Chordette MX Series TX headphone amp Chord Electronics

Chordette MX Series TX headphone amp Chord Electronics
Chord Electronics
Chordette MX Series TX headphone amp
hord Electronics has expanded its ‘boutique’
Chordette range to include the new MX Series,
which comprises four units closely based on
their Chordette siblings and featuring sleek, squared-off
casework with clean lines and sporting a new Chordette
logo. Chordette components are about 6in long, but
perform to a similar standard as Chord’s full-sized
components. They can be stacked on a portable ‘carry’
system and can even be supplied in a variety of
high-quality finishes, including a luxurious,
no-compromise gold plate, if bling is your thing.
One of these four units is the Chordette MX Series TX
headphone amplifier here. This is an advanced
headphone amplifier fitted with both balanced and RCA
phono switchable inputs, plus a high-quality USB input.
This USB input is to enable a personal computer to be
used as an additional signal source for the headphone
amplifier by feeding digital music directly into the TX
internal DAC, which is a really great feature. The TX also
has a pair of headphone outputs to enable two people to
use the amp and listen simultaneously. Power for the TX
comes from the supplied 12V 0.6A ‘wall-wart’ switchedmode power supply.
Hey good looking
Physically, the TX is beautifully made and, as you might
expect from Chordette, quite minimalist in design. The
review sample I had was finished in silver and looked
very smart indeed. As the unit is physically on the small
side, it should be easy to situate it next to your main
amplifier without it looking out of place.
The TX has an impressive specification with a quoted
frequency response of 20Hz–200kHz, a dynamic range
of 112dB and a THD+N: 0.06%. The internal USB
2.0-compliant DAC is 0.006% THD and supports
44.1/48 kHz sampling. This certainly looks good on
paper, but how does it perform in practice?
completely collapses and the lower registers are
somehow shifted to the left!
The inclusion of a USB port means that the TX can be
connected to the USB port of a personal computer and
will be recognised as another audio device by the
operating system. Any music played on the computer
will be digitally decoded and then converted to a hi-fi
quality signal by the TX DAC for playback, without
going anywhere near the computer’s sound card.
Comparing the sound from the computer’s sound card
with the TX, is little contest. The TX is streets ahead of
the PC as you might expect – and the audio quality from
the sound card is flat, lifeless and dull in comparison
with the superior sound from the TX when playing CD
quality 16/44 WAV files. There’s no doubt that this is a
genuine piece of hi-fi and listening to it ticks all the
right boxes – great imaging, taut and extended bass and
crisp treble.
Connecting the RCA phono inputs of the TX to a
Squeezebox Touch makes a very happy partnership that
results in a bright and detailed performance across the
musical spectrum. The listener gets to feel involved with
the music in that very personal way that headphone
listening offers.
Price: £900
£2,400 (gold)
01622 721444
Our verdict
Must-have accessory
This is a lovely piece of kit that offers real audiophile
quality without taking up too much space in your hi-fi
rack. Whether you want to fork out the extra £1,500 for
a gold finish is entirely a matter of personal taste, but
the TX represents a great value hi-fi headphone
amplifier in the standard finishes and will benefit any
system that can only offer an all-too-common
sub-standard headphone facility or indeed, none
whatsoever. NR
Sound quality
We get off to a great start with the TX phono inputs
connected to the output of a preamp and a pair of
Sennheiser HD580 headphones. With good quality vinyl
source material, a full orchestra is reproduced with all
the splendour and presence I was hoping for, with plenty
of life apparent at both extremes of the audio spectrum.
Solo instruments are positionally well defined inside my
head and also have great clarity and credibility. Jazz
recordings, meanwhile, are conveyed with all the
atmosphere and style of that genre – there is a sense that
they are playing to you personally.
The TX also incorporates a ‘Crossfeed Network
Selection’ switch on the front. Chord states that this
serves to provide a more coherent soundstage for “an
enhanced listening experience”. Sorry, Chord – not with
my headphones it doesn’t! This feature, in common with
more filters and tone controls, is best left in the off
position. When turned on, the depth to the sound stage
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