“Living with Chord Tuned ARAY cables” – Nigel Finn

“Living with Chord Tuned ARAY cables” – Nigel Finn

Living with Tuned ARAY cables

Everything changes, every piece of music I have, every track I’ve used as a reference over the twenty-two years that I’ve been obsessing about cables, connections and music.

Tuned ARAY started out as an experiment; we were looking for a way to deal with reflections in digital cables. We had a theory and we needed to prove or disprove it. So we started out on what proved to an extraordinary process, with extraordinary results.

Everyone involved with hi-fi talks about music, that’s what hi-fi is for, listening to music, and maybe as cables designers we think in increments, steps towards what we’re searching for, and at points thinking “well that’s pretty close”. Hearing a bit more, getting a fresh insight, a deeper experience, getting closer.

We were pleased with Sarum cables; we reckoned we were pretty close, and from a design point of view, uncertain about where we were going to go to better Sarum. I will admit to thinking that this was a far as we going to go, as close as were going to get.

The thing with Tuned ARAY is that there turns out to be a gulf between almost being there and arriving. The difference between almost music and music is both small and enormous. I’m aware that this sounds semi-mystical, that’s not the intention, and the trouble is all the words used to describe music have already been used. So this will be an attempt to describe what Tuned ARAY does in series of observations built up over several months.

New cable, does it burn in? Yes, big time. All cables are subject to change as they are used, the degree to which this affect sound quality varies from cable type to cable type.

The Tuned ARAY cables though. That’s the strangest experience, sitting in the Dem room playing the Doors and hearing “LA Woman” come to life whilst we’re listening to it! Like someone’s thrown a switch.

Then, more hours later, it happens again. This time it’s “Solid Air” by John Martyn, always knew that John Martyn and Danny Thompson had a pretty special understanding of each other, but suddenly it’s almost supernatural.

Some time later, weeks rather than months, and something bordering on magical happens. We’re sitting there listening to Lyle Lovett and the speakers disappear, in their place is Lyle, his band and their performing in our dem room. Really; that’s what it sounds like, utterly believable and addictive, we listen to the whole album.

We got rhythm. We really have, layers of subtlety to it, music swings, you can hear just much effort (unconscious or otherwise) musicians put into playing and it’s a wonderful experience. The lightest touch of weight on a string brings a rhythm to life. Who’s bossing this song? The drummer or the bass player?

Or The Doors? Playing with such ferocious intent and power. The whole band joined together and thundering out a massive, manic, psychotic, glorious noise.

We got soul. Oh we have. Shawn Colvin singing “Monopoly” from “Fat City” (and for fun go onto Wikipedia and look at who played on “Fat City” it’s a who’s who of great musicians) Broken hearted and hurting.

Everything sounds different. It does but what it actually does is sound better, as in so that’s that what they were trying to do. Try “The Dirty South” by the Drive-By Truckers” Of course it’s rough, but rough in a good good way, rough in a way that makes sense, boy can they play tight, and how delicate and beautiful is “Danko/Manuel. Even better, how clear those lyrics are, how easy to hear. Suddenly I’m not so sure that all the best songs have already been sung.

The best thing though. My system makes music better than I ever imagined. The last time music sounded quite this thrilling I was thirteen and was staring at the vertigo label on going round at 45rpm while I played Paranoid repeatedly. Mind you the first time I heard Piss Factory by Patti Smith on a battered stereo late at night or early in the morning, that was special. Sitting here listening to listening to The Drive-By Truckers: it’s like being thirteen again.


Technical Advice and general hi-fi tips


3 comments on this post

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your explanation about your feelings
    towards music. Since the Sarum Tuned Aray entered my system things changed a whole lot.I also had some wow
    moments e.g Habib Koité, Eric Bibb – Foro Bana from their album Brothers in Bamako. I never heard a guitar so nearby. Also Blame It On My Youth by Inger Marie Gundersen from her album Make this Moment has made a big impression. All in all I consider myself a very happy listener.
    Best regards,

    Reply to Bob
  2. Nigel,
    I am so intrigued and will follow up. Thanks for creating these cables and for your description of them. I see they getting great reviews on the Naim Forum.

    By the way, there is a typo in your post. ‘Dies’ should be ‘does’ in
    “Everything sounds different. It does but what it actually dies is sound better”

    Reply to Simon
  3. having now upgraded the power cables, interconnect (XLR&RCA)and speaker cables for key components I have to say that I fully agree with the point above that Nigel highlights. what surprised me was when doing cable comparisons I normally hear small differences that in most cases high light benefits that are worth moving to. however with the Sarum TA the difference is vast/massive in such a way that the sound stage is wider, greater depth and detail, now you hear the music the system is completely transparent, totally amazing and engaging to the point I have to remind myself to get some sleep. Main source is Vinyl and secondary digit. this has been the most I have spent on cables, however the benefit is 2nd to none, no comparison and worth every penny. my the gains of high quality cables carry on……… 🙂

    Reply to john

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