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The C-stream Ethernet cable perfectly illustrates the process used to develop and build every product that Chord produce.

Step one: Establish that Ethernet cables have an influence on sound quality. That’s the easy bit. Chord collected several different types of Ethernet cables, Cat 5, 6, and 7 variants, took them into the Dem Room and listened. They used different streamers, from entry level to high end and music at all available sample rates.

What they learned from this was that different cables did influence sound quality and that those differences could be heard on both entry level and high end equipment. They could also be heard on music at all sample rates.

They also learned that the direction in which the cable was connected had an influence on overall sound quality.

As a result of this they designed the Chord C-stream Ethernet cable. The C-stream is a very high quality Cat 7 specification cable; the contacts are gold-plated and the plug body is over-moulded, which provides excellent reliability and secure strain relief without deforming the cable and affecting performance.

Obviously any conventional Ethernet cable is going to work regardless of the direction it’s connected. However the C-stream Ethernet cable is designed to be used as part of a music system and is directional, in that it will sound better when connected in a particular direction. When installing a C-stream, look for a small black dot at one end of the cable; this is the end of the cable that should be connected to the source component. For example, when used between a router and streamer, the plug with the black dot should be connected to the router.

Do Ethernet cables have an effect on sound quality?

Yes. Particularly when connected to a streamer. They did a lot of listening with various streaming devices, and every time changing the connection to the streamer made a big difference. They also experimented with the connection between Router and hard drive, and yes this bought improvements, but the most important connection is the one to the streamer. This difference was noticeable regardless of whether we were running the cable directly to a router or via a pre-installed Ethernet cable network or a system where the Ethernet signal is carried over the mains.

What differences can I expect to hear?

The effects on sound quality that Ethernet cables produce are very similar to those experienced with analogue and digital interconnects. Timing and coherence are the two really easy differences to hear, but like other interconnects it’s simple to spot the differences in levels of detail, tonal quality and dynamic performance. The event that convinced Chord to that what they needed to make the Indigo and Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet cables was listening to a live version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” from the album “We’re All Together for the First Time”. Sixteen minutes of brilliant musicianship. Put the Indigo Tuned ARAY Ethernet cable onto the streamer and this track comes to life, the skill and the level of understanding between the musicians makes for an irresistible way to spend sixteen minutes. Put the Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet cable on and you’re there in the audience. The Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet cable works exactly like our other Sarum Tuned ARAY cables. There’s the same extraordinary level of detail and musical coherence that turns pretty much anything you listen to into a performance.

Are Ethernet cables directional?

Yes. The construction of Tuned ARAY cables is such that although they’ll carry a signal if connected in the wrong direction, sound quality will be badly affected. But every other Ethernet cable they tested and listened to also worked better in one direction than the other. The difference to sound quality the direction made varied from cable to cable. In the case of the Chord C-stream Ethernet cable the difference was significant enough for they to mark one of the plugs with a small black dot. This is the source end of the cable. So if the cable is being used to connect the streamer, the plug without the dot should be connected to the streamer. The difference that direction makes to sound quality is again similar to the effects experienced with both analogue and digital interconnects. Timing, rhythm and coherence are all affected.

So are these cables all Cat specification twisted pairs?

No. The C-stream meets Category 7 specification, albeit with high quality oxygen free copper conductors. The Indigo and Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet cables though both feature very high performance sub miniature coaxial cables for all critical signal paths. In the case of the Indigo the conductors are silver-plated and PTFE insulated and shielding is a dual layer, high density braid. The Sarum, like the other Sarum cables, features micro polished silver-plated conductors, foamed PTFE and a highly effective, heavy gauge foil and high density braid shield. Both the Indigo Tuned ARAY and the Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet cables feature Tuned ARAY conductor configuration.

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Length: 10m

High speed Oxygen Free Copper conductors

Individually shielded, twisted conductor pairs plus overall shield

Low-loss low density polyethylene insulation

24ct. gold-plated signal contacts

Over-moulded plug surround

Non-compression strain relief system

Lengths available in: 0.75m, 1.5m, 3m, 5m & 10m

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