Morning Blu

I received a call a few mornings ago from Ken Davis from Brooks Berdan in Monrovia, California. He said he had a surprise for me: A Chord Blu Mk. 2. As far as I’m aware, Brooks Berdan is the first dealer to have a Blu MKII in their listening rooms. This highly anticipated device caused quite a stir as many of those who pre-ordered didn’t receive theirs for months due to a shortage and delays in the shipping of parts and chips. Some even canceled their orders. I personally side with the Chord on this one. If you believe in the products and the people behind them, you’re likely to be rewarded for your patience. Also, don’t kid yourself, you’re going to buy it anyway.

I told Ken, “I’m leaving now.” Naturally, I didn’t bother brushing my teeth and left for the listening room in my PJs. I ended up listening to the Blu2 (and BluDAVE) for a few more days, experimenting with different cables and tracks.

The hype around the Blu2 revolves around the Watts Transient Aligned (WTA) filter M-Scaler technology, which is applied to both external digital sources and media played with the Philips CD Pro 2 mech. Along with pre/post-ring reduction, there is also transient accuracy, and phase alignment improvements with the use of these WTA filters. Rob Watts, the brain behind most of Chord’s highly revered DACs, mentioned during the release of the DAVE that a million “taps” would enable digital streams to sound indiscernible from the original analog waveform. At the time, it seemed like a long-term goal with perhaps a few iterations to ramp up to a million taps. Instead, in less than 2 years after the DAVE’s release, we’re now at a million taps. Having heard the DAVE nearly every day since its inception, I couldn’t fathom things sounding appreciably better. Everything already sounded great and I was running out of itches to scratch.

Let’s take a look at Chord’s chronological tap improvements:

  • DAC 64 – 1,024 taps
  • QBD76 – 18,000 taps
  • Hugo / Chord Hugo TT / 2Qute / Mojo – 26,000 taps
  • Hugo 2 – 49,152 taps
  • DAVE – 164,000 taps
  • Blu Mk.2  – 1,015,808 taps

I’ve heard all of the components on this list and I could say there was a substantial improvement commensurate to tap-length. Better air, separation, transparency, and resolution.

How do these taps translate to better sound? I think the best analogy I could come up with is the “soap opera effect” that plagues so many TVs. When watching movies with the option turned on, a 24 frames-per-second movie is interpolated into a 60 frames-per-second video. It’s difficult for our brain to notice these artificially created frames and although everything looks more lifelike and smooth, I think it takes away from the enjoyment and fantasy of watching films. Audio, on the other hand, embraces this realism and audiophiles would love to perfectly recreate the missing pieces. Having a million of these registers/taps between two sample points on a 44kHz/16 bit source is supposedly close enough to “infinity” in the digital realm. Upscaling audio isn’t anything new but most implementations are rudimentary and sound contrived. The Chord Blu MKII presumably applies a holistic waveform algorithm to determine how those data points are generated (not just based upon a couple of sample points at a time) and with this, we should get the most analog digital sound EVER. Although the data points are technically artificially recreated, hopefully, what we hear is what we should’ve been hearing from our recordings.

 

Build & Features

  • Beautiful, precision machined Choral aluminum casing (Designed by John Franks). Very similar to the construction and finish of DAVE.
  • Upsampling could be turned off
  • The Chord Blu Mk. 2 could potentially draw up to 10 amps (!!)
    • Xilinix XC7A200T FPGA with 740 DSP cores, 215,360 logical gates, and 16 MB of memory
  • If you’re thinking about combining both Blu2 and DAVE, Chord has a sleek stand for purchase (starts at $2,500).
  • Digital signals could be sent via USB or S/PDIF
  • Using a single BNC cable affrods you:
    • 88.2 kHz
    • 176 kHz
    • 352.8 kHz
  • Using two BNC digital cables:
    • 176 kHz
    • 352.8 kHz
    • 705.6 kHz
    • 768 kHz
  • Dither works by introducing a small amount of noise to the original audio signal resulting in a perceived performance increase. If you hear a hissing sound when audio is not being played back, please try disengaging the dither switch. It also only works with 16-bit sources.
  • If you’re going BluDAVE, you may prefer to use the Chord DAVE remote to control both.

For more information please visit the product page. If you’re a nerd like me, here’s the manual.

Setup & Equipment

Tips

  • Removal of the CDs themselves isn’t the easiest but a notch is provided at the bottom side of the player. So unless you have jumbo fingers, should be a breeze. The guys at Brooks Berdan used a fancy CD lifter/suction device.
  • When shifting around digital cables, make sure DAVE is at the correct input. It takes 10-ish seconds for it to recognize the combined resolution of both cables.
  • The USB input is active at all times, even while on standby. This is unless a CD is being played. The only way to turn it off completely is via the rear panel switch.
  • Digital cables had a much larger impact on the sound quality vs USB. If you’re ballin’ on a budget, I would shift more funds to the digital cable.
  • When swapping out digital cables, you may want to mute your preamp. We had a few minor pops and clicks otherwise.
  • It’s recommended to use digital cables 1 meter or less. Using two cables to unlock the higher upscaling capabilities offers substantial improvements in sound quality.
  • I also surmise the streamer used matters less with the Blu2. The difference between the Auralic Aries and the SOtM trifecta were enormous, but regardless of how great the SOtM stack sounds, the Blu2 is far more impactful.
  • Dither Switch: This switch should be off unless you’re using a non-Chord DAC. When switched on, it’ll only use half the taps. One can use it as a built-in switch to help with the delay when playing video. With it on, there is less audio processing so audio delays with video are not as pronounced.
  • DSD/SACD: It converts native DSD (64 to 512) or handles DoP (64 to 256) and converts it to PCM with a 200 dB plus filter that eliminates all out of band distortion and noise from DSD. This supposedly sounds better than the DSD+ mode with DAVE. Filtering at this level is vital for a number of different reasons.

USB cables

  • Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB ($900)
    • Very high resolution, articulate, and leaner.
  • Purist Audio Design USB ($1,500)
    • Tonally dense, super fluid, smooth, and harmonious sound.
  • Danacable TruStream ($895)
    • Tone and timbre king. Rich and natural.

Analog cables

  • Audience AU24 SX RCA interconnects ($2,000)
    • Probably the best RCA ICs I’ve heard till date. Ultimate transparency, articulation, and soundstage.

Digital cables (will update as I test more cables)

  • Generic cables ($10)
    • Harsh and flat. Sharp and fatiguing.
  • Nordost Vahalla 2 ($3,299/meter)
    • Very fluid and airy. Fills the entire room.
    • Timbre and tone are superbly accurate
    • Larger image and much more atmospheric
    • Pristine and clear. You’ll get the ultimate level of resolution with this cable.
    • There’s a tightness on the brass and delineation
    • A natural sounding quiet background
    • More depth and layering.
    • Much more height and overhead dynamics.
  • Nordost LYR 2 ($1,499/meter)
    • Warmer and richer than the Vahalla 2
    • Not as transparent or detailed as the Vahalla 2 but very euphoric
    • Smooth and dense

Speakers – Magico S3 Mk II newly released – Cast Finish $28,000 – Coat Finish $32,000

  • The S3 Mk II nestles in between the S1 Mk II and S5 Mk II and features all of the advanced design elements of the S-Series Mk II models, including a new 9-inch bass driver, 1-inch Magico diamond-coated beryllium-diaphragm tweeter, a proprietary 6-inch driver using Multi-Wall carbon fiber and a layer of XG Nanographene. Made in California

Pre-amplifier – Jadis JP80MC Tube, – $19,900

  • This Flagship pre-amplifier features an oversized outboard power supply, one MM, one MC and four line inputs, and the ability to accommodate cartridges with very low impedance. Tube complement includes: 2 x ECC88, 6 x ECC83, 1 x EF86, 1 x EL84. Gain 20dB line level, 57 dB on MM phono and 84dB on MC phono. Bandwidth 20Hz – 50kHz. Weight 66 lbs. Made in France

Power Amplifiers – Jadis JA120 Tube Power Amplifiers, – $23,900

  • A push-pull mono-block pair which effortlessly cranks out 100 watts of pure class A power. The JA120 uses the newer, more powerful KT120 output tubes and an additional front end tube which adds more gain to the driver circuit. 100 watts.Tube complement for each amp is: 6 KT120, 2 12AU7, 1 12AX7, weight 99Lbs. Made in France

Digital DAC – Chord DAVE DAC – $11,288

Blu MkII CD Transport CHORD – $10,588

Chord DAVE/BLU Stand – $1895

Auralic Aries Streamer – $1,600

Performance

Compact Discs

I’ll be honest, I rarely touch physical discs. My entire collection was stolen from my car years ago and I never went back. That said, I was able to pick out a few familiar albums from Brook Berdan’s stash.

Shota Osabe Piano Trio – Willow Weep for Me

  • The bass plucks during the intro were so palpable and tactile. I didn’t know how good this recording was until I heard it on the BluDAVE.
  • With just the DAVE, the bass plucks just aren’t as organic or convincing. Leading edges of the piano also aren’t as clear. With the BluDAVE, you could almost imagine the fingers hitting the keys.
  • The BluDAVE was beautifully rhythmic, smooth, delicate, and every nuance is easily perceived. It truly sounds like a live performance.

Natalie Merchant – The Letter 

  • The BluDAVE is more dynamic and expansive. There are much more roundness and deliberation in her voice.
  • Piano just sounds absolutely superb on the BluDAVE.

Metallica – …and Just for All

  • Solo DAVE sounds a bit crowded and smeared. BluDAVE breaks apart the players and provides a very coherent and headbanging inducing experience. You’re able to hear the speed and force of the guitar.

Jimi Hendrix – Ultimate Experience – All Along the Watchtower

  • His guitar riffs just float across the room
  • Smooth, engaging, infinite depth, and ridiculous imaging
  • His voice sounds as smooth and real as ever
  • With the solo DAVE…it’s just not a Jimi Hendrix Experience. 🙁

This FPGA-based upsampling CD transport will take your CDs into another realm. It’s startling how lifelike these recordings sound. These filtering and upscaling algorithms are working some crazy magic on those bits. Everything just sounds more open and inviting.

TIDAL

Anette Askvik – Liberty

  • Effortless, supreme layering, especially the first 15 seconds, all that nuanced sound,
  • If the creaking door sound in the beginning of the track doesn’t startle you, you ain’t listening to a BluDAVE.
  • Her voice has gradations and dynamics cues I’ve never heard on any system. Palpable and sweet.
  • Makes me think “Are these really TIDAL streams over Wi-Fi?”
  • The background is naturally black. Some digital devices reduce the noise floor in an artificial way. I don’t get this with the BluDAVE.
  • There’s so much individualism with all the tidbits coming in and out of this song, her voice maintains composure on the Blu MK2. Every knock, exertion from the saxophone, her voice can’t get any smoother.
  • tip of the tongue. extension, dynamics, elevation is smooth. have to listen to the whole song. The harmony between two vocals and piano entry is just seamless. The saxophone has a natural incisiveness to the sound.
  • Solo DAVE:
    • Lacks a bit of tonal density and an enormous amount of depth.
    • The door creak doesn’t extend forward and back at nearly the same amount.
    • It’s sonically connected: there isn’t good individualism between the acoustic tidbits and her voice. Worse of all, her voice doesn’t have that same presence and body and air. Not to mention detail.
    • Saxophone falls flat, dynamics are lacking across the board. There’s this digital overlay over the entire sound. Just not as engaging.
    • There’s a lot more sonic smearing especially when the two voices overlap.
    • The background isn’t quiet, the tidbits get mixed in with music.
    • BluDAVE has much meat around the brass. Cymbals are in a tighter space and don’t shine naturally.
    • The solo DAVE loses control towards the end with the drum and sax, while the BluDAVE keeps things in line and remains musical throughout.
    • The DAVE dynamically hits a wall far in front of you but the BluDAVE has infinite acoustic headroom. The speakers and room disappear.

Marian Hill – Same Thing

  • I actually heard this song on a high-end vinyl rig. I’ve never heard a digital source reproduce her voice so smoothly and found it to be just as convincing as that rig.
  • That “ring” has this detail I didn’t know existed (perhaps…it doesn’t exist). This is interesting because a lot of these notes are synthesized via a keyboard but the Blu2, at this point, seems to be generating artificial elements. Notwithstanding this, it sounds incredible and made this track a lot more fun to listen to.
  • The BluDAVE takes what we think as “coherence” to another level. It takes it to the realm of reality.
  • I get no hints of digital with the BluDAVE. The snapping sounds eerily real.
  • The bass hits hard with a definition I didn’t know was in the recording (once again, might’ve been artificially generated).
  • Solo DAVE
    • I didn’t know the intro had this much depth and low-end detail. More mid-bass presence, better gradation, a realistically lingering decay. Is this artificial or real? I don’t know.
    • Piano decays never interfere with her vocals with the BluDAVE. It’s always in control. Solo DAVE loses its grip and sounds loose in comparison.
    • I’ve seen them live and yearn for some of that organic sound. With solo DAVE, it’s not quite there. With BluDAVE, I don’t think it could be any more analog sounding than that.
    • There’s low-end detail in the beginning that doesn’t even come close to that of the BluDAVE. Whether this was detail intended by the artist or not, it sounded great.
    • Vocals are a bit more forward on the solo DAVE.
    • Solo DAVE is flatter, fuzzier, narrower, and doesn’t have blacks as deep as the BluDAVE.

Eva Cassidy – People Get Ready

  • You could clearly hear the drummer’s position in the back with the guitarist towards the front. With DAVE, this isn’t at all apparent. BluDAVE adds an finite number of layers to the music.
  • There are a calmness and smoothness to the BluDAVE. An easy, effortless, and enjoyable listening experience.
  • Excellent individualism and separation. There’s no clashing between the players.
  • Tonally correct. Perfect timbre.
  • Floor to ceiling and front to back wall, BluDAVE just fills out the listening space in a natural and enveloping way.
  • She just sounds real, like a person standing there and not a recording.
  • Her emotion is conveyed in a very physical way. You could almost visualize her exertion.
  • Bass extension is much deeper and weightier.
  • Solo DAVE
    • Much less depth. Compressed dynamics.
    • When the climactic drums come in towards the end of the track (2:50), it doesn’t pull you in with just the DAVE. With the BluDAVE, you’re wide-eyed from the impact.
    • Her extension isn’t fully realized on the DAVE, It sounds like it gets attenuated and rolled off.
    • A bit of digital grain. The dips in her voice and minute gradations just don’t exist with solo DAVE.
    • Bass is extremely well controlled and detailed. Doesn’t sound like the same source vs DAVE.

Cannonball Adderley – You’re a Weaver of Dreams

  • Infinite depth and extension.
  • Bass plucks are very well defined. Just sounds real.
  • Realistic notes carry and decay properly into the acoustic space
  • Cymbals are lifelike. As real as it freakin’ gets.
  • Much more gradation, fast transients, quick and effortless. Streamed music benefits greatly from this technology.
  • Solo DAVE
    • The saxophone doesn’t extend its reach into the room. Stops short.
    • The BluDAVE warms up the sound of the DAVE, which was much-needed IMO.
    • DAVE tries to be real but BluDAVE embodies it by giving each player substance and a visceral physical presence.
    • DAVE doesn’t breathe nearly as freely as the BluDAVE
    • The tone and timbre of the sax are much better with BluDAVE. I didn’t even notice the piano in the back with the DAVE.
    • The imaging capability of the BluDAVE is so good…it sounds like a different recording on the DAVE.

Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love

  • Solo DAVE
    • Sonic smearing and fattier sound.
    • Poor delineation
    • Lacks roundedness
    • There’s a calmness, smoothness, lifelike nature of the BluDAVE
    • Recording vs lifelike to another level. It’s undeniable.
    • More congested while the BluDAVE is unequivocally unrestrained in all directions.

Candela – Buena Vista Club (live)

  • The crowd, in the beginning of the track, sounded so real.
  • Solo DAVE
    • Bass is very loose and bloaty.
    • Vocals have a bit of digital edge to them.

Thurman Green – Minor blue

  • Holistically relaxed
  • Every pluck of the bass is distinct and tactile
  • Fantastic timbre and tone.
  • Bass plucks, transitions, all coherent and seamless. You could hear the way the air comes out of the instruments and the physical effort made by the musicians.
  • Solo DAVE
    • Out the gate it lacks the roundness, body, and depth. The pieces of the sound disappear too quickly.
    • In comparison, it’s like a flat image vs something 3-dimensional.
    • Less dynamic, just doesn’t sound as lifelike.
    • Fuzzier background

O-Zone Percussions – Jazz Variants

  • Drums are quick and convincing
  • Reverb and decays are so accurate. It’s amazing.
  • Very rhythmic and clean with life-like articulation.
  • The individual metal jingles of the tambourine could be heard. I know it sounds crazy but…it is.

Come Fly With Me (Live at Sands) – Frank Sinatra

  • Never heard the reverb from the announcer before. Extends across a much larger space than I realized.
  • Coherence and tonal shadings are at a completely different and analog world.
  • Sounds like a real live performance.

Egyptian Fantasy – Bria Skonberg

  • All brass just breathes freely in articulate and musical fashion.
  • Bass plucks are extremely well delineated and realistically defined.
  • Solo DAVE
    • Doesn’t come close to the level of layering or depth, timbre, or articulation.
    • DAVE sounds quite compacted in comparison.
    • DAVE doesn’t give the instruments its own space to breathe.

Gregory Porter – God Bless the Child –  Be Good

  • Talk about being in the acoustic space. The DAVE falls flat but BluDAVE paints an entire picture of recording. Those reverbs don’t really exist on the DAVE while the BluDAVE trails so realistically.
  • There’s more critical musical information, nuance, and micro-details. You could hear how Gregory carries his voice with a smoothness and intricate detail that is otherworldly.
  • You’re able to visualize Gregory there from the sonorous sound of his voice.

Mozart & Beethoven: Violin Sonatas – Ji Young Lim – No. 21 in E Minor, K 304 II Tempo di Menuetto 6:11

  • The addictiveness of the accurate and deeper tonal density cannot be denied. All instruments have weight and balance. Piano notes are delicate and clean while the violin articulates with proper weight and vigor.
  • It’s really difficult for most systems to relay in this amount of layering.

Takeshi Inomata – Alone Together

  • Cymbals have so much presence and natural timbre and speed.
  • Sax is dead center, piano between far left and left forward on the right side. The imaging on the BluDAVE is incredible.
  • Repeated piano notes are coherent, delicate, and beautiful.
  • Drums have an unintrusive punch that doesn’t disturb the other instruments.
  • So much articulation and weight, density. detail, and speed.

Lamet – Youn Sun Nah

  • Drum smacks are delicate but carry intent and force. Sounds like something Bruce Lee would say.
  • Vocal exertion (seems to be the theme of the BluDAVE) is fully perceived. You could visualize her throwing her chest out while she belts out some of those notes.
  • Solo DAVE
    • The differences are stark. With just the DAVE, it sounds fine but less meaty and colored. Dave is flatter in the intro, but once her voice comes in, it’s a bit of a hot mess. Layering just isn’t there, lyrics aren’t comprehensible and there’s lots of bleeding across instruments. (sigh)
    • Her voice has obviously much less gradation and body. It’s not as coherent or separated. When the other instruments come in, her voice gets a little lost, and so do the details.
    • BluDAVE never loses control, although the difference in layering isn’t apparent until A/B. Mid-bass and lows are just more compelling.
    • Drums in the intro have a lot more snap, definition, and impact. It’s punchier and more granularly defined. One sounds perfect (BluDAVE), the other sounds like it needs help (DAVE). Topped with truly analog vocals and you have something extraordinary.

Chris Botti – When I Fall in Love

  • Having just heard him at the Hollywood Bowl, the BluDAVE reaffirms its capabilities with this track. You are teleported to the Boston Symphony Hall. The entire acoustic space is revealed and the amount of layering and air just blows the DAVE away. Listen to this track with the BluDAVE if you ever get the chance.

BluDAVE

The upscaler wasn’t built into the DAVE because of its enormous power requirements (10 amps). Although the Blu2 could be used with any DAC, there’s supposedly a sonic synergy when paired with the DAVE. There are also many DAVE owners who power speakers directly from their DAVE. It outputs 2 watts @ 8 ohms from its RCA jacks so work well with high-efficiency speakers like the Omegas, Zu Audio, and Voxativs. , the XLR outputs are not recommended for driving speakers as it has an output impedance of 33 ohms vs the RCA’s 50 milliohms. The extra amplifier stage also veils the sound a bit. I’m personally driving a pair of Omega CAMs with Audience AU24 SX RCA cables, HFC RCA plugs, and some Zenwave RCA adapters.

It was easy to A/B Blu2 vs BluDAVE during my listening sessions and it didn’t take long to realize how much weight the Blu2 is pulling. I thought the Blu2 would be the icing on the cake but it turns out to be the cake itself. The BluDAVE sounded better in every way versus solo DAVE. The differences weren’t subtle and I felt the performance was commensurate with the price of admission.

Here are the main improvements:

  •  Much freer sound field with limitless air and sonic reach. The DAVE sounds more congested, mechanical, and constrained within the z-axis.
  • With the right digital cable, you’ll get a stupid amount of resolution without sacrificing a natural tone. Surprisingly, the DAVE sounded quite fuzzy and smeared in comparison.
  • The contours of voices and instruments are much, much more apparent. Hard to believe, but with solo DAVE, it just sounds contrived and flat.
  • The amount of control the Blu2 had over the image cannot be understated. All actors are properly placed on the soundstage with the proper amount of delineation. I thought the DAVE did well until I A/B’ed. The DAVE lacks this level of control completely and there’s much more bleeding across voices and instruments. The Blu2’s imaging capabilities are world class and the best I’ve heard so far from any digital device. Please keep in mind these are relative differences. The DAVE is no slouch but…Blu2 is a game changer.
  • Depth. Holy crap. DAVE hits a wall in front and back much sooner. The Blu2 has free reign over the space and goes as deep as it needs to. DAVE sounds dynamically impaired in comparison.
  • BluDAVE is quite a few shades darker than solo DAVE. Not just that but it has details within those shades. It doesn’t just modulate the noise floor and become artificially quiet.
  • Warms up the sound of the DAVE in a complementary way. The DAVE has a bit more upper presence. BluDAVE is just more musical.

Bottomline: It just sounds like a completely different DAC and reproduced recordings with the most realism I’ve ever heard on any system.

Conclusion

As I’m writing this, I’m relistening to some of the tracks on my rig. Unfortunately, I’ve realized I won’t be able to reach “end-game” until I have a Chord Blu Mk. 2 in the chain. Including quality power and digital cables, we’re looking at around $15,000, which would make the Blu2 unobtainium for most. Given the financial outlay, maybe I could sell my car and take public transportation. I enjoy the DAVE, but the Blu2 completes me. <3 No wonder I’m still single. 🙁

During my listening sessions, I was reluctant to switch back to solo DAVE. How does one critique something that sounds so authentic, fluent, and captivating? It’s really difficult to remain objective when you’re constantly being pulled in by the music that surrounds you. Familiar tracks start to become unfamiliar in a refreshing way. It was in some ways therapeutic and mesmerizing at the same time. It’s unbelievable how good Tidal streams, even via WiFi, could sound. Some of the streamed tracks on BluDAVE sounded better than local files on my home rig with just solo DAVE. Poor recordings weren’t just palatable but fully rejuvenated. I doubt anyone could pass a blind test consistently if the BluDAVE were placed against a very well-configured turntable setup. If anything, the resolution of the Blu2 will probably give it away.

On that note, Brooks Berdan is hosting a “Digital vs Analog” event on September 23, 2017. There won’t be many setups that will allow for this comparison so it may be worth flying in for 😉

The Chord Blu Mk. 2 offers an unprecedented level of:

  • Organic resolution – Not in the hyper-detail sense but in a way we hear in an actual acoustic space or studio. Notes carry themselves and diffuse naturally and you hear every bit of it. So it’s not more “hi-res” in the artificial sense but a natural sense.
  • Physicality – I’ve repeatedly mentioned “exertion” while listening to these tracks. That’s a descriptor I’ve never used to describe what I hear from a sound system, but yet here it is. During a live performance, we could feel the amount of energy and access the physical capabilities of our favorite artists as they belt out a song or send air rapidly through a trumpet. The Blu2 recreates this sensation in a startling way. The listening room is constantly filled with this dimensional and musical tension. This tactility and delicacy also apply to the textural notes of instruments.
  • Depth – The Chord DAVE had the most depth I’ve ever heard from a DAC. The Blu2 breaks all the walls and the notion of depth doesn’t exist. It’s completely unrestrained as far as soundscape.
  • Percussive definition – I’ve gone through quite a few percussive tracks and boy…I’ve never heard such definition and power in kick drums, cymbals, tambourines, or bells with this much speed, impact, detail, and dynamics. It’s not tight, it’s not clean, it’s not brilliant. It just sounds real. Drum brushes, in particular, have an organic sound to them.
  • Intelligibility – Until I A/B’ed with DAVE, I didn’t fully realize exactly what the intended style, character, and “motivation” of these recordings were about or how emotionally involved the musicians were. With BluDAVE, you get a physical presence and individualism that provides clear and coherent delivery of artistic technique, whether it be the finger work on a saxophone or the way the bow slides across a violin.
  • Dynamics – I thought the DAVE was superbly dynamic. You won’t realize how dynamic some of these recordings are until you hear the BluDAVE. Even within softer passages, you hear every textural note, at the proper speeds and if a kick drum or saxophone were to enter, its power and weight are fully realized without interrupting the more relax portions of the recording. Its capabilities in this provide a sense of authenticity adds that extra layer of realism that is nonexistent on most systems.
  • Imaging & Focus- This is one of the standouts of the Blu2. It takes stage recreation into another stratosphere. Most of the systems I’ve heard have great depth and separating but the imaging seems a bit piecewise and contrived. With the Blu2, you don’t have to try to visualize the band in front of you. You know precisely where the drummer is and the movement of the vocalist as he/she walks across the stage. With the help of the thicker and more rounded tone of the BluDAVE, you’re even able to gauge the size of the players and feel like you could reach out to them. You just have to hear it. Seriously.
  • Tone & Timbre – Woodwinds, brass, percussion, duets, everything just sounds as it should.
  • Sonic control – Everything from the layering to imaging, to explosive dynamics, the Blu2 does in proper (oh so British) fashion.

If you want to listen to the Chord Blu MKII in an uncompromising listening room, the staff at Brooks Berdan are experts in optimizing room acoustics and voicing speakers. They also had one of the most well-treated rooms at the Los Angeles Audio Show 2017. If you can’t wait for the September event, give them a call and schedule an appointment to listen to the Chord Blu Mk. 2 for yourself. Don’t forget to bring your favorite CDs! I want to thank Sheila, Rick, Ken, and Tom for this amazing opportunity.

The Chord Blu MK. 2 is the embodiment of what all audiophiles are striving for: A compelling and accurate reproduction of the original recording. If you’ve canceled your order, I would reconsider. You get perfect resolution, tone, timbre, velvety contours, layering, infinite soundstage, and surreal imaging. There are always tradeoffs but with the Blu2, you get all the important pieces in one package. With the proper cables in place…there’s not a single thing I could knock it on. We’re usually “content” with our systems but deep down inside, we always feel there’s something missing. With the BluDAVE, this notion never crosses my mind at all. The Chord Blu MKII is perfect in so many ways. It is unequivocally a game changer for digital audio and is worthy of making Audio Bacon’s Finest Cuts.

Brooks Berdan 

110 W Olive Ave

Monrovia, CA 91016

(626)-359-9131

info@brooksberdanltd.com

brooksberdanltd.com