Industry Advocate: Mike Valentine

For more than a quarter of a century, Nordost has been renowned for the quality of our products, and the effect that they have on music reproduction. Using Nordost allows listeners to experience music the way it was intended – unrestrained, unfiltered, true.  So it should be no surprise that when high fidelity is the goal, Nordost is who you come to for your cabling needs. For professionals in the audio industry, this is no different. Over the years, Nordost has worked with innovative manufacturers, talented artists, and celebrated recording engineers, who all trust Nordost to bring their finished products to the next level.


 

Mike Valentine has been chasing sound for over 40 years. In the early 1970s Mike joined BBC Television as a sound engineer where he worked on a huge range of programs from “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers”, all the way through to “Live Aid”. At the time, the technical training within the BBC was second to none. In 1986 Mike left the BBC to pursue a career in the feature film industry, where he has worked on over 90 feature films including the last five Bond films as the underwater cameraman. However, he has always been passionate about sound. In 2011, Mike returned to his roots, launching “Chasing The Dragon”, recognized as one of the leading producers of audiophile recordings. Through his label, Mike has been able to produce several LPs, including the recently released Vivaldi in Venice, which was recorded using Nordost cables. This live chamber ensemble recording in the Interpreti Veneziani has received rave reviews from critics. These reviews include respected publications such as The Absolute Sound, which ran an article in this month’s (January 2019) issue, by Wayne Garcia, calling the recording “one of the most gorgeous sounding and exquisitely played LPs [he had] heard in quite some time”.

What does Mike have to say about Nordost?

“The most vital thing I have come to appreciate over the years is how precious the microphone signal is. I cannot tell you how everything that we now record has been lifted by leaps and bounds by using Nordost’s Ax Angel microphone cables. We have carried out many A/B tests and have always voted for the musicality and sheer foot tapping fun that our recordings now have, when made using these great cables. I now never leave home without them! In fact, our most recent Direct Cut album (which we also recorded in Double DSD and PMC for download release), featuring audiophile icon Eleanor McEvoy, was recorded using Nordost cables, and the sound is fantastic!”

Mike chooses to use Nordost’s Ax Angel, Blue Heaven, Odin 2, and QRT products in his recordings.

For more information about Mike Valentine and his body of work, visit chasingthedragon.co.uk

 

TONEAudio Reviews the Purple Flare USB Cable

Nordost has more to offer than the exclusive, reference-level products that we are best known for. Offering a complete range of products that are designed to complement all systems from the highest-end to the most modest, Nordost has something for every music lover. That is why we are especially excited when we get reviews featuring our introductory products— so that people can see how transformative our most elemental cables can be! In his review, Nordost Purple Flare USB, Jeff Dorgay looks into the improvements that our entry-level USB cable makes on a system. Dorgay explains that the deeper, more quiet background and “relaxed feel” that the Purple Flare USB gives to the performance is something that even non-audiophiles can appreciate.

“[With the Purple Flare] great recordings feel larger and densely packed recordings open up more and are less fatiguing to listen to. Even my favorite live recording (and arguably one of the worst sounding records, ever) KISS-Alive! perks up when delivered via the PF. I wanted the best and I got it.”—Jeff Dorgay

You can now read Jeff’s full review here: Nordost Purple Flare USB

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

Nordost Playlist – January 2019


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.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  |  SPOTIFY


  1. My My My!—Troye Sivan—Bloom
  2. The Final Frame—Michael Kiwanuka—Love & Hate
  3. Less But Better—Sam Gendel—4444
  4. Neon Moon—Cigarettes After Sex—Neon Moon
  5. Waveland—Noam Pikelny—Universal Favorite
  6. The You Can Tell Me Goodbye—Bettye Swann
  7. Do You Ever Remember?—Molly Drake—Family Tree
  8. The Rich (And The Poor)—Keith Jarrett—Treasure Island
  9. Wake Up—Sudan Archives—Sudan Archives
  10. Quiet Dawn—Archie Shepp—Attica Blues

 

Nelson Brill Reviews Emerging Artists In The Boston Area

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 takes a look at some young, emerging artists in the Boston area, including Noah Preminger. Preminger is well acquainted with Nordost, as he participated in an A/B test of our Ax Angel Pro Audio cables at EastSide Sound recording studios in NYC. You can watch the A/B test here: Nordost w/ Newvelle Records at EastSide Sound studio.  


YOUNG DYNAMIC JAZZ VOYAGERS SOAR IN CONCERT AND ON NEW AUDIOPHILE RECORDINGS

By Nelson Brill      DECEMBER 8, 2018  

Young jazz musicians are like fledging rock climbers: they hammer in their toe-holds into the granite face of music’s rich heritage and then swing out into free-wheeling space, letting the winds of creative musicianship take them where it will. Several gifted jazz voyagers took to stages in the Boston area recently and brought along their audiences to soar with them in flights of fancy, funk and daring.

On September 29th, artists appearing at the annual Berklee College of Music (“Berklee”) Beantown Jazz Festival (“Beantown Festival”; www.berklee.edu) delivered colorful and vital music before a rollicking multi-racial crowd thronging the streets of Boston’s South End. This show of diversity at the Beantown Festival, in both music and community spirit, brings out the best in Boston.

WBUR


One band that stood out in its fresh funk and energy was Aggregate Prime, a quintet anchored by the magnetic drummer (and Berklee faculty member) Ralph Peterson. Peterson was a swaggering presence at his drum kit along with his grooving partners: guitarist Mark Whitfield; pianist Davis Whitfield ( Mark’s son); sax and flutist Gary Thomas and bassist Curtis Lundy.

Franklin Kiermyer


The young Whitfield was particularly inspired on his keyboard. He dashed from flowing runs to clusters of blues chords with an effortless swing that had the crowd leaning in to hear every dynamic pounce. At one point, Davis dueled with his father in a blistering funky romp that had the elder Whitfield’s guitar (in all its shimmering colors and staccato high picks) curling beautifully around his son’s keyboard hits and the smart snap of Peterson’s snare and hi-hat. Keep an ear out for more from young dynamo Davis Whitfield at his inquisitive, spirited keyboard.

WNPR


Another feisty young juggernaut of creative power is the dynamic duo of Boston-based saxophonist Noah Preminger and trumpeter Jason Palmer (both graduates of The New England Conservatory; http://www.necmusic.edu). These two young lions lit up the bandstand at the Beantown Festival and then, on October 18th, performed a captivating show in the confines of Scullers Jazz Club in Cambridge, MA. (“Scullers”; www.scullersjazz.com).

Republic of Jazz


The young Preminger and Palmer share a special musical synergy that is telepathic – full of curiosity and exploration. Individually, each possesses a fearless reach in their original compositions and in their solo artistry. Their music is challenging, angular and kinetic. On their ballads, entwining their trumpet and sax colors, they can sound deeply meditative and earthy with a directness of soul (saturated with breathy low sax bellows or delicately soft trumpet slurring).

All of this creative play was captured at Preminger’s concert at Scullers which featured Palmer on trumpet, Kim Cass on bass and Dan Weiss on drums. Cass has been a longtime musical partner with Preminger (both in concert and on his recordings) and he always brings a creative bass foundation with funky string slaps, rich harmonic holds and his pungent swing. As for Weiss, I have highlighted him before in these pages, most recently in his performance with intrepid saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and guitarist Rez Abbasi in their beautiful Indo-Pak Coalition concert at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and on their soulful album, Agrima [www.RudreshM.com].  I can think of no young drummer more zestful of rhythmic spirit than Weiss on his lithe drums.


danweiss.net


At their Scullers show, nothing was beyond the reach of these young explorers: from the blues to bebop to the riches of Baroque music. Preminger focused on his latest recording, Genuinity [Criss Cross Jazz], a spiky sweet and exuberant collection, reflecting Preminger’s searching creativity and his instrument’s boisterous (yet keenly meditative and expressive) range.

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The young lad can play. On his version of Lightning Hopkins’ “Trouble In Mind,” Preminger’s tenor sax shrieked up high to start his solo, then built on slow rolls and raspy tones down low (with several belches) to capture the full arching motion of this slow blues romp. On Preminger’s “Halfway To Hartford,” (the frenetic opening salvo on Genuinity), Preminger first checked his instrument’s neck-string (to make sure it was in place for his furious ride) and then plunged into a rollicking, wacky colorful duel with Weiss, flinging huge carouses of splintered runs, blaring trills, breathy spills and fury in the direction of Weiss’ light/dark pulses on his nimble snare and wood rim hits.

“Hartford” was also a platform for trumpeter Palmer to soar where he formed metallic short bursts and colors up and down his fluid register – bursting, slurring and staccato bright – chasing fragments of melody in his dreaming. There is always something bright, inventive and expressive contained in Palmer’s solos; sparks that are never out of the firmament of the melodic themes he explores.

jazz speaks.org


For instance, on Preminger’s soulful piece inspired by the Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, Palmer climbed his nimble register to deliver a raw blast of high blurts, (rapid fire against Preminger’s tender rolls and slow descent), throwing in a bit of creative molten heat to this otherwise tender and glowing ballad. From the meditative glow of Handel, the band effortlessly shifted gears to careen to the grooves of Preminger’s fast little ditty, “Happy Happy!” with Palmer scorching his staccato metallic phrases up high and Weiss tying everything together with his nimble snare and cymbals; his crackling wood rim hits and a flash of swirling brushes (light as a spider alighting on a web).



To fully explore these young voyagers’ sounds, take a listen to Preminger’s Genuinity.  It captures the creative range of Preminger’s original compositions and his colleagues’ majestic play in a recording that delivers all the up-close energy and tactile heat of this forward thinking band. The recording is excellent with only a lack of depth and at times, a bit of too-wide panning of Weiss’ drum kit (with one cymbal far left from the rest of his drum kit) that can, at moments, distract from all of the great creative action.

More naturally recorded is Preminger’s 2016 CD, Meditations On Freedom, [Dry Bridge Records; http://www.noahpreminger.com ] where Preminger, Palmer, Cass and their burbling pal on drums, Ian Froman, explore Preminger’s original tunes (and a few choice rock and soul nuggets) that speak to Preminger of our political times and inspire calls for social change. This particular recording is more intimate in that it was recorded in the beautiful space of Futura Productions in Roslindale, MA. (www.futuraproductions.com) and presents all players naturally without the distraction of any artificial panning of instruments. Preminger’s arrangements (such as on the bluesy swing of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love, Give Me Peace On Earth” or the stoic majesty of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”) are astonishing in their compositional skill and their bracing expression. The entwining of Preminger and Palmer on these originals is beautiful to hear as sax and trumpet meld in slow meditative flow (as on “Mother Earth” or “Broken Treaties”) or in nimble swing (with Cass and Froman adding their dapper swing) on Preminger’s elegantly strident, “We Have A Dream”.

Berkshire Fine Arts


And speaking of elegance and swing, (with firepower to spare), there is nothing more sonically fun and inventive than hearing sparkling new compositions emerging from the mind of young Boston-based composer (and Berklee faculty member), Ayn Inserto, writing for her talented Jazz Orchestra. The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra squeezed into the intimate confines of the Lilypad in Cambridge, MA. (http://www.lilypadinman.com) on November 12th and took the place by storm. The group heated up the capacity audience with their blasts of woodwind and brass colors, all taken from their new album, Down The Rabbit Hole ( “Rabbit Hole”)  [Summit Records]. Rabbit Hole was recorded at a Berklee College of Music studio and delivers all of this vivacious band in crisp open sound, with good width and depth to its soundstage and excellent image dimensionality (where, with a quality component audio system, you can visualize each player on the layered stage with nice pockets of air surrounding each instrument’s attack). Of particular highlight is drummer Austin McMahon with his granite time foundation and effortless burble. On this new recording, McMahon propels the orchestra from deep in his pocket position, with nice depth and natural dimension to his light sway on his drum kit.

Jazz After Hours


Inserto’s compositions are like whirligigs: one moment they point in a pensive direction with simmering woodwind and brass colors supported by big chunks of deep bass and piano pulses. When the winds of change come, her compositions fire up with bebop glee, spinning and soaring with brass, woodwinds and piano colors galloping around unpredictable tempos or whiplash melodic turns. At such moments, members of her Jazz Orchestra always glance at each other with knowing smiles all around, clearly honored to be a part of Inserto’s challenging and joyful creations.

Inserto led her Orchestra at the Lilypad in tunes from Rabbit Hole in their album’s sequence, beginning with Inserto’s “Three And Me.” This tune combined all elements of Inserto’s fresh and colorful music: tight, curling and punchy grooves that left space for improvisations to soar. The piece combined contrasting colors of Inserto’s fancy: a glittering bright solo from trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal; a gutsy, over the top brawl (of fluid register chaos) from tenor saxophonist Mark Zaleski and a warm last lap from John Fedchock’s soft trombone.

John Fedchock


Fedchock also lent his glowing trombone to turn the soft churn of “Mister and Dudley”, a curvaceously swinging number that also contained Inserto’s love for a swelling undertow of deep brass colors. The title track whizzed by on a hurtling groove pumping on Sean Farias’ bass; Kathy Olson’s baritone sax and Jennifer Wharton’s bass trombone. This dazzling gem ended with the band holding a unified high trill, in bone-rattling fashion. Also tumultuous was the duet between soprano saxophonist Alan Chase and alto saxophonist Rick Stone as they took “Part 2” of Inserto’s “Ze Teach and Me” to its ultimate knotty height by sending their frenetic conversation of trills, squeals and comic rolls into the packed hall.

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Leave it to the ever-creative Inserto to conclude the concert, (and her Rabbit Hole), with a soulful arrangement of the classic, “I’ll Be There”, originally recorded by the Jackson Five. Her arrangement started with a softly meditative solo from pianist Jason Yeager, using his soft touch to illuminate glowing blues chords and meditative note combinations. Yeager left his last note hanging precipitously to be plucked in the air by trumpeter Jeff Claassen as he cast the chorus of “I’ll Be There” (with his deep Fluegelhorn tone) out into the swirling colors provided by his partners. Inserto’s creation ended on a chorus of clarinets in woody, upturned crescendo – soaring with youthful energy and promise.

*FURTHER LISTENING*
-Noah Preminger continues his association with the stellar audiophile label, Newvelle Records, (http://www.newvelle-records.com ).  See Newvelle’s website for all details regarding their upcoming 4th season of subscription LP releases, including this new one from Preminger. Note too that Newvelle Records and the reference audiophile cable company, Nordost (www.nordost.com) have collaborated by utilizing Nordost cabling in the recording studio to further improve the sound quality of these intimate recording sessions.

-Jason Palmer has just released his recording, Rhyme and Reason [on GiantStep Arts; a non profit organization dedicated to supporting musical projects of its artists – see more at http://www.giantsteparts.org . The recording is a double album of Palmer originals recorded live at the Jazz Gallery in NYC with the superb lineup of Mark Turner on tenor sax; Matt Brewer on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums.

Nordost is headed to CES

Nordost is happy to be attending CES in Las Vegas January 8-11th. Nordost is teaming up with VTL this year on floor 29, room 201 at the Venetian, to put on a show-stopping system. Take advantage of this great opportunity to hear, firsthand, what our transformative products have to offer your home audio system. We hope to see you there!

January 8-11

The Venetian

Room 29-210

www.ces.tech

Stereophile reviews the QKORE and QKORE Wire

After receiving over half a dozen reviews in little over a year, Nordost’s QKORE Grounding Units continue to impress industry insiders, reviewers, and consumers alike. The most recent QKORE evangelist is Stereophile’s Jason Victor Serinus. In his article, published in the January issue of Stereophile, Jason was blown away by the improvements gained by introducing QKORE Grounding Units to his system. According to Jason, the noticeably widened soundstage, increased detail, and natural quality of decay that he found while using the QKORE validates the monetary expense and time commitment that audiophiles expend chasing the idyllic listening experience.

“I can’t imagine that anyone who’s invested considerable time and energy and money in a high-end system would want to be without the markedly ‘blacker’ backgrounds, increased transparency and detail, more vivid colors, and greater overall veracity delivered by Nordost’s QKore Ground Units…The law of diminishing returns does not apply; the differences were cumulative, and anything but subtle.”  —Jason Victor Serinus

 

You can now read Jason’s QKORE review in its entirety here: Nordost QKORE and QKORE Wire—System Grounding Accessories

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

Nordost Playlist – December 2018


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 December.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  |  SPOTIFY


  1. Can’t Run But—Paul Simon—In the Blue Light
  2. Southern Nights—Allen Toussaint—American Tunes
  3. Demon To The Dark—Son Little—New Magic
  4. Your Smile—Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan—Rufusized
  5. Keep Rising (Live)—James Tillman—James Tillman on Audiotree Live
  6. An Old Peasant Like Me—Explosions in the Sky, David Wingo—Prince Avalanche: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  7. Slow Burn—Kacey Musgraves—Golden Hour
  8. 3am Bounce—No BS! Brass Band—Brass Knuckles
  9. Oh, Maker—Janelle Monáe—The ArchAndroid
  10. Pillar of Truth—Lucy Dacus—Historian

 

Dealer Spotlight: JS Audio

  By Michael Taylor

I first met Steve Kennedy and his brother Dave, the current owners of JS Audio, a few years ago while visiting the store.  Steve, who now runs the day to day operations, had worked for over 8 years with the former owner, Joe Stromick, who also became his mentor.  For over 32 years Joe owned JS Audio and maintained its reputation as the premier High End Audio store in the Washington DC area. It still holds that title today. Joe passed away this February and Steve and Dave took the wheel and haven’t looked back.

JS Audio, located in Bethesda MD, is truly a gem.  It’s a small store, but the old adage about good things coming in small packages couldn’t be more true than in this case.  As soon as you open the door, you know you’ve found something special.

One of the first things you see when you walk in is a wide array of Nordost hanging on the wall.  But Nordost is just the beginning— the next treat comes when you turn your head and see Audio Research and Wilson Audio greeting you.  Walk down the long hallway and peek into the other rooms and you’re transported to hi-fi heaven:  You see more Wilson Audio speakers, more Audio Research, DCS, McIntosh, Dynaudio, D’Agostino, Boulder, HRS, and SME— all wired with Nordost, from Blue Heaven all the way to Odin 2.

Until you walk in that front door you would have no idea that the best of the best reside here.

Steve is continuing the same course that Joe found so successful over the years, while adding a splash of his own taste.  He keeps a focus on partnerships with select brands, but has also plunged deeper into vinyl than the store has previously.  Industry trends are important to notice, and Steve keeps his finger on the pulse of what is happening.  Weekend events with manufacturers still happen here every 2-3 months, with only the best wine and appetizers served.  I think the manufacturers enjoy it as much as Steve’s clients do!

Pictures from Nordost Nation! November 2018

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, info@nordost.com, or #nordostcables on Instagram, so that we can continue to share them with the whole Nordost family!


@finna_no shared this great shot of his system with Heimdall 2

Westcoast Audio Video Gallery took this incredible shot of our Blue Heaven Speaker Cables with Norse Bi-Wire Jumpers

@krisztian7305 took this picture of his guitars and Nordost cables. Great sound all around!

@audiophiledk showing off some Odin 2 Cables being supported by our Sort Lifts

@henrikstylisaudio says “Nothing better than a small headphone set up in the office.”

@soundquest_ about to impress some lucky listeners with a demo of Odin 2

@ronnyhaga is “Wired for the weekend :)”

Westcoast Audio Video Gallery with another great shot— this time of our Sort Kone resonance control devices

VPI wired their reference system with Odin 2 for the perfect launch of the HW-40.

@cultoffonza took this pic of his rack, wired with Heimdall 2 and featuring a QX Power Purifier!

@stylusaudio shared this picture of a YG speaker wired with a Valhalla 2 Speaker Cable and Reference Jumpers

@huge_sound shared this image of an impressive system featuring Magico, Bryston, CH Precision, Constellation, Tenor, and, of course, Nordost.

@thetruewei took this shot of his Focal Utopias with the Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable

@sientelibre has his system connected with Nordost!

@dreamavperth took this shot of our Heimdall 2 Speaker Cable on display at the Hong Kong AV Show

Absolute Audio Video (@absoluteaudioyyc) shared this shot of one of their clients’ incredible music collection. “Not a bad system also” 🤩

 

NOVO continues their 3 part review series with the Blue Heaven USB and Speaker Cable

The third installment of NOVO magazine’s three-part cable upgrade series, The Journey to Higher Quality Audio With Nordost Leif Cables: Part 3 or 3 was released this October. Reviewer Suave Kajko is taking his readers through the process of maximizing the performance of their audio systems step by step. While parts 1 and 2 focused on Blue Heaven Interconnects and Power Cords, part 3 sees Suave shift his focus to Blue Heaven USB and Speaker Cables. With a full loom of Blue Heaven cables finally installed in his system, Suave finds a refinement to every discernible improvement he made along the away. However, what may surprise most readers is the difference that the USB cable made, since many up-and-coming audio enthusiast dismiss such digital cable upgrades.

 

“With the Blue Heaven USB cable in place, between my laptop and the DAC, I was rewarded with a further lowered noise floor, which resulted in a wider soundstage, with more precise positioning… both instruments and vocals sounded closer to what you expect to hear in real life, deepening the music listening experience.” – Suave Kajko

 

You can now read all three parts of Suave’s Blue Heaven cable review in the review section of the Nordost website –

The Journey to Higher Quality Audio With Nordost Leif Cables: Part 1 of 3

The Journey to Higher Quality Audio With Nordost Leif Cables: Part 2 of 3

The Journey to Higher Quality Audio With Nordost Leif Cables: Part 3 of 3