StereoNET Reviews the Blue Heaven Analog Interconnect

We have a new review for you this month, and this time it’s all about the Blue Heaven Interconnect! StereoNET reviewer, Neville Roberts, got a chance to see what so many of our customers already know about one of our best-selling cables. Roberts had nothing but good things to say about the cable and what it did for his system’s performance. He found it both balanced and dynamic, was taken by the resulting changes in sound staging it was responsible for, and was completely impressed with its impact on vocals. In fact, he was so impressed that the Blue Heaven Interconnect received the StereoNET Applause Award!

“The Blue Heaven certainly lives up to its manufacturer’s claims of offering accurate signal transfer…with especially impressive detail and sound staging. Value-wise it punches well above its weight…” – Neville Roberts.

You can read StereoNET’s Blue Heaven Interconnect review in its entirety HERE. And, as always, you can find more great reviews on the Reviews Page of the Nordost website. 

Five Easy Turntable Upgrades

One reason people love vinyl-driven systems is the analog “process”. The intricacy of turntable set-up is the perfect precursor for its daily use. Opening an album, setting the record down and arranging the needle to gingerly settle at the exact right spot—it’s a lot of work, but it feels more rewarding than mindlessly pressing play on a streaming service. Although, if you are going to put in the work, you want it to sound good. Luckily, there are several simple tweaks and changes that you can make to improve the performance of your turntable. Here, we have put together five easy adjustments and modifications to upgrade your turntable, and make sure that you are getting the sound that your analog system is capable of! 

1. Stay stable and get level

The surface that you place hifi components on always makes a difference in audio performance, but it is extra important when placing a turntable. Turntables need sturdy, level surfaces to minimize skipping and to make sure that you don’t do any damage to your needle or records. Many audiophiles purchase audio racks with anti-resonance properties, or they install audio accessories, like Sort System products, which help minimize system vibrations and are transformative to the sound. However, the simplest upgrade is simply making sure that whichever surface you have chosen to house your turntable is absolutely level and stable. 

2. Replace your belt

There are several types of turntables on the market, including idler-wheel, belt-drive, and direct-drive. If you are using a belt-driven turntable, you know that the belt is responsible for the movement and seed, and (when they aren’t working well) can even affect the tone of the music. The fact is, rubber can age, degrade, and stretch over time. If you have had your belt-drive turntable for three to five years, refreshing your belt can mean a big upgrade, stabilizing the timing of your ‘table, and allowing your music to play at a steady pace. 

3. Upgrade the tonearm cable

If your turntable has a removable tonearm cable, you can get a lot more performance with an easy, but powerful upgrade. The signals traveling between the turntable and the phono preamp are the most delicate in the analog audio system chain. By substituting the stock cable that came with your turntable for a purpose-built tonearm cable, you will unveil a whole new level of performance from your turntable that you didn’t even know existed. Low capacitance cables, with proper shielding for both channels, enable the turntable cartridge to deliver all the musical details contained on LPs to the phono preamp without loss. Some tonearm cables, like the ones produced by Nordost, even take grounding into consideration (which can make a huge difference to the signal quality). Nordost even provides tonearm cable options for a wide variety of system levels, from mid-fi to reference. 

4. Improve the turntable mat 

The mat that comes with your turntable should not be your final solution. In fact, it might even be the cause of the crackling, static noise that’s distracting you during your listening sessions. Turntable mats come in several different materials from cork, to sorbothane, to leather, and more, each material with their own merits. A good turntable mat should protect and stabilize your record, reduce friction, and even increase sound quality. However, before choosing your mat, make sure to check if your turntable manufacturer has any recommendations. 

5. Add some weight

If your turntable came without a record weight, it might be something you should consider, in order to give your system a sonic boost. Adding a weight on top of your spinning record helps to couple the record to the platter itself, which helps to minimize vibrations, improve tracking, and prevent slipping. As a result, you can cut down on distortion and background noise and tighten the focus of the overall sound.  Like with mats, before you settle on a weight, check with your turntable manufacturer for specific recommendations. 

For further information about these turntable upgrades and more, download the Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide

Nordost Playlist – November 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. 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 November.


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


  1. Midnight Mischief—Jordan Rakei—Cloak
  2. Heels—Sir Babygirl—Crush on Me
  3. Texas Sun—Khruangbin, Leon Bridges—Texas Sun
  4. You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me—Smokey Robinson & The Miracles—OOO Baby Baby: The Anthology
  5. Find Yourself—Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real—Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
  6. What Kinda Music—Tom Misch, Yussef Dayes—What Kinda Music
  7. Easy On Me—Adele—Easy On Me
  8. The Boy With The Perpetual Nerves—The Feelies—Crazy Rhythms
  9. Ship In A Bottle-From “The Lovely Bones”—Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins, Leo Abrahams—Brian Eno-Film Music 1976-2020
  10. The Hardest Cut—Spoon—The Hardest Cut

Hi-Fi+ Reviews the Valhalla 2 Ethernet Cable

We are happy to share a new Ethernet cable review! This Valhalla 2 Ethernet Cable review, written by Andrew Harrison, was published in the September issue of Hi-Fi+. Not only does this in-depth review explore the construction of our Reference Ethernet cable, it speaks to the audible differences that cable lengths make!

For Harrison, the V2 Ethernet Cable transformed his system, allowing him to experience tighter, more controlled bass, improved top-end detail, lower noise floor, and a more natural performance from his listening sessions. In the conclusion of his article, Harrison states, “…this is a network cable that’s not just a bit sonically different, it’s a palpable triumph in digital audio sound reproduction.”

You can read Hi-Fi+’s Valhalla 2 Ethernet Cable review in its entirety, along with many other fantastic write-ups on the Reviews page of the Nordost website.  

Dealer Spotlight: Woodbridge Stereo/Video

By Steve Greene

This past February, Nordost was absolutely delighted to add Woodbridge Stereo/Video to our fine roster of authorized dealers.  Located in Woodbridge, NJ, this NYC metro area dealership was established in 1971 and has grown steadily during the past 50 years.  Their longevity in the marketplace is quite admirable having faced many challenges over the years — a devastating fire in 1978, store expansion, the birth of the custom home theater industry (along with its proliferation of numerous inexperienced/unqualified “integrators” working from the trunks of their cars), as well as several US economic downturns.  However, these challenges ultimately made Woodbridge Stereo/Video stronger and more dedicated to adhering to their core, guiding philosophy: consumer electronics should be a fun labor of love, focused on the music and the technology behind it.  This was their guiding principle back in 1971 and it remains just as important to them today!  

Tom Altobelli joined this company in 1980 and began its expansion into high end audio.  He carefully brought in many high-end audio lines that met his high standards.  They were lines that paid careful allegiance to the accurate reproduction of music, and had robust build quality and longevity in the marketplace. This growth and adherence to superior music reproduction continues today!  These folks intimately know (and love) the gear they sell to their legion of dedicated customers.  In addition to their two channel audio offerings, Woodbridge offers a wonderful array of custom home theaters and home automation services.  These services run the gamut from the initial design stage all the way through installation, all done in-house.  They are dedicated to competently building robust yet easy to use systems.  Custom designed for each individual client, these services include lighting control, distributed audio, home networks, motorized window shades, HVAC and so on.

However, that does not mean they have minimized their dedication to putting together awesome home audio systems for their loyal clients.  After all, this was their first true love that guided them 50 years ago when opening this wonderful retail environment.  Woodbridge S/V has several well appointed and acoustically treated sound rooms in which to demo the fine gear they offer.  Brands like Mark Levinson, Revel, KEF, Hegel, JL Audio, Krell, Martin Logan, Moon, Prima Luna, Sony, Totem, VPI, Thorens, Music Hall and many more, now including, of course, Nordost! 

No stuffy salespeople here either!  Tom and his dedicated staff are just about the friendliest and most passionate group of folks you will ever meet.  Tom’s vast knowledge of this industry, honed over a forty year plus period, is second to none.  This passion and expertise for putting together great sounding audio systems for his clients is based on one major premise — everyone is different, so throw out the cookie cutter formula.  Getting to know each client individually is paramount to building a unique system that satisfies their needs and tastes. 

You will greatly enjoy a visit to Woodbridge Stereo/Video because they love what they do and they love their clients!  Next time you are in the area, please drop by to get a demonstration of Nordost products from a very talented group of individuals who will make you feel at home and help engage you in this wonderful hobby we call high performance audio!

Questions and Answers (October 2021)

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 those questions here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!


Q: I have seen that Nordost advocates using jumpers instead of links that come with loudspeakers. Why is this? I would have thought the links are better. 

A: The metal plates that speaker manufacturers supply with speakers are far from ideal connectors.  The plates are not of ideal material nor are they even the proper shape.  They are supplied to allow the speakers to work if the customer doesn’t bi-amp or bi-wire them. Jumpers, on the other hand, are small runs of proper signal carrying cables, just like the cables from your amplifier to your speakers. That consistency yields better results.


Q: Right now, I am currently running Red Dawn Speaker Cables and would like to slowly upgrade all of my cables to Nordost. Ideally, I would like to stick to the same series of power cords (i.e. Red Dawn) for the entire system. However, due to budget constraints, does it make sense to prioritize based on component…for example, Red Dawn for my pre-amp, and Blue Heaven Power Cords for the rest of the system? 

A: We completely understand why it might be hard to stick with your “ideal” cable throughout the system, so prioritizing does make sense. One of the reasons why we design our cables the way we do is so that they can easily be upgraded and mixed throughout your system without any drawbacks. In terms of prioritization, we recommend that the BEST power cord in your system be placed from your wall to your distribution bar. Once you have that covered, then you are correct in saying that your pre-amp (or integrated) should be next in line. After that, you want your amplifier(s) covered. Following that, it’s a question of “what is used most”. For example, if you mostly listen to CDs, use your better power cord on your transport, however if you use your server more, then prioritize your DAC, etc. 


Q: Is there any benefit in connecting a component through multiple QKORE Wires to a QKORE? 

A: No, once a component is connected to a QKORE with one cable, connecting additional cables will not enhance it further. Just one cable does the trick!

Nordost Playlist – October 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. 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 October.


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


  1. Tamala—Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate—Monistic Theory
  2. Three O’Clock Blues—Eric Clapton, B.B. King—Riding With The King
  3. Days of Wine & Roses—Jacintha—Autumn Leaves (The Songs of Johnny Mercer)
  4. Beat Hotel –Allan Taylor—Closter To The Music Vol. 1
  5. When It Rains It Poors—Twiddle—Somewhere On the Mountain
  6. A Night on Bald Mountain—Modest Mussorgsky, Dimitri Mitropoulos, New York Philharmonic—Tchaikovksy: Symphony No. 6- Mussorgsky: A Night on Bald Mountain
  7. Your Bright Baby Blues—Jackson Browne—The Pretender
  8. So What—Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans—Kind of Blue (Legacy Edition)
  9. Lost It—ZHU—DREAMLAND 2021
  10. Ravel: String Quartet, M. 35: II. Assez vif – Très rythmé—Maurice Ravel, Quatuor Ébenè—Debussy, Fauré & Ravel: String Quartets

Why Are Audio Cables Important?

Audio cables can be a controversial subject in the audio community, and people tend to end up in one of two camps: cable believers and cable deniers. So, instead of blindly joining one side or the other, get informed!

Sure, you can say that cables are an indispensable component in virtually every hifi system. But why? What do they do? What characteristics should you look for in cable design and how do they impact performance? What is the harm in mixing different brands of cabling? Why should you invest in aftermarket cables instead of opting for what is provided with components at purchase? When upgrading the cables in a system, where should you start?

In this download, you will find the answers to all these questions, and more, so that you can be confident about why audio cables really are so important.

Includes:

  • Characteristics of audio cables and their effects
  • An introduction to the “sonic signature” of cable designs and the importance of complete cable looms
  • Aftermarket cables vs cables “included with purchase”
  • Upgrading cables and where to start in a system

Read now: WHY ARE AUDIO CABLES IMPORTANT?


Dealer Spotlight: Audio Video Therapy

I had the great pleasure of sitting down with John Rein, owner of Audio Video Therapy in Nashua, NH.  John and his knowledgeable staff are dedicated to giving their clients a hi-fi experience tailored to their specific needs and budgets.  I hope you enjoy reading this interview with John as much as I enjoyed sitting down with him.  

– Amy Hansen


Q: What started your passion for HiFi?

A: When I was in high school, I walked into Tech HiFi in Harvard Square and, for the first time, I heard a good speaker that impressed me…and I remember there was a wall of receivers all lit up.  Everything was back-lit dials, and it was mesmerizing.  That’s when I started spending all of my money on audio.  In college, I heard a pair of early B&W 800 series driven by Audio Research monoblocks and realized, oh my god… there’s a whole other level I didn’t even know existed.

Q: How did AV Therapy come to be?

A: About 8 years ago, it was time for me to move into a different area and concentrate more on two-channel audio.  The driving force was that it seemed like everyone in audio had left the people in the middle behind.  There were no feeder systems for younger people to get into the hobby because ultra high-end products were so expensive. After places like Tweeter closed down, there was really no place for someone who had a $3-4K budget and wanted better stuff to go to in order to get started in the hobby.  My goal was to have everything from $199 to $50K speakers in the same place. To help, we even have a trade-up policy to help people gradually work towards their goal. 

But, what’s going to keep this going when we’re not here?  We have to build for the future. I want what AV Therapy is doing to continue whether I’m here or not. 

Q: How has this past year been? Has the pandemic been the most challenging thing you’ve had to face as a business owner?

A: COVID has been the weirdest time because it exploded our business! I really have to say that you are either on one side of the pandemic or the other.  You’re either a restaurant owner, or a business owner that is working in a field where people are stuck at home and need your product. We are blessed enough to be on the right side of this pandemic. I have friends who own restaurants, that have not been so fortunate. Anyone who’s in this business should be incredibly grateful.

Q: How do you incorporate music into your personal life?

A: As you know, I’m on the board of trustees for Symphony NH. But that’s only part of it. Music for me has always been an emotional switch. When the right music comes on, it can transport you into any moment of your life. Music is relaxing, invigorating, and one emotion after another. How often do you watch your favorite movie? Once in a while? Once in five years? Now, how often do you listen to your favorite music? You can do that every day and you don’t get tired of it!

I have five systems at home and a very tolerant wife. With five systems, I have obviously taken over a fair amount of real estate in our house, and she has tolerated this for over 40 years.  For me, music and quality of life are synonymous. It’s playing all the time. Whenever I can, I play with toys at work during off-business hours—that’s one of the joys of work and it’s a great thing.   

Q: Is there any genre of music you prefer?

A: I embrace every kind of music there is.  Since I went to college in Boston in the 70’s, there was always a reasonable amount of live folk music available, and I’ve always liked it because of that. I go to the Montreal Jazz Festival every year, so Jazz has always been part of it too. I grew up in the rock ‘n roll era, so there is a lot of rock ‘n roll in my background too.  When I was 13 years old, my mother bought two records: one was a Mozart record, and one was a Beatles record, so my musical taste has been diverse from the beginning. There’s beauty and complexity in classical, and modern classical has incredible diversity that pushes the envelope and is quite engaging. I like to explore everything, and I like it all. 

Q: How do you see vinyl and digital evolving in popularity?

A: I think streaming has opened the door and that digital’s quality has gone up astronomically in the last few years. The edginess of the 80’s and 90’s is well in the background if you just spend a little more money. I think you can get a more liquid sound for less money in vinyl, but you can get a lot of that same liquidity in digital, it just tends to cost a little bit more. I think that one of the things people are starting to realize is that high resolution streaming is much closer to vinyl than a lot of people actually want to admit. I love vinyl and have 6,500 records at home! So, I’m a vinyl person with turntables all over the house.  We tend to be a lazy species… so even though I have 6,500 records, 80+ percent of the time I’m playing digital because it’s convenient, and now that it’s good enough with Naim, Chord, and Linn streaming at home, I’m listening to more and more digital even though I’m a vinyl lover. I think that the whole ritual of vinyl is part of it.  I love the fact that you tend to sit down and listen for 20+ uninterrupted minutes.  When you’re doing digital, a lot of times you flip the track before the song is over. Patience is hard.

Q: What other changes are you noticing in the industry that have had an influence on your business?

A: I think “whole-house audio” and streaming has been a godsend. Not only do they allow you to spread music everywhere in the house, but it has created a category that didn’t exist years and years ago.  We sell a lot of products like Bluesound; sometimes 7 or 8 units per house to have music everywhere. It allows music to be more integrated into people’s lives when it’s everywhere. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for you at AV Therapy?

A: I see customers in-person, and I spend hours on the phone with customers.  I average 40-50 phone calls a day. Recently, especially since the start of COVID, a lot of our sales have started over the phone, in order to narrow things down for customers before they come in for a listening session. We have thousands of customers now and a lot of them will call up and say, “You know my system and I’m thinking of doing this, this, and this.  Which of these would you recommend?”. That resulted in a lot more home trials. Before the pandemic, people would just wander in and sit down, and we’d audition one thing after another. I think our focus has increased on getting things right quickly when they get here, because a lot of people don’t want to spend a lot of time in a store, where before they wouldn’t mind spending 4 or 5 hours auditioning.  In the last month or two, I am seeing a trend where people are starting to spend more hours here again. 

Q: You are one the nicest, most genuine, and trusted people in the industry.  What do you attribute to that and to your success?

We put the customer first. We try to give them the best stuff we can give them, while being fair and reasonable, and always…their needs come first, yours second.  In the end, this benefits us. I think you have to have a long-term vision.  I understood when I came into this industry from corporate life, what I had wanted as a customer forever. What did I want?  I wanted someone who looked out for what I was doing…and I didn’t see a lot of that.  I was a kid who had been thrown out of audio stores because I had no money.  We don’t do that to anybody.  Whether your 12 years old or 80, you’re going to be treated the same. This business is about enjoyment and fun.  If you’re buying toys, it should be about fun—it’s that simple.   

    

Audiophilia Reviews Valhalla 2

We are thrilled to share a fabulous review which was published this month on Audiophilia.com. Anthony Kershaw evaluated our Valhalla 2 range, and was so impressed with our reference cables that he dubbed the range one of Audiophilia’s Star Components! Here’s a taste of what Anthony had to say:

“The cables allowed laser-like focus of the multi layers to play exactly as the engineers and performers envisioned. So, every effect the young Stravinsky brought to his orchestration…is heard clearly, but, most of all, musically. As such, the timing, transparency and resolution of the cables are astounding. So, while everything in the orchestra is laid clearly before you, the sheen and tactile effects from the V2’s design, construction and materials make every musical choice a delicious event. This is playback way beyond technique.” – Audiophilia 

This glowing Valhalla 2 review is now available, in its entirety, on the Reviews page of the Nordost website.