Chord trickles down flagship Ultima tech to new mono power amps

Chord trickles down flagship Ultima tech to new mono power amps

Late last year, Chord Electronics announced a new £90,000 flagship amplifier, comprising a preamp and two mono power amps – all based on its Ultima technology that took three decades to develop.

Today, at its High End Munich 2019 press conference, the British brand has announced two more affordable mono power amps based on that same tech, the 750-watt Ultima 2 (£18,360 each, below) and 480-watt Ultima 3 (£11,000 each, above) – both available now. The Ultima 2 replaces the SPM 6000 MKII in Chord's amp line-up, while the Ultima 3 acts as a successor to the SPM 1400 MKII.

The two additions, which arrive alongside a brand-new phono preamp that has also been launched today as part of Chord’s 30-year anniversary celebrations, see the Ultima topology trickle down to a new price point.

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

Its all-new circuitry features an ultra-low-distortion, high-voltage amplifier operating at high speed (300 volts per microsecond), with proprietary transistors continuously monitoring ad correcting output stage errors.

As a result of the design allowing Chord’s custom-designed output transistors to perform well, the company heralds Ultima its most accomplished amplifier design.

The mono power amps’ aircraft-grade solid aluminium casework - available in a choice of 'Jett Black' or 'Argent Silver' finishes - is complemented by an aircraft-grade aluminium fascia, which is enhanced by a 28-mm thick front panel and decorated by a familiar spherical polycarbonate power button that illuminates for standby and operation modes. A discreet switch in the split line of the front panel enables the light to be dimmed.

At the opposite end are balanced and unbalanced connections and loudspeaker terminals.

The chassis’ side blocks (which Chord calls the ‘Integra Leg system’ allow for the stacking of various other Chord Electronics products when using the dedicated Choral Ensemble stand.


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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.