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Chord’s ULTIMA INTEGRATED Amplifier Unveiled: High-End Munich 2023

It’s time to put down your Mojo 2 and take a gander at the new Chord ULTIMA INTEGRATED. It won’t fit in your laptop bag but it will drive the living hell out of your loudspeakers.

Chord ULTIMA Integrated Amplifier

Chord’s award-winning DACs, headphone amplifiers, and phono preamplifier have been all the rage for the past 8 years because of the high level of innovation and exceptional sound quality. It is hard to argue with the quality of the Qutest, DAVE, Mojo 2, or Anni Integrated Amplifier.

The Head-Fi revolution created a huge opportunity for the British manufacturer and they have not squandered it. With so much attention on their portable and desktop solutions, Chord’s rather extensive range of power amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, and integrated amplifiers seems to get ignored. That would be a huge mistake if you’re in the market for reference quality solid-state amplification.

Five years since the introduction of ULTIMA, Chord Electronics’ most accomplished amplifier topology in its history, the Kent company has trickled the technology down into an integrated amplifier for the first time, setting new performance standards for single-box amplification.

Chord ULTIMA Integrated Amplifier Top

The new Chord ULTIMA INTEGRATED is a 125-watt amplifier designed by Chord Electronics’ founder, owner and chief engineer, John Franks. With the latest dual-feed-forward error-correction topology, Chord Electronics’ legendary proprietary ultra-high-frequency power supplies and the company’s unmistakable industrial aesthetic, the ULTIMA INTEGRATED will make its world debut at High End, Munich, 18 May (see it in Chord Electronics’ room: A 3.1, C122).

Franks’ advanced error-correction topology, which monitors and immediately corrects signals before the output stage, is key to the four-input ULTIMA INTEGRATED, and offers astonishing signal accuracy for unrivalled fidelity from a one-box integrated device.

The ULTIMA INTEGRATED also takes advantage of the very latest developments in advanced low-distortion power supplies, devices offering exceptionally low noise and outstanding amplifier operation.

All four of the ULTIMA INTEGRATED’s inputs, one fully balanced and three unbalanced, enjoy individual buffering and are selectively filtered against potential ingress from radio frequency interference; selection switching is via microprocessor-controlled sealed relays.

In addition, the amplifier benefits from an AV bypass input, plus a balanced preamp output for connection to additional power amplifiers. 

The new ULTIMA INTEGRATED is the first new Chord Electronics integrated amplifier for seven years and is the only full-width model in the company’s range (Anni, from the Qutest range, is the company’s only other integrated amplifier).

The ULTIMA INTEGRATED follows a line of highly advanced full-width ULTIMA-technology power amplifiers, including the original flagship ULTIMA mono power amplifier (780 W), the successive ULTIMA 2 (750 W) and 3 (480 W) mono power amplifiers, and the ULTIMA 5 (350 W) and 6 (180 W) stereo power amplifiers. 

Chord ULTIMA Integrated Amplifier Side

ULTIMA INTEGRATED industrial design aesthetic

The new ULTIMA INTEGRATED shares the same all-new 28-mm-thick front panel seen in John Franks’ recently introduced ULTIMA PRE 3 preamp. The new frontage offers a perfectly symmetrical aesthetic, centered on a spherical power on/off control which uses the company’s familiar polychromatic (dimmable) lighting, giving a clear and simple indication of the amplifier’s playing status. The power sphere is flanked by a newly designed combined volume and input selector, plus a combined balance and AV bypass control.

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All of the metalwork is precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium, including Chord Electronics’ iconic Integra Legs. The upper panel (lid) features Chord Electronics’ established vented design, with a newly redesigned logo-engraved dimmable LED light ring, giving distinctive visual appeal day or night. 

Like all of Chord Electronics’ full-size and Reference range amplifiers, the new ULTIMA INTEGRATED is available in a choice of Jett Black or Argent Silver. The amplifier can also be specified with a highly polished black acrylic side block option at no additional cost.

Chord Electronics’ founder, owner and chief designer, John Franks, said: “The new ULTIMA INTEGRATED offers levels of performance not yet seen in any integrated amplifier. It features no fewer than four separate high-power line input phase-corrected power supplies working in harmony to give this new amplifier the high energy power levels and fast transient power that Chord Electronics’ products are known for.”

Chord ULTIMA Integrated Amplifier Rear

In addition to its four inputs, AV bypass and balanced outputs, the amplifier’s rear panel also contains high-quality loudspeaker terminals, a 12 V trigger and a 10 A C-19-type IEC. 

More about Chord Electronics’ ULTIMA technology 

The ULTIMA topology is a state-of-the-art amplifier design featuring John Franks’ latest circuit creation. ULTIMA is the ultimate expression of the finest high-performance, ultra-fast, high-power amplifier technology available today. ULTIMA draws on the company’s three decades of research, design and engineering in Great Britain. 

ULTIMA’s technology is based on a technical paper by Dr Malcolm J Hawksford (emeritus professor at Essex University) which was taken up and refined by Bob Cordell of Bell Labs. Chord Electronics’ owner and Chief Designer, John Franks, then took the theory and developed it to a much higher level; a progression of Cordell’s advanced dual-feed-forward error-correction topology incorporating Franks’ own advanced concepts in ultra-high-frequency power supplies, which have been a cornerstone of the company’s proprietary-technology amplifiers since its inception in 1989.

Each amplifier is painstakingly hand-built at the riverside Kent factory, The Pumphouse, over a period of several days, with each build overseen by a dedicated engineer. Chord Electronics’ renowned aircraft-grade solid aluminium casework offers a reassuringly high-end and entirely non-resonant enclosure for the electronics. The casework is neatly complemented by the unique Integra Leg system which offers both striking visuals and the ability to stack with various other full-size Chord Electronics products as well as the Choral units, such as the DAVE DAC/preamp and BLU MKII CD/digital transport, when using the dedicated Choral Ensemble stand. 

Chord ULTIMA Integrated Amplifier Front

Technical specifications

  • Output power: 125 W into 8 Ω
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz-200 kHz +/- 3 dB
  • Input impedance: 100 kΩ
  • Input maximum voltage: 3 V RMS (single-ended)
  • Output maximum voltage: 35 V RMS
  • Channel separation: 100 dB
  • Operation voltage: 80-250 V AC auto-switching 
  • Power consumption: 200 W

Price and availability

The ULTIMA INTEGRATED is available to pre-order from Chord Electronics’ ULTIMA dealers now (shipping September 2023) for £8,500.

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