Your thoughts on J. Atkinsons Chord DAC review...?

Anyone that had chance to hear Chord DAC, please speak-up! Was it really that bad? Or i am totaly deaf? If one more person finds Musical Fidelity DAC better unit that Chord i am giving upi this 'sport'! Thanks!
Hello Data:

Maybe Chord does not buy enough ad space in Stereophile? I own the Chord DAC 64 and love it. I have, by no means, heard every DAC or one box player on the market, but the ones I have heard are at best, equal (to my ears) to the Chord.

J.A. does a general thrashing of the Chord, then in the last sentence of the review, highly recommends it. Again, maybe the check cleared for the full page ad right at press time?
The Stereophile review only confirms how poor some of their equipment recommendations can be. Certainly, personal tastes and preferences can lead to different opinions and conclusions, but I've gotten far better advice from my local dealer and fellow Audiogoners than I have from Stereophile. The DAC 64 is a truly outstanding component; open, liquid and detailed in equal measure, very close to a CD 12 in my humble opinion. I have written about it several times in this forum. The Chord absolutely blew away my old Ikemi, and it stomps all other single box players that I've heard, save the CD 12. I have had opportunity to listen to almost all of their Class A CD players, and I suspect the best-reviewed equipment is made by the manufacturer that gives the reviewer the best deal on demo units (or other equipment). I'd like to hear the objective "professional" reviewers deny it, because the special deals may affect their judgement and their ears. If the reviewers wish to be considered "objective," they should disclose their relationships with manufacturers and distributors and let the reader know what "perks" (deep discounts, free equipment, permanent loans, trips to Europe) they get from them. After all, being a "professional" means that you profess and adhere to a code of ethics and conduct, not that you get paid for what you do. Is the Musical Fidelity DAC better than the Chord? Wake up and listen!
I have yet to receive my copy of the July issue, so I can't really comment at this time. From the posts thus far, it would appear that JA truly did a number on the DAC64. I'm rather disappointed, since I've been waiting at least three months for his review, which was hinted at in some of the coverage of one of the audio shows earlier this year. (We all like to have our opinions propped up, regardless of the source.) I had just purchased a DAC64 and was interested in getting opinions from some of the self-proclaimed "experts", so I emailed JA to try and get some preview of his review, to no avail. He did say that his first sample had a defect, requiring a replacement for the completion of the review. I found this interesting, since I, too, had a problem with the first unit I bought, ser. no. 5063. The dealer replaced the defective unit with ser. no. 5100, and I've had no further difficulty. (" further difficulty" does Chord a disservice! I've found the unit to be a wonderful addition to my system!)

I'll wait until I've had a chance to read the review to comment further. Suffice it to say for now that I've found the DAC64 to be a salvation, allowing me truly to enjoy CD sound for the first time. Admittedly, my experience with separate transport/DAC combos is quite limited. I can't, however, imagine how anyone can have much in the way of negative comments regarding what I consider a remarkable
piece of equipment. I suspect there is much truth in the comments of others in this thread concerning paid advertising, etc. I would imagine my beloved SoundLab A3s have been totally ignored for lo these many years for the same reason. To which I say: "So what?"

As far as qualifications of so-called "professionals" are concerned, I've felt for a long time that the ONLY difference between "us" and "them" is the fact that "they" have much greater access to equipment than "we" could ever hope for. "They" put their pants on one leg at a time, same as the rest of us. BFD

Stay tuned.

I was a very happy camper with the EAD Ultradisc 2000 but allowed a dealer to convince me to try the Chord. To say that I was impressed with the Chord would be an understatement. Partnered with a Vecteur D-2 and DH Labs D-75 the Chord sings so sweetly that I can hardly believe that I am listening to -revelling in- digital sound. If your listening preferences go along the lines of maxxing out traditional cd sound, you might be underwhelmed by the Chord. It 'sounds' very unlike any other converter that I have ever heard in its tonally fleshed-out but still dynamically alive presentation. Worth a listen, I'd say.
I didn't think JA's review was that critical - it just wasn't universally rosy the way most gear reviews are these days. He pointed out some areas that he had trouble with, but the tone throughout was fairly positive as he emphasized various strengths as well. People are always saying that they want more critical reviews, and that's what I see JA's review as being. I don't own the Chord and am not in the market for a new DAC, but there was nothing off-putting about his review if I was other than his identification of weaknesses that may or may not be important to a given consumer. -Kirk
It is interesting to note that Andrew Harrson in the July 2002 edition of HiFi News (British HiFi magazine) said this about the DAC 64: “In conclusion, I’d put the Chord DAC 64 into a reference class for its decoding style and subsequent treatment of music. It’s not its lushness and smooth ride that make it a winner, but the way it threads the route of musicality and natural timing.”

I don’t know about you, but, I get the impression the HiFi News review of the Chord 64 DAC is very favorable. The Stereophile review is definitely not. Makes you wonder who is right?
I'd agree with Kthomas. Audiophiles are funny, as sometimes they critisizes those reviews "biased by ad revenue", and sometimes (read: now) "should write more rosy review about X".
Review is just review, not your parents or teacher/mentor or GOD. Just read it as info source. It is always your ears to decide. I don't take it seriously even when the review does not say well about my system with which I happen to be very happy. Those who claim that they can't audition (due to location, etc.), good luck. Ken
I agree with Kurt and Ken. If anything, I far prefer a review like Atkinson's where the strengths and flaws of a product are all reported. I remember years ago when JA would review Thiel speakers and put them under a microscope-- they were and still are fine speakers, but Atkinson's reviews would let you know their shortcomings and were done with a far more critical eye than most others I've seen in that magazine in recent years. Ultimately, if you like the sound of the Chord, who cares what a reviewer says, it's your ears and your system, trust your senses!
Everything is in the way you say it. Using the term "bloated bass" sounds much more drastic than saying that the bass was a "little soft", or "not as tight as", etc. I haven't heard the Chord and can't say whether this is accurate or not, but he used this term several times to describe the bass of the Chord.
"...Review is just review, not your parents or teacher/mentor or GOD..." Ken, i wish that is thrue. Stereophile unfortunately, is THE most influential magazine in the U.S.! I will quote David Solomon VP Sales & Marketing
Musical Fidelity USA, from Manufacturers Comments in July issue: "...due to the UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND, we were actually out of stock for some time,..." Can Richard Gray say the same thing?
I DO NOT own any of the CHORD products, but i am familiar with past products designed by Rob Watts, who in fact designed DAC64 for Chord (see my Audiogon post in "dCS or Chord64")I also raised the question ( Letter to Stereophile) regarding "unfavorable" reviews being reserved
for companies out of "circle of friends and FAVORS". And Stereophile reviewers have been consistant in that regard.
Past year I've been in sort of, shopping spree for a new DAC and i auditioned countless of products including products of lower spectrum as Musical Fidelity and Chord, that is not as cheap as MF, but still reasonable. Chord DAC64 does not reproduce or make bloated bass! Musical Fidelity performers are 3' tall, Chord performers are realisticaly portrayed! I ask anyone who have chance to listen Chord to do so, and not to compare it with MF but with the Mark Levinson 360 and dCS Purcell. If sounds good, it must be good! Right?
Having now read, and re-read, JA's review, I wish I hadn't posted anything earlier. I'll try, therefore, to make amends to all concerned:

My comments regarding the differences between "us" and "them" were unfair. I, for one, couldn't begin to put together the technical analyses, charts, etc. that accompanied JA's review, although I see little relevance in terms of component evaluation.(Which puts me right back to my original statement, I suppose!) It goes without saying that charts can be used to indicate the "superiority" of components that really sound terrible, and vice versa. Bring on the SUBJECTIVE stuff. To JA's credit, I get the impression that all of the charts are simply a routine part of a Stereophile review (to satisfy the technogeeks among us?), and have special meaning in this instance merely to explain the problems experienced with his two examples of the DAC64.

I feel that JA's words are quite fair. Admittedly, he certainly can't be accused of "gushing" about the Chord, as did Jimmy Hughes in two consecutive issues of HiFi+. (Hughes' initial review prompted me to buy a DAC64, and, in retrospect, his review now strikes me as a bit sophomoric. I'm glad I found it, nontheless.) At the same time, however, I think if anyone can have a gripe here, it would be he/she who has purchased either a ML No. 3, or a Wadia 861! JA gives a "nod" to the ML, at a price penalty of $14.5K. Duh. He goes on to talk about the Musical Fidelity components having less subtle differences
than the $8K Wadia, when compared to the Chord. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read this to mean that the Chord and the Wadia sound more alike than do the Mus. Fid. and the Chord (the Mus. Fid. sounding "better"). It's difficult/impossible to determine how much of the Wadia's $8K is for the dac, but I would guess it's somewhere north of the Chord's price of admission.

Seems to me that those who have the Musical Fidelity dac should be tickled pink! If I could have auditioned both the Chord and the Mus. Fid., I might very well have ended up with the latter. "...eye-poppingly gorgeous" isn't worth $1800 to me, assuming the sonic differences are as subtle as JA indicates. The Chord does have nice fit and finish, and no one can deny that it's built like a battleship, but I find it no less "utilitarian" than the Mus. Fid., truth be told. (I am amused by the many references in various reviews about the appearance of components. In the current issue's review of the Cairn amp, for instance, we are admonished to buy only the silver-finished version. Tellig says: "If you don't want to look at it, why would you want to listen to it?" HUH? Seems to me that, if one wants to listen without distractions, the black version would be preferable, although it might not be as impressive to the "common folke" heh heh. Different strokes, I guess. Makes the world go 'round.) JA says that the Chord "...glows like an internally illuminated jewel..." True, if you're standing and looking down at it. From a distance, however, it looks simply like a brushed metal lozenge, sitting on your shelf, giving no indication of why it's there.

I know one thing for sure: JA's comment about "silky smooth highs" pretty well sums up the main reason I bought a DAC64, and one reason for my continued satisfaction.

One statement intrigues me: "While its soundstage was a little less fleshed-out than those of the best CD playback systems I have auditioned..." And what, pray tell, was the cost of those systems? Bet they weren't cheap! BTW---the other five reviews in the July issue had "Associated Equipment" lists. Where's the one for the Chord review, eh?

In addition to the primary review it would be interesting to include double blind reviews of components of the primary reviewer as well as other reviewers who have no idea what's behind the black box. I did like the Chord over other favorably reviewed products and dislike a number of products that are "A" rated. Listen first then read.
As Rcprince said. trust your ears.

When Chord buys the back cover, JA will like it better than
the MF DAC.

JA's reviews are half as bad as that worthless garbage
they publish from John Marks.