Chord Electronics SPM 1200 MkIISolid-State Power Amplifier(Part 2)

11/21/2013 11:08:18 AM

Its rendition of Zero 7’s beautiful I Have Seen is a rare pleasure, showing the Chord’s refreshing lack of character. It takes an even-handed approach – throwing out lots of lovely delicate, filigree detail. Again, I find instruments and vocals located with a vice-like grip, and the bass is allowed to power along purposefully without disturbing any other part of the music. Dynamic peaks are well signposted and it lets the music progress in a lively, enjoyable way.

However, what some folk won’t like about the Chord is precisely this – music never sounds glorious, passionate or gushing; it doesn’t tear out its very heart and soul in trying to tell you what’s going on. Rather, the SMP 1200 MkII sits back slightly, being beautifully detailed, perfectly poised, refined, subtle and gently powerful without quite rocking out. Then again, Hi-Fi that gives a larger than life, over-emotive sort of presentation is invariably flawed in other respects; so it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. The Chord treads a careful line, thinking discretion to be the better part of valor.

Description: The new Chord SPM 1200 MkII is physically large.

The new Chord SPM 1200 MkII is physically large.

Bass is always tight and well defined. It is tuneful too, but not in a Naim sort of way and so doesn’t dominate the proceedings. At the other end of the frequency range, the treble proves to be very much like the midband, which is of course to say glass-clear and wonderfully detailed and delicate. This gives the music a lovely spatiality and airy feel. Everything feels so even and well integrated and this holds for differing volume levels, too. There’s no sense of the big Chord having obvious strengths and weaknesses, or of favoring certain aspects of the music to the exclusion of others.

This is why it is so good both with complex electronica and also classical; it’s a dispassionate friend that won’t overdo any aspect of the mix, so you can listen right in, way beyond your room’s rear wall. Cue up the Linn hi-res recording of the Allegro to Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto, and the insight and evenness of the Chord is a revelation; it renders the timbre of the instruments with great skill and accuracy, giving you an authentic sense of being in the concert hall.

However, play an old scratchy vinyl of Nick Lowe’s glorious new-wave standard So It Goes, and the Chord won’t quite get you up out of your sofa and pogo-ing. Suddenly, all that delicacy, balance, and poise aren’t quite so useful, and instead what’s needed is more of headbanger of an amp. Sure, you can enjoy the lovely textural elements of the recording, and tap your foot appreciatively, but there’s a lack of urgency to the proceedings that some will miss. This isn’t a criticism as much as an observation; there’s no universal

Panacea in high-end amplifiers, and you buy to suit your taste!

Description: Here’s a beautiful slice of high-end amplifier exotica that does what it says on the tin.

Here’s a beautiful slice of high-end amplifier exotica that does what it says on the tin.


Here’s a beautiful slice of high-end amplifier exotica that does what it says on the tin. It has massive power, superlative build and a sound that befits its price. If you ever wanted an archetypal example of a great-all-round solid-state amplifier – one that makes the best of the breed’s strengths and deftly side-steps its weaknesses, this is it. There are a few other super-amps with just a touch more attitude and some with more finesse – but the Chord SPM 1200 MkII offers a brilliantly judged balance. Just don’t forget to wear your shades when you switch it on!

How it compares

Musical Fidelity’s AMS50 (£8,900) is an obvious rival. This is a massive behemoth of a thing, making the Chord look like a mini-system component! It’s black, has heavy heat sinking and it weighs a tonne. It gives 50W in full Class A, making one of the most powerful solid-state amps to run in this mode – that means a lot of heat. Your electricity bill will be shocking. Sonically, it’s clearer and more incisive than the Chord, but the difference isn’t huge and the Chord has more wallop should you need it. The Musical Fidelity sounds a little brighter and more forensic, whereas the Chord is smoother with a slightly richer tonality.

Description: Pin Chord Electronics

Pin Chord Electronics

Our verdict

·         Sound quality: 5/5

·         Value for money: 5/5

·         Build quality: 5/5

·         Features: 4.5/5

·         Like: Superlative design and build; powerful, well-balanced sound

·         Dislike: The lightshow won’t be to all tastes; price!

·         We say: Fabulous all-round, high-end solid-stage power amp.

·         Overall: 5/5

Technical specs

·         Product: Chord Electronics SPM 1200 MkII

·         Origin: UK

·         Type: Power amplifier

·         Weight: 18kg

·         Dimensions (W x H x D): 420 x 140 x 355mm

·         Features: Quoted power output: 2x 350W RMS; Aerospace-grade aluminum casework; 2x balanced XLR outputs; 2x RCA outputs; Gold-plated WBT speaker terminals

·         Distributor: Chord Electronics


Top 10
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
The latest Audi TT : New angles for TT
Era of million-dollar luxury cars
Game Review : Hearthstone - Blackrock Mountain
Game Review : Battlefield Hardline
Google Chromecast
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 3) - Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 2) - Zagg Slim Book for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 1) - Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
Michael Kors Designs Stylish Tech Products for Women
- First look: Apple Watch

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone