has given Mojo 2 some adjustability where tone is controlled, with (so it claims) absolutely zero effect on sound quality. As well as granting the user a degree of control where tonality is concerned, it should also mean Mojo 2 has greater compatibility with wired headphones of all types. And there’s a ‘mute’ function and ‘control lock’ function all under the control of this fourth sphere, too.
Otherwise, it’s uncompromised and uncompromising Chord business as usual. Mojo 2 has a 3.5mm coaxial and Toslink digital optical input alongside its USB-C and micro-USB sockets at one end, and a pair of 3.5mm headphone outputs at the other. It’s capable of dealing with pretty much any type of size of digital audio file you care to mention. And thanks to improved battery management, Mojo 2 will last around eight hours between charges and doesn’t, unlike the original Mojo, get alarmingly hot while it charges.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Performance
The most appropriate word here is ‘profound’. Attach Mojo 2 to your laptop or smartphone at one end and a pair of half-decent headphones at the other, and the difference it can make to your audio enjoyment is profound.
In pretty much every aspect of audio reproduction, the Chord makes huge strides over the unassisted sound you’d otherwise be hearing. From the top of the frequency range to the bottom, it integrates information seamlessly and maintains utterly convincing tonality.
It can create a large, simple-to-understand and completely solid soundstage. It has a sort of casual authority where dynamics are concerned that’s genuinely hair-raising. It can handle even the trickiest rhythms and tempos in an entirely naturalistic manner. It can peer deep into even the murkiest mixes and emerge with a stack of information, then lay it out in the most confident, believable manner.
Low-frequency sounds are deep, straight-edged, loaded with detail and carry authentic momentum. The opposite end of the frequency range is equally substantial, equally detailed and equally fleet of foot. In between, Mojo 2 is capable of making singers sound immediate, characterful and emotive – if a vocalist is giving their all, you’ll know exactly what ‘their all’ consists of.
Frankly, on a pound-for-pound basis (and how else, really, can these things be judged?) the Chord Mojo 2 is about as dramatic an upgrade as you’re likely to make to your digital listening experience.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Design & usability
So there’s now a fourth ‘control sphere’ and a USB-C input squeezed on at the last moment. Other than that, the design of Mojo 2 is deeply reminiscent of Mojo – which is a good thing and a not-so-good thing.
On the plus side, the anodised aluminium casework of Mojo 2 looks and feels good – and despite its rounded-off corners, still feels like it could do real damage if you threw it hard enough. At 23 x 83 x 62mm (hwd) it’s eminently palmable, but at 185g it has considerable density too. Basically, it looks and feels like a premium product.
Those dimensions don’t help Chord’s insistence that Mojo 2 is a realistic proposition for mobile listening, though. Keep those dimensions and that weight in mind, and then consider this: Mojo 2 needs hard-wiring to your source of music and only works with wired headphones. Do you own an item of clothing with pockets capacious enough to hold all that stuff without knackering said pocket? No, me neither.
Still, grumbles about portability (or otherwise) are as nothing compared to the grumbles I have lined up about Mojo 2’s user interface. Chord has always favoured a distinctive (and generally pretty attractive) aesthetic for its products, but it does sometimes mean the way the control system works plays second fiddle to the way the control system looks. This is one of those times.
There are four ‘control spheres’, made of polycarbonate and capable of illuminating in a startling variety of colours. One covers ‘power on/off’ and will glow in one of 11 different colours depending on the size of the digital file Mojo 2 is receiving. Two more are designated ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ – what it is they’re adding to or subtracting from is dictated by the fourth sphere, the new ‘menu’ control. The ‘menu’ control will cycle through ‘high’ or ‘low’ volume ranges, through four different ‘tone control’ settings, and looks after ‘control lock’ and ‘mute’ too. There’s a different colour to indicate which of these functions you’ve selected. The ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ controls, meanwhile, can illuminate in one of 19 different combinations of colour in order to keep you informed/confuse the hell out of you (delete as applicable).
Until some enterprising brand decides it can use telepathy as a user interface, Mojo 2 might be the most bewildering around.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Verdict
Ergonomically, the Mojo 2 is a bit of a disaster. So the fact that it still earns the full five stars from us – classifying it as a best-in-class product – should make clear to you just how much of a diamond it is in audio terms.
If you’re interested in turning your computer (or your tablet, or smartphone) into a source of genuinely impressive-sounding music when paired with great headphones, well, don’t look any further. It's perfect for pairing with hi-res/lossless tiers from streaming services, or for making the most of your own hi-res collection.
Chord Mojo 2 review: Also consider
The Cambridge Audio DACMagic 200M doesn’t even pretend to be a portable device – it’s too big, and it only runs off wall power. But attached to your laptop and your favourite headphones, it’s capable of magnificent results. It also adds some wireless connectivity. We gave it a T3 Award last year – if you don't need to move it, and can spare the space, it's also a superb choice. Here's our full Cambridge Audio DACMagic 200M review.