Questions and Answers (June 2020)

Our product specialists receive questions on a daily basis about Nordost products, their application, and hifi in general.  We thought that we would take a minute to share some of our most recent and frequently asked questions here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!

Q: Can I wire my system with cables from different ranges within the Leif family? 

A: Yes. You can definitely wire your system with a mix of cables from the Leif range. Our cables all have the same design philosophy, so while products improve due to added conductors, gauges, and technologies, they all have the same sonic signature. This allows you to budget your cables accordingly, and upgrade piece by piece when needed. 

Q: What is better: short interconnects or short loudspeaker cables?

A: The signal loss on Nordost cables is very low due to the use of extruded FEP insulation and Mono-Filament technology. Nordost cables can run over longer distances with less signal loss than regular cables. However, when planning a system set up, it is wise to keep lower level signals such as tonearm cables and analog interconnects relatively short.  It is better to use longer loudspeaker cables as these typically have much more current and voltage being provided by the power amplifier.

Q: Why do Nordost 75 Ohm digital cables come with BNC to RCA Adaptors? 

A: The correct termination for true 75 Ohm impedance is a BNC connector, due to the mechanical spacing of the center conductor relative to the outer insulation. We have found that keeping the integrity of the 75 Ohm cable with a BNC termination and using an RCA adaptor always provides better sonic results.  It also means the cable can be used easily as a clocking cable, which typically uses BNC connections for superior performance.

Q: Power cords can’t make a difference after the miles electricity travels in wires to get to my house. 

A: While they are not audio-grade, the cables used to transfer electricity through the grid and to your home, are actually a significant gauge. The “choke point” usually does occur in your home. Not only that, but it is very important to try to minimize the effects of artifacts, EMI, and RFI that are introduced to electricity on its journey to your home and continue to be introduced from your home appliances. 

Dealer Spotlight: Sonic Artistry

By Bruno de Lorimier

Hailing from the Greater Toronto Area or “GTA”, the megatropolis just north of the US Border, Sonic Artistry is a boutique high end audio retailer catering to music lovers. With two locations in the GTA, Roncesvalles/High Park in the heart of the city and just north in Aurora, they are an appointment only establishment. The owners, Jonathan Badov and Edgar Balian made it clear to me that their credo of ‘Artistry, Integrity, Music’ is their guiding force in serving their customer base. Ed and Jonathan met in University while studying Mechanical Engineering in the mid 80’s. Their lifelong friendship and business partnership was forged in their love of music and incessant record collecting. They are both avid collectors of British Progressive Rock and Folk music from the late 60’s through the 70’s. They have a deep collection of original pressings and more recent independently produced records. Their one goal— to dig out as much information from those tiny grooves as possible. Don’t get them started on their obsessive record cleaning and archiving process.

Both Ed and Jonathan are practicing professional engineers in Ontario. Their detailed and scientific approach to selecting products and the synergies that exist between them is at the heart of the customer experience. They both believe that products made by companies with deep engineering backgrounds and manufacturing capabilities that exist in solid science and not in the hair shirt arena are typically the ones that sound the best. Finding brands that are at the apex of sonic excellence is key to producing a coherent and visceral listening experience.

Not trying to be all things to all people, they remain resilient in the fact that the only person the hobby needs to make happy is the customer. Nothing else matters. It is their escape and transcendent journey. With many trails blazed to the top of the Sound Reproduction Mountain, they are happy to share with you their own successes and failures along the journey and route to musical harmony. They believe that utilizing the full line of Nordost products in their systems ensures that they can reproduce the best musical experience they can. Teamed with other heralded products such as darTZeel, Stenheim, TechDAS, SAT, Audio Technica, and Minus K. they are focused on the details that count; power, vibration and acoustics.

An individualized customer experience is the way they chose to work with their customers. Without interruptions, the appointment process allows customers to focus on the musical experience. Time is taken to understand what the customer is hearing and their needs. The atmosphere is controlled with a system that is known and set up much like the customers’ own home experience. In-home auditions are the next part of that journey. It is important, with a sizeable investment, to ensure the purchase is what they are looking for, and make sure the customer obtains the audio experience they want to live with.

In Jonathan’s own words “The most fulfilling parts of the experience are the friendships you make over the course of 25 yrs in the business and the exchange of music— learning about new music, new artists, different pressings. Everyone brings something new into the conversation that allows all of us to grow as music lovers, consumers and retailers. We could not have found a better hobby to grow as people, transport us, and make lasting friendships.”

The entire team at Nordost is very proud to count Sonic Artistry as one of our team members.

NOVO Reviews Nordost’s QKOIL and QVIBE

The final installment of NOVO’s 3-Part QRT review is here! Part 3 concentrates on our QVIBE AC Line Harmonizers and QKOIL AC Enhancers. In his most recent article, reviewer George de Sa systematically adds the QV2 and QK1 to his system, focusing on the improvements each one brings to the music. With the QV2, he notices a dramatic distinction in spacial awareness and details, imparting a substantial “lift in the level of realism”. The QK1, on the other hand, focuses on the music’s speed, offering “more clarity, speed and punch to the percussion”. Together, these symbiotic products are the perfect finishing touch to any hifi system: 

“…bringing them together was another experience unto itself. With all four (two Qv2s and two QK1s) plugged into the QBASE, the best of both was achieved. There was greater warmth, yet also greater focus and pace. There was an increased sense of naturalness but also a greater measure of dynamics. And then, there was a significant increase in three-dimensional imaging and separation.” – George de Sa

You can now read all three of George’s QRT pieces here:




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

Nordost Playlist – June 2020

Over the past few months, Nordost  has been happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more bearable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone. 

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

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

  1. Mississippi Goddam-Live At Carnegie Hall, New York, 1964—Nina Simone—In Concert 
  2. ‘Round Midnight-Remastered 2013—Thelonious Monk—‘Round Midnight 
  3. The Weight-Live—Mavis Staples and Company—Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration 
  4. Lucille—Little Richard—The Very Best of…Little Richard
  5. Greens—Be Steadwell—Queer Love Songs 
  6. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)—Marvin Gaye—What’s Going On-40th Anniversary 
  7. Where Do We Go—Solange—A Seat at the Table 
  8. The Boss—James Brown, They J.B.’s—Black Caesar 
  9. Time’s A Wastin—Erykah Badu—Mam’s Gun
  10. Easy Living (with Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra)—Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson—Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) 

The Absolute Sound Reviews Nordost’s Tyr 2 cable range

The Absolute Sound has published another fabulous Nordost review! In this most recent article, Nordost Tyr 2 Interconnect, Speaker, and Power Cables: Transparency, Purity, Texture, Wayne Garcia experiments with a full loom of Tyr 2 cables. No matter the genre of music he listened to, our Try 2 cables succeeded in convincing Wayne that he was listening to the “real thing”, his system vanishing so that he was left enjoying just the music. 

“…transparency, precision, purity, depth, texture, openness, expansiveness…Nordost’s Tyr 2 loom brings all of this and more to the listening experience. Yet as I wrap up these throughs another word now pops to mind …transformative. That is perhaps the ultimate thing I can say about any experience. It takes us to another place, another level of understanding—and, in this case, another level of long-term musical pleasure.” – Wayne Garcia, TAS

 You can now read Wayne’s full review here: Nordost Tyr 2 Interconnect, Speaker, and Power Cables: Transparency, Purity, Texture

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

The Well-Grounded System: An Update

By Mike Marko

Five years ago, that sunny day when I first pounded in that ground rod and attached the Nordost QLINE ground wire to my Nordost QB8 MKII power distribution system was an absolute revelation.  The sonic improvements were unmistakable: in general, there was not only better timing to the system, but, specifically, far better bass definition.  However, a problem was lurking.  By adding an earth ground to the electrical wiring in my house, I actually unbalanced the grounding scheme of the house and the entire neighborhood.  You see, in my neighborhood there is only an earth connection at the pole that supplies power and ground to groups of homes at a time.  After looking up the electrical code (always a good thing, especially before a project like this!) I found that, in my case, adding an earth ground at the house was not a good thing. To complicate things further, ground rods also vary in their conduction to the earth.  Ground moisture and salinization affect this conduction, so performance often varies. But I loved the sonic improvements!!! So: what should I (and you, dear reader) do?

Enter the QKORE.  The QKORE is Nordost’s ground-breaking (pun intended) system for establishing a quiet ground reference for stereo systems – Unlike other grounding options, it does not violate the electrical code and is easy to employ even in high-rise homes.  The QKORE system utilizes Low Voltage Attractor Plates (LVAP) that act as an artificial earth ground to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) so these nasties are totally attracted to the LVAPs for dissipation.  All without the bother of an actual conductor in the dirt with far more consistent performance!

The QKORE system goes one step further in addressing ground noise, which can be generated after the power supply in any given component.  This noise is insidious.  It masks low level detail, much like a noise masking system in an open-plan office.  The idea of noise masking is to generate enough of a noise pattern – modified white noise – so that, in this analogy, one office-person’s noise doesn’t intrude on the acoustic space of another. It is highly effective too.  The low-level noise distinctly generated by loudspeakers above a suspended ceiling makes it very difficult to hear the person next to you; all the while, the noise, itself, is inaudible.  This also happens in your system when ground “noise” masks the low-level signals one is fighting to hear.  Like the ambience and reverb decay in your favorite music hall or the intimate feeling of a small jazz club or a great studio. 

So, while the primary ground reference can now be established by connecting an LVAP to the incoming AC ground, the QKORE can also now attack the DC noise generated by the components, themselves.  Nordost calls this the secondary ground connection.  It is accomplished by using special QKORE grounding wires that use common audio connections to link the ground after the components’ power supply to its own LVAP.  These audio connection QKORE ground wires only connect to an unused ground connection at unused input or output connectors, like RCA, BNC, XLR, RJ45, etc. 

The QKORE 1 deals with just the primary AC ground noise and connects to your power distribution strip.  The QKORE 3 is solely intended for secondary ground DC noise utilizing audio connectors on the components themselves.  The ever popular QKORE 6 is a combo unit with two LVAPs that do both jobs in one unit.

But, you may ask, “How does all this compare to my original ground rod system?”  Well, let me say unequivocally that the QKORE solution sounds far better and is far more stable, day in and day out.  My system has never sounded consistently better and the low-level resolution and bass performance are out of this world!

Positive Feedback Reviews the Blue Heaven Tonearm Cable +

Our recent tonearm cable upgrade has had reviewers eager for the opportunity to check out how the new internal design and revolutionary grounding options will impact their analog listening. This month, Positive Feedback’s Michael Corsentino introduced the Blue Heaven Tonearm Cable + into his system. While it may be Nordost’s entry level tonearm cable, the results were truly impressive! There is no doubt that Michael will want to know what will happen as he upgrades throughout our line of Tonearm Cable + offerings.

“With the Blue Heaven installed music had substantially more clarity, more detail, more refinement, more dynamic contrast, and more musicality. And, as mentioned above, hum gone in a flash! … the Blue Heaven made an appreciably positive difference, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. I have no hesitation recommending it as a worthwhile upgrade. Once you’ve heard the difference, I doubt you’ll go back to your previous cable: I know I’m not!”

– Michael Corsentino 

You can now read Michael’s full review here: Blue Heaven Tonearm Cable +

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

Nordost Playlist – May 2020

It seems like ages ago that we were traveling around the world, visiting our friends and business partners, and educating end users about the effects that our products have on sound systems. In order to demonstrate these products, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort systems and accessories. While we might not be able to use our music for demos at the moment, we find that music means more to us than ever. We wanted to share some of the tracks that we have been playing to get us through these wild times, and hope that they bring you enjoyment and help you pass the time. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but we hope that there’s something for everyone.

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

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

  1. Clint Eastwood—Freedom Fry—Rio Grande
  2. Sharing The Night Together—Dr. Hook—Pleasure & Pain
  3. This Town—Jack Broadbent—Moonshine Blue
  4. Invincible—TOOL—Fear Inoculum
  5. The Wind That Shakes the Barley—Dead Can Dance—Into The Labyrinth
  6. Hopopono—GoGo Penguin—v2.0
  7. Everyday I write The Book—Elvis Costello & The Attractions—Punch The Clock
  8. Are U gonna tell her? (feat. Mc Zaac)—Tove Lo, Mc Zaac—Sunshine Kitty
  9. Mr. Harris—Aimee Mann—Whatever
  10. Your Hand In Mine—Explosions In The Sky—The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place

Positive Feedback reviews the QKORE

Nordost is happy to share yet another glowing review of our QKORE Ground Units. In this review, Positive Feedback’s Marshall Nack introduced QKORE to his system to find that it straightened out frequency balance, gained body and density in his system’s low end, and exposed a variety of accents and dynamic markings in his music. In fact, the sonic improvements that Marshall achieved in adding the QKORE to his system exceeded his expectations: 

“In advance of installing the QKORE Ground Units, I had imagined what such a product might accomplish. Those daydreams were prophetic—the only surprise was how significant it turned out to be…  it did more to improve my sound than any alternative I can think of at that price.” – Marshall Nack, Positive Feedback. 

You can read Marshall’s review in its entirety here, or check out more great reviews on our reviews page!

Questions and Answers: AXPONA Livestream

As you all know, our industry had to cancel its trade shows this Spring, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t go to AXPONA! On Friday April 17th, the day AXPONA would have been held, Nordost took part in the AXPONA Livestream. We were represented by Nordost product trainer and International Sales Manager, Bjorn Bengtsson, who spoke to our good friend and dealer, Bes Nievero at Music Direct. If you missed Bjorn’s interview, you can still see (and share!) it on Facebook, but in case you would rather read your information, here is what we talked about during the Livestream!

Q: What is the state of things with Nordost given the Corona virus?

A: All Nordost retailers are well stocked with Nordost products! We prepared early for some sort of disturbance due to the coronavirus, and since all of our products are made in America, we were able to stock-up all of our retailers before things got serious. We can’t wait for things to get back to normal, but until then, we’re just happy we can still make people’s lives at home a little more bearable by making their hifi systems sound the best they can.  

Q: Many people are using standard interconnects from their turntable to their phono amps. Why is it important to use a dedicated tonearm cable?

A: The task of a dedicated tonearm cable is different from that of a standard interconnect. That mostly has to do with the nature of signals that it transmits. The signal coming from a tonearm cartridge is incredibly small, delicate, and needs a massive amount of amplification—from 100x to as high as 1000x (MM to low output MC). It is very important that this signal being amplified is protected from both internal and external interferences. That kind of protection requires a dedicated cable design.  

Q: How does the new Tonearm Cable + differ from the previous models that Nordost made?

A: Nordost’s tonearm cables have always aimed to protect the delicate signals being transmitted from the cartridge to the phono amp, but now we have expanded our way of doing that to make it even more effective. In the new Tonearm Cable + design, you still get Nordost’s patented technology, combined with solid core silver-plated conductors, and the high bandwidth and low capacitance that is always associated with Nordost, but now they are constructed using twisted-pair conductors making up left and right channels, which are then individually shielded. That way there is no inter-channel interference, and they are also protected from external interferences.  

Q: Why is a group of smaller gauge wire better sounding than a larger core conductor?

A: Actually, a group of smaller gauge wire doesn’t sound better than a larger core conductor. You have a lot of strand interactions with a multi-stranded cable, which is why we choose to use solid core conductors.