Chord C-screen

FOR Full-bod­ied, warm and ex­pres­sive; fan­tas­tic tim­ing AGAINST Some ri­vals can of­fer greater de­tail and space

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There is no ever­last­ing au­ton­omy in hi-fi. Like em­pires, all who rise will surely some­day fall. But the Chord Com­pany’s clean sweep of speaker ca­ble and ana­logue in­ter­con­nect Awards last year, two of which it has held since 2015, sug­gests the time for change is not quite nigh.

Cer­tainly, this Cscreen speaker ca­ble, a more af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive to Chord's cel­e­brated Clear­way, isn’t the one that will break the chain of five-star re­views.

Mone­tary sav­ings, how­ever, are not ac­com­pa­nied by a re­duced level of tech­nol­ogy or care on the Chord Com­pany’s part. Its spec­i­fi­ca­tions are sim­i­lar to speaker ca­bles closer to the top of the hi­er­ar­chy.

Fash­ion­able jacket

It has a thin­ner di­am­e­ter than the Clear­way – 7mm com­pared with 10.5mm – but oth­er­wise looks much the same, fin­ished with the white outer jacket that has be­come the com­pany’s sig­na­ture aes­thetic.

Be­neath that, the Cscreen fea­tures what Chord Com­pany de­scribes as multi-stranded oxy­gen-free cop­per con­duc­tors, in­su­lated with low-den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene and ar­ranged in a twisted-pair con­fig­u­ra­tion to re­duce in­ter­fer­ence.

The white outer wraps a PVC cas­ing de­signed to re­duce me­chan­i­cal noise and space said con­duc­tors cor­rectly.

So what is all of that in to­day’s money? Essen­tially it trans­lates to a recog­nis­able Chord Com­pany per­for­mance, favour­ing co­he­sion and mu­si­cal per­for­mance over out­right anal­y­sis.

We run it through two sep­a­rate sys­tems: one our ref­er­ence kit com­pris­ing a Naim NDS/555PS streamer, Ga­mut D3i/d220i amps and ATC SCM 50s; and a more fi­nan­cially ap­pro­pri­ate team of Cyrus CDI, Rega Elex-r amp and ATC SCM11 speak­ers. De­spite the dis­crep­an­cies in the rest of the chain, the Cscreen’s ef­fects upon each are pleas­ingly the same.

Emo­tional sound

We play Manch­ester Or­ches­tra’s achingly beau­ti­ful A Black Mile To The Sur­face and the glow­ing warmth and one­ness of each mu­si­cal strand is lus­cious, full of body and wrought with emo­tion.

Buoyed by gush­ing har­monies, Andy Hull’s vo­cals are held tight to the rest of the ar­range­ment, but given due promi­nence and all of the ex­pres­sion they de­serve.

The way each sys­tem times when linked by the Cscreen is also ev­i­dent. Tracks such as The Gold, which is char­ac­terised by its drive, are held to­gether like superglue, but with­out ever sound­ing me­chan­i­cal.

Grip­ping

These as­sets have had us bow­ing to Chord Com­pany in re­cent years, in par­tic­u­lar its fo­cus on mu­si­cal­ity over all else, but there is also a wor­thy amount of de­tail to be dug out from its equally tal­ented part­ners in this set-up.

Some ri­vals sound cleaner, more spa­cious and of­fer more in­sight into tex­ture and aux­il­iary lines, but none holds so tight a grip on the char­ac­ter of the mu­sic they’re play­ing. To say it’s a depart­ment in which the Cscreen is es­pe­cially lack­ing would be ex­tremely harsh.

Best at this price

There are rea­sons you may not opt for the Cscreen. If you place more worth on space and de­tail, for ex­am­ple, QED’S XT25 would see you right in that re­gard. If your sys­tem al­ready sounds overly warm, you may also pre­fer a ca­ble that won’t add to that. Or per­haps your bud­get stretches fur­ther – in which case the Clear­way is an ob­vi­ous step up for £10 per me­tre.

But there is no deny­ing that this is another class-lead­ing ca­ble to add to Chord Com­pany’s arse­nal. What it does well, it does bet­ter than any­thing else we’ve heard at this price.

“A recog­nis­able Chord Com­pany per­for­mance, favour­ing co­he­sion and mu­si­cal per­for­mance over out­right anal­y­sis”

C-screen is a thin­ner, more flex­i­ble ca­ble than the Award-win­ning Clear­way

Take care to con­nect the ca­ble in the right di­rec­tion

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