Audioville and Chord
In the Audioville room, Chord Electronics of England demonstrated their Red Reference CD player ($26,000), now in Mk.III form. Refinements include a fully motorized transport door, plus a true asynchronous USB input. The player's D/A section, which offers up to 192kHz capability, eschews the use of DAC chips from other manufacturers, its pulse array being designed and constructed entirely by Chord. Styling is on a par with the underlying technologywhich is to say, a bit breathtaking.
Similarly unique styling (and ergonomic sophistication) were seen in Chord's recent CPA8000 preamplifier ($45,000) and the new Mk.II version of their SPM5000 stereo amplifier ($25,000). The former provides four pairs each of balanced and unbalanced inputs, as well as individual bass and treble roll-off controls for each channel.
Not only does Chord make their own digital pulse arrays: They design and commission, from a military supplier, their own custom power MOSFETs. CEO and chief designer John Franks, who was on hand to explain all things Chord, showed me a couple of their custom output devices (and explained, in particular, the key qualities of the copper substrate specified for their construction).