Chord Electronics Ltd., not to be confused with The Chord Company, has been making electronics and hi-fi products for decades. This British company has a passionate team on board and proudly presents them on their site. This gives the company a face and radiates transparency. For their dacs they have been relying on the genius of Rob Watts for years but they have more talent on board. Owner and head designer John Franks, for example, is responsible for everything that has to do with amplifiers. And although Chord has been in the news with their dacs these past few years, they’ve been making great amplifiers for a very long time. That’s a good thing because today for once, not a dac but a compact power amp: The Chord Ttoby (where do they get those names anyway) is in the spotlight! Let’s check it out!
Chord‘s products have die-hard fans as well as fierce opponents. This is of course due to their different visual language. Chord makes their products different from the competition and that hasn’t hurt them so far. In fact, some of their amplifiers and dacs are like pieces of art and wouldn’t look out of place in the MoMA. What we don’t love as much are the somewhat quaint choices they make when it comes to ergonomics. Either the colors confuse us or we can’t find the on/off button. There is always something we have to get used to or never get used to at all.
A lot of enthusiasts don’t care about that and just love the pure sound the brand is known for. And there is a lot to be said for that. The Chord Ttoby, like most items in their catalog, is very compact. Because of its limited dimensions (235x256x59mm) you can put it anywhere. The compactness of this unit is really quite bizarre and with a weight of 3.75 kg this unit is also very light. Especially when compared to the heavy power-amps we usually see. If you think the Ttoby is a class D amplifier, think again. The Ttoby delivers 50 watts of class A/B into 8 ohms and effortlessly doubles in 4 ohms. That doesn’t seem like much but we found them to be very pure watts. Don’t expect to drive a full range electrostats though.
Fast, faster, fastest
This one-block aluminum box is very well put together and the silver version looks stunning. With only the logo on the front the Ttoby is a quite the looker. To keep the design even more clean, there is no stand-by button and unfortunately the on/off switch is clumsily hidden under the powercord. When you put life into the little Ttoby, a green light appears through the ventilation holes.
Not everyone on our team is a fan but your humble servant loves it. The LEDs are not just there to give light but also to guide the ‘sliding’ bias in the right direction. This process guarantees an ultra-fast operation of the amplifier. Incidentally, all the technology is developed in-house, almost nothing is “off the shelf”, and every part is manufactured in the United Kingdom. Nice!
At the back we see both single-ended and balanced outputs. On the right, the power button and mains, and in the center, a pair of beautiful gold-plated speaker connections. The Ttoby is in fact the ideal partner for the Hugo TT2 dac but nothing stops you from combining it with your own dac or with a nice preamp. With 30 db gain you will be able to connect the Ttoby to any dac without any issues.
A lot of technology comes from the prestigious SPM line and was largely crammed into this little miracle. However, this amplifier gets only slightly warm thanks to an ingenious cooling system. Unfortunately, the fans of our demo model weren’t quiet. We’ve presented this flaw to both the importer and Chord’s own people, and both confirm that the new models are completely silent.
Because the space inside is limited, they had to work creatively. The power supply is therefore switched just like the one in our Benchmark AHB2. Chords custom-made power supplies are particularly intriguing in design and can compete with the best linear power supplies on the market. The Chord Ttoby is fully balanced and has an ingenious mosfet power amplifier on board. Eight capacitors should do covers things nicely and with a frequency range of 5Hz -100Khz and a distortion of only 0.0016% the specs look promising.