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