Crimson Vee 3 – £55 – 1m Stereo Pair
Crimson VEE 3 cable is a pseudo-balanced/symmetrical cable design. It has two sets of multi-strand oxygen free copper conductors with one set used for the signal and the other set for the return. The conductors are twisted and are insulated with a low density, low loss polyethylene. Chord use the pseudo-balanced configuration because they say it carries signals more accurately than a simple coaxial or asymmetrical cable. The conductors are held in place with two vibration damping cotton spacers. The conductors and spacers are wrapped with natural cotton filler before the dual-layer shielding is applied which comprises of a high-density braid and an overlapped foil. The shielding is then surrounded with a soft PVC and this is protected with a hard PVC outer layer.
The Chord Crimson VEE 3 is fitted with Chord’s custom VEE 3 RCA plug. The new design of the ABS outer shell and the unique gold-plating process applied to the contact areas is said to improve signal transfer across a wider frequency range. The signal return surround provides a secure high pressure contact with all types of RCA sockets. The centre pin is insulated with PTFE and the design of the plug provides good strain relief without compressing the cable.
Cobra Vee 3 is a great sounding entry level cable, utilising the new robust and well made Vee 3 plugs. Conveying a good sense of musical presence with details that can express what a performance is all about, it’s a no brainer as a step into the cable market from cheap and nasty run of the mill efforts.
Cobra has a good balance and a nice tone, it displays an unforced and clear cut musical presentation. I suspect it has the type of sound that I find myself not criticising. The price point of the cable with the components it will obviously be paired with just allows me as the listener to appreciate what is really possible from the budget end of the market from an experienced company such as Chord.
The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ had all the rhythm and pace required to put the track across in a toe tapping manner with the initial triple drum beat at the start punching its weight into the track that just sets it off superbly.
The Counting Crows’ ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (also carried along by the great beat) was able to convey all the information relevant to producing the track with all its fun nature. Vocals from the Crows and Vanessa Carlton were very nice indeed and guitars were clear and never muddled when the song became busier.
The Guitar work with Katie Melluas ‘Belfast’ had good tone and most of all the smaller detailed speed work was very clear. Melluas voice sounded graceful and resided strongly in the centre of the soundstage with a good bit of space around.
Cobra VEE 3 – £95 – 1m Stereo Pair
Cobra VEE 3 is similar in construction and configuration to Crimson VEE 3 but with a crucial and, Chord say, performance-improving difference. Cobra VEE’s 3 conductors are constructed from multi-stranded silver-plated oxygen free copper and they are insulated with FEP, a material with very similar performance characteristics to PTFE. This combination of materials is used extensively in Chord cable designs. The pseudo-balanced conductors are held in place with cotton spacers which Chord say reduces mechanical noise and protected with a dual layer high frequency effective foil and braid combination shield. The shielding is surrounded with soft PVC to provide further mechanical damping and this is protected with a hard PVC outer jacket.
Again the Cobra VEE is fitted with the VEE 3 RCA plugs.
The sound of Chord’s Cobra Vee 3 is indeed very pleasing. It has a wider bandwidth to the previous Crimson cable which can be attributed to the addition of the silver plating and geometry of the shielding, giving more perceived silence to the background and allowing for more finer details to be apparent within the broad soundstage. The Vee 3 plugs no doubt add to the detail retrieval and dynamics were natural.
Focus throughout the soundstage remains firm and natural also conveying a depiction of a performance rather than a noise from two boxes. I found bass to be convincingly strong and the blending into the midband well tailored. Midrange itself had a clean and clear presentation and highs had sparkle and flare. The Vee 3 plugs themselves seem very nice indeed and are a much lower mass than the previous older plugs Chord used, connected with silver solder to the conductors I have no doubt in my mind that the Vee 3 plugs add to the sound quality of the cables especially in terms of smaller finer details.
Newton Faulkners guitar strings on ‘Feels Like Home’ were vibrant and clear, while his vocals presented a convincing natural tone and stability.
Dire Straits ‘You Me And Your Friend’ displayed a solid soundstage with accurate image placement and focus
A mixture of Trance and Dance music proved that the Cobra can do dynamics with slam and attention to scale.
Chameleon Vee 3 – £135 – 1m Stereo Pair
The Chord Chameleon VEE 3 uses Chord’s established Chameleon SilverPlus cable. The conductors though have been re-configured into a single signal and dual return configuration which Chord say improve definition and timing. The multi-stranded silver-plated oxygen free copper conductors are insulated with FEP. A cotton fibre conductor wrap aims to reduce mechanical noise and a fully floating high frequency effective, high density braid and foil shielding combination aims to minimises signal loss through interference. The shields are surrounded by soft PVC and this is protected by a hard PVC outer casing as with the Cobra.
The Chameleon VEE 3 is fitted with Chord’s custom VEE 3 RCA plugs as were the other cables on test.
The Chameleon Vee 3 cable is absolutely astonishing at its price point!
It conveys the real essence of a performance, coupled with undertones which give texture and body to the presentation, firming up the higher frequencies to make them seem more ‘real’ and natural. The combination of its elastic bouncy bass together with its midrange openness gives real insight into the musical spectrum it displays, allowing the listener to really follow the music.
The top end of the Chameleon is more open and airy than the previous, giving crisp sparkle in the forefront and allowing for finer details, reverbs and dynamic transients to flow and spike from an extra layer of presented detail.
Norah Jones’ beautiful vocals are natural with a great clarity and focus in the centre stage, whilst the small guitar rubs and taps from left and right stage from the band comes in an extra layer of information, expressing depth and spatial awareness.
Damien Rice’s ‘The Blowers Daughter’ has a deep extended bass which the Chameleons can control accurately, leaving enough space for the delicate vocals not to be overshadowed or become muddy.
Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys’ ‘Impossible’ has top end integrity and control, Christina’s higher notes remained expressive and not too bright, whilst Alicia’s piano work had good tone. The track also displays out of phase nuances which were in the correct place within my listening space.
I’ll say it again, a truly fabulous cable and a real price point leader.
There are clear differences between the progression of the cables throughout this budget range. From a wonderfully musically Crimson to the wider bandwidth and quieter background in the Cobra which can retrieve more final details to the fantastically coherent, well balanced, detailed attributes that the Chameleon just grabs the listener with.
I like the generic styling of the cables, the colour coded plugs and the different colour cabling is very easy to refer to when stretching behind a rack or unit, pushing and pulling the plugs in and out. It saves having to check on heatshrink colours on a cable that is bent around from the plug onwards on its route to another piece of equipment.
I cannot do anything but recommend each of these cables for what they can achieve in their own right within their price range but will add if Chameleon is within budget, give it a try, seriously just go get one!
Author – Dan