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Chord Electronics announces ULTIMA integrated amplifier

  • Chord Electronics isn’t announcing any new DACs or headphone amplifiers at this year’s Munich High-End show. On the table instead is a new high-end integrated amplifier, the UK company’s first in seven years.

    The all-new ULTIMA integrated features tech from Chord’s similarly-named range of power amplifiers. Loudspeaker output says hello at 125wpc into 8 Ohms. Line level inputs number four – one balanced and three unbalanced (plus an AV bypass) – and all inputs are shielded against the intrusion of RFI. Input switching is handled by micro-processor controlled relays and the internals feature “low distortion power supplies” plus designer John Franks’ “dual feed-forward error correction”, which monitors and immediately corrects signals before they reach the output stage.

    From the press release: “The new ULTIMA INTEGRATED shares the same all-new 28-mm-thick front panel seen in John Franks’ recently introduced ULTIMA PRE 3 preamp. The new frontage offers a perfectly symmetrical aesthetic, centered on a spherical power on/off control which uses the company’s familiar polychromatic (dimmable) lighting, giving a clear and simple indication of the amplifier’s playing status. The power sphere is flanked by a newly designed combined volume and input selector, plus a combined balance and AV bypass control.”

    Going deeper on ULTIMA’s feedforward error correction, the algorithm was developed by one Dr Malcolm J Hawksford, refined by Bell Labs’ Bob Cordell and then levelled-up by Chord’s John Franks.

    How does it work? As the input signal travels through the amplifier’s circuitry, imperfections like component quirks can introduce small amounts of distortion. Feed-forward error detection pinpoints that distortion by comparing what would be the output signal to the input signal in order to generate an error signal. This error signal is then subtracted from the input signal before it gets another shot at journeying through the amplifier.

    Back to the press release: “Franks’ advanced error-correction topology, which monitors and immediately corrects signals before the output stage, is key to the four-input ULTIMA INTEGRATED, and offers astonishing signal accuracy for unrivalled fidelity from a one-box integrated device.”

    All of ULTIMA’s metalwork, including its ‘Integra’ Legs, is precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium. Your choice of Jet Black or Argent Silver finishes. Pricing comes in at £8,500. Shipping begins in September. Made in the UK.

    Further information: Chord Electronics

    Technical specifications:

    • Output power: 125 W into 8 Ω
    • Frequency response: 10 Hz-200 kHz +/- 3 dB
    • Input impedance: 100 kΩ
    • Input maximum voltage: 3 V RMS (single-ended)
    • Output maximum voltage: 35 V RMS
    • Channel separation: 100 dB
    • Operation voltage: 80-250 V AC auto-switching
    • Power consumption: 200 W

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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