The one thing that was always missing from Chord’s popular Qutest DAC was a headphone amplifier. While a simple upgrade to the Hugo 2 would cover that, many people, including myself, used the Hugo 2 on a desk, the power supply almost never unplugged. There was also the question of power. A Qutest + headphone amplifier was a definite consideration, but what to get?
That question has been answered today by the Chord Anni. The first dedicated headphone amplifier from Chord, it takes the same form factor as the Qutest (and Huei phono stage), yet it packs quite a whallop, with up to 10 Watts of output in Class AB mode.
The Anni sports both a 6.3mm (1/4″) and a 3.5mm (1/8″) headphone socket, both of which can be used at the same time. Like the Qutest, the Anni doesn’t have a balanced circuit, as Chord’s engineers consider that unnecessary for optimum sound quality and low distortion.
Featuring the dual-feed-forward error-correction circuit topology from their ULTIMA line of hi-fi amplifiers, Chord states that the Anni can drive any headphone load, as well as loudspeakers, including banana sockets for speaker output on the back.
As nobody likes multiple wall-warts, the Anni includes a 15V external power supply and has a 12V output which can be used to power a Qutest and Huei via the supplied adaptor.
An optional, system stand for holding two or three of the Qutest, Anni and Huei is also available for those who want the neatest stack possible.
The list price for the Anni is £1,195, or $1,795 in the US, and is available immediately. That would make for a Qutest + Anni rig for around the US$3600 mark, something which will strongly appeal to people wanting a high-end desktop headphone system that doesn’t take up a lot of space and is less than the cost of a TT2.
Note: The article has been updated to reflect the price in the US.