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This review first appeared in the May 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Chord Company Indigo Plus & Signature Plus in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or the Chord Company. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
Review system: Go here
Review component retail: 4629 zł (1 m) + 3750 zł (2 x 3 m) respectively

Unless I am mistaken, this is the first Polish review, at least for a long time now, of cables by The Chord Company. Usually wrongly associated with the electronics manufacturer Chord Electronics, this company is one of those British outfits which still believe in the audiophile ethos of not tagging their products with outrageous but economically justified prices. However, this does influence their aesthetics a tad. While the cables look solid -- no problem there -- they could not be considered jewelry. Companies like Oyaide and Acrolink pursue a similar path and are engineering driven as well. In the cable sector, that's quite rare.

Because I didn't know Chord from Adam, I decided to first look at their most expensive models (there is an even more expensive one coming) to see what they have to offer. I received the Indigo Plus interconnect and Signature Plus loudspeaker cable. The former runs an indigo-colored plastic mesh and indigo Acrylic plug barrels and two separate legs that connect close to the plugs which Chord fabricates especially for this cable. The conductors are silver-plated copper strands with a separate ground. The Signature Plus is a twisted pair design tied together at the ends with aluminum yokes. The conductors are nine copper strands each insulated in foamed polyethylene. Both cables look fine but competitors do it better. Because I needed two interconnects (CDP to preamp to amp), I asked for two Indigo Plus pairs.

Discs used for the review: Christian Willisohn, Hold On, Stockfisch 357.4038.2, SACD/CD | Danielsson/Dell/Landgren, Salzau Music On The Water, ACT 9445-2, CD | Milt Jackson Sextet, Invitation, Riverside/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2031, SACD/CD | Clora Bryant, Gal With a Horn, Mode Records/Muzak, MZCS-1137, CD | Kenny Burrell, Soul Call, JVCXR-0210-2, XRCD2 | Bennie Green, Walkin'&Talkin', Blue Note/EMI Music Japan, RVG, TOCJ-7194 | Frank Sinatra, Only The Lonely, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 792.
Comparing the Indigo to my Wireworld Gold Eclipse2 was extremely interesting. The Chord turned out to be the more open cable in the treble and upper midrange. It also seemed more resolved in general and the lower bass in particular. This held true also against the XLO Limited. Actually, it most resembled the Acrolink 7N-D2500. While the Japanese competitor distinguishes better timbres, the Chord's sonic character follows the Acrolink rather than the two others. Being a silver cable, the Wireworld is interesting and should be brighter in theory. Yet similar to their power cables, the silver Gold Electra2 sounded much darker than the less expensive silver-plated copper Silver Electra2. The Gold Eclipse2 was darker too as though recessed in the treble. The Indigo Plus is different. It seems to have a sub 1kHz suck-out in the midrange to affect male voices. With the Wireworld and XLO (and also the Tara Labs ISM The 0.8) vocals like Willisohn's from Hold On were deeper, smoother and a bit darker but more velvety. And still things seemed inferior with those cables than the Chord. Why?

I think that the ability to draw out sounds, to define them against the background is better with the Chord. Only the Tara Labs goes further still, maintaining the assets of the Wireworld but adding the Chord's resolution. The Acrolink goes deeper into the recording but for its price, the British interconnect offers a unique ability to open up the system. The beautifully recorded instruments on Salzau Music On The Water with Lars Danielsson on bass sounded incredibly natural. The instruments, surroundings, bird sounds, creaks of the wooden platform on which the recordings took place ... all those sounds were more alive and realistic with the Indigo. The Wireworld and XLO rounded off the edges and warmed up the sound. In addition, the Limited 'pumps up' everything above the lower midrange. The Wireworld emphasizes the midrange and lower midrange. This gives a nice full stage and smooth sound but moves the happenings further away from us compared to the Chord and Acrolink. That's not in terms of measurable distance -- the Chord shows everything a bit closer -- but reality (whatever we understand by that in terms of perception).

The connection of preamplifier to power amplifier should be comparable to the one between player and preamplifier in the electrical sense. They can differ in voltage but the rest still depends on the respective input and output impedances of the devices. In practice however, different cables behave differently in those junctions. That's why I use the Wireworld or XLO between the CD player and preamplifier, the Velum NF-G SE between preamplifier and power amp. The latter is an old cable but better than the others. Only the Harmonix HS-101GP, Tara Labs and Acrolink showed that it soon needs to retire. Due to its attractive price however, the Velum is still in place. Comparisons with the Chord showed that regardless of how fantastic the British cable might be, it still was limited. Though precise and resolving, it lacked the Velum's saturation of the lower midrange. I did not regard this as a shortcoming on the CD player because it was offset by the splendid resolution and instrumental presence of the Indigo Plus. The Velum is special in that regard (not the best but still impressive). It's why changing to the Chord was not fully justified.

The Velum also plays with stronger, more impressive bass. Anticipating the facts, I will say that this held true also for the loudspeaker cable. While the Polish LS-G loudspeaker cable showed certain flaws against the Signature Plus, the Velum interconnect fared better in direct comparison to the Chord. This does not mean that the Indigo won't prove itself in the pre/power connection. I am only saying that it has limitations one should consider. This may not be fair of course. The Velum interconnect is twice the cost of the Chord and the Velum loudspeaker cable four times more. Still, I needed to compare the Chord against something and it is always better to look up and at superior things. Listening to the Chord against less expensive products like the Wireworld Equinox 52, it was clear that the resolution of the British cable is simply splendid indeed. And its slight lack of midrange saturation holds true also for other cables.