The Chord Company released its flagship product, ChordMusic, at the prestigious KJ West One yesterday and Hifi Pig’s Linette and Stuart were invited there to take a listen. 

First Impressions

So, after a very long journey involving cars, ferries, trains, taxis and underground we find ourselves in the salubrious surroundings of London’s W1 postcode and the well renowned KJ West One hifi shop. OK, that’s downplaying it a little; KJ West One is a bit of an emporium and homage to all that is high-end audio. It’s an audiophile’s moist reverie packed as it is with high-end brands, all displayed over a couple of floors in the most beautiful surroundings. Needless to say we both poked about a bit and had a look at the main showroom, the upper listening room and the downstairs demonstration room.CHORD_MUSIC_KJ_INteriorS

But we were not here to ogle the super-models of the audio catwalk, we were here to take a listen to what Chord are calling a “revelatory product, developed using an exciting and entirely new insulation material which has never been used with audio cables before: Taylon®.”

We were greeted by Sally, Nigel and Alan from The Chord Company and Jason from KJ West One who was responsible for putting today’s system together and changing the cables throughout the demonstration that was to follow. A quick drink and a nibble on a canapé later and we were ushered into the dimly lit auditioning room to be greeted by a system made up of a full dCS digital front end (Vivaldi CD Player/Streamer with its external clock), the Naim Statement amps and preamp and a pair of Wilson Audio Alexia. So, a top flight system with a top flight price to match, but then the ChordMusic cables are not the stuff you can nip out and buy with your pocket change, with a 1m pair of analogue cables leaving you with not a lot of change out of £4000…the rest of the cables in the ChordMusic range are similarly costly.chord_music_system_jasons

The only thing that would be changing today in this system was the music being played and the cables that were being used!

This is by no means a review of the cables used of course and I can only express what I heard on a system that I am sadly unfamiliar with, in a room that is equally unknown. However, report on the next hour or so I must.

There were three parts to this demonstration with a different set of ChordMusic cables being introduced at each stage.

Round One

Out went a pair of Chord’s Sarum XLRs from the dCS to the Statement and Statement internal XLR to be replaced with all ChordMusic. Initial thoughts were that there was more detail and a tighter feel to the bass. At the time Nigel was at pains to stress that fundamentally all we were hearing was a change in the dielectric from PTFE to Taylon®. This is an interesting concept and, as I come from a background of being seriously cable-sceptic, it was interesting to note that the improvements (most definitely) were clear for all to hear.

Round Two

Speaker cables get changed at this point from a pair of Sarum to ChordMusic. Here we noticed distinctly more bite to the music, with more top end detail and, to my ears at least, changing the speaker cables was a bigger jump in perceived improvement in performance than the changing of the analogue cables. Gathered at this launch event were several luminaries from the world of Hifi reviewing (you’ll know their names should we drop them into conversation) and the general consensus from that end of the couch was that ChordMusic speaker cable was “”brighter”. The word “bite” I wrote earlier and cleaner is how I would have described the change.

Round Three

This was always going to be controversial as the perceived “wisdom” where computer people and audiophiles clash heads is that it’s all zeros and ones and a digital cable will either work or it won’t. So we followed the previous formula of playing a tune then a snippet of the tune on the Sarum cable then exchanging it for the new fangled ChordMusic cable so what we had was nought but ChordMusic in the system. Here the cables changed were the AES/EBU and the BNC to BNC clock cable and boy was the difference obvious. Linette turned to me and whispered exactly what I was thinking…this is the biggest leap in performance over all the changes…and I was certainly not expecting this one bit! More detail, more clearly defined bass with more texture were the order of the day.
At this point I opened my mouth to say I perceived this as the biggest change in the sound and Alan from Chord came back with a comment along the lines of “ it’s because it’s all ChordMusic in there now” but after the dem’ I collared Nigel and spoke to him about this and he expressed he felt it was in part because something was happening with the interaction between the new cable and the clock, stating that the clock is the heart of the system after all.

Round-Up

So, I went to this event with an open mind and the promise of a glass of plonk and a few nibbles. What I got was the plonk and canapés (very attentive service here from Dan at Dan George Communications…but don’t give the day job!) plus a bit of an eye-opener if I’m honest. The new ChordMusic is furiously (some would say reassuringly) expensive from my relatively impoverished perspective, but there were changes, and to my mind improvements, at every cable change. So the thing you need to ask yourself, as always when considering spending your hard-earned on an upgrade, is ” do they make enough of an improvement in my system to justify me spending on them?” Only you dear reader can make that decision I’m afraid and all we can do is present our findings in the most straightforward terms we can.

Nigel (pictured below with a selection of the new ChordMusic Cables) is always good for a quote and today the thing I picked out was “When I was a teenager and had saved up long and hard for a new record the thing I got from the first time I played it was excitement. And this is what has led me to ChordMusic.”nigel_chord_musics

A big thanks to KJ West One for their hospitality and of course to Sally, Alan and Nigel of The Chord Company for inviting Hifi Pig to such an exclusive event on an afternoon that we know was very important to them.

You can read more from the Chord Company’s press release about this series of audio cables here.

Stuart Smith

 

 

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