Chord Electronics Moves Goalposts with Blu MkII CD Player

Posted on 23rd January, 2017

Chord Electronics Moves Goalposts with Blu MkII CD Player

Chord Electronics took the opportunity at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to launch their Blu.MkII CD Transport, said to offer the world's most advanced filter technology from its giant FPGA core.

Many specialist retailers are still reporting strong sales in higher-end CD players. While the average punter may be moving straight to streaming, there is apparently a little life left for those plastic discs.

The new Blu MkII, which will replace the original Blu, incorporates a powerful new FPGA core with extraordinary capability, and say the MkII sets new standards for CD Quality.

Many engineers believe the true capabilities of the CD format have never been realised. Chord's 'Digital Consultant', Rob Watts, “has harnessed the power of the new Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA, which has a standout 740 DSP cores, to develop sophisticated WTA (Watts Transient Alignment) filtering and upscaling algorithms which can output digital data at 705.6kHz (16 x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution).”

John Franks, Chord Electronics' Founder, told StereoNET:

At the heart of the Blu MkII, lies Rob Watts’ new WTA M-Scaler technology, which incorporates the most advanced filter of its kind in the world. Rob Watts has developed completely new filter architecture for the Blu MkII, to ensure maximum memory efficiency and to allow the FPGA to run with sufficient speed.

According to Watts, it's all about taps. He says that to perfectly reconstruct an analogue signal, an infinite tap-length filter is required. The original Chord DAC 64 (1999) had 1,024 taps; Hugo (2013) 26,000 and DAVE (2015) 164,000. The new Blu MkII offers an incredible 1,015,808 taps!

Chord Electronics MkII

Franks continued:

This remarkable capability takes transient accuracy to a completely unprecedented level: it becomes simpler to perceive the leading edge of transient notes, creating a life-like sound-field. Bass definition is massively improved, with greater ability to follow the tune. Sound-staging, instrument separation and focus are also noticeably better, along with vastly improved variation in instrument timbre.

Revisions and extensive updates have taken place outside as well. Blu MkII features a new top plate that features the most commonly used functions, along with a useful display offering track information. it can also be stacked with DAVE in a purpose built stand.

Connectivity options are in abundance, including (for the digital outputs): AES (to 176.4KHz); single optical, single S/PDIF and dual BNC S/PDIF; the dual BNC S/PDIF output transmits up to 768kHz into Chord’s DAVE DAC/preamp using twin cables.
The Blu MkII also features a BNC S/PDIF digital input, meaning that it can also be used a standalone high-performance upsampler, for use with other digital sources, such as streamers, in addition to its primary function as a CD transport.

Chord Electronics Blu MkII and DAVE
Chord Electronics Blu MkII with DAVE

Technical specifications

  • Digital outputs: AES (to 176.4kHz); 1x optical, single BNC S/PDIF and dual BNC S/PDIF (768kHz-, 384kHz- and 192kHz-capable)
  • Digital inputs: 1x BNC S/PDIF
  • Frequency response: DC to 20kHz +/- 0.0000001dB
  • In-band ripple DC to 20kHz: +/- 0.0000002dB
  • Stop band rejection: -135dB
  • THD and noise 24-bit input: -144dB (defined by input)
  • WTA tap-length, 16FS filter: 1,015,808 taps
  • Dimensions: 335mm x 105mm x 170mm (WxHxD)
  • Weight: 7kg

Chord Electronics Blu MkII will be available from Specialist Dealers in early 2017 for $16,000 RRP.

Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

English born but now residing down under, StereoNET’s Founder is still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the International Hi-Fi Show.

Get the latest.

Sign up to discover the best news and reviews from StereoNET UK in our FREE Newsletter.

Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: chord  radiance audio visual