Five years since the introduction of the Ultima, Chord Electronics’ most accomplished amplifier topology in its history, the Kent company has trickled the technology down into an integrated amplifier for the first time, thus setting new performance standards for single-box amplification.
The new Ultima Integrated is a 125-watt amplifier designed by Chord Electronics’ founder, owner and chief engineer, John Franks. The Ultima Integrated has made its world debut at the High End 2023 in Munich. It boasts the latest dual-feed-forward error-correction topology as well as Chord Electronics’ legendary proprietary ultra-high-frequency power supplies. The company’s unmistakable industrial aesthetic makes it, as any Chord, an absolute head turner.
Franks’ advanced error-correction topology monitors and immediately corrects signals before the output stage. It is key to the Ultima Integrated, offering astonishing signal accuracy for unrivalled fidelity from a one-box integrated device.
The Ultima Integrated also takes advantage of the very latest developments in advanced low-distortion power supplies. These devices offer exceptionally low noise and outstanding amplifier operation.
All four of the Ultima Integrated’s inputs, one fully balanced and three unbalanced, enjoy individual buffering. They and are selectively filtered against potential ingress from radio frequency interference. Selection switching is via microprocessor-controlled sealed relays. In addition, the amplifier benefits from an AV bypass input, plus a balanced preamp output for connection to additional power amplifiers.
The new Ultima Integrated is the first new Chord Electronics integrated amplifier for seven years. It is the only full-width model in the range (Anni, from the Qutest range, is the only other integrated amplifier).
The Ultima Integrated follows a line of highly advanced full-width Ultima-technology power amplifiers. These include the original flagship Ultima mono power amplifier (780 W), the successive Ultima 2 (750 W) and 3 (480 W) mono power amplifiers as well as the Ultima 5 (350 W) and 6 (180 W) stereo power amplifiers.
Ultima Integrated industrial design aesthetic
The Ultima Integrated shares the same all-new 28-mm-thick front panel seen in John Franks’ recently introduced Ultima Pre 3 preamp. The new frontage offers a perfectly symmetrical aesthetic, centered on a spherical power on/off control. It uses the company’s familiar (dimmable) polychromatic lighting, giving a clear and simple indication of the amplifier’s playing status. The power sphere is flanked by a newly designed combined volume and input selector, plus a combined balance and AV bypass control.
All of the metalwork is precision-machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminium, including Chord Electronics’ iconic Integra Legs. The upper panel (lid) features Chord Electronics’ established vented design, with a newly redesigned logo-engraved dimmable LED light ring, giving distinctive visual appeal day or night.
Like all of Chord Electronics’ full-size and Reference range amplifiers, the new Ultima Integrated is available in a choice of Jett Black or Argent Silver. The amplifier can also be specified with a highly polished black acrylic side block option at no additional cost.
Chord Electronics’ founder, owner and chief designer, John Franks, said: “The new Ultima Integrated offers levels of performance not yet seen in any integrated amplifier. It features no fewer than four separate high-power line input phase-corrected power supplies working in harmony to give this new amplifier the high energy power levels and fast transient power that Chord Electronics’ products are known for.”
In addition to its four inputs, AV bypass and balanced outputs, the amplifier’s rear panel also contains high-quality loudspeaker terminals, a 12 V trigger and a 10 A C-19-type IEC.
About Chord Electronics’ Ultima technology
The Ultima topology is a state-of-the-art amplifier design featuring John Franks’ latest circuit creation. Ultima is the ultimate expression of the finest high-performance, ultra-fast, high-power amplifier technology available today. Ultima draws on the company’s three decades of research, design and engineering in Great Britain.
Ultima’s technology is based on a technical paper by Dr Malcolm J Hawksford (emeritus professor at Essex University) which was taken up and refined by Bob Cordell of Bell Labs. Chord Electronics’ owner and Chief Designer, John Franks, then took the theory and developed it to a much higher level; a progression of Cordell’s advanced dual-feed-forward error-correction topology incorporating Franks’ own advanced concepts in ultra-high-frequency power supplies, which have been a cornerstone of the company’s proprietary-technology amplifiers since its inception in 1989.
Each amplifier is painstakingly hand-built at the riverside Kent factory, The Pumphouse, over a period of several days, with each build overseen by a dedicated engineer. Chord Electronics’ renowned aircraft-grade solid aluminium casework offers a reassuringly high-end and entirely non-resonant enclosure for the electronics. The casework is neatly complemented by the unique Integra Leg system which offers both striking visuals and the ability to stack with various other full-size Chord Electronics products as well as the Choral units, such as the Dave DAC/preamp and BLU MKII CD/digital transport, when using the dedicated Choral Ensemble stand.
Price and availability
The Ultima Integrated is available to pre-order from Chord Electronics’ Ultima dealers now (expected September) £8,500.
Output power: 125 W into 8 Ω
Frequency response: 10 Hz-200 kHz +/- 3 dB
Input impedance: 100 kΩ
Input maximum voltage: 3 V RMS (single-ended)
Output maximum voltage: 35 V RMS
Channel separation: 100 dB
Operation voltage: 80-250 V AC auto-switching
Power consumption: 200 W