6 Steps to Successfully Audition HiFi Cables in Your Home Sound System

If you have had the opportunity to visit hifi audio shows in the past, hopefully you are familiar with Nordost demonstrations. For over 25 years, Nordost has been exhibiting at shows around the world and performing cable comparisons for the public. We maintain that consumers should audition the components that they are interested in before they make a purchase, and cables are no exception. While hearing cable demonstrations at a hifi show, or in a dealer’s showroom, can be a fun and informative experience, sometimes it is not enough to determine what is right for your home system. By arranging at-home auditions, you are able to hear what benefits, or drawbacks, specific cables bring to your sound system, using your own components, in your own listening room.  However, if you are going to compare cables, there are a few guidelines to follow in order to ensure that you perform a successful audition.

 

1) Identify your area of interest

Although your ultimate goal may be to do a system-wide cabling upgrade, in order to do a fair comparison, you should identify one area to focus on at a time. For example, perhaps the first thing that you want to look at is the interconnect between your CD player and preamplifier. This will help you isolate and identify the resulting audible differences, as you perform your comparisons.

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2) Request Demo Cables

Make sure that when inquiring about taking cables home from your local audio dealer for comparison, they give you cables that have already been used in a system for a considerable amount of time. Before a cable sounds its best, it must be broken in, due to gases that can be trapped in the insulation, and the high electrical charge that is inherent in new cables. These negative characteristics change after the first 100 hours of play time or “burn-in”. Another thing to note when picking up your demo cables from a dealer is to pay attention to cable length. When making comparisons between one brand, make sure that the cables are the same length, as that can greatly affect the sonic properties of the cables. When you are cross-comparing cables from different companies, the design philosophy of a cable will impact which length sounds “best”. Nordost, for example, uses a low-capacitance design that sounds better with longer lengths of cables (up to about a 5 meter length).

 

3) Re-familiarize yourself with your system

Now that you have identified the cables you will focus on, and you have collected burned-in demo cables of uniform length from your dealer, it is time to change… nothing. Although it might be tempting to get started right away, take some time to first reacquaint yourself to your system as is. Put on some music and listen to your system with a critical ear: point out the characteristics that are unique to your system, identifying aspects you like, aspects that you find lacking etc.

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4) Musical selection and listening

The genre of music you select for auditioning cables is entirely up to you. However, it is important to choose tracks that you are familiar with. One of the most enjoyable aspects of comparing and upgrading cables, is discovering nuances you have never heard before in a piece of music that you have listened to countless times! Once you have decided on a number of tracks that you are familiar with (you should choose a few different pieces, especially if you are going to be doing a number of comparisons, so that listening fatigue doesn’t set in), make sure to play each cut of music for only 45 seconds to 1 minute before making a change. If you listen to a song in its entirety, you may forget the details in the beginning of the track. We find that 45 seconds is just enough time to get into a piece, without waiting so long as to take away from the comparison.

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5) Switching Cables 

Once you listen to your 45 second piece of music, it is important to switch out your cables as quickly as possible, in order to minimize the time between the comparisons. When conducting your switch, make sure that all other variables remain the same. If we stick with the assumption that you are changing the interconnect between your CD player and preamplifier, put your preamplifier on mute (or change the input to effectively mute the preamp) but do NOT change the volume or power down your system. If you are comparing power cords, you will have to power down, but make sure that your volume remains the same throughout all of your comparisons.

If your system includes tube amplifiers, they take some time to become linear, so unfortunately you will have to wait for them to warm up in order to perform a fair comparison.

 

6) Switch Back

Once you have repeated this process until you have completed all of your A/B comparisons, switch back to your original cabling to remind yourself how much of an impact one cable can make within your entire system.

 

Although you have now finished your comparison process, that doesn’t mean your audition is over. It takes time for cables to settle into your system. We encourage our customers to reinstall the cable that you are most happy with from doing the initial comparison, and live with it in your system for a few days to really understand what this addition will bring to the overall performance of your system.

Pictures from Nordost Nation! March 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!


 

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HembioConsult has this system outfitted with Norse 2 cables and Sort Füt under the speakers!

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In this HembioConsult system photo you can see Frey 2 Speaker Cables at work, along with a QB8 and an assortment of Nordost Power Cords.

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Hifidylle Pascal Rougier has Valhalla 2 Speaker Cables, as well as Sort Sort Kones, QV2, and QK1 units on display.

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Olivier Stoessel shows off his Purple Flare Interconnects with his DAC 89 NUFORCE – “perfect sound!”

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HIFI TOURS – Amplitude has a great system set up with Heimdall 2 cables, as well as a QB8 and QX unit.

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ADHF in action, demonstrating how Nordost cables can completely revolutionize the performance of a hifi system!

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Looks like Hifinesse is ready to demonstrate the different power cords in Nordost’s line! Plus, they’re using Frey 2 Speaker Cables supported by our Sort Lifts. You know it must sound amazing!

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Our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable is connecting Woo Audio’s WA7 Fireflies to some Beyerdynamic headphones!

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Gabby Amram (@gsoundquest) shared this shot of the Nordost Blue Heaven and Heimdall 2 Headphone Cables

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@hifialex took these shots at the 2017 Montreal Audio show in the Mark Jones room. Our Valhalla 2 Cables helped this system sound terrific.

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@my.hifi is listening in style with his Sennheiser headphones, McIntosh amplifier, and Nordost Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable!

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@my.hifi is plugged in and ready for listening!

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@savisystems_perth took this great, dramatic pic of our Blue Heaven Speaker Cables!

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We love these Valhalla 2 unboxing shots from @thelaukamp!

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@thelaukamp is showing how to use Frey 2 Speaker Cables with Norse Bi-Wire Jumpers!

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@absoluteaudioyyc linked up with Nordost’s Bruno de Lorimier for some fantastic events, showcasing the power of Nordost. #makemusicbetter

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@phillipwangusa is sporting our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable with his Oppo PM-2s!

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Sunday morning listening at @jwmacoustics808 is in full swing with Nordost Red Dawn!

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@jmwacoustics808 uses Nordost cables to get the most out of their stunning Shaman amps

Dealer Spotlight: Overture Audio

By Mike Marko

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Since 1989, Overture Audio, under the helm of Keith Moorman, has served the audio and video needs of southern, Lower Michigan.  Their commitment to excellence and first rate customer service is unmatched in the region. With top notch demonstration facilities, some of the best brands in the business, and a dedicated, no-pressure staff, you can be assured of a fair and competent demonstration.

Long time staff members Tom Jankowski (TJ), Tom O’keefe, and Craig Johnson are all seasoned professionals dedicated to the finest in customer care.  I’ll let Keith describe the advantages and benefits of his crew:

“Just like the equipment we sell, Overture Audio’s staff puts us well ahead of the competition. Unlike the steady stream of rookies you’ll see at the mass merchandisers, we have been doing this for a long time. I’ve been selling audio and home theater here in Ann Arbor since 1981, and everyone working here with me has been at it as long as I have or longer. Overture Audio is very proud that several of our alumni have gone on to careers with some of the best manufacturers and distributors in the industry.

We’re not just resting on all that experience, though – technology changes too quickly for that. We continue to receive in-depth training from our manufacturers, both in our store and at their facilities.”

They currently have the entire range of Nordost products from our reference Valhalla 2 to White Lightning, as well as a full range of Sort System resonance control devices and QRT power purifying devices, on hand for immediate listening.  Overture has hosted many Nordost events over the years in their state-of-the art demonstration facilities.

When they opened their new location on Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor in 2013, Overture Audio designed four different environments that are used for demonstrations. The lobby is 24 feet wide and over 40 feet long, and they always have a simple, great sounding system set up in that space, along with an excellent headphone and computer audio demonstration area. Off of the lobby, there are three purpose-built rooms for two-channel and home theater demonstrations.

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These rooms are designed to represent typical sized listening and viewing environments. Studios A and B are identical medium-sized rooms – approximately 21 feet by 14 feet with 9-foot ceilings. Studio A is used for home theater demonstrations, as well as two channel auditioning. Studio B is dedicated to only 2-channel audio, and is usually the busiest room in the store. Studio C is a considerably larger space – roughly 25 feet by 17 feet with a 10-foot ceiling. This is where larger 2-channel systems are demonstrated, but it’s an excellent room for a projector-based theater as well.

Keith says further:

“We’d also like for you to know that no one at Overture Audio is paid a commission on their sales. Our staff is salaried, which results in a laid-back, low-pressure atmosphere that’s impossible to achieve in a commission-based store. We believe that our customers benefit when there isn’t any financial motivation for us to recommend one particular product over another. And last, we think it’s beneficial for our customers to be able to talk to several different salespeople if they wish, without having to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes.”

Nordost will be sponsoring another event later this year in Overture Audio’s cutting edge facility.  Check back for dates and times and find out what the locals have known for decades.  The next time you’re in Ann Arbor to sample the local arts and sports scene, drop by Overture Audio for an experience you will not soon forget.

overture audio logo

www.overture-audio.com

Phone: 734.662.1812
email: mail@overture-audio.com
Fax: 734.662.1928

Store Address:
Overture Audio
2460 West Stadium Blvd.
Ann Arbor, MI
48103

Nordost will be at High End 2017 in Munich!

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Nordost is thrilled to be exhibiting at the High End 2017 show in Munich once again, held at the MOC May 18th – 21st. Every year, the High End show is a wonderful opportunity to show our customers the groundbreaking projects that we are working on: 2017 is no exception! Be sure to visit us in (Halle 4) Atrium 4, Room E114 to be the first to experience the truly astonishing advances that Nordost is bringing to the hifi audio market. As always, Nordost’s very own product trainers will be making cable comparisons and demonstrating Nordost QRT power products throughout the show. Join us in what will prove to be a very exciting and highly anticipated show for Nordost.

Nordost Playlist – April 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 April.

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  1. A Sunday Kind Of Love—Etta James—At Last
  2. Just Like You—Bosley—Honey Pig
  3. Red-Eyed And Blue—Wilco—Being There
  4. A Rose For Emily—The Zombies—Odyssey And Oracle
  5. Blind Ambition—Sophia Bastian—Blind Ambition
  6. Freedom Is Free—Chicano Batman—Freedom is Free
  7. Baldamore—Hadouk Trio—Utopies
  8. Feel It Still—Portugal. The Man—Feel It Still
  9. Chanel—Frank Ocean—Chanel
  10. Saturnz Barz—Gorillaz—Humanz