The Chord Company Signature Super ARAY USB digital audio interconnect
Our first venture into USB cables was a consequence of having musicians (incl some in bands) working at the Chord Company. After copying a CD master recording to a laptop, we were shocked at the poor performance of the burned copies when compared to the original master CD.
At the time we were using one of the first DACs with a USB input, so we played the master from the laptop. Still not good but better than the burned CD version. After using better spec ripping programs and playback management, we thankfully got big improvements to the burned CD.
Whilst we were happy that we could produce a pretty decent CD copy from the original master, the laptop copy of the master (sent to the DAC via its USB input) sounded clearly worse than the CD copy being fed to the same DAC – so we investigated the construction of the USB cable between laptop and DAC.
After listening to a selection of available (and varying quality) USB cables, we realised this was an area worth exploring. The result was the Chord USB SilverPlus, launched in Sept 2011, with silver-plated conductors and high frequency effective shielding. Chord Signature USB followed in April 2013 and has remained virtually unchanged up till now (Aug 2018)
There are increasing numbers of high quality DACs (with exceptional USB inputs) and several high quality music streamers/servers with USB outputs. This has led us to revisit and improve the original Signature USB design
The original Signature USB featured four separately shielded conductors. We have now refined the effective gauge of the silver-plated copper conductors and uprated the insulation to a high-speed PE/LDPE/PE composite dielectric. The earth shielding connection is further protected from high frequency noise with its own foil tape layer. The ARAY technology has been uprated from Tuned ARAY to Super ARAY using a Signature USB specific ARAY design. We have incorporated refinements with both USB A and B plugs. All connections are soldered and the USB plugs are ChorAlloy™ plated to our specification in the UK. We believe these changes have all contributed to a healthy improvement in performance. It is certainly a little harder (therefore longer) to build, so while the price has crept up from the original Signature USB, we feel it more than justifies the effort when you audition it against the original design.
There are many high-performance storage and streaming devices available and the new Signature Super ARAY USB is an obvious choice to try with these. Also worth trying between your PC/tablet and DAC, particularly if it’s full of decent rips of your own CD collection, high quality downloads or is being used for streaming hi-def music like Tidal etc.
NB. We never recommend the use of Micro USB adaptors with any of our USB cables (if you can avoid it). It is still possible to hear the improvements when upgrading the USB cables. If you are using a really good DAC that uses a micro USB input then it is still worth auditioning a good USB cable with an adaptor.