Dealer Spotlight: TAKE 5

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Back in 1977, three young music lovers working in a local stereo shop yearned to be able to offer even better quality components to their clients—offering names like Mark Levinson, Audio Research, Magnepan and so forth.  Their love of music and their passion to provide higher grade audio components that served the music they loved, led to the formation of Take 5 Audio in New Haven, CT.  Initially working out of an apartment and running ads in the New York Times to alert hifi enthusiasts to their existence, their dedication and boundless enthusiasm was soon rewarded with a move into a fine brick and mortar retail store location where they began to flourish.


Today, Take 5 Audio is located directly across the street from Yale University in downtown New Haven, CT.  Take 5 Audio is an audio oasis, with five dedicated sound rooms chock full of today’s very best audio and video gear.  Names like Wilson Audio, McIntosh, Audio Research, Mark Levinson, Ayre Acoustics, Audeze, Magnepan, B&W Bowers and Wilkens, Brinkmann, AMG, Aurender, Clearaudio, Dynaudio, Bryston, Linn, Harmonic Resolution Systems, Esoteric, Marantz, JL Audio, Paradigm, Zanden and, of course, Nordost, adorn their shelves.  Owner Ralph Cortigiano and lead salesman Bob Carissimi are two of the nicest and most knowledgeable audio and video aficionados you will ever have the pleasure of meeting and working with!  The store is very well appointed with ample facilities for demoing every fine brand they carry.  The foundation of this business was built upon trust — trust that is today revered by both past and present clients, further fortified with a solid confidence in the advice and service Take 5 Audio provides to all their customers.   Product recommendations are based on what is best for their customers.  They are strong adherents to the philosophy “do it right the first time” which ensures no buyer’s remorse and ends up saving you, the customer, money in the long run, by avoiding incorrect or impractical purchases.  Ralph and Bob follow a no-pressure, no-commission sales approach which ensures decisions are based on what’s best for their customers.  Their longevity in the marketplace attests to this successful and relaxing sales approach!


Take 5 Audio has been a wonderful member of our family of Nordost authorized dealers.  They have demo product on hand for personal customer evaluation, as well as on display, and ready for demonstrations in their sound rooms.  You can audition Valhalla 2 in a highly resolving audio system as well as Heimdall 2 and, our Leif Series of cables.  They also have Nordost’s very exciting new product on demo, the QKORE grounding system!     So please, next time you are in New Haven, Connecticut, drop by and visit this very fine audio oasis.  Say hello to Ralph, Bob and Renae, and listen to some of the finest audio gear available.  They will work within your budget and make sure you leave with the utmost confidence in their ability to select the right gear to honor the music that you love!

Pictures from Nordost Nation! July 2017

Nordost is lucky to have such incredibly loyal and enthusiastic customers! One great way that our fans let us know that they are happy with the work that we do is by sending us pictures of their Nordost products in action. Here are a few photos that have been shared with us recently. Feel free to send us pictures of Nordost in your system, via Facebook,, or #nordostcables on Instagram, so that we can continue to share them with the whole Nordost family!


@vezbeas - "CHIC"

@vezbeas – “CHIC”

Barnsly Sound Org gave their Heimdall 2 Speaker Cables a lift with our Sort Lifts! "To infinity and beyond!"

Barnsly Sound Org gave their Heimdall 2 Speaker Cables a lift with our Sort Lifts!
“To infinity and beyond!”

@catober shared this picture of their system with Nordost loudspeaker cables

@catober shared this picture of their system with Nordost loudspeaker cables

Audiovisionaries has their Sort Kones on display, supporting their NAD Electronics M12 Digital Preamp

Audiovisionaries has Sort Kones on display, supporting their NAD Electronics M12 Digital Preamp

@Stevechavez posted this shot: "Getting away with a Saturday night portable balanced headrig session featuring Sade's greatest..."

@Stevechavez posted this shot: “Getting away with a Saturday night portable balanced headrig session featuring Sade’s greatest…”

"Just upgraded from Blue Heaven.  Well worth it."   Thanks Odd-Arne!

“Just upgraded from Blue Heaven. Well worth it.”
Thanks Odd-Arne!

AMEK shared this picture of   a Focal Professional supported by our Sort Füt!

AMEK shared this picture of a Focal Professional supported by our Sort Füt!

Three shots in one of @cultoffonza's Heimdall 2 loom!

Three shots in one of @cultoffonza’s Heimdall 2 loom!

This striking photo of our Blue Heaven Headphone Cable is courtesy of DMA-audio

This striking photo of our Blue Heaven Headphone Cable is courtesy of DMA-audio

The original Valhalla Power Cords never go out of style.  Nice pic from  @felipe.rolim92!

The original Valhalla Power Cords never go out of style. Nice pic from @felipe.rolim92!

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AV ACE is showing off their Red Dawn Speaker Cables and Balanced Interconnects

@vinylbutiken got a glimpse of our new QKORE Ground Units!

@vinylbutiken got a glimpse of our new QKORE Ground Units!

Absolute Audio YYC with a new set of Odin 2 and Valhalla 2 XLR cables burning-in for a lucky customer!

Absolute Audio YYC with a new set of Odin 2 and Valhalla 2 XLR cables burning-in for a lucky customer!

@phillipwangusa shared this great shot of his Oppo Headphones with our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable!

@phillipwangusa shared this great shot of his Oppo Headphones with our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable!

@pops_overeem had a "Nordost Day" with a wide variety of Nordost cables, power products, and resonance control devices!!

@pops_overeem had a “Nordost Day” with a wide variety of Nordost cables, power products, and resonance control devices!!

@gsoundquest is taking advantage of our Norse Bi-Wire Jumper Cables with his Red Dawn Loudspeaker Cables

@gsoundquest is taking advantage of our Norse Bi-Wire Jumper Cables with his Red Dawn Loudspeaker Cables.  Thanks Gabby!

These Leif cables are just waiting to be opened up by some lucky customer at Tasso Elettronica!

These Leif cables are just waiting to be opened up by some lucky customer at Tasso Elettronica!

"Work can be fun" with Woo Audio's great home office setup!

“Work can be fun” with Woo Audio’s great home office setup!


@dusty_stylus says "First time I've heard my HousePods after buying them a few years ago. An awesome deep sound. Drivers are the same as used in the Bowers and Wilkins Matrix series . Just testing them out using Musical Fidelity AV processor/Amplifier/DAC and Cyrus Transport #blueroomspeakers #bowersandwilkins #hifi #musicalfidelity #nordost"

@dusty_stylus says “First time I’ve heard my HousePods after buying them a few years ago. An awesome deep sound. Drivers are the same as used in the Bowers and Wilkins Matrix series . Just testing them out using Musical Fidelity AV processor/Amplifier/DAC and Cyrus Transport #blueroomspeakers #bowersandwilkins #hifi #musicalfidelity #nordost”

Nice picture from @acido_ of Monitor Audio with some classic Nordost cables "#madeinengland, #madeinusa"

Nice picture from @acido_ of Monitor Audio with some classic Nordost cables “#madeinengland, #madeinusa”


Nordost is headed to the Hong Kong High-End Audio Visual Show!

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Nordost is very excited to be joining our friends and partners, Radar Audio, at The Hong Kong High-End Audio Visual Show this year at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, August 11-13th. Nordost’s VP of International Sales, Johann Graham, and Product Specialist, Bjorn Bengtsson, will be there to answer questions and conduct demonstrations on a variety of Nordost products, including our new QKORE Ground Units, in room S421. Nordost products will also be available for purchase throughout the show for all attendees. The Hong Kong High-End Audio Visual Show is one of the most important events in the audio and visual industry in Hong Kong and South East Asia, and we are happy to be involved once again! 

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Nordost Playlist – July 2017

Nordost is lucky to have a wonderful team of representatives and product trainers who travel around the world educating and demonstrating the effects of Nordost’s products. As part of these demonstrations, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort system and accessories. Whether at shows, visiting our dealers and distributors or even in our own listening room in our headquarters in Holliston, we are constantly getting asked what music we are playing (or if our audience is not so bold to ask, we can see their Shazams working overtime). So we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share our favorite songs of the moment. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but one thing is for sure …it’s all great music.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this July.


  1. Lift Me—The Bengsons—Hundred Days
  2. Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer—Stevie Wonder—At The Close Of A Century
  3. Redbone—Childish Gambino—“Awaken, My Love!”
  4. Bem, Bem, Maria—Gipsy Kings—¡Volare! The Very Best of the Gipsy Kings
  5. Benzin—Boogarins—MANUAL
  6. Emotions And Math—Margaret Glaspy—Emotions And Math
  7. Number One—Portugal. The Man (feat. Rickie Havens & Son Little)—Woodstock
  8. Butterflyz—Alicia Keys—Songs In A Minor
  9. Make Me (Cry)—Norah Cyrus, Labrinth—Make Me (Cry)
  10. Friends—Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver—Farewell, Starlite!


Alan Sircom reviews the QKORE for Hi-Fi+

Review Banner-QKORE_wideLast month, Nordost debuted the newest addition to its QRT range: The QKORE Ground Unit. In anticipation of this launch, Hi-Fi+ published a brilliant review, written by Alan Sircom. In his article, Alan touts the “instant, obvious, and profound” effects that the QKORE has on a sound system:

“The main effect was in the bass, which sounded significantly tighter, deeper, and more authoritative. More significantly, QKORE was like a quick lesson in ‘time coherence’, giving any sound (even speech) a more accurate sense of rhythmic beat and metre (we often just lump this together into saying it ‘times’ well). There are other benefits, too; the almost clichéd ‘darker backgrounds’ and wider soundstage with better separation of images applied here, too. The treble seemed to integrate slightly better with the midrange and bass as well, but it’s that bass and temporal correctness that wins you over. It’s like your system no longer has to apologise for itself, even if it had little to apologise for before you QKORED it!”

Alan’s QKORE review is now available to read on the Nordost website here:  Nordost QKORE ground units

You can find more great Nordost reviews on our Reviews Page.

Questions and Answers (QKORE)

Our product specialists receive questions on a daily basis about Nordost products, their application, and hifi in general.  With the introduction of our new QKORE Ground Units last month, we received an influx of great questions from customers.  We thought that we would take a minute to answer some of our QKORE related question here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!

Q: Hello, I have recently purchased one of your new QKORE Units (1 outlet to QB). I was wondering whether there is any suggestion about placement on/around the stereo rack. More specifically, does it have to be in the middle of the rack, like QX4, or can it be placed outside the rack on the floor? Since I also own a QX4, can the QKORE and the QX Unit be placed side by side?

A: QKORE units can be placed pretty much anywhere within your system; they don’t have the same placement needs as the QX Units. However, they do benefit from being on a proper shelf in your audio rack, or on Sort Kones, instead of sitting directly on the floor. To address your second question: Yes, your QKORE Unit can be placed side by side with QX4 or QX2 Units.

QKore_Front and Back

Q: I am trying to determine which QKORE would work best for my system. Would I be able to connect my QBASE Unit to my QKORE Unit if I purchase the QKORE3?

A: Our QKORE6 Unit is designed with two Low Voltage Attractor Plates, so that it can address both primary (AC) and secondary (DC) ground. The QKORE3 Unit is only intended to address one aspect of ground at a time. Therefore, if you connect your QBASE Unit to your QKORE3 simultaneously with your electronics, you will not achieve the desired effects. The benefits to your system will be much greater if you use both a QKORE1 and QKORE3, or if you purchase the QKORE6.

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Q: I have an external ground rod, can I still benefit from the QKORE?

A: While the QKORE1 is especially ideal for someone looking to ground their QBASE but who does not have the opportunity to install an external ground rod, you can absolutely gain additional benefits from using QKORE Units. It’s similar to the improvements that you will see when going from a designated ground for your system to an external ground rod. Adding a QKORE to this setup will be another step-up in performance. When adding the QKORE3 or QKORE6 to your system, you will see benefits that are not addressed by an external ground, since these products also improve the secondary ground, where the audio circuit is.

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Q: I read that the QKORE either comes with one or two QKORE Wires in the packaging. Why would you not provide us with all of the cables we need to set up the QKORE in our system?

A: The QKORE1 includes a 2 meter QKORE Wire with Banana to Banana terminations, the QKORE3 includes a 2 meter QKORE Wire with Banana to RCA terminations, and the QKORE6 includes one of each. However, it would be impossible to foresee which lengths and terminations would be necessary in each individual’s system. There are 18 different termination combinations available, not to mention variations in cable length.


Marc Mickelson reviews the Valhalla 2 USB Cable for

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We are very pleased to share the latest review of our Valhalla 2 USB 2.0 Cable, recently published on In his review, The Necessary Link: Nordost’s Valhalla 2 USB Cable, Marc Mickelson describes the improvements that Nordost’s precision-built, American-made USB cable brought to the reproduction of his digital music:

“Valhalla 2 USB mirrors my reaction to hearing Nordost Odin cables—in the form of a single phono cable—for the first time: the sense that I was not just hearing more of the music—the finest details and the largest master strokes, all expertly integrated into the soundscape—but less of a fine background scrim that I only noticed it once it was gone.”

Read Marc’s review in its entirety here.

(Many more great Nordost reviews can be found on the Reviews Page of our website)

Dealer Spotlight: Loud & Clear

This month, we focus on one of Nordost’s longest standing dealers in the UK, Loud & Clear, who recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

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With a hugely experienced team of 18 across showrooms and demo suites in Glasgow & Edinburgh – Loud & Clear pride themselves on their system synergistic approach. They consider an audio or audio/video system as a whole – a system which should be greater than the sum of its parts. Rather than looking at individual components, a system is all about how products interact and complement each other to give a truly outstanding performance.

In the words of Allan Boyd, Glasgow’s MD, “We have all put together a system which, on paper, should sound amazing, but in reality is a touch disappointing. It’s all about knowing the strengths of each and every component in the chain and knowing what will work together.  It’s one of the great things about Nordost cabling and the QRT product – they add very little – they just let the system breathe and perform to its best.”


“Demonstration is the key to what we do – we all have our personal preferences about the music we love and the way we listen. Both stores have unprecedented demo facilities – two hifi suites in Edinburgh, as well as a multichannel room, two hifi suites in Glasgow, a multichannel room, and a recently added private demo suite dedicated to the high end on the South side of Glasgow.” added John Carroll, MD of Loud & Clear in Edinburgh.

One of the things that sets the Loud & Clear team apart from their local competition is their prevailing attitude to only offer products that they truly believe in, rather than merely sell ‘the latest thing with a five star review’. This consistent philosophy is reflected by the fact that many of the key brands present in the store when they opened their doors back in 1996, such as Rega, Linn, NaimAudio, ProAc & Sonus Faber, remain integral parts of their business today. In contrast, the last 20 years have seen the closure of many other hifi shops in Scotland, that jumped from brand to brand, and review to review.

In addition to the company’s focus on performance audio – Glasgow is also the home of Loud & Clear Smarthome – a dedicated team of 5 who specialize in home theatre, multi room audio, lighting, and heating control— working on projects large and small throughout Scotland and beyond.

Product photogrpahy at Loud and Clear Hifi in Glasgow. The Edinburgh store extends its offerings into the esoteric high end. This is illustrated by having products such as dCS, Kef Blades, YG Acoustics and Moon Evolution on permanent demonstration. 

The reality is that the two stores complement each other perfectly! There’s probably nowhere else in Europe where you’d be able to compare the likes of dCS, Linn, Meridian, Moon and Naim alongside more specialist brands like VPI, Plato and Merging.

There are some clear product synergies with Nordost here - Moon and Nordost have partnered up at many hifi shows over the years in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.  Similarly, VPI offers Nordost internal wiring as an optional upgrade in their tonearms. As a result, many VPI turntables are sold around the world with Nordost tonearm cables.

Not many hifi dealers can boast owning a record label, but Loud & Clear can! Groove Line Records was established in 2015, and specializes in the reissue of classic disco records. As you’d expect with all things associated with Loud & Clear, attention to detail is second to none, with every release taken from the master tapes, and the vinyl pressings being produced at one of the most renowned pressing plants in the world—Optimal in Germany.


When you take into account all the diverse areas that the Loud & Clear Group operate in, you quickly realize that there is probably no other dealer like them in the world. A sheer love of music shines through in all the staff. When this is coupled with an unerring ability to extract the maximum potential & performance from all the products they sell, you can understand why they establish such enduring relationships with their customers—many of whom have spent the last two decades developing their systems with them.

If you’re ever passing through the great cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh, we highly recommend visiting our friends and partners at Loud & Clear!

Nelson Brill Reviews Two Bass-Centric Acts in Cambridge

Real music lovers can find the melody in everything. From the park to the concert hall, our friend Nelson Brill is always on the hunt for great sound. In this blog, Brill covers two bass-centric performances at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA, featuring veteran bassist, Ron Carter, and newcomer to the scene, Linda May Han Oh .



By Nelson Brill

MAY 29, 2017

Unknown-1-1 The power of an acoustic or electric bass is limitless. It can, in the hands of an eminent string master, power a walking blues romp or, in the hands of a young bassist taking her first turn as a band leader, it can serve up a stew of gut-thumping colors propelling her original compositions.

As for an eminent master of the acoustic bass, there is no one like the impeccable Ron Carter, who celebrated his 80th birthday with his artful trio (Donald Vega on piano and Russell Malone on guitar) in a sparkling performance on April 28th at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA. ( Sporting a dapper suit (accented with a purple pocket square), the lanky, joyous 80 year-old immediately alighted on his bass with delectable bounce and rhythmic splendor. His nimble fingers tenderly flirted with his strings, creating buoyant and soulful song lines. The intimate setting of the Regattabar (and the superb sound that house engineer W.J. Edward Emerson was able to concoct from Carter’s small amplifier elevated on a stand) allowed for the capacity audience to lean in and hear every soft purr, fleshy pluck and pungent roll from Carter’s bass.

Carter and his sympathetic band mates swung heartily into music that paid tribute to some of Carter’s departed past colleagues: bassist Oscar Pettiford, guitarist Jim Hall and trumpeter Miles Davis. Their tribute to Hall, entitled “Brazilian Opus No. 5”, was highlighted by Carter’s extended solo in which he ensnared all the warmth of this slow-brewing bossa nova with nimble dexterity. He located notes down low (with gentle plucks and lingering harmonic holds) and then effortlessly slipped up to his highest register (with an elastic “portimento” or huge slide) grabbing a cluster of notes with his outstretched fingers. “Brazilian Opus” concluded with Carter’s trademark touch: a rigorous singular bass note struck on just the right note and pitch to sum up the arc of the band’s creative excursion.



Cushioned within all this alluring bass drama was Vega’s subtly eloquent piano. Throughout the concert, Vega displayed a plush keyboard attack that relied on understatement in his creative feel for the backbone of each melody. He twisted each strand of melody into creative braids of fleeting piano lines that always fell into satisfying patterns of light tension and release.

The Trio’s version of Pettiford’s “La Verne Walk” was a slippery, sliding delight that had all three musicians crackling with collective energy and virtuoso solo moments. All the sunshine in this tune was captured in Carter’s cavort: he pulled strings to bend them in elastic deep rumbles; he slid and slurped in playful bluesy holds and chased the melody with buoyant touches and spidery licks.

Carter’s ineffable bounce led the way into Malone’s gleeful solo in which Malone first created the delectable sound of a washboard by rapidly strumming his strings and lightly tapping his hollow body guitar to create a wooden percussive rush. He then found a perch on one note, repeating it for several seconds, only to flow into a rapid, funky descent that ended on the same one note perch. The crowd roared in approval as a smiling Carter took up this same one-note on his bass and threw it into his quiver of colorful declarations to send Pettiford’ swinging piece homeward.

The Trio ended their set on a version of Benny Goodman’s “Soft Winds” that showcased the Trio’s ability to hit prankish hard, with the lightest of touches. Vega’s piano solo was filled with undulant waves of blues chords rising from his depths to his highest registers; Malone dove in with his sly funk and crisp strumming and Carter added his penetrating undertow of walking bass lines. This thunderous action receded when Carter’s bass veered into the lightest of purrs and touches, sending Vega and Malone into peaceful curls of their own, high and sweet on their instruments. The final note (which Carter held serenely) sung out with regal force punctuating this great musical companionship.

Carter has been involved in more than 2,000 recording sessions. A few of his most recent recordings are recommended for their audiophile quality and their beautiful ensnaring of Carter’s spirited versatility.


One of my older favorites is Carter’s 2003 Entre Amigos SACD/CD recording on the (always reliable) audiophile quality label, Chesky ( On this superb recording (suffused with the warmth and air of the recording venue), Carter’s bass softly entwines (from a layered rear position) with the expressive vocals of Rosa Passos and the acoustic glory of several other virtuoso musicians to mine the unfolding grooves of some classic Brazilian tunes. The relaxed feel of this session is fantastic with Passos’ lithe and expressive vocals crisply captured up front, meandering in and out of Carter’s probing bass.

51sGdieCeEL._SS500-300x300 Carter also showcases his versatility on his most recent recordings: he joins in a warm and simmering duet with saxophonist Houston Person on Chemistry [HighNote Records] and then joins forces with a boisterous band led by trombonist/composer Steve Turre on Colors For The Masters [Smoke Sessions Records]. Chemistry is a stellar recording and one of the last produced by the recently departed recording master, Rudy Van Gelder, at his legendary New Jersey studio. Although I would have liked more upbeat numbers from this swashbuckling duet, (slow ballads predominant), the session is a beautiful example of two masters conversing on an intimate scale where every curling breath of Person’s soulful sax is tactilely felt and where every one of Carter’s pungent touches is heard nimble and radiant.

71WAxVld6L._SX425_-300x270In contrast to Chemistry’s intimate session, Colors For The Masters takes off on the boundless energy of a stellar band in flight. The band is supremely assured with glittering pianist Kenny Barron, master drummer Jimmy Cobb and Carter leading the rhythmic charge in accompanying Turre’s resolute trombone and Javon Jackson’s brawny tenor sax. This vital recording packs a soulful punch as it veers from the raucous to the voluptuousness, delivering animated keyboard grooves, glowing horns and, underlying them all, Carter’s bracing bass lines.

Another bassist, (who may take a thing or two herself from the Carter playbook) is the intrepid young bassist, Linda May Han Oh, who brought her venturesome band (pianist Fabian Almazon; guitarist Matthew Stevens; saxophonist Greg Ward and drummer Rudy Royston) to the Regattabar’s intimate stage on April 15th to celebrate the release of their latest recording, Walk Against Wind [].

The band’s performance featured many of Oh’s original compositions from Walk Against Wind (her first recording as a band leader) and several of these pieces were commenced with Oh taking an extended solo on her acoustic bass. Her bass playing has this special quality of a wide-open, adventurous feel, where anything is possible. She combines long trailing runs (effortlessly spun up and down her flexible register) with angular, jostling isolated notes. She can stop on a dime; pluck big and resonant and then fall silent for a few seconds, mixing up her tempos with impeccable touch and a natural feel for the groove.

Her style fully complements the overall feel of her creative compositions: the slow bluesy feel of “Lucid Lullaby” (with her bass plush and swelling with resonant plucks and evolving colors) or the buoyancy of her Brazilian tinged “Fire Dancer” (where she combines dancing light notes and plucks to sashay with Royston’s delicate cymbal and wood rim hits).

The musical synergy  that was exchanged between Oh and her simpatico band mates at this concert was a delight. Royston, a propulsive engine of delectable lightness and  passion on his drum kit, always kept his eyes on Oh. He accented her every spontaneous string dip and soar (or surprising pause) with his own interwoven percussive glory – sometimes silvery and sometimes volcanic.

The Cuban-born Almazon, (who I have written glowing about in these pages before), also kept his eyes glued on Oh, ready to send his restless piano lines into the fray. On “Walk Against The Wind,” Almazon grabbed the heartbeat of the song and took off on a breathless piano solo. His exploration melded funk, blues and Afro-Cuban influences into a swirling crisp dance that was as unpredictable as it was radiant.

51T7kXwtGEL._SS500-300x300 Take note that Oh, Almazan and Royston can be heard in all their triple threat glory on a recent recording that they made with alto saxophonist Jim Snidero entitled  Main Street [Savant Records]. This recording delivers great presence and up-front vitality to all instrumental timbres and textures. One highlight- “The Streets of Laredo” – delivers a full dose of what Oh, Almazan and Royston can do both individually (on each of their searing and elastic solos) and in collective presence with Snidero’s reedy, sharp explorations.Towards the end of the performance at the Regattabar, Oh took up her electric bass and she and her band hurled out some full throttle funk on Oh’s original “Perpluzzle”. The highlights here were Stevens on his searing guitar solo, (sending out some heady angular and off-kilter note bends and power chords) and saxophonist Ward pile driving the funk with his soaring sax holds. Oh smiled from behind her electric bass, content to pressurize the proceedings with the raw vitality of her playful bass lines.


If you would like to read more reviews like this one, visit Nelson’s blog at

Making Your Marque: The 12 Most Important Products in the History of High End Audio

By Anthony Chiarella

Part One

Here, at the dawn of the 21st Century, High End Audio has reached a remarkable state of refinement: the current crop of top-notch components offer performances which approach theoretical perfection, heirloom build quality, and a level of aesthetic beauty which elevate fine audio to the level of fine art. It wasn’t always this way. Half a century ago, most audio products suffered serious flaws, both sonically and operationally, which relegated the pursuit of performance to a handful of technically talented individuals who also possessed the time and patience to deal with temperamental components.

Among the thousands of products and hundreds of manufacturers and designers who developed HiFi in the second half of the last century, only a few fulfilled the promise of High End Audio. The dozen products selected here aren’t necessarily the best-sounding, nor are they the best built, the most reliable, or the most attractive; rather, these components are, in my opinion, the most directly responsible for the present-day state of the audio art.



Dynaco Stereo 70: Introduced in 1959, the Stereo 70 combined the now-ubiquitous Williamson Circuit with high quality output transformers and highly efficient production methods to deliver an amplifier that created Dynaco’s legend as “The Poor Man’s McIntosh.” With 35 watts-per-channel—massive power for the time—it also facilitated consumer acceptance of less efficient acoustic suspension loudspeakers, which continues to impact the HiFi industry today. During the ST-70’s production run, the Philadelphia company sold over 350,000 units (both pre-assembled and in kit form), making it the Model T of tube amplifiers…and that’s A Good Thing!



Linn Sondek LP12: Of all the classic turntables, I have to confess that the LP12 is my least favorite, owing to its combination of blasé build quality, unjustifiably high pricing, the kooky group dynamic of its “Linnie” cult following and of course, its colored (if unfailingly musical) sound. Nor, with the exception of its single-point bearing, was its design innovative: its belt-drive motor system and three-point suspended sub-chassis had been advanced by Edgar Villchur’s Acoustic Research XA turntable in 1961, more than a decade before the LP12 bowed in 1972. What makes the Linn seminal has more to do with its marketing. At a time when loudspeakers were universally considered to be the most important determinant of sound quality, Linn pioneered the notion that turntables had a distinctive “sound” and that the source was the most critical component of a state-of-the-art audio system. Because it forever changed the way we view system-building, the LP12 earns my vote as the most influential turntable of all time.

Audio Research SP3: When it was introduced in 1970, the SP3 was, arguably, the best-sounding preamplifier available, and at $595 MSRP, something of a bargain too! All of which has nothing to do with its inclusion on this list. More than any designer of his time, William Zane Johnson succeeded in offering a commercially viable—and better-sounding—alternative to the marketing-driven transistor gear which dominated American audio dealerships. Having designed his first product—a three chassis Triode amplifier—in 1949, Johnson almost singlehandedly kept the ideal of high performance alive through the dark ages of HiFi, and is therefore more responsible than any individual for the High End Renaissance which began in the late 1970s.

Mark Levinson ML-2: In the early days of the transistor, solid state amplification was the sonically-second-class-citizen to vacuum tubes. All of that changed in 1977, when Mark Levinson introduced the ML-2. A 25 watt-per-channel, pure Class A monoblock, the ML-2 was heavy (nearly 70 pounds), ran hot, was ringed by sharp heat sinks, which sliced many an audiophile’s hand, and, at $3,600 per stereo pair, was among the most expensive consumer audio products of its era. It was also the first component to cure what had previously been considered unsolvable sonic shortcomings of transistor amplification, while simultaneously demonstrating the inherent—and previously unrealized—strengths of solid state; namely, transparency and speed.

Nordost Quattro Fil: The first line of cabling to incorporate all of Nordost’s core technologies, including cutting-edge materials, high purity OFC with silver plating, and, most notably, the use of “Micro-monofilament,” an innovation which, by helically winding a synthetic thread around the conductors, enabled a virtual air space dielectric, while maintaining the flexibility of the cable. The result was a series of cables whose sonics, after a monumentally long break-in period, simply embarrassed everything which came before. Of course, subsequent generations of Nordost Reference products have pushed the performance envelope even further, but as with the other components on this list, those “subsequent generations” might never have existed without the development of Quattro Fil.

BBC LS3/5A: Chartwell, Kef, Falcon, Goodmans, Harbeth, Rogers, Spendor…over the years, so many companies built—and continue to build—the LS3/5a, under license from the BBC, that audiophiles could spend an evening trying to conjure a comprehensive manufacturers’ list. Originally developed in 1975 for use in broadcast vans, the 3/5’s tiny cabinet panels barely vibrated, its waifish baffle virtually eliminated diffraction, and, with a woofer and tweeter so close they looked as if they were having sex, driver cohesion was, for its time, remarkable. One of the longest-lived—and, with over 60,000 pairs sold, best-selling—designs in audio history, the LS3/5A was a perennial “Best Buy” and served as a gateway drug, simultaneously making the wonders of High End Audio accessible to a larger audience and exposing the audiophile community to the glories of British Box Loudspeakers.


Thank you to Anthony Chiarella for taking the time to put together this list of influential hifi products!  Stay tuned for Part Two!