Something struck a Chord – Chord Electronics Ultima 5 Power amp

Kulaklık Modelleri ve fiyatları, en iyi kablosuz kulaklık, en iyi kulaklık

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10/01/2022 19:11

Kulaklık Modelleri ve fiyatları, en iyi kablosuz kulaklık, en iyi kulaklık

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to our Monday ramblings, admittedly recently its been more of a “on a Blue-moon” than on a Monday” in terms of updates but now that the Christmas madness has ebbed and the lion’s share of deliveries have been made, I felt it would be rather rude not to share with you some of the new arrivals here in the City of dreaming spires. Today I’ve got something special to share with you, a product that has forced me to do a fairly spectacular u-turn on my rather entrenched feelings about what to expect from certain brands, and that particular product is the new £9,500 Chord Electronics Ultima 5 power amplifier.

To give you a little bit of context, we’ve been a Chord Electronics dealer for the last six or seven years. In that time I have gushed over their DACs; the Rob Watts FPGA DAC being one of those innovations that I truly believe has driven the industry forwards. I’ve even been known to be a bit partial to classic Chord DACs like the QBD76 or DAC64 when they have been part exchanged, always having an extended test at Chez McDonald before they’re listed in our pre-loved section. It is, with this fondness in mind, even more peculiar that I have rarely sold a Chord amplifier. For several years we had the Chord SPM-1200mk2 on demonstration, a 350wpc bruiser who’s impeccably clean and stark signature made it difficult to fall in love with. It seems very unusual to criticise a piece of Hi-Fi for being crystalline and uncoloured but, with the range of loudspeakers here at Oxford Audio, it never had that certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes a piece of kit truly spellbinding.

It was late last year that Maurice Trynor of Chord Electronics swung by the shop and I had my chance to hear the Ultima. HiFi being full of staunch reactionaries, I had already decided how the amp would sound but, on the basis that Maurice would share with me some of Chord’s plans for digital world domination, I duly followed him upstairs and we set up the Ultima. The implementation of Chord’s new dual-feed-forward error-correction had transformed a revealing yet musically unengaging amplifier into a fast and thrilling listen. I was left speechless and my preconceptions dashed. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to put in an order for a demo unit. That unit having now arrived and bedded in, its definitely time to put it through it’s paces!

Settling upon a partnering system for the Ultima was a tricky process, I had already decided to use Chord’s award-winning DAVE as both Preamplifier and DAC. Spurred by a recent review in HiFi+, I decided upon the Martin Logan ESL-X as my chosen loudspeaker and the Auralic Aries G2 as my source. The precision of the Auralic and the transparent nature of electrostatics seemed to me to be the perfect tools to discover whether the Ultima had freed itself of the dry, clinical nature of its predecessor. With the amplifier in place, I must admit that the minor revisions to the front baffle and the option to have acrylic cheeks in lieu of the Integra legs make this an amplifier that’s both rather handsome and one that wouldn’t look out of place among kit from other brands.

I started my listening with Four Tet’s 2017 album New Energy. Immediately what I was presented with was clean and utterly devoid of any noise, no surprises there, what was surprising was the dreamy, almost ethereal quality to the sound. The Chord exhibited a softness that seemed at odds with its bold and dynamic performance. Decay of notes was exemplary and the level of control that the Chord demonstrated over the Martin Logans was quite extraordinary, given what can often be a big, loose bassline in the track. The accuracy of timbre lead me to put on Ibrahim Maloof’s wonderful 40 melodies album. The first track, True Sorry, may be a fairly simple composition but it is also an astonishing recording and the Chord immediately impresses with its confident, credible soundstage; cementing Maloof’s trumpet and the backing guitar into the room whilst showing off its incredibly low noise-floor by how long the brass takes to decay.

This ability to recreate not only the musician but also the recording environment steered me to Fink’s 2012 Wheels turn beneath your feet. The track “Troubles what you’re in” proves to be totally intoxicating, the Chord recreating a warm, dark bubble from the concert in our smaller demo room. There’s a rich texture given to the percussive tapping of the guitar’s body that keenly demonstrates the Chord’s level of control over the ESL-X. Greenall’s voice is reproduced in a totally natural way, the reverb taking seconds to fade away into the room amid the gentle noise from the crowd again showing the Chords exemplary control of the loudspeaker.

It was at this point I took advantage of the building being empty on a Monday, turning up the wick and changing the type of music somewhat… Boris Blank’s (of Yello fame) Big Beans is a great track to see just how well composed an amplifier really is at high levels. I was going to say that the Chord impressed but that would be underselling it somewhat, the Chord THRILLED as I turned up the volume and it got its teeth into the track. It demonstrated huge depth to the drums and bass whilst allowing the rest of the track to dance between the speakers unfettered. I find that the ability to seperate layers in a recording like this more often than not comes hand in hand with a fairly clinical presentation (not unlike its predecessor) but I sat infront of the Ultima with a beaming grin looking through our library for what to play next.

I ended my afternoon with the Chord with The Jam’s classic Down in the Tubestation at Midnight and I think the Ultima managed to be the fastest and grippiest performance of the track that I have heard. Tapping my foot along to the guitar riff, I couldn’t help but notice how the Chord has timing absolutely nailed.  With the combination of transparency, timing and musicality that the Ultima 5 possesses, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to a Naim 500 series at times.

 

In summation, The Ultima is an almost complete departure from its forebears; retaining the clarity and sparkle that Chord are known for but finally adding an agility and expressiveness that make it one of the most musical and rewarding listens in the shop. It eats complex rhythms for breakfast and with its 300wpc might it’s got a level of grip and agility that few other amplifiers in our range can muster. Last year, I wouldn’t have believed that I would have written this but the Ultima 5 may just have taken pole position as my favourite amp in the shop.

Alasdair

The post Something struck a Chord – Chord Electronics Ultima 5 Power amp first appeared on Oxford Audio.

Happy New Year! Welcome back to our Monday ramblings, admittedly recently its been more of a “on a Blue-moon” than on a Monday” in terms of updates but now that […]

The post Something struck a Chord – Chord Electronics Ultima 5 Power amp first appeared on Oxford Audio.