Dealer Spotlight: Audio Excellence

By Bruno de Lorimier

adrian lowFor almost two decades, Audio Excellence has been one of Nordost’s most valued Canadian dealers. Store owner, Adrian Low, who first opened Audio Excellence in 1991, is a true professional. After being in this industry myself for many years, I can sincerely say that very few people in his same position share in Adrian’s passion and match his knowledge of hifi and home theater. For this reason, Adrian’s clients are not only the most loyal customers, but they have become his true friends over the years. It is inspiring to meet people in this industry who really care about their clients’ satisfaction as much as Adrian does.

This weekend we are proud to be collaborating with Adrian, and Audio Excellence, in order to achieve a truly spectacular showing at TAVES 2015. Audio Excellence has been so kind to outfit the Nordost room with a true reference system, capable of featuring all the amazing attributes and qualities that our new flagship cable range, Odin 2, has to offer. The system will consist of a MSB DAC/Transport combo, D’Agostino preamplifier, D’Agostino monoblocks, and a pair of Wilson Audio Sacha loudspeakers. We are very lucky to have dealers such as Audio Excellence, and the ever-important men behind the store, like Adrian, to champion Nordost’s products.

To find out more about Audio Excellence, visit their website

Oslo HiFi Center celebrates their 40th anniversary

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By Bjorn Bengtsson

As far as Scandinavian hifi dealers go, no one boasts a larger representation of high-end hifi manufacturers, or offers a more knowledgeable staff than Oslo HiFi Center. In fact, the personnel at OHC are always ready to serve their customers with a skillset as large as their smile  eager to deliver the ultimate hifi experience at any budget, to any room size.

One of OHC’s slogans roughly translates to “You’ll never get closer to a concert hall”, an arguable statement when discussing the quality of any hifi set-up. However, as many of their customers recently discovered, in the case of Oslo HiFi Center, which literally includes a concert hall on the premises, it rings true.

 OHC treats its clients bi-annually, every spring and fall, with a special hifi event. This fall’s event happened to occur at the same time as the shop’s 40th year anniversary! As one of OHC’s main suppliers, Nordost was invited to work and participate. In attendance on the Nordost crew, led by president, Joe Reynolds, was V.P. of sales, Johann Graham and myself, product and sales trainer.

Founder and president of OHC, Geir Tømmervik, saw his store’s 40th Anniversary as the perfect opportunity to flex his hifi muscles, and we were all blown away by his musical might. With great care and skill, Geir transformed the actual concert hall into a demonstration room, featuring the ultimate super system: Kef Muon speakers, Burmester amplification and multiple digital sources, IsoTek power products, an Avid analog turntable, and of course, the soon to be legendary Odin 2 was used throughout the whole system! With a retail value of close to 1.5 million USD, visitors were in for a very rare experience!  Which was, very rightfully so, highly appreciated!

Apart from the main attraction in the concert hall, Oslo HiFi Center’s 10+ demo rooms in their shop were designated for use by us manufacturers to demonstrate our products. In the Nordost room, we chose to focus on some demos of our power cords, digital USB transports and our unique QV2/QK1 technology.

 - For power cords, we specifically focused on the sonic differences when using different conductor solutions. In this case, multi-strand vs solid core, silver-plated copper— as well as exploring what happens when you double the conductor area.

 - We highlighted the extremely low capacitance and tight characteristic impedance tolerance of our digital USB cables and showed how they actually improve the live PCM streaming through the USB protocol.

 - The QV2 and QK1, designed to be used in pairs, were also demonstrated by showing both their individual characteristics and their cumulative possibilities.

 Even the weather gods seemed to support this event! Oslo was covered in an exceptionally good Scandinavian autumn sunshine, clear blue sky and cold temperatures. The sunshine and clear blue skies were appreciated by all; however, the colder temperatures did not receive the same unanimous appreciation …

The Nordost crew left this event smiling a lot, tired, but with a head full of extreme HiFi experiences and, let me say it again: smiling…

Thank you so much Geir, Mette, Henning, Øystein, Didrik, Arnfinn, Paul, Kim, Tormod and Ida for the great experience! What a wonderful team you are!

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Photo credit: The Audio Beat

Nelson Brill reviews the AI Jazz Orchestra

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 article, Nelson describes the two most recent performances of the AI Jazz Orchestra at the Lilypad in Cambridge, MA and the David Friend Recital Hall at Berklee College of Music.


CONCERT GLYMPSE: AYN INSERTO JAZZ ORCHESTRA- BIG BAND FROLIC

By Nelson Brill

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Big band jazz is alive and well in Boston. One of its leading creative forces is Ayn Inserto and her Jazz Orchestra (“AI Jazz Orchestra”) who performed two shows before capacity audiences in the intimate confines of the Lilypad in Cambridge, MA. (www.lilypadinman.com) in June and at the David Friend Recital Hall at Berklee College of Music (“Berklee”-www.berklee.edu) on September 14, 2015. Inserto, Associate Professor of Jazz Composition at Berklee, is a composer and bandleader who clearly relishes working with the rhythmic freedom and expansive instrumental textures and colors that come with composing for a large ensemble. Her compositions embody an intense electricity. Music flows in unpredictable dynamic ways where seesawing instrumental lines and colors weave, mesh and interlock, supported by surging grooves and leaping whimsical rhythms. In live performance, her compositions are intricate sound puzzles that are unlocked and mined for their virtuosity (and structural beauty) by the superb musicians of her Jazz Orchestra, many of whom also serve on the faculty of Berklee. The AI Jazz Orchestra can deliver Inserto’s huge crescendos with glee (and volcanic power) or, (in a blink of an eye), can send one of her unpredictable melodic lines soaring on the soft caress of a brush stroke or a trombone’s plunge.

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The AI Jazz Orchestra’s recent performances at the Lilypad and at Berklee were studded with great solo and collective moments- delighting at every twist and turn. One of my favorite Inserto compositions is “Snow Place Like Home” and this piece opened the Berklee recital with cavorting swagger. Inserto talks about being inspired by the 80’s pop she grew up with, and “Snow” captures some of this driving, restless feel. Here is a pell-mell rhythmic feast, with staccato stops and starts and big brass blasts in unpredictable moments. All of this cavorting action showcased the percussive humming engine of drummer Austin McMahon, who impresses with his porous light touch that fills every rhythmic nook and cranny. “Snow” also highlighted the swashbuckling sax work by Allan Chase and Mark Zaleski who challenged each other with a steeplechase frolic up and down their instruments’ registers, fierce and flowing.

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The piece ended in a whoosh of furious brass explosions with lead trumpeter Jeff Claassen (also a composer of intrigue) swashbuckling up high with his other partners. It all sounded like a powerful, unpredictable rainstorm where each droplet of sound hits the ground in irregular patterns, drenching the listener in combinations of fresh sounds and a wash of restless instrumental colors.

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Another highlight from the Inserto treasure chest is her original composition entitled “Ze Teach and Me,” Inserto’s tribute to her mentor, the great trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer (who taught at The New England Conservatory before his death in 2011). Inserto presented this piece at both the Lillypad and the Berklee recitals and its two-movement construction is a thing of beauty. The first movement is filled with soaring optimism in the rising holds of trumpets and trombones, with a softly penetrating solo from trombonist Randy Pingrey. The second movement is completely different: a whirligig of frenetic cross currents of sounds and colors across the big ensemble’s sprawling palette.

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At the Berklee show, this second section of “Ze Teach and Me” was highlighted by two trumpeters: guest trumpeter Sean Jones (Chair of the Berklee Brass Department in possession of the most majestic, light and articulate tone on his trumpet you can imagine) and Dan Rosenthal, a trumpeter sporting his own brand of mercurial fierceness on his instrument. These two trumpeters engaged in a funky and galloping duet, trading licks and sassy, high holds. The superb rhythm section of Jason Yeager on piano, Sean Farias on bass, Eric Hofbauer on guitar and Austin McMahon on drums kept the (always shifting and creative Brookmeyer-inspired) grooves and foundation in focus until Inserto brought up both her hands to gesture a final cloud burst of brass and woodwind thunder. After this sudden eruption, a quick dash of piano notes and soft drum roll and the piece was over- another surprising twist in this flight of fancy from Inserto, inspired by her mentor, Bob Brookmeyer.

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A 2008 recording of Inserto with her AI Jazz Orchestra, Muse [Creative Nation Music], offers a great slice of the magic of this group in live performance and features many of the musicians heard strutting forth in glory at the recent Lilypad and Berklee recitals. Although the quality of the recording sometimes compresses the full body of instruments, (such as the piano and some of the most volcanic surges of the orchestra), it still captures nicely the sprawling sounds of this ensemble with good layering and an up-front presence. McMahon’s light drumming is delivered beautifully through out (listen to his cymbal/snare prancing on “Eshel Sketch” or “Dear John”) and the recording delivers the propulsive soprano and tenor sax playing of Boston’s stellar saxophonist, George Garzone, a special guest on this outing.

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Muse delivers a raucous version of “Snow Place Like Home” (with a blazing solo by Garzone, this time tangling with Alan Chase in muscular duet). Inserto also displays her contemplative side on Muse, highlighted by her glowing tribute to another unflinching explorer: composer and saxophonist Steve Lacy, (who also made Boston his home for many years before his death). She calls her tribute “Laced With Love” and at the AI Jazz Orchestra’s Berklee recital, this piece featured Sean Jones soloing with a velvet touch to his highest trumpet notes- at one point squeezing up top for the barest nub of sound (in soft pierces) on his eloquent trumpet. On Muse, “Laced With Love” is equally transfixing with solo work by Garzone on his soprano sax. Muse concludes with “Simple”, a swinging feast of big band full throttle that buoyantly strides out the door with Garzone joyously leading the way.

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For further explorations into the musical genius of Inserto’s mentor, the mold-breaking composer Brookmeyer, grab a copy of OverTime – The Music of Bob Brookmeyer [Planet Arts] performed by The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (“VJO”).

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Here is an audiophile quality recording of a big band with all of its glorious dynamics and energy fully recreated, on a layered and deep soundstage with great image dimensionality. The VJO was first established by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis (www.vanguardjazzorchestra.com) and became the vehicle for many of Brookmeyer’s later compositional experiments and performances.

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The musicianship displayed by the current members of the VJO is extraordinary on this recording and the music they perform is challenging, prickly and not for the faint of heart. It swerves from the carnival atmosphere of Brookmeyer’s “Big Time” (with pianist Jim McNeely sparkling next to flights of scurrying saxophones and horns) to “At The Corner of Ralph and Gary.” This latter tune highlights Brookmeyer’s great talent for writing Big Swing with many a challenging twist and turn (including a baritone sax solo by Gary Smulyan in which he cavorts with tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama in a swirling, off-kilter maze of sounds and metric changes).

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So does “Suite For Three” (written for three members of the VJO) in which Brookmeyer explores the rich vocabulary of Dick Oatts on alto saxophone, Scott Wendholt on fugelhorn and Rich Perry on tenor saxophone. In these three separate movements,  Brookmeyer ingeniously weaves instrumental voices both penetrating and softly melodic (Wendholt), with soulful, full-throttle big band locomotion (Oatts and Perry). Brookmeyer’s music, like his protégé Inserto’s, is knotty and elegant, soulful and twitchy. It’s a sprawling challenge for the ears worth taking, and in the hands of the VJO, it sounds quite splendid indeed.

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Next up for Big Jazz Band Reviews: the beautiful world of Maria Schneider and the next installment of Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project.

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

Nordost Playlist – October 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 October.

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  1. What you don’t do—Lianne La Havas—Blood
  2. Devil’s Whisper—Raury—Devil’s Whisper
  3. All I want—Joni Michell—Blue
  4. Zannat—Hectir Zazou, Swara, In The House Of Mirrors
  5. Joe’s Cult—Sean Rowe—The Salesman and the Shark
  6. Hell—Destroyer—Poison Season
  7. Only A Woman’s Heart—Eleanor McEvoy—Alone
  8. I Was Wrong—Keb’ Mo’—Slow Down
  9. You’ll never know—Rosemary Clooney—16 Most Requested Songs
  10. Should Have Known Better—Sufjan Stevens—Carrie & Lowell

RMAF 2015 Recap

RMAF 2015 was a fantastic show for Nordost.  We could not be happier with the amount of exposure our cables received and the sound they helped achieve!  If you were not able to join us at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival at the beginning of this month, here are some photos of the event:

Nordost VP of North American Sales, Michael Taylor, gives a great product demo!

Nordost VP of North American Sales, Michael Taylor, gives a great product demo!

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Nordost’s system fully outfitted with Odin 2!

 

Odin 2 in the system

Odin 2 in the system

 

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Mike Marko adjusts the VPI Avenger Turntable (wired with Nordost internal tonearm cable!)

Mike Marko adjusts the VPI Avenger Turntable (wired with Nordost internal tonearm cable!)

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The VPI Avenger connected with the Odin 2 Tonearm Cable

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Nordost President Joe Reynolds proudly accepting the Signal Cable Analogue Award for Valhalla 2!

Nordost President Joe Reynolds proudly accepting the Signal Cable Analogue Award for Valhalla 2!

Nordost cables could be heard all throughout the show.  Here's Constellation Audio's room hooked up to Odin 2!

Nordost cables could be heard all throughout the show. Here’s Constellation Audio’s room hooked up to Odin 2!

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Wilson Alexia loudspeakers with Odin 2

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MURAUDIO's room used our Tyr 2 cables

MURAUDIO’s room used our Tyr 2 cables

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Nola's room used Odin cables

Nola’s room used Odin Speaker Cables

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Our dealer Apex Audio's room sounded great with Valhalla 2 cables and Focale speakers

Our dealer Apex Audio’s room sounded great with Valhalla 2 cables and Focal speakers

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Jeff Rowland Design Group's room used a wide array of Odin 2 cables

Jeff Rowland Design Group’s room used a wide array of Odin 2 cables

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Woo Audio had a great setup in the Can Jam section of the show.  Here's their new WA8  with Heimdall 2 cables

Woo Audio had a great setup in the Can Jam section of the show. Here’s their new WA8 with the Heimdall 2 iKable

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More Heimdall 2 cables in Woo Audio’s rig

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Heimdall 2 Headphone Cables were being used in Cavalli Audio's booth at Can Jam

Heimdall 2 Headphone Cables were being used in Cavalli Audio’s booth at Can Jam

Nordost's Joe Reynolds introduces accomplished, Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy!

Nordost’s Joe Reynolds introduces accomplished, Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy!

Eleanor McEvoy performing some of her hit songs, using Ax Angel cables!

Eleanor McEvoy performing some of her hit songs, using Ax Angel cables!

 

 

 

 

Nordost at TAVES 2015

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Come and join Nordost at TAVES this year, October 30-November 1 at the Sheraton Parkway Hotel in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Throughout the show, TAVES attendees will have the opportunity to stop in and see Nordost’s truly unique cable comparisons and product demonstrations, presented by Nordost sales representative, Bruno de Lorimier. This is the perfect occasion to experience a world class sound system, complete with Nordost’s newest and most advanced Supreme Reference cable range—Odin 2. While at the show, don’t forget to visit Nordost’s sales booth where, thanks to our local dealer, Audio Excellence, we will be offering select Nordost products at amazing show specials.

Fred Crowder reviews QRT for dagogo.com

In his article, Nordost QRT System Review, Fred Crowder shared his most recent experience working with QRT products with the readers of dagogo.com. There you will find Fred’s account of integrating a full array of QRT Power Products in two separate home sound systems. Fred does a wonderful job of going through the process of adding QRT to a system from beginning to end— from identifying the problem, to explaining the solution, to the order in which you should introduce our modular line of power products. After every step Fred becomes more taken with our QRT devices.

“…The sound was addictive. The overtones of metal instruments were easier to distinguish. The sound of plucked strings was particularly well delineated.”

You can now read Fred’s full article, Nordost QRT System Review, in the review section of the Nordost website.

Deconstructing the QRT Qx2/Qx4 for the masses -by Jon Baker

Deconstructing the QRT Qx2/Qx4 for the masses

by Jon Baker

Perhaps the most troublesome component of any audio system is the power grid. It’s a problem not easily understood, and as a matter of fact, the problems seem to be getting much worse. Why? With new technologies such as wireless and cellular, the electrical grid has become polluted and distorted, rearing its ugly-head at the most sensitive point, your home. It’s frequently hard to recognize these issues – think of it like pollution in our urban cities. It’s usually difficult to comprehend the problem until a storm rolls through and either washes or blows the muck away. The QRT technology has a similar effect riding your audio solution’s pollution.

Historically, the provided solutions have been to use filters. However, these solutions can choke a system and add some unwanted, nasty side-effects, such as decreased dynamics or a picture quality which is flat and two-dimensional.  Nordost’s power management solutions employ three fundamental concepts to cure power inconsistencies from the outlets in your home, one mechanical and the others using the power of field generators to influence the power coming out of your wall receptacles.  The initial R&D was developed for the celebrated, award-winning Thor, and over the years the technology has been refined and expanded upon.

I’ll begin with the chassis – all QRT power solutions (Qx4 and Qx2) use simple mechanics. The chassis for the QRT products are mechanically tuned, meaning the Qx2/Qx4 are designed and tooled to specific dimensions with the end caps being made from high quality billet aluminum. The tuning and shear weight of the Qx2 and Qx4 create a mechanically grounded environment which is extremely important for the QRT system to work properly.

The foundation of the Qx4 technology employs the use of field generators— two for the Qx2 and four for the Qx4. The QRT field generators don’t impede the power line, and therefore, unlike many other currently available solutions, the Qx2 and Qx4 don’t limit either the source impedance or peak current. Rather, the field generators act at the source of the problem, reducing negative EMF and RFI effects, as well as improving the consistency and regularity of the AC waveform. The QRT system does all this without limiting the voltage swing or altering the impedance of the AC supply. QRT allows energy to change from one state to the next in a more orderly and coherent manner. The result is a reduction in the total error of a little over 5%, or in other words, a reduction of 50% in the error value!

Another Way To Think About It:   Think of these solutions as being similar to a common water filter (perhaps in an extreme scenario) you might use in your kitchen. Those filters certainly filter harmful metals, however they can also filter out other salts and minerals, which are extremely beneficial and necessary. But what if you had a field generator around your faucet pulling those unwanted metals away from your precious water, but not taking away the so-called nutrition – this would be the QRT method and advantage!!!

The last of the primary benefits the QRT system offers is related to an element of the chassis design. Remember those billet end-caps I mentioned a bit ago? Well, they contribute beyond mechanical tuning and resonance control. Because of their heft, they act as a “book end” for the QRT field generators, limiting the directionality of the field generators vertically. This is why QRT placement in your entertainment system is extremely important. When placed in the center of the rack system (meaning- middle of the rack) the Qx2 or Qx4 field generators also influence the components around the system in the same way they do the AC waveform. The components’ power supplies are cleared of undesirable, EMF and RFI. You could consider this a QRT “ecosystem” so to speak, and when using multiple QRT products in your entertainment system, a multiplying effect is created.

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