Today we’ll be looking at Chord Electronics‘ new amplifier, the Anni. The Anni is a desktop amp for headphones and loudspeakers, coming in at $1,795. For this price range, the bar is quite high, as pricey amps are increasingly common, and thus the competition is steep. Not to mention, Chord Electronics has also set a fairly high standards for themselves with their past products. Let’s see how the Anni stacks up.
What’s in the Box
- 1.5 m 15 V 6 A switch-mode power supply
- Qutest range power adapter
- Carrying case
Look and Feel
The Anni is incredibly sturdy and highly compact. It could easily be slipped in a backpack for on-the-go use without adding much weight. I wouldn’t have mined a hard-shell case being included for transport purposes. Its minimalistic build has an unassuming, no frills style to it. For the price, I think the Anni could sport a bit more luxury to make its exterior more symbolic of its interior. Maybe some would find it tacky, but I’m a sucker for a shiny/metallic finish and some added embellishments.
6.35 mm headphone output, Volume control/input select, 3.5mm headphone output, Gain button (high and low gain functions available), Power button
15V DC Power input, ground terminal, speaker output right, Line level inputs 1 & 2, 12 V DC output, Speaker output left channel
The Anni is Chord Electronic’s first integrated amplifier. It’s made to drive both headphones and loud speakers, and can drive multiple pairs of headphones at once. The Anni implements Chord Electronics ULTIMA circuit topology, which is meant to bring out your headphones or speakers fullest potential. The Anni also works in tandem with Chord Electronic’s Qutest range, such as their standalone DAC and Huei phono stage.
For its price and build, I expected high output from the Anni, and was not disappointed. It drove every headphone I tested with ease, rarely did the volume surpass the halfway point, especially when using the high gain setting for especially power hungry headphones. It did an especially good job driving Dan Clark Audio’s AEON Flow 2, which some amps struggle a bit with. If you’re looking for pure power that will give you tons of leeway with volume, the Anni has you covered.
I found of the various subtle improvements the Anni made to sound quality, three stuck out to me: soundstage width, low end handling, and high end timbre. When it came to soundstage width, especially on closed backs that may be more limited, I found headphones were given far greater separation and balance. There was added air and any heaviness or stuffiness was completely eliminated. This also made open back headphones, like Dan Clark’s AEON 2, gain an even more immersive, cinematic sound than already existed in their expansive timbre.
In terms of low end handling, the Anni greatly tightened things up. For example, on the Audeze LCD-2 closed back, the low end is one of its key strengths for me. This being said, it can be just slightly overbearing at times and sometimes pick up a bit more sub range than is necessary. With the Anni, the LCD-2’s sub range felt like it had locked into the perfect, most satisfying place. Kicks and bass sounds decayed with excellent precision, and the bottom end had a heightened realism about it.
When it comes to high end, the Anni added what felt to me like a bit of vintage warmth, but it did so with a lot of modern cleanliness. The most crisp peaks are slightly rounded off to make an easier on the ears sound. I found this quality especially helpful when using the Focal Stellia, which I felt benefitted from a subtle taming to its brightness, the Anni providing a small but effective dose of coloring.
I’m quite impressed with the Anni’s ability to clean up sound in a nuanced, articulate manor. It feels like it politely elevates quality, understanding how to conserve the original character of your headphones or speakers while still tightening things up and extending some sonic flare. If you want a balance of warmth and cleanliness along with some added width and depth to imaging, the Anni definitely rises to the challenge.
You can purchase the Chord Electronics Anni at Audio 46