'Bling' isn't a word frequently applied to CD players. Even top-end models usually have styling that makes a post box look extravagant.
Chord's One Integrated CD player is an exception, particularly if you opt for the dark-chrome finish. That finish adds £500 to the already hefty price: our review sample is in standard satin silver and still looks pretty flash.
Nothing else at this price feels so solid, and equally, little comes close to matching Chord's imaginatively stylish top-panel machining. It might not make this player sound better, but the company has made a great design statement.
The One is small, at 11 x 34 x 17cm, so looks lost on equipment racks. We suspect most will partner this player with the matching amplification from Chord's Choral range, and use the company's dedicated rack.
Plenty of features for a high-end player
Features are well up to high-end player standards: there are balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs and all the number-crunching is performed by 24-bit/192kHz DACs.
The One has all the resolution and dynamics we'd expect from Chord product. Insight into the War of the Worlds OST is well beyond that of even the best two-grand machines. Dynamics are vivid, and there's enough punch to keep 50 Cent fans happy too. Add impressive authority and breath-taking agility into the mix, and the One becomes a serious performer.
It needs some pampering for these results, though: use the balanced outputs and a specialist mains leads (such as van den Hul's Mainsstream) to deliver that extra bit of refinement.
Even then the One isn't flawless: its top-end is a little thin, so partner it carefully. Timing isn't quite as fluid as the best at this price, either.
There are better players for three grand, but none of them look like this.