Chord’s first venture into USB cables was a consequence of having musicians (incl some in bands) working at the Chord Company. After copying a CD master recording to a laptop, they were shocked at the poor performance of the burned copies when compared to the original master CD.
At the time Chord were using one of the first DACs with a USB input, so they played the master from the laptop. Still not good but better than the burned CD version. After using better spec ripping programs and playback management, Chord thankfully got big improvements to the burned CD.
Whilst Chord were happy that they could produce a pretty decent CD copy from the original master, the laptop copy of the master (sent to the DAC via its USB input) sounded clearly worse than the CD copy being fed to the same DAC – so they investigated the construction of the USB cable between laptop and DAC.
After listening to a selection of available (and varying quality) USB cables, Chord realised this was an area worth exploring. The result was the Chord USB SilverPlus, launched in Sept 2011, with silver-plated conductors and high frequency effective shielding. Chord Signature USB followed in April 2013 and has remained virtually unchanged up till now (Aug 2018)
There are increasing numbers of high quality DACs (with exceptional USB inputs) and several high quality music streamers/servers with USB outputs. This has led Chord to revisit and improve the original Signature USB design
The original Signature USB featured four separately shielded conductors. Chord have now refined the effective gauge of the silver-plated copper conductors and upgraded the insulation to a high-speed PE/LDPE/PE composite dielectric. The earth shielding connection is further protected from high frequency noise with its own foil tape layer. The ARAY technology has been upgraded from Tuned ARAY to Super ARAY using a Signature USB specific ARAY design. Chord have incorporated refinements with both USB A and B plugs. All connections are soldered and the USB plugs are silver-plated to Chord’s specification in the UK. Chord believe these changes have all contributed to a healthy improvement in performance. It is certainly a little harder (therefore longer) to build, so while the price has crept up from the original Signature USB, Chord feel it more than justifies the effort when you audition it against the original design.