Contrary to its rather cool appearance, the Chord Ttoby sounds anything but liveless or analytical. There is enough oomph to the sound with lots of dynamics and speed. Depending on the preamp, the soundstage is wide, deep and beautiful in dimensions.
There’s also a lot of control with all of our speakers. This amplifier has balls, sounds refined when needed, and is packed with musicality. Actually, the predicate PRAT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) fits perfectly with this amplifier. The Ttoby follows the rhythm of each song perfectly.
We start with the London band Melt Yourself Down that just released a delicious eclectic album called “100% Yes”. With an amalgam of influences, mainly from Africa, this group forges different rhythms into a nervous rollercoaster. The often hectic tracks are a litmus test for each speaker but also for an amplifier. The Chord Ttoby remains beautifully controlled and ensures the music does not become a thick, inextricable soup.
The percussion on “Nightdreamer” by Sarathy Korwar has busy passages and again the Chord Ttoby cuts through like a knife through butter. The song “Intimate Enemy” might be the key track on the album. It’s an adventurous song based on the book of the same name by Ashis Nandy about loss and self-destruction. Especially how this song captures the core of the book. Percussion sounds tight, tight as we say here and other instruments such as the saxophone and guitar tear through the soundstage.
We’re in an experimental mood today and put on another ‘difficult’ album. “Impulse Voices” by the self-taught Plini from South Wales is nothing less than a masterpiece. Through the Ttoby everything sounds open and fast, tight and controlled. The beats are very dry, full of information and every element is again nicely separated. The song “The glass bead game”, where the beats are fired at you like bullets from a machine gun, remains effortless.
Time for some quieter work from Christian Kjellvander and his intriguing album “About Love and Loving again”. His beautiful voice in combination with the sparse instrumentation works very well and enters the listening room in a somewhat threatening way. This album is best enjoyed late at night when most of the world is sleeping. The Ttoby proves that it can handle more sensitive stuff as well. You never lose anyone, love turns to past and past turns to fiction’ he muses on the song ‘Actually country gentle’. Wonderful!
To provide some perspective, we always try to make a meaningful comparison with a device in the same price range. Our reference power amplifier, the Benchmark AHB2, costs about the same and has the same form factor. It does have double the power, you can bridge it to mono, and you can adjust the gain. The AHB2 only has balanced inputs, the Ttoby both. The Ttoby is also by far the most elegant piece of kit and works well with most speakers.
Soundwise, the differences are rather limited. With the Ttoby guitars linger on more and the decay on some instruments is also better with the Ttoby in play. The Ttoby makes instruments resonate just a bit longer and is slightly more fluent than the Benchmark. Wauw, is that even possible? The Benchmark has a more control at higher levels but in terms of detailing and refinement we didn’t notice signifant differences.