First stop: cables
The Chord Company were once again prominently placed near the entrance to the Sound & Vision show this year. The first stop for most people was to grab a Chord Company bag and booklet which is a great marketing move as every visitor carried it around for the rest of the day.
Shawline vs Clearway Interconnects
The Chord Company were demonstrating the difference between the £90 Clearway and the £350 Shawline interconnects. A pair of identical Yamaha PRO 300 headphones were connected to a pair of identical Arcam rHead headphone amplifiers with a Cyrus CDi player providing the source. The only difference between the two setups was the interconnects.
Visitors listened to both the Shawline and Clearway connections to see if they can hear improvements. Being a cable skeptic, a debate with the Chord Company representative beckoned.
I could easily hear a difference between the two cables. The more expensive Shawline interconnect gave a clearer sound with more detail and better definition. What is going on? Cables sounding different? My skepticism began to diminish.
The Chord Company representative pointed out that cables can be expensive, but you have to take it all in balance. It does not make sense to spend a lot on cables for a budget system.
Shawcan Headphone Cable
The Chord Company also demoed their Shawcan Headphone cable connected to a Chord Electronics DAVE DAC and Audeze LCD-X Planar Magnetic Headphones. The test was to compare the Shawcan against the standard cable that comes with the Audeze headphones. There was just one pair of headphones which meant swapping the cable back and forth.
With this test I’m afraid I didn’t spot any difference between the two cables because the music sounded the same each time. After spotting differences with the interconnect I was hopeful about doing the same with the headphone cable but it sounded identical to me, sorry Chord Company.
The moral of the story here is to try cables for yourself. Chord Company dealers typically provide cables to borrow for demo purposes. What harm can it do?