iFi Micro iDSD VS Chord Hugo

Everyone wants to have better audio quality and there are so many ways to improve your experience such as by adding the DAC/amp like iFi Micro iDSD Vs Chord Hugo. This equipment will help improve your headphone’s performance noticeably but the two are not identical. You may like one of them better for the price or what they can offer so before deciding the option, let’s see below about which model will fit you the most.

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • How to Improve Audio Quality
  • What are iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo
  • How are the Design of iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo
  • How are the Performance of iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo
  • How are the Interface of iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo
  • How are the Experience with iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo
  • iFi Micro iDSD Vs Chord Hugo

Improving Audio Quality

Audio quality is something that many people are passionate about but also not really important for the majority of people. As long as we can still listen to our favorite music properly, any device should be fine yet, there are also options that can improve your experience. All components before the sound arrives on your ears will affect how the audio will sound. Some of them are difficult to change but some are pretty easy, based on how you want them to be.

For better audio quality we have to start from the audio itself because we can improve the sound easily. Most of us are listening from a compact device such as a laptop or smartphone and compact music players that can stream wirelessly. The audio files can be from a streaming service or you ripped it off manually from a CD for example. For the streaming service, there is usually an audio setting on their software to adjust the level of quality in several different options. 

In Spotify for example which is the most popular streaming service for music there are Low, High, and Very High settings; you can choose the highest setting with their premium subscription. The higher quality will require more data as well. Tidal which is probably the best in terms of audio quality, here we can choose the Tidal HiFi that offers 16-bit/44.1 kHz FLAC audio quality yet, the service is also noticeably more expensive. Overall you can always choose the highest settings on various music platforms for better experience.

The next effort is to get a DAC and yes, this is the type of device that we connect between the main media player and the headphone. iFi Micro Idsd Vs xDSD are some of the best when it comes to price point and what they can offer on the unit. This is because before the audio enters your ears, they are in digital form first as the one and zero that made up the file. For the driver to be able to recreate it must be converted first using DAC.

DAC is already present in the laptop or media player but depending on how the manufacturer made them, chances are they are not as capable, especially if you have invested on the headphone thus, adding separate DAC will be useful and in addition amp may be necessary as well. DAC will help convert it and the amp will drive your headphone properly. DAC and amp often come as single equipment so buying one is enough to improve the quality that is coming from your main player.

 iFi Micro iDSD Chord Hugo
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Product Dimensions17.2 x 6.7 x 2.8 inches3.93 x 0.83 x 5.11 inches
Shipping Weight1.54 pounds 15.8 ounces

About iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo

These efforts will be necessary when you have a high-end headphone or something that “should” sound better than how it is right now. The more affordable equipment will be just fine with the built-in components in our hardware so the priority should be your headphone first. For the audio quality, it can benefit everyone because usually this will be very noticeable regardless of the device that you are using. If you need to improve it further, adding a DAC/amp will be great.

There are so many good options out there based on what you want to achieve and which seems to match in the application the most. The DAC/amp can vary as well in price point so it is best to shop based on your headphone’s spec or how you want it to be. The market is not oversaturated with the equipment and it makes the shopping easier. Among the options iFi and Chord are some of the most famous choices that you can rely on.

Oftentimes Chord will be the most popular and this brand has been around for quite some time as well. They are very well-known to deliver great performance but there are also many others that can be great alternatives and one of them is iFi. Some of the interesting offerings from these brands are iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo or Hugo 2 which is what we are going to talk about here. These DAC/amps are very reliable in performance as they can improve your audio noticeably.

In comparison, the audio will not sound exactly the same but they are going to give a better impression on details and overall be more fun to listen to. Our main concern about this equipment is mostly on usability and interface because they are quite different here and both do have pros and cons that may affect the experience. Personally however, we like their sound character and think many people will think the same. Currently, it may be a bit difficult to find the first Hugo or Silver series of Micro.

iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo Design

Before getting into what iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo can offer, let’s check the unit first because they are already quite different here. As you can see, Chord is very easy to notice and if you have seen or used Mojo in the past, they do have the same fashion. The most noticeable is probably these colorful, marble-like buttons which are meant for adjustment. It is not very common and we have heard users get confused about the functionalities but, built quality wise it is great.

On the other hand Micro is quite larger in comparison but the layout is more user friendly. The bar-like shape is housed with metal construction and is very robust too. The input and output are separated into two sections at the front and rear panel while the rest of controls are either on the side or bottom of the unit. The two are working with batteries and can be charged as well from the USB port.

iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo Sound Quality

Now for the most important part, let’s see what the iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo can offer starting from the sound quality because we are sure most people want to know how this equipment will improve the sound and we are glad to say that they are good. In comparison however, Hugo will be noticeably better. The sound coming from these two is improved mostly on the detail but somehow the Hugo also sounds more open and overall more pleasant.

It is definitely more detailed as well because the instruments feel like it has more pack and information to it. It is not overwhelming too; just at the right amount to bring forward the things that are difficult to listen to when not incorporating DAC/amp. Micro is also a good option and while it doesn’t dig as deeper into the details, it is overall offering a good clarity into the overall mix. It is also adjustable if you want to tweak the sound further.

iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo Interface

The arrangement of iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo are very different and in comparison we like any of the two. The Micro for example put main output, 3.5mm input and main volume in one panel while the other placed main USB input, SPDIF in/out, and RCA input. Hugo also arranges them beautifully with most of the input and output placed in one side while the other side houses the charging and digital input. It has an optical input too which is missing from Micro.

While the Hugo buttons can be quite confusing, it is actually clearly labeled on the side to help users notice what they are meant for. The X-PHD may sound unfamiliar for some but this button is used to adjust the crossfeed between the left and right channels.

iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo Experience

Lastly for the user experience, both iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo are very similar but different from each other. They are actually easy to use once you remember what each function is made for and in Micro we can tweak the audio further such as by activating the bass or 3D function. The bass-boost is not very prominent however so we do think it will still fit in many people’s taste. What we are not fond of is the single USB port which is used for both input and charging. 

iFi Micro iDSD and Chord Hugo

These DAC/amps are very useful if you want to improve the headphone’s sound quality. They will most likely boost up the clarity and details from your audio source and in comparison the Hugo is a better choice if you want the better performance. It is cleaner and also more balanced with a good sound stage but, from the features Micro has more. In addition Hugo separates the charging port and input unlike Micro.

- Dual Core Burr Brown True Native chipset supports all hi-res audio formats up to PCM 32 bit / 768kHz, DSD512, and MQA
- 4000mW headphone amplifier with balanced topology and 4.4mm pentacon output
- XBass+, 3D+, and iEMatch create an immersive and personalized headphone or speaker listening experience
- USB A, S/PDIF digital and optical audio inputs; 6.3mm and 4.4mm headphone outputs, RCA line outputs
- Chipset: Chord Electronics custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
- Play time: In excess of seven (7) hours
- PCM support: 44.1k Hz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192kHz, 358.8kHz, 384kHz, 717.6kHz, and
- DSD support: Native playback supported. DSD64 (Single) to DSD512 (Octa-DSD)


There is plenty of good equipment that we can try but if you just want a good DAC/amp, Micro is a good option and if you want the better performance Hugo or Hugo 2 is an amazing option as well but it is noticeably more expensive.


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