The Other Sound Organisation Room: Chord Electronics, Spendor, and Aurender

The Rega room was one of two rooms the Sound Organisation, a distributor of several brands from the UK, had at the show. Their other exhibit in room 662 consisted of some recent gear from Chord Electronics, such as stacked racks of the Chord Qutest DAC, Huei phono preamplifier, etc. on static display.

The active system was rather old-meets-new: It had BBC School Spendor Classic 2/3 speakers ($6100/pair, just over $7000/pair with stands) and a 180Wpc Chord Ultima 6 ($9200) stereo power amplifier. Those followed a high-tech digital source setup with an Aurender N200 (I think) server/streamer feeding data into a Chord Hugo MScaler ($5295) upsampler (and bit improver/reorganizer), and then into a new Chord Hugo TT2 DAC/preamp/headphone amp ($5995, heading photo).

I heard an A/B test with vs without the MScaler (below left) on a 16-bit/44kHz file of London Grammar's "Hey Now" with its highs and lows. With the MScaler, Hannah Reid's vocals sounded smoother, high notes more crystalline. Bass definition improved. More separation and clarity came through.

Oh, I love the colors on the smooth round controls. And I feel compelled to mention another design detail: the small, round "fisheye" glass portal that allows a peek into the Hugo TT2's and the Hugo MScaler's internal circuitry. I'm told Chord's lead digital design engineer Rob Watts loves watches, so it could be a nod to those...