What is so special about Chord VEE 3 RCA plugs?

What is so special about Chord VEE 3 RCA plugs?

So what’s important when it comes to RCA plugs?  Well, we’re obsessive, so good (really good) interconnects need every part that makes them a whole to be as right and as harmonised as is possible.  From the tip of the connection to the precision with which the earth contact mates with the socket.  From the solder through to the conductors, from the insulation to the shielding.  Get everything right and hey, you’ve got something special – and that’s why we designed the Chord VEE 3 RCA plug.  Other companies may have other ideas, but the Chord VEE 3 RCA plug is pretty much our perfect RCA plug.  What that means for us is that we have a genuinely high performance RCA plug that works so well that we can use it on a whole range of different cables.

So here are some of the key features.  First of all the VEE 3 RCA plug is a low mass design. For a long time we’ve felt that less metal is a good thing when it comes to sound quality.  Secondly, there’s the back shell.  Taking the ‘less metal is good’ idea, the VEE 3 back shell is made from ABS, a strong plastic that is used for recorders and plastic clarinets.  ABS is not only strong, it’s also electrically stable.  In fact it’s pretty much (with the exception of our beautiful machined acrylic shells) a perfect choice for an RCA back shell, and once the excruciating tooling cost is covered, reasonably economical to produce as well.

 

 

Then there are dimensions to consider.  RCA sockets are made to a surprisingly wide tolerance, so the dimensions of both the centre signal pin and the surrounding ring that carries the return (ground) have to be precisely manufactured in order to ensure a consistent connection.  This is really important, not just from a mechanical point of view, but also in terms of performance (ultimately sound quality).

The plating of the plugs is also important and the VEE 3 RCA benefits from a direct gold or silver-plating process.  It’s more expensive (in that it uses more gold or silver) than the more usual method of applying a thin layer of gold or silver over a bright nickel substrate.  It doesn’t look quite so bright, but it does sound quite a lot better.

Insulation (or dielectric) is a key factor to the performance of every cable we make, and it plays an important role in the VEE 3 RCA plug as well.  The centre pin is held in place and insulated from the rest of the plug with a block of PTFE.  There are cheaper materials that can be used but PTFE is, we think, the best real world insulator available and it has the added advantage of being heat stable. The best solder we’ve found has a higher than usual melting point and the PTFE block means that we can use our favourite solder without any heat damage to the plugs.

When it comes to attaching RCA plugs to cables, it’s crucial that the method of cable clamping or strain relief is right.  Right means that the plug has to be attached securely to the cable, but at same time from a performance point of view it’s vital to avoid any compression of the cable.  Compression will change the impedance of the cable, and that will change the performance.  We get round this problem in two ways.  Firstly our interconnect cables have a relatively hard outer jacket and secondly the clamp on the VEE 3 RCA plug is designed to spread pressure evenly around the circumference of the cable.  We have also developed a particular production process which means we can clamp the cable in such a way that the result is both reliable and avoids any compression of the cable.

The Chord VEE 3 RCA plug perfectly illustrates our approach to designing and building cables.  Each of the design details listed above make a small but appreciable improvement to sound quality but put them all together though and the sum is greater than the parts.  That’s why we’re so pleased with the VEE 3 RCA plug.  For us it’s just about perfect.

 

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ABS chord design dielectric earth impedance performance plug PTFE RCA sound

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