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Chord GroundARAY Review (Noise Filter?)

Rate this audio product:

  • 1. Waste of money (piggy bank panther)

    Votes: 259 97.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 2.2%

  • Total voters
    267

amirm

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This is a listening test, comparison and measurements of the Chord GroundARAY "noise reduction" devices. Member kindly sent me the Ethernet one which costs US $795:
Chord GroundARAY Ethernet Noise Filter DAVE DAC Review.jpg

Here is the picture of the full set:

chordco-GA-7-row-with-AEX-award-1080px.jpg


You are supposed to plug in the unit into the unused ports on your gear. And the more, the better.

NOTE: this is from CHORD Company, NOT Chord Electronics which makes the various DACs I have tested.

Chord GroundArray Listening Tests

My standard workstation where I perform my testing is naturally connected to our home network where a lot of the data files come and go during the testing over a TP Link switch. It has 8 ports with a few unused ones so I plugged the GroundArray into one of them. Inserting the device is easy. Getting it out is not because the tab is then hidden enough that you can't push to unlock it. I had to use a screw driver to push the lock in to remove it.

I played my reference tracks using RME ADI-2 Pro as I inserted and then removed the GroundARAY. There was no difference whatsoever to my ears. To avoid the accusation that I don't want to hear a difference, I then performed a null test using member @pkane's DeltaWave program. Here, RME ADI-Pro is capturing its own output for analysis. I made two captures: one with and one without GroundARAY. Here is the spectrum of null (difference) result:

Chord GroundARAY Ethernet Noise Filter RME ADI-2 DAC Null Test Listening.png


And here is the file itself if you want to listen: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkm7zx4lz3zi6xy/Missing Film Chord GroundAray Difference File.wav?dl=0

Even with my sensitive IEMs and pushing the RME headphone output to absolute max, all I hear is silence.

Chord GroundARAY Measurements
I happened to still have the Chord DAVE DAC on hand so I used it for measurements (different companies -- same name). The configuration is the same as listening tests with the TP-Link switch being used to capture and save measurement files (and music I listen to while testing). Here is the CHORD DAVE dashboard measurement as is with output calibrated to 4 volts:
Chord DAVE DAC Measurements.png


Per my DAC review note, one channel is less stable so I had to take care and graph that screen shot while it was on its best behavior. I then plugged in the GroundARAY to TP-Link switch. Here is the difference or lack thereof:
Chord GroundARAY Ethernet Noise Filter DAVE DAC Measurements.png


Nothing is out of placed or changed a hair for the entire audible band and then some (22.4 kHz bandwidth). SINAD is dominated by noise so if noise had gone down, it would improve but it did not. Let's measure dynamic range directly to assure ourselves of that:
Chord GroundARAY Ethernet Noise Filter DAVE DAC Dynamic Range Measurements.png


Other than tiny run to run variation, there is no difference whatsoever.

For people complaining that we only use a single 1 kHz tone for measurements, here is our 32 tone test running at 192 kHz sampling (so very wide bandwidth):
Chord GroundARAY Ethernet Noise Filter DAVE DAC Multitone Measurements.png


The two sets of measurements land right on top of each other with no difference at all.

We could run a lot more tests but results will be the same.

Conclusions
Even if the Ethernet GroundAray performed some kind of noise filtering, in which case company should so show that, the concept of it making a difference to a DAC output connected to said computer is incredibly far fetched. The PC is already much noisier than the Ethernet link yet we get superb sound out of it because DACs are designed to be immune to such noise. Furthermore, an Ethernet switch has independent ports. Filtering one is not going to do anything to the port next to it.

Audiophiles though with faulty testing methodology put aside all of that and say, "but I heard it." As I always say, I can put dirt in a box with a wire and you connect it to your audio system and you would report improvements. Indeed, such "grounding" devices exist and I have tested one that costs thousands of dollars! In this review, I have done my own listening tests with negative results. And used computer matching to show that there is no difference in the waveform to beyond the accuracy of the original audio files.

There is no way I can recommend the CHORD company GroundAray.

Edit: video review is also available now:


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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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JamesYeomans

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Different companies:
 

Zoomer

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the concept of it making a difference to a DAC output connected to said computer is incredibly far fetched
Gotta admire the creativity of the scam though. The meeting where this idea was born must have been hilarious.
 

DSJR

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The Chord Company is NOT Chord Electronics in any shape or form. The Chord Company started out making interconnects for Naim amplifiers back in the early 80's which were all DIN socketed. The range expanded into the lower reaches of the foo-end of the market and they've got into these potentially lucrative products too.
 

Caliban

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What is inside this crap ?
Googled to see if someone has opened the can but no..
 
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Triliza

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Furthermore, an Ethernet switch has independent ports. Filtering one is not going to do anything to the port next to it.
That settles it, no more is needed. Because I am a good guy, I got to ask if there is some sort of arrangement where two or more ports work in common? Not that it would made any difference, but it would give some people hope that Amir got it all wrong again.

Who gave them that award in the photo btw, probably it must have been the company selling the "Furutech NCF Clear Line "AC Power Supply Optimizer." Such kindred spirits.
 

AdamG247

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More shameless marketing claims to basically scam you out of your money. The Audiophile world is chock full of scammers and fraudsters. I expect we will get the usual surge of new members declaring how they can hear the difference and your measurements fail to capture the unmeasurable benefits of these devices. I will set up the Welcome Wagon….:cool:
 
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Not that I own a Chord Electronics product, or plan on it any time soon, but since you have reviewed a number of Chord Electronics products recently and even connected the Chord Electronics “Dave” to this The Chord Company device for this review…. it may be worth noting that more clearly in the title or intro. Maybe I’m just bitter the Kali Audio IN-8 review never got properly fixed. Thanks for everything else otherwise Amir!
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm what's the weight of this things?
Seems weird such a lenght sticking out of a device,looks like an accident waiting to happen.
Good point which I forgot to make. It is quite heavy. No ethernet port is designed for something like this dangling from it.
 

Robbo99999

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Chord Company (GroundAray) Chord Electronics (Dave)

(just thought I'd clarify :D)
Oh, shoot. Let me correct the review then.
It was still a bit misleading when I read the review (it was corrected when I read it the first time), I thought after reading the review that they were 2 different "sub" companies or something operating under the same brand name umbrella.....whereas after reading the comment from Static I realise they're not even related at all and it's just chance that they both use the word Chord as just part of their company's different names.
 

sarumbear

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The Chord Company is NOT Chord Electronics in any shape or form. The Chord Company started out making interconnects for Naim amplifiers back in the early 80's which were all DIN socketed. The range expanded into the lower reaches of the foo-end of the market and they've got into these potentially lucrative products too.
Correct. They were based in Salisbury (now moved about 20m north to Amesbury) where I used to live. I was a good friend of Julian Vereker RIP, the founder of NAIM Audio and through him I met the Chord guys. They started manufacturing very high quality cables for a high but not silly price. I own many of their cables and still use them.

Seeing these products, it looks like they entered to the audiophool market. Such a shame.
 

Kevbaz

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I can’t believe there is a company in the UK making this shit, Russ Andrews in UK got done by trading standards I believe for false advertising/snake oil.
Kev
 
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