Hugo M Scaler upscales your 16/44 world

We’ve all been in that awkward situation.

You know the one.

Where you’re chilling with your audiophile friends listening to tunes and the (1,015,808 WTA) tap comes on your shoulder (bad joke) followed by the inevitable question of “what resolution are you listening at bro?”

I admit, I’m often at 16/44 and not at the 24/192 end, but I’ve never felt shame only going that deep into the bit depths – then again, I’m not the greatest swimmer.

Chord Electronics has decided to go into the way-deep end of the kiloHertz pool and utilizing a bespoke-coded FPGA (field-programmable gate array) they are upscaling 44.1kHz digital audio to 705.6kHz, or an impressive 16-times Red Book resolution with their brand-new Hugo M Scaler.

This data then can be passed along to the DAC of your choice. If you’re a Chord fan then you can take advantage of of dual-BNC input DACs like the DAVE, the Qutest or the shiny-new Hugo TT 2 to get that full 705.6kHz, but there are limitations for other throughputs: 192kHz optical; 384kHz BNC and 768kHz dual BNC (utilizing 96kHz source files).

Previously these types of numbers and the tech which made them possible were only available from Chord in the CD-transport/digital upscaler BLU MK.2 that rings the cashier’s tab at $10,480 USD. But, Chord has managed to squeeze Rob Watt’s (the company’s digital-design consultant engineer) much-heralded FPGA-based tech known as WTA (Watts transient alignment) taps digital-filtering tech to the tune of 1,015,808 taps into the M Scaler for a more pocketbook-friendly $4,580 USD.

More taps equals better sound quality according to Chord (and to those who’ve heard the tap-number comparisons at various demos over the years as the tech was perfected) so the expected SQ from the M Scaler should be rather posh.

According to Chord, featuring the serious processing muscle of a Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA with 740 DSP cores and the latest WTA algorithm, the M Scaler “enables CD-quality audio to be reproduced where the interpolated output is guaranteed to be better than 16 bits; conventional filters are no better than 2- or 3-bit-accurate in recovering transient timing information.”

The M Scaler will be ready for ordering in the fall of 2018.

For more information check out M Scaler.

Chord Electronics Hugo M Scaler specs

  • Redefines sound quality from digital audio
  • The most advanced digital filtering technology in the world
  • Upscales digital audio up to 705.6kHz (16x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution)
  • Upscaling to 768kHz (from 96kHz files) with selected Chord Electronics DACs
  • Rob Watts’ 35-year goal of >1M taps achieved: M Scaler has 1,015,808 WTA taps
  • Improves all digital: streamers; smart devices/computers; CD/DVD players and more
  • Transient accuracy is taken to a completely unprecedented level
  • Use with a DAC in headphone, desktop and conventional hi-fi systems
  • Compact TT chassis stackable with Hugo TT 2 DAC/pre and TToby power amp
  • Multiple inputs for a range of devices: galvanically isolated USB-B; 2x BNC; 2x optical
  • Galvanically isolated dual BNC outputs (to 768kHz) for use with DAVE, Qutest, Hugo TT 2 and future products; single BNC to 384kHz output, optical to 192kHz
  • Adjustable sample rate output with pass-thru mode, plus low latency video mode
  • Automatic modes for video and source selection plus remote control
  • DX mode for connection to future Chord Electronics products
  • Designed, engineered and entirely made in the United Kingdom
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 235 x 40.5 x 236mm; Weight 2.55kg
  • Three-year warranty
Chord Electronics Ltd.
The Pumphouse, Farleigh Ln, East Farleigh, Maidstone ME16 9NB, UK
+44 1622 721444

Anton's picture

I look forward to people's sonic impressions.

Sue's picture

Isn't this similar to Meridian's upsampling technology?

Ali's picture

Or dCS'?

Rafe Arnott's picture
Good questions...

AFAIK dCS use a bespoke PLL (phase-loop lock) with a variable frequency oscillator to accomplish their upsampling... but don't quote me. I've put an email in to dCS this morning on this, so as soon as I get confirmation I'll post it.

Meridian is a different story, I don't have a direct contact there yet, but their Ultra DAC "... is also the first product in the world to include MQA Limited’s Hierarchical Converter Technology, which employs multiple converters to increase temporal resolution while reducing noise and quantization errors."

I don't know if that means they're using an FPGA or a PLL, but I'll see if I can get someone from there to get back to me.