Chord Poly featured

CHORD

Poly Review

Turn your Mojo into a full-featured wireless streamer!

PRICE


$679 

THE HIGH NOTES


  • Creates a Wireless Mojo
  • Chord Thought of Everything
  • Make the Mojo Unbeatable

Company & Product Overview

The founder of Chord Electronics, John Frank, has an interesting background that tells us a lot about the brands DNA. John got his start in the world of aviation design, where uncompromising performance is far more important than keeping costs down.

Chord’s first products were clear examples of this mantra — power amplifiers that were so impressive that they are found at Abbey Road, Sony Music New York, and the Royal Opera House.

Since their beginnings in the United Kingdom in 1989, Chord has gone on to produce some extremely high-end gear in both the analog and digital realm. Their digital products have always pushed the limits, and have won countless awards from the audio press.

The Chord Mojo is perhaps the most successful to date. It’s a battery-powered combination DAC/headphone amp that is just about the size of a deck of cards. The Mojo instantly received great press and has become one of the most popular headphone DAC/amps on the market. It’s also a go-to favorite for its great value as a home-based DAC. The sound you get from the Mojo is just stunning for it’s $529 price.

Our team and our customers love the Mojo, so we were thrilled when we heard about the subject of today’s review, the Chord Poly. Over the past two years since the Mojo was first released, Chord has been swarmed with requests to expand the way you could get sound to the Mojo. The Chord Poly is the answer to those requests and much more.

It’s a small piece of gear (only about half the width of the Mojo) that simply plugs right into the business input end of the Mojo. The Poly turns the Mojo into a fully featured music streamer.

Before we get into this review, it’s important to be clear that the Poly needs the Mojo to operate. If you’re in the market for a streamer and a headphone DAC/amp, you can get both units for just over $1,200.

If you’re one of the thousands of proud Mojo owners out there, then we can’t wait to tell you about the Poly!

Chord Mojo Poly connected flat

Before we get into this review, it’s important to be clear that the Poly needs the Mojo to operate. If you’re in the market for a streamer and a headphone DAC/amp, you can get both units for just over $1,200.

If you’re one of the thousands of proud Mojo owners out there, then we can’t wait to tell you about the Poly!

Packaging, Design & Build Quality

Like all Chord products, the Poly is 100% made in the UK, which is a pretty astounding feat for a piece of gear under $700. Most everything we see at this price point these days is manufactured in China. Chord, however, is not your typical manufacturer and keeps everything in-house in order to ensure the highest standards of quality control.

Even though the Mojo and Poly are tiny, when you hold them in your hand you can tell how well made they are. We also like the way Chord chose to package them in a small box to keep the carbon footprint down. You could fit around two dozen Poly and Mojo boxes in an average-sized shoe box.

 

Chord Mojo Poly Lifestyle

The Mojo has 2 micro USB inputs — one for charging and one for audio, then a coax and optical input to the sides of the USB inputs. The Poly has two tiny micro USB male connectors that plug into those USB inputs. It also has two small dummy plugs to match the coax and optical inputs. To connect the Poly to your Mojo, simply lay them next to one another on a flat surface slide them together. The Poly will cover the inputs on your Mojo, transforming it instantly into a high-performance streamer.

The Poly has a small window to indicate WiFi and Bluetooth strength. You’ll also see a tiny light that indicates its status and another small light for Mojo status. Next to those is a Micro USB charging port and a Micro SD card slot.

Features & Technology

Before we dive into all of the different features in the Poly, let’s talk about how to set it up. Overall setup proved a little tedious, but we were one of the lucky few in the US to get a Poly to test before they shipped, so your setup process should be a bit smoother by the time they are officially released. We assure you, though, that it’s worth the effort. Check out the video below for a quick walkthrough that will help you set up your Poly.

While the Mojo limits your options for music to USB or Digital, the Poly adds a number of new options. First, you can simply use Bluetooth to send music from your smartphone to the Poly. If you have an iPhone connected via WiFi to the same network as the Poly, you can also send it over using Airplay.

For Hi-res music, we imagine that many of you will want to get a large capacity Micro SD card. You’ll need to download a DLNA app on your phone to do this, but there are a number of free ones available including BubbleUPnP or 8 Player.

Taking DLNA one step further, Poly has the ability to be a renderer. This means it can pull music directly from a computer or NAS drive on your home network. You will need to use a DLNA app to control what music gets to Poly this way, but doing so will turn your Mojo into a music streamer on your home network!

Poly is also fully integrated with Tidal and Spotify. If it’s on the same network as your phone, you will see Poly as an audio output option.

Finally, Poly is Roon enabled. If you aren’t familiar with Roon, it is a subscription music curation service that has taken the audio world by storm of the last year or so. Essentially, it takes your local music library and combines it with Tidal for a deeply engaging user experience. Simply select the Poly as a Roon player from your computer and off you go!

Like the Mojo, Poly has basically no limitations with regard to Hi-res Audio files. It can handle PCM files up to 768kHz and up to DSD256, which is pretty astounding. Poly just grabs the digital music files and ports them to your Mojo with zero insertion loss.

If you have a USB charger that can put out 2 amps or more, it will be able to charge the combination Poly/Mojo together. If your charger can only output 1 amp, however, only the Mojo will be charged. We love the fact that you can charge and play at the same time, making it a great home music streamer. For on-the-go use, it takes about 4 hours to fully charge the two units and will provide you with around 9 hours of total playback time.

We are confident that all of these features the Poly provides is going to make it an extremely popular piece, especially for anyone who already owns a Mojo. Even if you don’t already have one, the combination is still a great value when you consider the features, build quality, and flexibility of the units.

Performance

Mojo owners don’t need us to tell you how amazing everything sounds. All we can say is that adding the Poly will open up a whole slew of new ways to get music onto your Mojo. The combination just sounds amazing.

Chord, like a handful of other UK companies, just gets digital right. The sound is never harsh and the timing is spot on. It never fails to pull you right into the music.

Roon, DLNA from the NAS, and the direct SD card for us provided the very best sound, but when you consider the convenience of Bluetooth and Airplay, it just makes everything more fun.

Overall Recommendation

If you already own a Mojo, think about this. A high-performance portable player that accepts SD cards costs far more than the Poly. Connect a Poly to your Mojo and you’ll have something as good as many $2,000+ digital audio players currently on the market. Plus you’ll get all the other great input options!! As an added bonus, you’ll no longer need to scramble for cables to connect your Mojo — now your smartphone can connect wirelessly.

If you don’t own a Mojo, you will need one for the Poly to work, but the combination of the two is just slightly over $1,200. You’ll have a great streamer for your home system and/or headphones; a way for your friends to send any of their music to your system, and one of the best portable digital audio players out there. The combo is truly an incredible value.

HIGH NOTES UNPACKED

Mojo & Poly connected, left

Creates a Wireless Mojo

The Poly turns your Mojo into a wireless power house. Sounds of joy for Mojo owners!

Chord Poly inputs

Chord Thought of Everything

You can’t stump the Poly. Roon, DLNA, SD card slot, Bluetooth, Airplay, Spotify Connect and Tidal. Then the Mojo has optical, coax and USB, you are covered!

Chord Poly connected, right

Makes the Mojo Unbeatable

We feel the combination of these two sets a whole new playing field in the headphone amp, DAC, portable player, streamer market. Yes, it does all those and with Chord digital sound quality, it’s a steal!

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