The Chord Electronics Qutest System was expanded earlier this year with the much-anticipated Anni Integrated Amplifier. The Anni joins its line mates the Huei phono stage and the Qutest DAC, completing the stackable trio in what is possibly the best desktop sound system for under $6k. All three units have similar design qualities with a Jett Black anodized exterior and polychromatic control spheres. Fans of Chord Electronics will be glad to hear that the Anni benefits from the trickle-down technology of the larger Chord Electronics amplifiers, like the Etude amplifier and Ultima Series, scaled down for a smaller footprint.
Marcus, the Founder and Editor of Headfonics, was sent the Chord Electronics Anni for testing purposes. Unlike many of the other reviews we have read that focus on the Anni's ability to drive a pair of speakers, this review homes in on what the Anni can do with a pair of cans. As a desktop amplifier, the Anni has the power to drive most speakers, but it can just as easily be used for private listening. In fact, the Anni is equipped with front-accessible inputs for headphones: a 1/4" TRS port and a 3.5mm TRS port. In this review, Marcus gives a detailed exploration of the internals, the inputs and outputs, the design and controls, even the packaging and accessories. Then, he gets into the listening portion of his review.
Hooked up with to the Qutest DAC, Marcus tests the Anni with three different headphones: Final D8000 PRo, Meze Audio Elite, and Diana TC from Abyss Headphones. "The Anni performance is a very different experience from the like of the Hugo 2. It is big and bold sounding, yet smooth and very listenable at the same time." He goes on to mention that the Anni is not a reference-level machine that will tease out ever tiny detail in the midrange, but that it does have excellent dynamic range and clarity while remaining emotive and smooth.
The drive and energy from this amp make music fun and engaging sounding with plenty of PRaT, which is what it is all about right? What I like about the Anni sound signature the most though is that this lively character does not come with a bucket load of forced treble and sparkle. The extension is good but it is not a dry or bright mix so you will not get a tonal quality that is heavy on ‘excitable’ contrast to tease out the detail.
This is just a brief synopsis of an extremely in depth review. Headfonics fills three pages with details, with the final page a selection head to head comparisons. If you've got any questions about the Anni, this is quintessential article to reference, as Marcus touches on just about every aspect of the Anni integrated amplifier (besides how it drives speakers.) Headfonics gave the Anni a combined score of 9.1/10, score a 9.1 in Sound Quality, 9.2 in Design, 8.9 in Features, and a 9.3 in Synergy. Headfonics.com readers have also rated the Chord Electronics Anni a User Rating of 9.