Chord Electronics Chordette Gem review

This isn't your conventional DAC, but rather aimed at laptop and music phone users who want to play music through their hi-fi Tested at £399

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It's great to see a specialist hi-fi company try something different. The Chordette Gem is a fine product


  • +

    An effective upgrade to computer or music phone sound through your hi-fi

  • +

    great build and finish


  • -

    A shame there are no traditional optical or coax inputs

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Whoever said that DACs had to be boring-looking, basic boxes, clearly never told Chord.

With the Chordette Gem, the company has come up with a design that not only looks space-aged, but also boasts high tech features like Bluetooth. What's more, it sounds great.

This is a development from the previous Gem: it benefits from the inclusion of ‘APT-X': a new Bluetooth technology that's expected to pop up on all sorts of mobile devices in the very near future.

Standard A2DP devices will continue to work with the Gem as before, but you can already buy a range of Sennheiser dongles to make your current device APT-X enabled.

Connecting the Gem to a laptop wirelessly (with help from one of those APT-X dongles) brings audio quality extremely close to that you get from its USB socket – which is, to say, brilliant.

Detailed, delicate and subtle
There's punch and attack from the lowest bass to highest treble, and it's never bullied into brightness. If all this talk of attack suggests this is a blunt instrument, it's not: the Chord is detailed, delicate and subtle, conveying the ebb, flow and emotion of all recordings.

This nippy DAC isn't for everyone, of course: it's pricier than many comparable devices, and if you don't want the Bluetooth functionality, you may feel you're not going to get your money's worth.

Moreover, owners of more traditional coaxial and optical devices are overlooked entirely.

But essentially, that's the point; the Chordette Gem is not designed for the traditional; it's designed for the future. And as long as the future sounds like this, we're all for it.

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