With the growing use of XLR balanced audio connections offered on domestic audio equipment, Chord Company has introduced an XLR analogue interconnect option to its Clearway range. Like the Chord C-line series, this employs the company’s ARAY conductor geometry but with upgraded materials. The ARAY geometry conductors use heavier gauge oxygen-free copper and are insulated with an FEP dielectric. The design uses identical conductors for the hot, cold and earth connections, is screened by a dual-layer, counter-wound, heavy gauge foil design and finished off in a dark blue sheath.
Connecting the Clearway between my Studer A810 pro tape machine and preamp, I play a 15IPS copy-master tape of Rosie Middleton singing Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen. Her effortless vocals really stand out with superb clarity, and the crescendos from the percussion are commanding and strident.
Tight, deep and powerful
Switching reels to The Yuko Mabuchi Trio playing live, Mabuchi’s piano on What Is This Thing Called Love sparkles with energy right from the outset and the crisp clarity of the drums draws me into the music. When it comes to the solo spots, the precise fingering of the double bass is tight, deep and powerful. This recording highlights the excellent imaging capabilities of the Clearway XLR with the double bass on the left, piano in the centre and drums on the right of the soundstage.
Another excellent copy-master tape of Haydn’s Concerto No.1 in C Major played by I Solisti di Pavia from Open Reel Records is incredibly clear. The dynamics, realism and energy of this recording are absolutely first rate and the strings, in particular, display beautiful clarity without any edginess. The imaging and depth are superb and the music never seems to emanate from the speaker cabinets but, rather, from ‘virtual instruments’ within my room. In summary, this reasonably priced XLR interconnect offers a really refined presentation across a wide range of music.