Last May (2015), Nigel Finn, technical director of Chord Cables, and the very embodiment of the term “gentleman”, invited me down to Amesbury, promising a special listening session. It turned out to be very special indeed. Nigel gave me and one lucky Cool Gales customer an audition of what was then a work-in-progress, a major upgrade of the company’s top cable, Sarum Super ARAY, long a reference here.
Sarum, like other Chord cables and cables from most high-end manufacturers uses Teflon as a dialectric (insulator). Nigel had recently learned that Teflon’s performance is affected by temperature, particularly at the sort of temperature range encountered in the average listening room. By substituting Taylon, a proprietary material unaffected by temperature, Nigel discovered that timing and clarity took a quantum leap over the already superb Sarum, a “real game changer”, to use the words uttered by a reviewer I spoke to on a later occasion, a reviewer notable for his long championing of another brand.
All the extra-musical cues I’d come to expect from Sarum were there: the singer’s subtle intake of breath, the warble from a wet saxophone reed, the faint squeal of a piano sustain pedal being pressed. But there was very much more. You know how a group of musicians, whether a rock group or a jazz ensemble or a string quartet, look at each other while performing? Well, Nigel’s new cable allows you to hear this happening! Extraordinary. For the first time in my experience with recorded music, I could visualise musicians monitoring each other for timing cues. And in fact, “timing” was the very word Nigel used several times to describe what his new cable excelled at.
Although at that point it was some weeks from being ready for production, the new cable had an inspired name: Music. Because that’s what it does, it simply conveys music.
We ordered demo cables on the spot, and we were extremely honoured to find when they arrived some weeks later, that we were the first retailers in the UK to get them. We now have both RCAs and XLRs. Speaker cables are (as of May 2016) soon to be launched. Power cords are promised.
Downsides? Well, there’s the price, of course, but even at double the price of Sarum Super ARAY, Music cables are still less expensive (in some cases, very much less expensive) than top-end cables from any number of other manufacturers. And I’ve expressed mild displeasure to Nigel about the little black or red bands around the terminals. If you swap cables a lot, as I do, they can easily slip off and get lost (although Chord will happily supply spares). If you, like most people, install your cables once and leave them alone, you won’t notice. And there’s a wait time—as word trickles out, demand is bound to exceed supply, possible for a long while.
Chord’s new Music range is truly an exciting new direction for high-end cables. We’d be happy to arrange an audition in your own system.
PS — The customer who accompanied me ordered a complete Music cable loom. He’s received his interconnects, and should receive his speaker cables soon. He may be waiting some time for his mains cords.
IK, 10 May 2016