Ultima Pre 3 is Chord Electronics' all-new analogue preamplifier

Chord Electronics Ultima Pre 3
(Image credit: Chord Electronics)

Chord Electronics has just launched an all-new "ground-up-design" analogue preamplifier, the Ultima Pre 3. The new flagship preamp boasts an entirely fresh build both inside and out and benefits from the latest Chord Electronics preamplifier technologies, along with a striking new fascia design, all masterminded by the company’s founder-owner, John Franks. 

This is not a simple update to the company's second Ultima preamplifier, the 2020-launch Ultima Pre 2. Now including five analogue inputs, two balanced and three unbalanced, plus a separate AV bypass input, the company explains that all five of the Ultima Pre 3’s main inputs enjoy individual buffering and are selectively filtered against potential ingress from radio frequency interference. Selection switching is performed via sealed relays, controlled by microprocessors.

Chord Electronics Ultima Pre 3

(Image credit: Chord Electronics)

Externally, the Ultima Pre 3 sports a completely redesigned front panel too. The new fascia boasts a perfectly symmetrical design centred around a circular power on/off sphere, which uses the company’s familiar polychromatic indicator lighting for a clear and simple indication of the amplifier’s playing status. The power sphere is flanked by a newly designed combined volume and input selector, plus a combined balance and AV bypass control.

All casework is precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium, including the Integra legs – although should you prefer a black acrylic side-block alternative to said legs, this is also available as a no-cost option. The upper panel features a stylish vented design, enhanced by a dimmable LED light.

In addition to its five inputs, the Ultima Pre 3’s rear panel features both balanced and unbalanced outputs, a 12V trigger and IEC power inlet, plus a convenient 5 V/3 A USB Type-A output to power peripheral devices, including Chord Electronics’ DACs (such as the Chord Qutest and Chord Hugo 2).

Chord is quick to tell us that the new Ultima Pre 3 is perfectly suited to a wide range of power amps, naturally including its own excellent Ultima 5 stereo power amplifier, as well as its Ultima 2 and Ultima 3 monoblocks.

The hand-built Ultima Pre 3 is available to order now in either 'Jett black' or 'Argent silver', and if you happen to be in Germany, Chord says that the new preamp will make its European show debut at High End Munich, 2022.

Pricing? Of course. The UK recommended retail price is £6000, which is roughly $7499 or AU$10,510 before shipping and associated duties. 

Chord Electronics Ultima Pre 3

(Image credit: Chord Electronics)


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds. 

  • Combat
    I know that beauty is subjective but wow! This is one extremely ugly machine. Something that belongs in the early 2000s and not in a good way.