The Chord Company... Moving sound and vision. The Chord Company, based near the cathedral city of Salisbury in the UK, has been making high quality audio cables for the past 25 years.
One of the most critical aspects of any Hi-Fi system is the cabling that’s used. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on the electronics in a system, if you don’t give the same care and attention to the cabling, then it will be the cabling that holds the system back.
This is why The Chord Company introduced the Chord Sarum Tuned ARAY cable range, with the primary aim of making Hi-Fi speaker cables, interconnects and power cables that could be used to achieve the ultimate in Hi-Fi performance. Sarum, named after the ancient hill fort located to the north of the city of Salisbury called Old Sarum, signified at its launch, the biggest innovation in audio cabling in the past 20 years.
But now Chord have taken things to the next level with the introduction of Sarum Super ARAY, which takes all that made the Sarum Tuned ARAY cables so special and seemingly removes yet another layer of noise, revealing a startling new level of musical detail.
However, revealing all the detail there is means nothing if it’s not delivered coherently. This is where Sarum Super ARAY really makes its mark, as it delivers coherence which makes all the extra detail not just easy to hear but easy to listen to as well. It adds dramatically to the sense of performance with an ease and naturalness that makes listening to music a pleasure for hours on end. It’s a stay up late cable!
What’s undergone a real change is the move from Tuned ARAY to Super ARAY technology. After a lot of experimentation, they have been able to add a second ARAY to the existing Tuned ARAY design. The tuning process is very different and the end result is a big step forward in performance.
Insulation is a critical part of the Chord Sarum Super ARAY’s success; this is achieved by choosing PTFE as the main insulator within the Sarum range. PTFE is used extensively throughout Chord’s cables, it has an extremely low dielectric value and its use is critical when employing silver-plated conductors. The PTFE insulation used in Sarum SA goes a step further, as both interconnects and power cables employ foamed PTFE insulation, whereas the speaker cable uses air-spaced PTFE. In both cases, this produces an extremely effective insulation with a very low dielectric value.
The shielding of the Chord Sarum Super ARAY range is also a key to its performance. The existing shield designs featured in the rest of the Chord range were revisited, refined and improved; the shields fitted to Sarum cables offer the highest degree of signal protection available.
Sarum SA interconnects and mains cables are fitted with a single over wrap of very heavy gauge silver-plated foil in combination with an extremely dense silver-plated flat braid. Because of its unusually heavy gauge, the silver-plated foil is technically challenging to apply, but when combined with the more conventional silver-plated braid, the results are exceptional. The shielding offers a higher level of protection than any Chord cable has previously achieved and at the same time produces a flexible cable that is simple to install.
Sarum speaker cable is fitted with an outwardly simple but technically complex shielding system. Once again, silver-plated heavy gauge foil is used, but in the case of Sarum speaker cable the foil is applied as a flat woven braid around the PTFE insulation. This complex foil shield is then over braided with a more conventional but extremely dense silver-plated braid, producing a shield with 100% coverage to extremely high frequencies.
The Super ARAY power cable conductor geometry was developed just as Chord started work on new UK mains and IEC plugs and these are the plugs that are fitted to the final version. The mains plug features silver-plated contacts that are plated to Chord’s specification and the plug casing has been modified to allow them to fit a pair of silicon spacers to control and damp vibration. The IEC plug has also been fitted with heavier silver-plated gauge contacts.
The conductors are the same as the ones used on the original Sarum and then Sarum Tuned ARAY power cable; what’s changed is the way that the new Super ARAY conductors are fitted. This involves the fitting of an ARAY chamber and extensive internal re-working. The strongest visual clues though are the new plugs.
After development with us here at Cymbiosis, Chord have also created a special Sarum Super ARAY mains cable to be used with Linn Klimax systems.
It was discovered here at Cymbiosis, that the original Sarum TA mains lead was too big to fit without clashing with the Klimax casework. Because of this, you can now specify your Sarum SA mains cable with either the standard IEC plug or a slimline version perfect for Klimax equipment. And the benefits it brings are truly outstanding!
Sarum speaker cable is based on the award winning Chord Signature speaker cable. The same twisted pair, in combination with the low resistance, heavy gauge, multi-stranded conductor configuration, is used on both cables. However, Sarum speaker cable uses heavily silver-plated, polished, high purity copper conductors and the foamed polyethylene insulation used on Signature is replaced with air-spaced PTFE.
Sarum speaker cable is terminated with an upgraded, heavily plated, 24-carat gold version of the tried and tested 4mm Chord banana plug.
On its own it seems to bring so much control and definition, but used with Tuned ARAY interconnects you just forget about the speakers, the cables and the electronics and get caught up in the music.
The technical advances made during the development of the Sarum interconnect make it one of the most flexible and compatible high-performance interconnect cables available. Sarum interconnects can be configured and terminated with RCA/phono plugs, Din plugs and XLR plugs to match any specification. The Sarum interconnect works best when left to hang freely and not under tension.
One of the biggest developments in the use of Sarum came when Peter here at Cymbiosis began to experiment with using Sarum TA interconnects directly into Linn’s flagship Urika phonostage on an LP12. This yielded a massive improvement in the performance of the Urika and took the LP12 to a whole other level. Because of the design characteristics of the outer sheathing on the Sarum TA interconnect, The Chord Company have developed a special version of the RCA – RCA interconnect designed specifically for the Urika. This development has also opened a whole world of possibilities for Sarum SA and the LP12, and Peter has been instrumental in providing feedback and design support in developing this new addition to the Sarum Super ARAY range.
As a by-product of the Chord Sarum project, Chord have also developed a set of specially designed links for many bi-wire loudspeakers. Sarum speaker links take design cues from other Sarum cables and employ the same extraordinary shielding that is used on Sarum speaker cables.
Sarum speaker links are the perfect way to complete a Sarum connected system when compared to the standard links and offer a remarkable improvement, particularly across the higher frequencies. Chord bi-wire links work perfectly with speakers such as the Kudos Titan 808 Reference loudspeaker.
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