Hard Black Anodizing

I could hardly keep my hands off of Chord Electronics' CD Transport and DAC. I'm not kidding. In the new Jet Black finish seen here in Larry Greenhill's photo, the pair is absolutely exquisite, and begs to be touched. Chord's founder and chief designer, John Franks, explained the cosmetic design was inspired by the hard black stone found between the cliffs of Whitby and Staithes. Like many things of beauty and wonder, its origins are fabled and obscured; Whitby Jet is believed to be either a form of carbon or the remains of hardened sap dating back to the dinosaurs. I'm putting my money on the dinosaur theory because T-Rex is cooler the coal.

Each piece is milled from solid aluminum and hand-polished to a mirror finish. "A special anodizing process" opens the pores of the aluminum, while retaining the sheen. Black dye is then introduced to the open pores, saturating the aluminum in smooth, solid color. The pores are then closed—with a few magic words, I'm willing to accept—and the black dye is forever sealed. "Hard black anodizing," they call it.

And I'm happy to report it doesn't take 65 million years to perfect.

John Franks added that the Jet Black finish was also inspired by the look of the latest mobile phones and Bulgari watches. "I always want to keep our designs on the leading edge of style."

"I think you've achieved that," I said.

In standard finish, the Transport goes for $10,400, the DAC for $5000, and the stand a weighty $2100. Jet Black finish bumps that total from $17,500 to somewhere around $21,000.