Nelson Brill on Soundkeeper Recordings

We were delighted to read this latest review by Nelson Brill about long-time Nordost supporter and friend, Barry Diament.

Barry has been a fan of Nordost cables and power products for over a decade now. All of the albums produced under Soundkeeper Recordings utilize Nordost products. In fact, when creating the newest album “Winds of Change” by Work of Art, featuring the impressive and effortless vocals of Art Halperin, they were wired with Nordost from power cables to speaker cables all the way to power distribution in the studio!

“This past year, hearing Heimdall 2 in my system and recording with Heimdall AC cable (and Purple Flare on my Mac laptop) and Tyr 2, I hear my gear doing things I didn’t think it was capable of doing…These products help me achieve my goal of recordings that ‘get out of the way’.”

-Barry Daiment



The Harvard Art Museums (located on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.) recently re-opened after a multi-year renovation that consolidated Harvard’s three art museums under one beautiful sky lit roof. (Tip: visitors who are Massachusetts residents can enter the museum for free on Saturday mornings. For more information, see

On the first floor of the new museum building is Room #1610, a quiet and meditative space dedicated to the exhibit of ancient Buddhist sculptures. The space is designed with light wood floors and floor to ceiling windows that allow for the flow of natural light onto every surface, including all of the sandstone sculptures. One such beautiful sculpture is a sculpture of Buddha from the province of Shanxi in China, dating from the Tang Dynasty in the early 8th Century:

This sculpture is beautifully carved with intricate details: delicate lines of Buddha’s hair and flowing gown; finely sculpted lines of eyebrows and eyelids that seem to curl upwards in the sandstone. The natural light that pours into the exhibit room penetrates these details as if they are lit from within. Looking very close at this particular masterpiece, one sees that the center of Buddha’s eyes are not focused straight ahead, but rather are locked upon an unseen target located somewhere above and away. The fall of light from the exhibit hall reveals this small detail perfectly and illuminates the imposing nobility of this sculpture, as well as its mystery in Buddha’s glance above and beyond.


There is an audiophile quality record label that captures this same kind of magic (in music making) as that captured in the Harvard Art Museum’s Buddhist Sculpture gallery where natural light and ancient stone collide into something beautiful and transfixing. This is Soundkeeper Recordings, founded by recording and production guru Barry Diament.

Soundkeeper is that special record label where every performance is captured with a feeling of vitality and natural energy; every recording feels as if it is lit from within with a natural illumination that shines into every nook and cranny of the music to reveal its every texture, detail and the artistry of the musicians involved. To obtain these spectacular sonic results, Diament uses a simple two-mic stereo array (consisting of a matched pair of Earthworks QTC-1 microphones separated by an absorbent panel of his own design) and records every performance live in real time (as Diament coins it, “without a net”). There are no overdubs, mixing, processing or compression of any kind, and this leaves it to the musicians to determine the balances and dynamics of the performance. Once you hear a Soundkeeper recording on a revealing audio system, you will experience what mentor Harry Pearson meant by capturing a slice of the “absolute sound.”

Soundkeeper has produced a number of eclectic and lyrical releases. One such highlight is their 2010 recording of Marcus Schwartz and Lakou Brooklyn on “Equinox,” [Soundkeeper SR 1002] where Haitian music meets the shores of New York City with panache and joy.


The assembled band is a marvelous concoction blending Haitian instruments, piercing trumpet, resolute bass and nimble electric guitar into a brilliant stew of colorful blocks of shifting musical material. Here, sharp-splintered, cross accents of brass and percussion blend naturally with expressive harmonies to create a surging, propulsive musical adventure. Take a listen to “Seremoni Tiga,” and hear how Jean Craze’s smoky trumpet lurches and falls next to Paul Beaudry’s strokes of acoustic bass amongst radiant sparks of Markus Schwartz’s bells. The slow procession takes off down the street into a joyful, buoyant march propelled by resonant drums and staccato electric guitar swipes from guitarist Monvelyno Alexis. All of this sparkling drama is captured by Diament’s brilliant recording so that every blow of conch shell; every trumpet attack and every Haitian Rada drum is heard limpid, natural and dynamic. Like the natural light that baths those ancient Buddhist sculptures at Harvard, Diament’s production lends a glory of natural lightness and air to expose every detail of this live musical performance with crackle and great vitality.

Equally astounding is Soundkeeper’s exploration of Americana in the pop styles mined in the urbane and bright-hued music of singer, songwriter and gifted musician Art Halperin, and his band Work of Art.

Halperin, (who was the last artist signed by the great John Hammond), is a treasure to behold: his gift for grabbing a pop curve is infinite and his best songs will remain in your head long after their last refrain. The quality of Halperin’s voice, his musical ideas, his lyrical keys and buoyant musical flow remind of the great George Harrison’s own musings on life and love. Just take a listen to “I’m Not Sure” or the title cut from Halperin and Work of Art’s new 2014 recording, Winds of Change [Soundkeeper Records, SR1005) and relish all of the great capacious breeze in Halperin’s pop hooks and the glorious sound of Work of Art swinging behind him.


Here is pop surge at its best: expressive harmonies ebb and flow around acoustic finery as Halperin, Al Maddy, Jon Rosenblatt and Sue Williams stir the magic with their superb guitar and acoustic bass thumps and artistry. “My Love For You” starts out with finger snaps in the quiet leading to a big, airy blast of acoustic attack, capped by Williams’ bubbly bass solo. The spirit of Harrison beckons with “September Nights” sparkling on nylon strings plucked and immersive in a swirling ballad, while Halperin and his compatriots bust out on “Nobody Knows” and “Singing It For You” with exuberant, bluesy gusto. A few cuts (“Together” or “Feeling of Hope”) miss the mark for this author’s taste, usually when things get slower and sugary without the instrumental pizzazz of the effusive Halperin and his band at their best. But when they are burning, there is no stopping the great musical action of these virtuoso musicians. Catch the nimble ukelele twists; the unkempt beauty of Rosenblatt’s pedal steel (on the rollicking “On My Way To You”) and Patrick Conlon’s steady, humming engine of percussion through out (watch out for his resonant drum strikes that will knock you off your chair on the last cut!). Halperin’s vocals are a delight – so winsome and sweet – pushing the propulsion (like on the swirling “Going Vegan”) forward with great pacing and metric groove.

Winds of Change was recorded by Diament at a church in Sparkill, New York and the retrieval of every ambient clue of this marvelous space is on display on this stellar recording. This is an audiophile gem that truly is a masterpiece of recording and production skill. There is no one like Diament and his ability to light up a musical performance to joyful, transfixing results.

Find all Soundkeeper recordings at their website: available on CD; slow burned CD-R or other High Resolution formats.



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

The Absolute Sound Reviews the Sort Kone

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In addition to producing stellar American-made hifi audio cables, Nordost also produces an acclaimed range of Resonance Control Devices.  Nordost’s Sort System includes the Sort Füt and four varieties of Sort Kones. Unlike isolation “points”, these mechanically tuned resonance control devices not only prevent external vibrations from impacting the sound quality of your audio components, but act as a mechanical diodes, allowing a one-way exit point for the vibrations being generated by the components themselves. For more on the difference between resonance control and isolation devices CLICK HERE

Nordost has always done a spectacular job demonstrating the efficacy of these devices on components, speakers, audio racks and even power products at trade shows and industry events and over the years reviewers and industry leaders have taken notice of these Sort Kone and Füt Units. The December issue of The Absolute Sound recently published an article entitled “New Methods for Quantifying Sonic Performance”. In Part two of the article, “How to Use Subjective and Objective Methods to Quantify System Performance”, authors Charles Zellig and Jay Clawson made a comparison of several cones and were quite taken with the Sort Kone. When describing the effects of the Nordost Titanium/Ceramic Sort Kone they wrote:

An emotional threshold was crossed with involuntary toe-tapping and singing along with the music, greater clarity, vocal articulation, harmonic detail and overtone structure, ambiance retrieval, stage width, and focus of soloist, choir, instruments consistent over 7 different high resolution recordings…

You can now read the section “Cones, Cones and More Cones—Mechanical Decoupling and Vibration Control” on the Nordost Reviews page here:

New Methods for Quantifying Sonic Performance

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7 Easy, Affordable Speaker Upgrades

Just like most hifi enthusiasts, we are always looking for that unattainable, perfect sound. Once we think we have made that purchase that will finally result in “the ultimate system”… suddenly we find a hum, or a slightly muffled base, or an imaging problem. The list, unfortunately, is never ending. So what do you do? Make another upgrade? Try to prescribe the perfect remedy to aide whatever is ailing your system? But before you make that next purchase, have you really done everything to maximize what you already have? There are countless tweaks that you can do to your system that will take the equipment you own to the next level.

Here we will concentrate on just your speakers. Try these simple, affordable and basic tricks that will elevate the performance of your speakers, and in fact your entire system, so that you get your upgrade without actually purchasing new ones.

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1) Speaker Placement

The importance of the placement, toe-in and leveling of your loudspeakers cannot be stressed enough. You can’t just plop your speakers in any arbitrary place in your listening room and expect great results. Finding the correct speaker placement is a precise and sometimes tedious task, but it has a HUGE pay-off. For a guide through this process please see our previous blog: Speaker Placement in 5 Easy Steps or our Speaker Placement download. Another helpful tool for perfect placement is a set-up CD. The Nordost System Set-Up & Tuning Disc contains tracks that will help with everything from speaker placement and sub-woofer integration, to performance checks and assessment, problem location and system conditioning.


2) Keep Them Tightscrew-02

Over hours, months, years of intense listening sessions, constant vibrations in the speaker cabinet, and even a climate that induces wood to dry out, will cause a screw or two to become loose. Make sure to check all of the connections, especially those that attach the driver units to the front baffle, and tighten any screws that need it. Just be careful not to overtighten as this could lead to a stripped thread.


3) Maintain Clean Connections

DEOXIT-GOLD-GX-GRP_h200Sometimes all you need is a little maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Take a few minutes once a month to clean the contacts on your loudspeaker terminals as well as the connectors on your speaker cables with a high quality contact cleaner. This simple step will not only improve the conductivity of the connection and reduce RMI and intermittent connections, but it also protects your contacts against oxidation and corrosion. We recommend the DeoxIT® Gold GxL Series 


4) Anti-Static TreatmentPicture 853

Anti-static treatment is a must. Used on both audio and AV gear, this spray helps to fight the deceptively dangerous, slow build-up of static charges. Static charge can do everything from flatten perspectives to inhibit the dynamics of a sound system. Simply spray a small amount of Eco 3X onto a cloth and wipe the area around speaker drivers. You will begin to reveal a more relaxed and natural soundstage. We especially recommend using Eco 3X in the winter months when static build up is more prevalent.


5)  Grill on or off?

grill-02-02-02There seems to be an ongoing debate about whether or not to keep grills on speakers. Some of you may have already decided to take the grill off your loudspeakers or may have ordered a grill to put on your speakers for purely aesthetic reasons. The fact of the matter is anytime you put a piece of material in front of a sound wave there will be an effect on the music produced—Grills do make a difference. The real question is if this difference is positive or negative. What was intended for your specific speakers? Were the loudspeakers voiced with the grill on, or was the grill added as an afterthought accessory? Call your speaker manufacturer or dealer to find out what is optimal for the loudspeakers you own and make the change accordingly .

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6) Reduce Surface Contact of Speaker Cables

As a cable company, we have some tricks of our own for this problem. The capacity of a speaker cable is negatively impacted by the electric static stored in floors. This is one of the reasons Why You Should Be Using Flat Speaker Cables. The ability of flat cables to stand up vertically minimizes the contact area between the surface and the cable itself. Alternatively, invest in cable raisers, which accomplish a similar effect to what Nordost speaker cables take care of by design alone.


7) Resonance Control

lg-sort füt-lock-kup_550_blogVibrations are a byproduct of any component that uses energy to power itself. Unfortunately these vibrations have adverse effects on audio systems, including confusion of imagery, timing errors and musical distortions. Loudspeakers are the biggest culprits of generating this harmful distortion. By introducing resonance control devices like the Sort Füt to your speakers, you are providing a direct ground path, allowing extraneous energy to escape from the cabinet. Once you have eliminated these harmful vibrations you will be able to hear a reduction in intermodulation distortion, an expanded soundstage and an increase in tonal and textural details from your loudspeakers. The great thing about the Sort Füt is that since there are a large variety of threaded rods available, this is an upgrade that can be transferred onto almost any speaker model if you finally do one day decide to purchase a new set.

Learn more in our Tiny Tweaks, Big Pay-Offs – Simple adjustments that make a difference” download!

CES 2015 Wrap Up

As always, CES was a great way to start off the year!  2014 was very busy and exciting for Nordost, but that doesn’t mean we are slowing down this year.  Nordost has a lot of great surprises in store for 2015, and we started off strong.  This year at CES Nordost introduced their new and improved QBASE – Mark II units, now available in 20/16 amp as well as our first venture into pro audio with the Ax Angel line!

Aside from these new additions, Nordost demonstrated an entire loom of V2 cables and featured its new Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable at a dedicated listening station.

Thank you to all of our dealers and distributors for coming out to see us this year in Las Vegas.  And a special thanks to our industry friends who supported Nordost in their own rooms and demonstrations!  If you were not able to make the show, here are a few images from CES 2015:


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10675712_796238590448134_2059717038339014587_nThe new Ax Angel pro audio cable display!


Simaudio's room with their Moon equipment and our Heimdall 2 cables

Simaudio’s room with their Moon equipment and our Heimdall 2 cables


Muraudio using our Tyr 2 cables.

Muraudio using our Tyr 2 cables.


Nola's room used our Odin cables.

Nola’s room used our Odin cables and QRT power products.


VTL also used our Odin cables.

VTL also used our Odin cables.


Audioengine used our Blue Heaven cable line.

Audioengine used our Blue Heaven cable line.

Arcam also used our Blue Heaven cables (and others too!)

Arcam also used Nordost cables, QRT power products, and Sort Kones!


Hegel used our Heimdall 2 Cables along with Sort Kones!

Hegel used our Heimdall 2 Cables along with Sort Kones!




Nordost Playlist – January 2015

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 January.


  1. Secret—The Pierces—Thirteen Tales Of Love And Revenge
  2. Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby-Soundtrack Version (O Brother, Where Art Thou?)—Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch—O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. The Morning After—Ronny Jordan—The Quiet Revolution
  4. Mack The Knife—Louis Armstrong—Nick Cave’s Jukebox: Songs That Inspired The Man
  5. Unrequited Love—Lykke Li—Wounded Rhymes
  6. Water Me—FKA twigs—EP2
  7. Creep—Scala & Kolacny Brothers—Creep
  8. River—Joni Mitchell—Songs of a Prairie Girl
  9. Sous le vent—Garou, Céline Dion—On ne change pas
  10. True Affection—The Blow—Paper Television