Chord Electronics has confirmed to have fairly some expertise to find new market niches. It established the sector for premium transportable DACs with the introduction of the superb unique Hugo and underlined that dominance with the extra reasonably priced and virtually as gifted Mojo. The corporate took issues additional by including streaming modules devoted to those DACs, thus turning them into full-blown music streamers that compete exhausting with equally priced, full-sized home models whereas boasting portability.
Chord was additionally early amongst hi-fi specialists to take Bluetooth significantly and has lengthy championed ultra-compact hi-fi electronics for many who need premium efficiency however are unable or unwilling to surrender a lot area for it. The diminutive Anni desktop built-in amplifier is an ideal instance of that.
Make no mistake, this actually is a correct Chord amplifier in miniature, utilizing because it does the Ultima twin feed-forward circuitry seen within the newest technology of the model’s high-end energy amplification. Nevertheless, this little field is just the scale of the Chord Qutest digital-to-analogue converter – for the uninitiated, assume smaller than a pair of coasters laid end-on – and it’s meant to be a great companion for that DAC and the corporate’s Huei phono stage. The essential factor to notice is that it’s designed for desktop use with both headphones or appropriate audio system.
Sure, it’ll drive large audio system and might work in a standard stereo system, however that’s not the purpose right here. An influence output of simply 10 watts per channel will solely go thus far in such a scenario, whereas the restricted array of inputs – simply two single-ended stereo RCAs – and lack of distant management additionally limits issues considerably. We’re not so involved in regards to the absence of distant operation, as a result of the Anni will all the time be inside attain in its meant desktop context.
Chord Anni tech speccs
Energy output 10 watts per channel
Inputs RCA x 2
Outputs 3.5mm, 6.3mm and stereo speaker
Dimensions (hwd) 43 x 160 x 97mm
Energy provide 15v DC exterior unit
The management structure is easy. Urgent the quantity management toggles between the 2 inputs, whereas the acquire button retains the quantity management’s helpful working vary broad sufficient when used with audio system of differing sensitivities. We want the acquire change labored with the headphone outputs too, as when utilizing the likes of the Focal Stellia and the Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Gen), the vary of quantity dial journey is a little bit too small to make delicate degree changes simply.
There are two headphone outputs, 6.3mm and three.5mm, and each can be utilized concurrently if desired. The Anni’s ergonomics aren’t nice, thoughts you, as each headphone outputs are positioned too near the quantity management, leaving little area for fingers holding the dial if both socket is in use. This proves a contact annoying over time.
The rear panel is a reasonably tightly packed affair. Other than the 2 stereo RCA inputs and 4mm speaker sockets, you’ll additionally discover a energy port that connects to a small cable-mounted 15V energy provide module, an earth submit if hum turns into a difficulty, and a 12V DC output to feed the Huei phono stage and Qutest DAC. With the Anni being so gentle at simply 625g, you’ll must watch out that heavy cables don’t drag it off its assist. Regardless of the modest energy output, a mess of air flow holes within the casework and a built-in fan, this built-in runs fairly sizzling, so be certain it has loads of area round it to keep away from overheating.
The Anni is usually constructed to Chord’s normal excessive requirements, bar a quantity management that feels a little bit wobbly however not a lot that it suggests fragility. This amp could also be small nevertheless it nonetheless appears and feels particular because of the stable CNC-milled, black-anodised aluminium casework. Chord’s merchandise have lengthy had a particular look and this amplifier isn’t any completely different. The cutesy title, multicoloured management buttons and elaborate machining on the casework have develop into one thing of an organization trademark.
We take heed to the Anni in a spread of methods from an Apple MacBook related to Chord’s Qutest DAC and the aforementioned headphones from Beyerdynamic and Focal, to our reference stereo set-up with Naim ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and a pair of KEF LS50 Meta audio system listened to within the nearfield. We additionally hook it as much as our reference ATC SCM50 audio system for enjoyable.
The Anni is a stunning product when used with audio system. It delivers a scale and solidity of sound that belies its tiny stature. This Chord delivers a fuller, extra strong presentation than we’ve come to anticipate from the model, nevertheless it nonetheless renders sufficient in the best way of element and transparency to fulfill.
Whereas that 10 watts per channel could sound feeble, the Anni by no means comes throughout that method. It performs comfortably and cleanly at our normal listening ranges even when driving the comparatively low-sensitivity (85dB/W/m) ATC audio system. There’s a tough restrict although, with the amplifier sounding uncomfortable fairly rapidly when pushed near its limits.
This Anni/ATC mixture belies expectations by delivering fairly expressive dynamics even with demanding music corresponding to Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator OST. A conventionally sized, equally priced amplifier such because the Cambridge CXA81 has comfortably extra in the best way of muscle and authority, however the Anni is under no circumstances embarrassed by the comparability, which is spectacular.
Issues get even higher when related to the KEF LS50 Meta in a nearfield context. Right here, the Chord feels proper in its factor, sounding daring and expansive. It digs up plenty of info and presents it in an organised and managed method. We take heed to the Gladiator monitor The Battle and there’s no scarcity of impression within the crescendos, nor does the Anni maintain again in terms of speaking the power and drive within the music.
We’re impressed by the solidity and authority of the lows, but additionally grateful that agility hasn’t been sacrificed within the course of. Stereo imaging is steady and exact, too, and there’s a good sense of scale to the presentation.
Shifting to headphones makes issues even higher. This is without doubt one of the most succesful headphone amplifiers we’ve heard. It sounds clear, clear and articulate but captures the manic power of Nick Cave & The Dangerous Seed’s Babe, I’m On Fireplace beautifully.
Wanting on the mixture of Qutest DAC and Anni on our desk, we marvel how significantly better it’s than the Chord Hugo 2 (£1895/$2495/AU$3800) transportable DAC, making an allowance for that the DAC sections are very related. It seems that the Qutest/Anni pairing totally justify their value premium because of a extra composed and insightful presentation that gives notably extra in terms of low-end authority, dynamic punch and tonal richness.
There’s little question that the Chord Anni is a distinct segment product. Whereas it’s tempting to think about it as a standard high-end Chord amplifier on a budget, it isn’t that except you’ve gotten a really small room or unusually delicate audio system. Use it as a desktop amplifier as meant and it shines. Certain, there are operational quirks – one thing that’s proving to be a Chord trait – however when the Anni sounds this good we are able to forgive rather a lot.
Learn our evaluate of the Chord Hugo 2
Need extra Chord choices? Attempt the Chord Hugo TT2
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