Upgrading from chord mojo....using all digital...suggestions please

hey gang…going to be upgrading from the chord mojo in a month or so.
i’m not into headfi as are others, so while i want great sound
i don’t want nor need top $$$ tier either…i just don’t listen to headfi
as much as do others (prefer my speakers to be frank).

my current setup / equipment is basic.
senn/massdrop hd6xx and incoming grado gh1.
might spring for some hfm planars down the road if i get back into headfi.

my setup is designed to be all digital:
Sonictransporter i5 (server by small green computers)


Roon/Tidal.
-also have Kef LS50W and svs subwoofer (kefs are a roon ready endpoint)
-using ipad or laptop as visual interface

…i had the microrendu/lps power supply and dc4 power chord: got rid of them all.
…now just use chord mojo mostly: optical out from tv to mojo to cans.
or using ipad with roon/tidal and curious cable usb.

one gent on headfi was trying to sell me the ALO Pan Am but i can’t see it being all that different from the mojo given they’re similar price points.

so if any suggestions are made would i also need to rebuy some streaming bridge
from SOTM or Sonore again ?
https://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/

i am looking at the RME ADI 2 or Chord Qutest or Monolith Cavelli Liquid Platinum.
thanks

What is it that you’re trying to achieve by upgrading from the Chord Mojo?

More power for more demanding headphones? Some specific thing(s) about its signature/performance you don’t like? Ergonomic concerns? Just fancy a change?

If you’re feeding whatever you replace the Mojo with the same way, you shouldn’t need to add a streaming bridge … just plug the new DAC in the same way (you might need a different cable).

Since the Mojo is both a DAC and has a headphone output, whatever you buy will need to either fulfill both criteria (which the RME ADI-2 DAC would do), or you’ll need both a DAC and an Amp. So the Qutest, while excellent, requires and amp, and the Cavalli Liquid Platinum is just an amp and will still need a DAC to feed it.

I’m assuming you’re just going to let Roon talk directly to your speakers, so you won’t need to connect the new DAC to those.

What sort of budget/price point are you shooting for?

Thanks, Torq…just seeking more detailed, layered sound without breaking the bank
and without having to layer so many components to it.
(has anyone compared the mojo to the RME or liquid platinum btw?).

As per the RME yes i know it’s both a dac/amp…that might
be the way to go if i don’t wish to go separates.
still haven’t decided…just have read on headfi of people getting yet
better sound by hooking up the liquid platinum to the RME.
i just know there can be a compromise in SQ (unless you’re paying $$$) with one integrated (dac/amp) unit, too,
esp the RME at that very good price point.

btw the sonictransporter server is in study.
using wifi or airplay for roon/tidal to ipad or laptop.

Given the headphones in question, and the fact you say you’d rather listen to your speakers, I’m not sure making any change on the headphone side of things is necessarily worthwhile or, at least, very cost-effective.

But …

Yes, the RME is a better DAC or DAC/amp than the Mojo. And it’ll sound even better with an external amplifier. But the principal differences the external amp brings here, other than more power (which you don’t need for those cans), is in avoiding some slight dynamic compression from the RME’s headphone output. Neither the HD6XX nor the Grado are going to reveal that aspect of the change particularly vividly (vs. say a Focal Clear or an HD800S). So if that’s the DAC direction you go in, you should try it with the built-in outputs first.

And if I was pairing an amplifier with the RME with those headphones, I probably wouldn’t go with a tube-hybrid - I’d go with a pure-tube solution. Not that tube-hybrids aren’t good, but if you already have a competent solid-state output, and not-very-demanding headphones, then you might as well get the full tube experience and not dilute it. You can always use the RME’s outputs when you want the pure solid-state delivery.

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Thanks…any good bang for buck tube amps you’d suggest?

Also wouldn’t I still receive some bridge (MR or sotm) from music server (sonictrsndporter) to face for better sq if using Roon/Tidal and my cans

IMO, best bang for the buck amp (for dynamic headphones) is the stock Bottlehead Crack.

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I was actually thinking of that…bottlehead

anyone using a digital setup with roon/tidal with this device?
using a microrendu or other?

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Since the Bottlehead Crack is just an amp.

You’ll need a DAC to feed it. The RME will do fine, as will any number of other DACs in that role. Including your current Mojo. Those would all constitute a digital system.

So I have to assume that when you say “digital setup” you mean a network/streaming system. In which case the amplifier doesn’t matter as it’ll perform the same regardless of how the DAC that is feeding it gets its signal.

I run a multi-room, multi-station, multi-DAC setup using Roon and Tidal. Some of the DACs are connected directly to computers running Roon. Some to Roon-Ready streaming end-points. Some are Roon-Ready end-points that have DACs built into them.

You can use a microRendu to allow you to connect a USB-capable DAC to a network and have it show up as an end-point in Roon. I’ve done that. I didn’t do it for sound-quality reasons (a much bigger subject) - just convenience. Bear in mind that the Sonore products all require WIRED networks - not WiFi.

I would be wary about going down the microRendu (or similar) path for “sound quality” reasons on a rig of this level, simply because you’ll get a MUCH bigger return spending that sort of money elsewhere. If it’s just so you can have a DAC permanently connected to a network, and not have to connect it to a tablet or PC then it makes much more sense.

Other ways to do that include much less expensive options based on Raspberry Pi boards.

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thanks…yes i realize the bottleneck would need a dac (could use mojo i guess)
might just stick with mojo for now and consider options.
my friend did also suggest buying a streamer (auralic g1 or g2) but too pricey
given the amt of time i listen to headgear.

but have to ask: this statement:
what area would that be?I would be wary about going down the microRendu (or similar) path for “sound quality” reasons on a rig of this level, simply because you’ll get a MUCH bigger return spending that sort of money elsewhere

You’ll get a much bigger improvement in sound quality by spending the bulk of your budget on the headphones themselves. As in “can’t miss it, night and day, holy-hell-why-didn’t-I-do-this-before” level improvements.

At BEST with something like the the microRendu (or even heavyweight streaming solutions like the Aries G2) you might get a few percentage points of audible improvement IF you’re already dealing with a well sorted, high-quality, system. And you’ll probably have to be doing audition-style listening to tell. I say this from experience.

I very much doubt that a Mojo feeding HD6XX or Grado GH1 would be sufficiently resolving to expose the differences there.

Generally you want to put the bulk of your system budget into the headphones themselves. After that, it depends on “how much” amp you want/need as to whether the DAC or amp is more important. Good DACs are generally a bit more cost-effective than good amps - especially if talking tubes and/or needing a lot of power. But a 50:30:20 split is not unreasonable.

Now, I personally really like using a Roon-based setup with discrete end-points. But the primary reasons for that are convenience and flexibility. That there is, sometimes, in the right situations (it is highly dependent on the gear in question - especially the DAC), a very modest sound-quality improvement that comes along with doing so. And this is in configurations where the streamer-part is a small fraction of the cost of the rig it is feeding … and putting flagship streamers in place has made very little audible difference.

If you want to put your Mojo on the network, either a simple R-Pi based streamer or a Chord Poly will do the job. (I don’t like Poly very much, but if you just set it up for Roon and LEAVE IT ALONE then it’s fine and actually does a better job with a Mojo than even the ultraRendu). And it’ll be wireless to boot.

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Everything @Torq says is spot on. Once you upgrade the headphones to the next quality tier, any other DAC changes may be ‘unimportant’ to your listening experience. I can hear the difference between my DACs, but they result in slightly better high end clarity or bass extension. The headphones themselves form the majority of the experience.

The HD6XX and Grado GH1 are your major bottlenecks. I urge you to demo Focal, HD800s, Mr. Speakers, Audeze, HiFiMan and others. There’s a substantial jump in quality from the <$500 bracket to the $500 - $1,000 class.

Personally, my ears don’t care beyond the $1,000 retail point (having demoed the Focal Clear and Utopia and others). I can hear the differences but it’s more like different flavors of ice cream rather than ice cream versus ice milk or frozen yogurt.

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thanks, gang…i’ll monitor how much i listen to music with the grados/senns over the coming months, as this is the decisive issue really: the listening time vs $$$ spent ratio…
there is no sense upgrading if i’m not using the gear all that much.
but we’ll see.

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There is a benefit to procrastination. In electronics, prices almost always come down, desireable used units come on the market, progress brings new technology, and there is always the possibility that we will make up (or change) our minds.

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The Utopia played through my phone sounds better than the HD6XX played through the DAVE. Always upgrade your headphones first.

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Wise words. As always it’s headphones first. :grin:

Thanks gang… We’ll see how the new grados GH1 sound and if they hook hook me to listening more.

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