The Chord Company Chameleon VEE3 Review. The Chameleon RCA is an affordable RCA for audiophile HiFi systems that adds a higher degree of black/white accuracy during analogue transmission.
Beginning its life in 1985, The Chord Company was founded in the UK with an seemingly simple vision; to bring audiophiles, the world over, with high quality interconnects that should no longer be considered as ‘unknown’ territory, or indeed the weakest link.
From conception to this very day, The Chord Company can easily be considered as the original interconnect fanatics whom enlightened scores of consumers with why cables really do matter in terms of audio. However, it is today that we have been presented with The Chord Company’s latest addition to the team; The ‘Chameleon’ VEE 3.
The Chameleon cable itself can be tailor-made to your very specifications; from length to connection socket type, but today we will be focussing on a pair of 1 meter RCA to RCA’s. As it is important to establish a standard, we will be using our (undisclosed) ‘test’ track listings to be played using an mains conditioned power supply with Epiphany Acoustics Atratus Mains Leads, Cambridge Audio Azur 540D, transmitted via the Chameleon cable outlined above, into an Chord Electronics ‘Toucan’, and finally into just one set of headphones (to best critically analyse the signal); the Beyerdynamic T90’s.
Arriving in an rather undressed retail package, the Chameleon doesn’t appear to show many colours other than half of its photographic representation printed on the internal information card seen through the plastic window that easily slips off. The innovative packaging is simplistic, and is satisfying to know that instead of an heavy-duty box laced with gold leaf, the Chameleon only flexes its impressive muscles (or nerves) upon your ears discreetly when plugged into your system.
Withdrawing back to the package the Chameleon actually comes in, I do worry that if you were to purchase this at a high end dealer on the high-street that the cable may creep out of its packaging. Whilst saying this is all well and good, I do feel that this is quite forgettable, and nothing that could easily happen, nor cause damage so this doesn’t effect the rating at all.
Construction and Build Quality:
It possibly should have been noted sooner what materials physically define this product, but it is not quite as simple as most might think. The Chord Company have implemented a number of production processes to make this special cable such as using silver plated RCA plugs dubbed with the name ‘VEE 3’ to increase signal transfer, with an Oxygen Free Copper cable core (OFC) that is configured in conjunction with the plugs to have an optimal directional signal input/output path. Additionally, the multi-stranded core conductors have been insulated with an compound material known as FEP to improve the signal during extreme frequency transfers (such as in systems that can operate with a lower frequency floor and higher frequency limit – typically above the human range of hearing between 20Hz – 20kHz as this does help with how effortless the output performs).
In addition to the physical conductive elements mentioned above, The Chord Company has taken many steps to reduce potential microphonics and frequency loss with an layering of cotton fibre, into any high density braid, topped off with an foil shielding and soft PVC lower shell into an final hard PVC outer. This effect is noticeable on how the cable feels in the hand, it feels of a very high quality finish and is put together without any flaws which now leads me to the plug construction. The Chord Company claim that the VEE 3 plug has an outer ABS shell with a centre pin that is isolated with PTFE. Looking at the plug on its own it kind of looks a tad inconspicuous; definitely not blingy. Removing the outer jacket reveals an utterly flawless silver soldering job that shows no burning or stress whatsoever. This is by far the most well produced cable that we have ever seen here at The Pro Audio Web Blog. Overall everything is superb! There may be no prizes if it were to be in a fashion show, but it’s not, it’s sitting at the back of your Hi-Fi; never to be noticed. Ever remember the idiom “children should never be seen but heard”, yeah well sit back and relax because now we’re going to be sweating as to how we can describe the Chameleon VEE 3 RCA cable performance with justice.
Placing the Chameleon VEE 3 RCA into your system is just as easy as easy as any other cable. Whilst remembering to not over-handle the cable to make sure it retains its inner structure, simply just plug the RCA from the output to the input and then everything is all rosy. Even though The Chord Company does use a ‘cable toaster’ to quickly burn the cable in prior to arriving in your hands, they still recommend that you run a minimum of one-hundred hours of use before you take to critically analysing… so this is exactly what we did.
In comparison to a number of other premium RCA’s that we currently hold in our locker, we can safely report that this tops the lot with ease. Whilst promoting great depth into anything we threw at it, it was quite noticeable how the stereo field opened up and allowed for the finer nuances to appear with a crystal like clarity. Even with some seriously heavy electronic genres you felt the power-punch of the kick with a knife like response, and on the other end of the spectrum hi-hats glistened to accurately separate themselves without getting lost or ironed over. See, this is the thing, all the instruments don’t come together to sound like they have metaphorically had oil thrown at them to make them appear as slightly loose and a bit wayward. Instead what the Chameleon does is put oil between all the instruments so that you can hear each and every musician working with their musical counterpart; if this isn’t making much sense then what I am trying to say is that you can hear how many musicians there are. During moments when an instrument is panned from one side to the other the soundstage seemed to be rather accurate whilst holding some element of air. We found that listening to tracks of a classical nature was particularly revealing, in such a way that makes you wonder where all the subtle tails or human- breathes came from. Continuing from this point, sometimes it can be how the absence of sound is implemented to make ‘music’. If you’ve ever had those moments where silence is meant to be silent, but you are still hearing… well… something… then the Chameleon ultimately enters with an ability to make everything that bit more musical. This all adds up to be one tough cable to crack in terms of its lifelike qualities, and for these reasons we want to make sure that the Chameleon remains in our system!
There is no arguing that this cable is a considerable investment, especially if you have the ‘a cable doesn’t matter’ attitude, but I implore you to at least experiment with the Chameleon interconnect. I am sure that from this experience you will then be able to understand why you need this to remain in your system. The Chord Company came into the business to make users listen up about just how a cable can change your relationship with music, and damn will the Chameleon not let them down. The Pro Audio Web Blog awards The Chord Company Chameleon Plus VEE 3 with our best five out of five rating. Alternatively if you are on a tighter budget, then the Crimson may be of interest at only £49.00. It is also an excellent interconnect.