Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022) review

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. Updated metal plugs make this interconnect perform that bit better Tested at £125/m / $140/m approx / AU$218/m

Stereo interconnect: Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022)
(Image: © Chord Company)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It’s only a small update, but the performance gains make the extra outlay for this already-excellent cable worth it

Pros

  • +

    Delivers a more open, nuanced and crisper performance

  • +

    Great sense of timing and dynamics

  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Works with a wide range of kit

Cons

  • -

    Small update over previous version

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There’s been a trend of products not updating their name even though they’ve had significant revisions in the new model. The new 2022 generations of Focal Utopia and Apple AirPods Pro come to mind as the most recent examples, and Chord Company has followed suit with its new 2022 edition of the multiple award-winning Clearway Analogue RCA interconnect.

Build

Stereo interconnect: Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022)

(Image credit: Chord Company)

The Clearway’s cable design is based on the Award-winning and more budget-friendly C-Line interconnect, but uses a heavier gauge oxygen-free copper and an improved version of Chord’s Tuned ARAY conductor geometry technology for the step-up in performance.

It’s by no means the biggest or flashiest update we’ve come across: the formerly silver-plated plugs of the interconnect have now been updated to a new ChorAlloy plating. Chord hasn’t expanded on the exact materials used here, stating only it’s a “multi-metal material” that now coats the VEE 3 RCA plugs on either end of the cable.

Chord Company is no stranger to updating the materials on its cable connections to improve the conductivity and longevity of its products. A few years ago, silver replaced gold as the choice for plugs due to its better conductivity, and the new multi-metal ChorAlloy plating is further claimed to act as an even better conductor that will tarnish less over time. Chord claims this results in a more musical sound for your system. 

Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022) tech specs

Stereo interconnect: Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022)

(Image credit: Chord Company)

Conductor material Oxygen-free high-purity copper

Connector RCA 

Length 1.0m

Plugs VEE 3 RCA coated with ChorAlloy 

The rest of the audio interconnect remains exactly the same construction as before, with FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene) insulation and a dual-layer counter-wound heavy gauge foil design for its shielding.

Elsewhere, small visual changes include a new direction indicator icon and the new packaging that the cable comes in. The cardboard box with sleeve is a nicer (not to mention more eco-friendly) presentation than the previous all-plastic affair.

While cables themselves can’t actively improve your system’s sound, they do carry the audio signal between your components, and can easily degrade the performance of your set-up.

Sound

Stereo interconnect: Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA (2022)

(Image credit: Chord Company)

We connect the Clearway RCA cable to our reference system of Naim ND555/555 PS DR music streamer, Burmester 088/911Mk3 amplifier and ATC SCM50 speakers, as well as a more relatively affordable set-up of the Cyrus CDi, Naim Supernait 3 and KEF’s LS50 Metas.

We have the previous generation Clearway Analogue RCA at hand as well, which makes it easy to make comparisons.

It’s no surprise that both cables share the same characteristics – clear, detailed, rhythmically cohesive, and dynamics that are communicated with confidence. 

But it becomes clear fairly quickly that with the new 2022 Clearway RCA interconnect plugged in, both our systems sound crisper and more open. There is more nuance to voices, along with subtler dynamics and a tauter bass.

We play Eminem’s The Way I Am, and the edges of notes are crisper, more precise and more detailed. The bite in his vocals remains but it isn’t just straight aggression we’re hearing; there’s more texture and feeling in his voice that the new Chord cable communicates more effectively.

The bassline is also pulled tauter, adding to the driving, attacking rhythm. It sounds more solid and tuneful with the new Clearway RCA connected.  

We swap back to the older version and, while it’s still very capable, we now notice a slight hard edge to the top which is absent when using the new cable. With the latter, the ambient notes in Four Tet’s Circling soar high with refinement, and the greater sense of airiness and subtlety makes it a more involving listen. The rising crescendo before a drop into silence in the middle of the song is more dramatic when using the new interconnect, too. 

With its new plugs, the 2022 Clearway RCA simply makes our system sparkle more. It’s the difference a fresh coat of white paint or a wipe-down of a mirror makes: everything is just cleaner, pulled into focus, and there’s more detail, allowing the system to deliver a more emotive and tangible performance.

Verdict

Current owners of the Clearway Analogue RCA with silver plugs need not rush out to upgrade immediately, as that cable remains a perfectly fine performer for the money. But if you feel your home audio system needs a refresh or a little lift, the new edition of the Clearway RCA with ChorAlloy plugs is a good place to start. It works with a wide range of kit, and is worth the investment.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Build 5
  • Compatibility 5

MORE:

See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winners

Read our review of the Atlas Element Achromatic 

Also consider the Chord C-line

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