I was fortunate to be given a Chord Company GroundARAY HF Filter at the launch of the amazing Chord Company PowerHAUS distribution block. Until now I have not really grasped the full impact of the product on my system however recently, with extensive use of a 2Go/Hugo 2 streaming platform, I have been able to ‘hear the benefit’ of the GroundARAY effect.
As I hear it, there is electrical noise in a HiFi system and there is mechanical noise. Mechanical noise is caused by physical movement, leading to vibrations and it is why you want to ‘isolate’ your equipment from the floor as best you can. For me, I use granite ‘chopping boards’ for my electronics broadly, I put iron weights (old-style antique irons with pads or Blu-Tak) on my DACs as well. I feel they help. I did have exposure to some isolation technology from Isoacoustics for my speakers and this was very impressive, and I wish I had taken the offer to buy them.
I have, however, not really understood, or shall I say quantified, the effect of electrical noise in my HiFi system. Such noise is caused by general radio waves, Bluetooth devices spinning away or WiFi routers, screens and LEDs, just noisy electrical things. Sure, I am fortunate to have high-quality shielded cables, properly grounded distribution blocks and the like on loan, but quantifying the electrical noise reduction is a different game. I usually go A-B-A-B, etc. as I did with the PowerHAUS distribution block review.
The GroundARAY product from Chord Company is specifically aimed at removing high-frequency electrical noise from your HiFi system. It reportedly offers a low impedance path for electrical noise, this makes sense. The idea is the high-frequency noise is damped or absorbed by the proprietory material inside the GroundARAY ‘stick’, effectively tuning this noise into heat. It is used in parallel with the devices on the earth, so it is not on the signal path.
The GroundARAY is made of CNC-milled Aluminium with a range of connectors that are; RCA; DIN; BNC; RJ45; USB Type-A and XLR male and female. The GroundARAY is hand-assembled by the technicians at Chord Company.
The GroundARAY can be plugged into any spare socket on your system, in theory, hence the variety of different sockets offered.
Impact – Performance
There is clearly something here (or not here), to the benefit of the system
I’m not going to go overboard here but it is pretty obvious you’d need a pretty revealing system to appreciate what is going on with the GroundARAY. For me, I have the very lovely and impressive pure analogue (no streaming module or digital inputs) MOON 250i integrated amplifier driving my own Jern 14DS loudspeakers. I do need a REL subwoofer with these loudspeakers. Then I’m using the Chord Hugo 2 with the 2Go streaming bridge which offers me a clean digital battery-fed source (no plugs, less electrical noise). Because I’m using the 2Go on WiFi I have the spare Ethernet port in there free for the RJ45 (Ethernet style) GroundARAY that I have.
When I first had the GroundARAY I had it in the spare rear ethernet port of the Leema Sirius Music Server and it is probable I hadn’t appreciated its benefit, or rather, I hadn’t listened for it. When the Leema Sirius went home I simply plugged the GroundARAY into my router, again not appreciating the benefit. It has remained there until now. I gather the GroundARAY can slot into any spare port that it fits in, and the impact should be the same.
I’m evaluating the GroundARAY this time with the Hugo 2 on ‘minimal settings’, minimum crossfeed and the lowest filter setting, fixed output to the MOON 250i amplifier. It is an exemplary system, the Jern loudspeakers really come across beautifully with the MOON amplification.
With the GroundARAY in the 2Go, I’m clearly getting an elevated sound, the noise floor has apparently diminished. The soundstage is lifted and there appears to be a bit more heft, body, or volume in the room if you like. It is akin to playing around with the filters on the Hugo 2 as that subtle but imperceptible improvement in sound. There is clearly something here (or not here), to the benefit of the system.
I just wonder to myself if having the GroundARAY near the source (in the 2Go in this case) is more tangible than having it, say, in the noisy router, which I understand may give the same benefit. For me, this is not the case, and I quickly revert to putting the GroundARAY back in the 2Go, even though the router is a very noisy electrical place.
Cambridge Audio Evo 150
The arrival of the unsurprisingly good Evo 150, which can be wired or wireless, affords me the chance to slot the GroundARAY into the rear Ethernet port in a wireless configuration. The soundstage is easily commanding and bouncy, for example in Save Your Tears (Remix) (Tidal FLAC 16-bit, 44.1kHz). The nuanced improvement with the GroundARAY is evident, particularly for me with acoustic or vocal-led tracks, particularly where they’re quieter, for example with Nils Frahm’s fizzing track Some (Tidal FLAC 16-bit, 44.1kHz), I don’t feel the GroundARAY helps me much with heavier rock.
The GroundARAY is effective, as I say, it is just there and evident. It will not help you understand Nickleback any more than you do already but at other times it will add to your presentation as it has mine. As a further improvement to this system, I like it a lot.
I feel if this type of product is in your thoughts, you’ll have isolated your electronics, as I do on granite slabs, (or maybe 10 pence pieces) have your speakers on spikes, maybe have your speaker cables supported off the floor and have your interconnects nicely routed (not touching each other). The next step for you may be looking at some form of electrical noise reduction. These Chord Company GroundARAY products are certainly worth a try, in my opinion, and just slotting them into an all-in-one, like the Evo 150 offers clear benefits. If this is your budget, it is worth an experiment.