Chord Electronics announces Ultima, its ‘most accomplished’ amplifier yet

Chord Electronics has launched a new flagship amplifier, comprising a preamp and two mono power amplifiers (all £30,000 each) and featuring the first all-new design in three decades. 

The Ultima’s technology is originally based on a technical paper by Dr Malcolm J Hawksford (emeritus professor at Essex University) that was later refined by Bob Cordell of Bell Labs, and has been developed and advanced by Chord Electronics’ owner and chief designer John Franks. 

The Ultima preamp utilises dual-mono construction with separate power supplies for each channel. Each power supply is surrounded by aluminium shielding to prevent interference, as is the volume, balance and EQ controls.

Connectivity includes three pairs of balanced outputs and three unbalanced outputs as well as four balanced (with gain adjustment) and four unbalanced inputs. There’s also a  front-panel headphone jacks, and balanced AV bypass circuitry allows for direct connection to AV processors. 

The mono amplifier uses new circuit topology - the first completely new design since the company supplied its first customer, the BBC, in 1989. 

Chord’s new dual-feed-forward error-correction amplifier technology was first implemented in the Etude power amp that the company launched at the Munich High End Show, and has now been incorporated into a mono design. Chord Electronics’ MOSFETs (transistors) are continuously monitored with output stage error-correction circuitry.

Each 86kg mono amp delivers 780 watts into 8 ohms (or 1,400 watts into 4 ohms or 2,500 watts into 2 ohms).

A seven-day hand-built job at the company’s Kent factory, its aircraft-grade aluminium casework features an Integra Leg system, allowing for stacking with other full-size Chord Electronics products, such as the Dave DAC, when used with a dedicated Chord stand.

Both the Ultima preamp and Ultima mono amps cost £30,000 each and are available now.

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.