New Chord Company USB SilverPlus

Responding to demand from computer audiophiles requesting a Chord quality USB cable, the USB SilverPlus launches with no pretensions to technical supremacy through advanced materials or unique construction techniques. It does however benefit from twenty years’ experience in designing cables that make a real difference.

USB SilverPlus is based on the technical understanding and empirical experience that developing successful cables bring.

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New Chord HDMI Active

To follow the success of Chord’s award-winning HDMI Silver Plus, and the recently introduced, performance-on-a-budget HDMI SuperShield, was always going to be an interesting challenge. Chord considers that they have ridden the bucking bronco of performance and have produced a refined thoroughbred that will enhance the viewing pleasure of the enthusiast – the new HDMI Active. Interestingly, the most significant improvements with the HDMI Active are the sound quality of the new cable.

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ASIO v K Mixer v Kernel Streaming

Computer audio seems to generate emotions when discussing what products to use that really are odd. Ideally one would take a computer, connect a good DAC and play one’s favourite music using one’s favourite app.

If only it were that simple. The more I experiment the more I realise that CA is absolutely similar to analog audio or indeed any audio when taken seriously. Every change is audible.

Of course, just because a change is audible doesn’t mean it matters.

The expression bandied about on forums about Computer Audio is bit transparent. The theory is simple: it’s getting the bits from the Hard Drive out of the computer without them being manipulated/changed in any way.

I’ve tried many music playing apps and they all seem to sound subtly different. Even different releases of iTunes are reported to sort different. Life is far to short to bother to try different releases. As they say tried it once and didn’t like it.

For convenience for quick playback I tend to use VLC www.videolan.org. It seems to play almost everything audio and video and can even stream stuff over my network. It works well for Radio Paradise too.

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Another DacMagic power supply trial

Decided to use Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but slightly more unusually the DVD-A rip so the source is 24/96. Unlike quite a few DVD-A’s this one appears to have some content above 22k. Amazing though that given the total available dynamic range they still needed to ‘clip’ the recording. Still sounds rather good though.
To start I compared the standard power supply with the MaplinL54BR. Pleasant surprise, the Maplin delivers a subtlety of delivery that doesn’t emphasise any particular instruments. The original in comparison seems to make the bass line and the hi-hat a little more obvious in the mix of Dreams and decreases the importance of Stevie Nick’s voice.

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Ripping and Computer Audio

The two subjects of CD Ripping and Computer Audio seem to be the most contentious around in the world of audio now. Theory one, is that it’s possible to get good sound from a computer feeding a DAC. The debate tends to be as much around whether a Mac is better than a PC as a source as which DAC is ideal. The general feeling seems to be that a Mac Book with a DAC costing around a £1k is cable of delivering better sound that a serious or very serious CD Player. I agree a Mac and a DAC is cable of delivering a very good sound – but not a great one.

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HDMI cable silences my listening room

The experiment was to move the PC outside my listening room and then to use a 5m Chord HDMI and 5m USB cables to control and monitor the PC.
The worry was running a good monitor at 1920 by 1200 over a 5m HDMI cable. Would the image quality be reduced? The image was absolutely fine and so much so that I temporarily tried a 10 m cable which worked just as well.

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