Chord Blu Mk. 2 M Scaler CD Transport Review – Digital Dressed in Analog
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.
Mr. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade. I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film. So much heart and soul (and money) go into the creation of this artistry. My aim is to find out which products get me closer to what the musicians and directors intended.