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The Best of the Best 2003: Audio/Video

Ken Kessler

Today, an audio system can emphasize aesthetics without compromising sonics because manufacturers of traditional (read: massive and utilitarian) audiophile electronics have learned to downsize without downgrading, to focus on style and design without neglecting performance. No company accomplished this feat better in the past year than Chord Electronics, whose Choral system represents a perfect blending of aesthetic sensibilities and audio purist virtues.

Available with a custom rack that begs to be placed on a sideboard or Parsons table, the Choral system consists of four identically sized modules, each about 13 inches wide by 21/2 inches tall by 61/2 inches deep: the DAC64 digital-to-analog converter, the Symphonic phono stage, the Prima preamp, and the Mezzo stereo power amplifier. Each component has been machined from solid metal and bears a distinctive window that allows a glimpse of the glowing blue innards—a charming and seductive detail reminiscent of the glass backs on fine wristwatches.

The next addition to the Choral will be the CD player, which is planned for fall, but until then, the recently relaunched Oracle CD Turntable complements the heavy metal styling of the Chord package. Record spinning is provided by the Wilson-Benesch Circle turntable, a compact, high-tech machine constructed of carbon fiber, various metals, and polymers.

To make the most of the Chord’s 30 watts per channel, the system is mated with a pair of powerful yet compact solid metal Krell LAT-2 speakers. All wiring for this system comes from the Siltech Classic series, and the final touch is BDI’s Aurora 8624 stand, which offers cord management in addition to strength (the top shelf accommodates 325 pounds). The steel–and–frosted glass frame complements any decor.

BDI, www.bdiusa.com, available at Bedfellows, 818.985.0500;
Chord Electronics, 972.234.0182, www.chordelectronics.co.uk;
Krell, www.krellonline.com; Oracle Audio, www.oracle-audio.com; Siltech, 617.522.7740, www.siltechcables.com; Wilson-Benesch, 972.234.0182, www.wilson-benesch.co.uk

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