Review: Chord Mojo Portable Dac – The Magical Black Box


The Chord Mojo is the newest product launch just this Mid October by Chord Electronics. Mojo, the short form of Mobile Joy, is the 3rd battery powered DAC by Chord and also the smallest and most affordable of the series at just S$899. Hugo(S$2800) and the Hugo TT(S$6500) before it are many times the size and price yet provide the performance that almost any audiophile will rave about. Will Mojo rise up to the standards of its predecessors?  In short, totally!


Mojo-2The Mojo is the size of a park of card and maybe a little thicker. Made of solid aluminium coated black with 3 round balls as buttons with various sockets. The words and icons are laser etched to the surface and the black matt coat is relatively scratch resistance.

A total of 3 digital inputs and 2 3.5mm stereo outputs are found on the Mojo. There is no analogue in or balance ports, the whole design purely focusing on its DAC and output to portable headphones. The digital inputs are Optical, Coax and USB, covering most input types that a DAC could consume.

The 3 balls work as buttons, with 1 as power and 2 as volume. Each of them will light up in a series of rainbow color to represent the bit rate and volume. The colors are honestly hard to remember but are really useful and will be described in the next section. The balls spins about in their socket but so far I do not really think they are better then buttons except being fancy.

In totality, the Mojo is a solid design that is relatively small and solid. Balanced out would have been nice in the form of AK 2.5mm but I’m not really complaining at this price point.

In Use

The Mojo in use is rather interesting.

First the the size: Yes it is rather small but it makes stacking with everything touch screen troublesome. The straps will have to go over the screen as most touch devices are rather long and big (16:9 ratio). Considering the market that Mojo is targeting, making a long and thin device would have been better. Other then that, it  is really small for its capability and if you have a AK100/120 or DX50/90, this guy would be right at home as a stack though a little thick. Using a velcro will probably solve the issue, though it will leave a mess when you want to remove it.Mojo-3

Secondly is the ports: They are good but for a portable, I wonder if it would have been better if all the ports are on one side. The issue is wires going in and out of both sides means stacking and putting it into the pocket is rather impossible without hitting the cables on either end. Infact I lost a few connections via USB with my ZX 2 when my digital cable was leaning onto something in my bag. If everything was one side, it would have been a more optimal layout for portable usage.

Thirdly buttons (or balls): Its a love hate relationship with those balls and where they are. I quite love to just fiddle with them and roll them about, but the way they are positioned makes them either really hard to press when stacked, or really prone to being pressed by anything. If you faced the words “mojo” inwards, the balls will need your finger to reach in to toggle them, if you face the words out, anything just touching the device from an angle probably will mess with your volume.

Forth the rainbow colors: This is actually one design I actually love. You can dim or brighten them by pressing the volume buttons together. Knowing the device is on or off is simple with those big balls of glowing lights. The colors initially were confusing but after a while you just need to know red is the lower, green is middle and violet/white is up top. In-fact what I love most is based on the headphones I use and the color I listen them at, I can set the volume before playing easily. There is also a small colored led under the power port. It works rather well to tell how much power is left.

Some other stuff: Line out is achieved by pressing the two volume buttons at start up. This result in two violet lights and if its too high voltage for your amp (3v), just press the volume buttons to reduce it. 3v was too high for my CDM but perfectly fine for the WA22. The device runs for about 8hrs via USB and high res songs, gets quite warm and even hot when its charging. However no worries as there are internal circuitry which will shut itself off at 65c. This prevents damages to itself or accidental burns to your skin.

Sound Quality


The most important part for any audio device especially a DAC/AMP. Mojo in one word: Superb.

Headphones: Lyra, H6, ESW10, RS1

Transport: ZX2

Songs: Orchestra from FF:Distant Worlds, Gate, Hotel California, Songs by Susan Wong, Songs by Suara

Amps: WooAudio WA22, ALO CDM

Firstly to start of, its a relatively neutral sounding amp, leaning towards energetic and musicality. Hearing it through the many song, I find it has no true preference to any genra, making good work of anything thrown at it without any emphasis or harshness.

The greatest value of Mojo to me compared to any DAPs and DACs till 5k SGD is the energy in the song. No matter which song I played, it always has this energy that no other device I heard could match. The moment I switched to my ZX2, iPhone or my CDM in built DAC, they immediately felt for a lack of words: tired. It is like the vocals and instrument lack that little shim and power. Mojo felt like the performer who just arrived on stage full of energy while the other devices felt like the energy has all been used up and winding down.

Then there is the effortless of the sound. No matter what you throw at it, no sound in the spectrum will feel like its catching up or lacking in energy. This also makes the sound more realistic to me, similar to a live performance.

The other really notable sound quality which I would point out is how realistic the highs are yet never feeling harsh. The cymbals, bells and strings all felt really natural, especially in this tracks of distant worlds, no matter how much the bass or number of instruments, the highs will always be notable yet never distorted in any form.

Lastly the bass of this device is quick, punchy but without the feeling of emphasis. If the songs have little bass, like those from Suara, they felt well balanced in the background as support elements. But in Gate, a mid bass heavy track, its quick, punchy yet never bleeds into the vocals or mask the highs.

The only complain if I really want to squeeze one out about the sound is it sounds “Matter of Fact”. The output of the device just sound right, but sometimes this can get boring and this is where amping comes in. By default, Mojo vocals in most track felt well centered with good mass, running it through the WA22, the vocals spread out a little more and in general more soothing. Between raw or amped in this case is more of a preference. The CDM however shows some interesting improvement which I will cover in the next section.

Drive and Matching

On its own, the Mojo is really powerful. I do not think any headphone will have insufficient volume or authority. Everything I thrown at it sounds great. It may not be the absolute best of each headphone, but definitely no complains and enjoyable. Even with the harder ones like LCD2, it sounds perfectly fine.


However to put it at its best, to me a ALO CDM acting as its amp, sublime. It actually adds even more energy to the sound, providing a touch more air especially in the vocals and highs. Euphoric sounding, it may just be the best stack that can fit into a bag.


Of all the audio gear I purchased, I rate this the best value product. It sounds great, small enough and could be used by itself perfectly fine. At a sub S$1000 price, it beats DAC/DAPS twice or even triple its price. I really can’t think of a source device that provides more value based on the performance it provides.

In conclusion, Mojo to me is Magic in the pocket. A worthwhile purchase for any audiophile who wants the best without paying a king’s ransom.

ALO Continental Dual Mono: Preview


Recently I went back to my audio hobby which started way before even my photography days. Did a few new purchases and recently got my hand on a ALO Continental Dual Mono.



Pictured here with my Sony ZX2, this amp is both a looker and sounds really great. Makes the headphones I have for the last 8 years sound greater then they ever had. Gives a warm, smooth sound with great clarity but nice bass slam.


The glowing tubes make for great photography subject. Will probably go around doing a review for it together with my recent audio gears and even more pictures.



Review: Profoto B2 250w Off Camera Flash



This review is the second part of my Profoto Review. Previously I covered the B1 here and this time I will touch on the Profoto B2 250w Off Camera Flash. The B2 is a pack and head system consisting of a generator and up to 2 heads connected to it. The B2 as per it’s description, is a 250w strobe. That is half of the B1 but in practical terms, it is equivalent to step 9 out of 10 on its bigger brother. Other then the power, it retains most of its bigger brother’s traits: TTL, HSS, fast flash duration with multi-shot and built in wireless receiver.

B2 Group

The B2 however has quite some difference between it and its brother. Weighing in less then 3kg with a single head, it is a lot more portable. It is also smaller, a full set taking up similar volume as the B1 without the battery.


One of the useful feature is the ability to plug two heads into it and running them asymmetry.  This means that both outlets could be of any power stepping as long as they add up to 250w. Ratios tested are: 9.0-9.0 , 8.0-9.6 , 7.0-9.8 .  This is really great since one could be a main light running at 2 stops above the other which acts as a fill resulting in little lost of usable light out of system. One thing to note is HSS as similar to B1 requires a minimum of power 7 and above. It does work in asymmetry so you can use the above ratios as long as both are above 7. An additional notable thing regarding power is the knobs that set them. In the B1, its a linear knob of 0.1 with a down press and turn for a greater jump. On the B2, its based on the speed of the turn: Faster results in greater jumps while slow turns will be for fine tuning. A little flick could be 3-4 stop jump or 0.1-0.5 depending on the speed.


The B2 heads come with modelling lights. I never went around testing the exact output but by specification they have similar output to the B1 per head. However one of the ability lost is to vary the modelling light on the B2 which is only on or off.


A really interesting small improvements in the B2 is the battery. The battery is smaller then the B1s and like it comes with a test light. However this time on pressing it once holds the light for a few second to let the users see its power level. It is also a whole lot brighter and in green for easy identification.


If you own any Profoto mods, the B2 is a good fit into your system. The heads accept all mods the B1 could. The only thing lost is the ability to zoom as the heads are rather short.

With all the above, how does the B2 perform out-field? It is technically a B1 in a pack and head system with just a touch less power. Everything great about the B1 is in the B2 and now in a lighter and easier to manage package. Some will say isn’t it a step backwards with the cables and all, but when you need to Boom in the open, B2 is really the saver here.


Taken outdoor, the B2 acts as the main light on the boom and fill light at the bottom in a clamp shell setup. The generator acts as the counter weight similar to such systems.  The back light in this picture is a B1 with a zoom reflector.

The pictures taken from the B2 is as good as the B1 with the added portability. Below are shots taken with the B2 as Key Light. In most situation, its also running on HSS with a second head acting as a fill.






The B2 did had some issues when I first purchase.

  1. The first generator was faulty. It just did not work after a few pops. The distributor did a great job and replaced it promptly.
  2. The knobs on the generator needs to be redesigned. It catches small particles like sand or dirt and becomes jammed/hard to turn. Both my knobs could no longer rotate more then 180 degree without requiring significant amount of effort. The distributor offered to fix it but I have yet the time to do it.

One last comment about the B2. It comes with a great carrier that could be sling or hooked to a stand easily acting like a sand bag. This is much more useful then the case of the B1 which is more like a shoe carrier.

The B2 is a really great system. If not for the cost, I would have recommended it to anyone who needs a outdoor system with HSS and consistent lighting.

This ends my B2 review. Do remember to visit my B1 review here for more of the performance aspect such as TTL and HSS.

Profoto B1 500 Air TTL Review


This starts my 2 part review of my Profoto System consisting a B1 and B2. This post will round up the Profoto B1 Air TTL while in the next part I will be covering the B2. This review will touch on the key features of the unit, followed by field experience and some pictures. To me, on field performance is the most important part of any photography equipment and as such there will be no charts and more actual output in this review.

Before I start, the B1 has been with me for about 10 months and the B2 for approximately 1.  Before the Profoto, I owned a Jinbei and numerous speedlites which I use for outdoor shoots. In studio environments, I have so far come in contact with Bowen, Profoto and Elinchrome lights. Profotos’ had one of the best output and mount, as such when the battery unit appeared, I bought it without much hesitation.


The B1 is an off camera flash designed for on-site flash photography.  The unit is relatively large as shown above, weighing around 3kg with battery attached. That puts it around 5-6 times the weight of an average speedlite and more then 30% heavier then the B2 pack and head system.

The great thing about the B1 is that it is a true all-in-one head. You can even call it a giant speedlite with a profoto mount. The battery is directly attached to the side, the flash is triggered remotely by the Profoto Air Remote TTL, making it a true wireless unit.


You can control the B1 in 2 means: Via the back of the strobe or through the wireless remote. The B1 has a power settings from 2-10 (2-500w) with 1/10 increment. Residing within is also modelling light that could be used in various modes such as % power or proportionate to the current setting. The B1 comes built in with the Profoto Air system allowing it to be controlled and fired remotely via the trigger. The B1 also features TTL and High Speed Sync which I will cover in the field experience.


On the output, Profoto claims the B1 contains the power of 10 speedlite. Maybe that is true compared to a 43GN unit. Compared to a 58GN (580EX, SB910), it is closer to around 7-8 base on my experience. In terms of flash duration, I have no meaningful way to test it but below 1/4, no motion blur was detected thus far on my photos. The reload speed, for all the light it outputs, refreshes in less then 2s from empty to full power!

One of the key reason of buying a branded strobe is for consistency. The B1 shot to shot has little variance both in color and output. This is great especially when in studio environment or doing multiple shots for merging. However when the strobe enters into HSS, exposure constancy based on field experience fluctuates up to a third of a stop.

One final note is the B1 is an IGBT strobe. In simple terms, it utilizes similar circuitry as a speedlite but on a larger scale. This allows multiple triggers as long as the unit is not on max power. The flash duration also gets shorter as the power is lowered.

Now the most important thing is how does the B1 work on field? To me: Fantastic!


The B1 is one of the easiest to work with in terms of color output. Blending easily with the surrounding natural light.


It has lots of power too. The above shot was done around 10am in the morning with the light placed 3m away using a zoom reflector. The B1 on HSS can overpower morning or early afternoon sun easily affording much flexibility on its usage. Do note that HSS do lose approximately 1-2 stop of light compared to using an ND and reducing the light to the shutter sync speed. As such using a leaf shutter camera or ND filter still results in significantly more usable light per shot.


With the ability to trigger multiple times and a short refresh, shots with moving objects are a whole lot simpler. The above was done with a RX1 utilizing a leaf shutter and the B1 approximate at power 7.


As a full size light, it could utilize various modifiers while retaining the power to par the harshest sun if placed not too far from the subject. The above was shot with a softbox in mid-day light approximately 1m away from the subject.


It could mix well with speedlites, allowing the usage of 1 large light and multiple small ones to create the ambience needed without lugging multiple large units.


As a wireless unit with the ability to be remotely controlled and fired, the light could be placed almost anywhere. The above shot was done with a B1 almost 15m away at a doorway utilizing a zoom reflector.

Such a great light do still have its issue. For one, at power 8, it cant do quick multiple triggers without significant variance in exposure. HSS only works from power 8-10, making it overwhelming for cloudy days or in the late evening. It is heavy so you need a pretty heavy duty stand and lots of weights. There is no way it can run off mains, which means you need 2 batteries if you want to use it for a studio environment. Luckily the batteries recharge in less then 2hrs with the standard charger. Lastly, it is costly, with a price of $2950SGD + $480SGD for the trigger today. However for all the above issues, it delivers in a way that changes the way outdoor shots could be done!

With this ends my first round of review for the Profoto B1. Next up will be the B2!