Make the Audiophile in Your Life’s Holiday Special with the Perfect Stocking Stuffers from Nordost

The year is coming to a close and the holidays are just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life. Audio gear can be a challenging thing to buy since the “right” hifi equipment tends to be system dependent, not to mention cost prohibitive. Luckily, Nordost has you covered with a wide selection of high-end stocking stuffers that will enhance ANY audio system. From precision audio enhancers to thoughtful tuning tools, Nordost has curated a collection of products that promises to elevate any listening experience! 

Make this season truly special for your music lover by gifting tools that will unlock the full potential of their audio system. Explore Nordost’s offerings and let the joy of exceptional sound fill the air this holiday season! 

Sort Kones: 

These resonance control devices are a game-changer in any audiophile’s setup. Sort Kones provide a solid foundation for any audio component, enhancing the equipment that you already own! Available in various models to fit any budget, Sort Kones effectively dissipate mechanical energy and internal vibration from your devices, be they amplifiers, DACs, CD transports etc. to ensure a cleaner and more defined soundstage. 

QRT Plug-Ins: 

The QSINE, QWAVE, QVIBE, and QKOIL make up Nordost’s line of modular AC plug-ins, designed to optimize the quality of the power that audio systems run on, by eliminating electrical noise and interference from the line. By plugging one or all of these QRT devices into any open outlet connected to your system, your audiophile will enjoy a quieter background, improved dynamics, and enhanced musical detail. Elevate your loved-one’s listening sessions by gifting them the power of optimized AC. 

System Solution–Set-Up & Tuning Discs:  

Fine tune any preexisting system with proper speaker positioning and tune ups. This comprehensive tool is a must-have for any serious audiophile. From system setup and calibration to tuning and testing, this 2-disc set guides users through every step of the process. With this resource in their arsenal, the music lover in your life will finally be able to experience the full depth and clarity of the system they already have!

Eco 3X: 

This cable cleaner is specially formulated to remove the slow buildup of static charges that can flatten perspectives and inhibit the dynamics of an audio system. Regular use of Eco 3X on audio cables disperses existing static charges as well as inhibits future accumulation from occurring, dramatically increasing transparence and the sense of life in every performance.

How to Upgrade your Amplifier

As hifi enthusiasts, we shell out big money in order to purchase the components that will give us the best possible sound. A lot of deliberation goes into our purchases: design philosophy, technical specifications, build quality, ease of use, cohesion, aesthetics, budget… These pre-purchase considerations are very important in order to determine the right fit for our systems. But did you know that your consideration shouldn’t stop at the purchase?

Nordost provides several tools that ensure you maximize the potential of your new component. These include the audio cables and accessories that create the basis and foundation upon which high-end systems need to be built. 

Let’s say that after doing your due diligence of researching and demoing various options, you’ve purchased an amplifier. You have lived with your amplifier in your system for a few months. You have become familiar with its characteristics and have identified the benefits it brings to your hifi system. Now it’s time to see what that component can really do when you give it the best chance to flex its muscles.  

To maximize your amplifier… consider upgrading the following (all of which can be found at your local Nordost dealer 😉) : 

Power Cord: It is crucial that you run your components with the best AC cables available. Nordost’s power cords are optimally designed and use proprietary technology so that current is not limited, noise is reduced, and amplifier output is cleaner and more dynamic.

Interconnects A thoughtfully designed and meticulously built analog interconnect enhances signal transfer between your audio components with as little loss as possible. Nordost’s precision engineering and top-notch materials preserve the integrity of the audio signal, resulting in improved clarity, detail, and musicality.

Speaker Cables: Nordost’s signature flat cable design eliminates strand interaction, optimizes mechanical resonances, and decreases skin effect, making drastic improvements in system performance. Introducing this upgrade will minimize signal degradation, enhancing the overall coherence of your music.

Resonance control (aka Sort Kones!): Due to their very nature, amplifiers generate a tremendous amount of internal vibrations, which are incredibly damaging to their audible performance. Nordost’s Sort Kones are a game-changer. These remarkable mechanical diodes drain all vibrations from your device to outstanding sonic effect.

Questions & Answers: QBASE Mark III

The QBASE was first released to the audio world in 2009. Almost 15 years and two iterations later, the QBASE is still as sought after as when it was launched. However, over those 15 years, much has been improved. The QBASE Mark III made its debut at AXPONA this past spring, and a new version brings new questions. We decided to address some of the most asked questions we have been receiving here, so you can find your answers in one place! 

Q: What’s the difference between the QBASE Mark II and Mark III?

A: Both the QBASE Mark II and Mark III are passive, distribution blocks that use Star Earth topology to address the conflicting flows of signal and ground paths which create noise. However, there have been several upgrades and changes to the QBASE Mark III which have had a massive impact on its audible performance, which are as follows: 

  • Newly designed, dual PC-board 
  • Increased separation of all ground connections from the line and neutral traces
  • Minimized interference/crosstalk between live/neutral and ground currents 
  • Enhanced trace sizes to maximize current flow 
  • Revised resistance sink to add protection and effectively damp eddy currents

Q: Do certain components benefit from being plugged into specific outlets on the QBASE Mark III? 

A: Like with the QBASE Mark II, all outlets on the QBASE Mark III are identical, except for the outlet labeled Primary Earth. To get the best results from any QBASE, you should plug whichever component has the most connections to it into the Primary Earth outlet. In many systems, this is either the preamp or the integrated amp. However, in digitally run systems, you should plug whichever device your volume is featured on into primary earth. 

Q: What sonic improvements can you expect from the QBASE Mark III? 

A: The QBASE Mark III offers a big step up in performance over the QBASE Mark II. Some sonic improvements you can expect are: 

  • A much quieter background
  • Improved instrument and vocal separation
  • Improved 3D imaging 
  • Longer decays and extension 
  • A pronounced sense of effortlessness and calm
  • More power behind the sound 

Q: Can you still use the QRT Stand Mount with the QBASE Mark III? 

A: Yes, the QBASE Mark III is still compatible with the QRT Stand Mount, which not only helps with the stability of the product (especially when it’s being used with heavier, reference-level audio cables), but also allows for easy support with Sort Kones. Using the QBASE with Sort Kones essentially wicks it of all internal vibrations, making a massive audible improvement. 

Questions and Answers: QSINE and QWAVE

With the launch of our QSINE and QWAVE products at the High End show in Munich, there has been a lot of excitement, but also (and understandably so) some questions. We thought that the best thing to do was to answer some of the questions we have been hearing in one place so that we can all be a bit more informed about the newest Nordost QRT Plug-Ins.

Q: What are “QRT Plug-Ins”?

A: The term “QRT Plug-In” may be new, but our plug-in products have been a part of Nordost’s offerings for years, starting with the QVIBE (QV2), continuing with the QKOIL (QK1), and now including the new QSINE and QWAVE. While each product within our range of QRT Plug-Ins offers unique solutions, they are all modular, complimentary AC products that improve upon the poor-quality AC that negatively affects the audio/video performance of two-channel and home entertainment systems.

Q: What are the audible effects of the QSINE?

A: The audible effects of the QSINE are as follows:
• Reduced background noise
• Increased resolution, detail, and pacing
• Improved soundstage (especially depth)
• Addresses all frequencies

Q: What are the audible effects of the QWAVE?

A: The audible effects of the QWAVE are as follows:
• Lowered noise floor
• Increased imagery and dimensionality
• Improved timing and rhythm
• Focuses on upper bass and midrange

Q: Can you use the QSINE and QWAVE alongside the QKOIL and QVIBE?

A: The QSINE and QWAVE were designed to work with and complement the QKOIL and QVIBE. While they can be used individually, you are encouraged to pair the QSINE and QWAVE with each other or, for optimal use, combine them with the QKOIL and QVIBE.

For more information about the QSINE and QWAVE please visit their product page on the Nordost website, or read our product announcement blog: Introducing the QSINE and QWAVE

Questions and Answers: Grounding

Recently, the idea and means of artificial grounding has been a hot topic in the audio industry. Effective electrical grounding in a hifi audio system can mean the difference between enjoying your music and falling in love with it. System noise is a complicated and incessant problem, so why not answer some commonly asked questions about grounding? 

Q: What elements in the environment around my system have an effect on its performance. 

A: Interference that impacts the power domain is all around you, constantly bombarding your system. Your AC power lines are contaminated with electrical surges, pulses, and switch-mode hash from home appliances, plug-in chargers, light dimmers, and fluorescent and LED lights. Even the air is polluted by radio frequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI), levels of which are increasing due to the prevalence of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular signals.

Q: What is signal ground and how can it negatively impact my system? 

A: A signal ground is an analog or digital ground that is attached to every signal being transmitted between devices in a system. Since these devices are usually powered separately, it is inevitable that there will be small differences between their potentials, causing small currents to circulate in order to compensate. These currents add to the background noise, obscuring low-level detail in music reproduction. 

Q: What does an “Artificial Ground” do?

A: An artificial ground sinks the impedance of a component lower than the house earth ground, so that high-frequency noise on the signal ground will drain away, leaving a clean reference behind. 

Q: What audible improvements can I expect to hear after addressing grounding issues in my system? 

A:  There are several improvements you can count on by addressing the grounding issues in your system. The image separation will be greatly improved, exposing nuances in dynamics and accent markings that would otherwise have been missed. You’ll also experience a tighter, deeper, and more authoritative bass. However, the most noticeable change will be a dramatic drop in your noise floor which will provide a quieter, ‘darker’ background, resulting in a wider, more lifelike soundstage. 

Q: What is Nordost’s solution to grounding problems? 

A: Nordost’s grounding solutions are QKORE Ground Units. QKORE units are parallel grounding devices which provide an artificial, “clean” earth for hifi audio systems using both an electrical and mechanical approach. The QKORE1, QKORE3, and QKORE6 products combine Nordost’s patented Mono-Filament technology with purpose-built, Low-Voltage Attractor Plates (LVAPs), constructed with a proprietary metal alloy and a passive electronic circuit, in order to draw stray high frequency noise and voltage-generated magnetic fields to a manufactured earth point, leaving a clean reference behind

For more information on grounding and to help you better understand why it is needed, what improvements can be heard in a properly grounded system, and what artificial grounding solutions can offer, download this article: The Importance of Electrical Grounding in Audio Systems

2022 Blog Round-Up

What better way to start off the new year than by giving the people what they “liked” most throughout the past year, all in one spot! This 2022 blog round-up includes our posts from last year that received the most engagement, whether that be likes, shares, comments, retweets, Instagram reactions, or however you feel like measuring nowadays. Here are our favorite blogs, back by popular demand!  

Why Lift Your Cables?

Cable lifters do a lot more than just make your system more aesthetically pleasing and help cable manufacturers highlight their cables at tradeshows. This blog explains the purpose of cable lifters and tells you how they can improve your sound!

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 your questions answered and get informed!

Q & A Cable Auditions

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!

How to Position Your Sort Kones to Get the Best Sound From Your Components

Sort Kones eliminate the harmful vibrations generated within your components that degrade the sound of your system. However, the placement of those Kones make a huge impact on the sonic results. This blog will help you to most effectively place your Sort Kones to achieve the best performance from your devices.

Are Nordost Cables Worth the Upgrade? Hifi Manufacturers Think So!

Some people make the argument that cables don’t matter. They ask the question, “If the component I buy comes with all the cables it needs to run, why wouldn’t I just use those cables that come in the box for free?”. In this blog, we’ll tell you why have the wrong idea.

Jitter: A Hifi Villain’s Origin Story

If jitter was an audio villain, its evil powers would be inducing noise to unsuspecting recordings, obliterating the depth of field, and smearing the details out of pure, musical integrity… really dastardly stuff.  But what IS jitter, where does it come from, and what can be done about it?

Cheap Cleaning Tips for Vinyl Lovers

As audio hobbyists, we are always looking for ways to improve the music we love, on the systems we love just as much. In this industry, hearing the word “improvement” often quickly leads to a much lighter wallet. However, not all improvements will break the bank… 

Video: Sort Kones – Introduction and Placement Guide

Have you heard about Nordost Sort Kones, but want to get a better idea about how they will improve your home audio system? Or do you own a set of Kones already, but are unsure about where to place them for the best results? 

Our new video, “Nordost Sort Kones – Introduction and Placement Guide” serves as a perfect introduction to these anti-vibration, resonance control devices. In viewing this video, you will learn what Sort Kones are, what they do, and how they will impact your system’s performance. This video also serves as a helpful set-up guide so that current (and soon to be) owners of Sort Kones know that they are using our product properly and can ensure that they are maximizing the performance of their sound systems.

Cheap Cleaning Tips for Vinyl Lovers

As audio hobbyists, we are always looking for ways to improve the music we love, on the systems we love just as much. In this industry, hearing the word “improvement” often quickly leads to a much lighter wallet. However, not all improvements will break the bank.  

Are you a vinyl-lover? Well, people who are new to analog hifi, may be surprised to learn how transformative something as simple as keeping things clean can be.  

We aren’t being glib! All you have to do is keep your records and the stylus tip clean and you will be able to create a much better sound from the system you already own! A stylus brush and cleaning fluid are small investments and absolute must-haves for all turntable owners.  

Turntable Labs – Amazon

For your records, cleaning vinyl by hand with clean cheesecloth strips and record cleaning solution is a fast and cheap way to get the improvements you are looking for. If you have a large record collection and/or buy a lot of used vinyl, a vacuum suction RCM (Record Cleaning Machine) or an Ultra Sonic RCM can achieve professional quality results and save you some valuable time.  

Happybuy – Amazon

However, it isn’t only the records themselves that can benefit from some attention. Even cleaning the inner sleeves that hold your records goes a long way. All you need is an anti-static gun to keep your records in tip-top shape.  

Milty – Amazon

All of the tools mentioned above can be purchased individually but you can also pick up a complete turntable setup kit from manufacturers like Acoustic Solid and Acoustical Systems.  

For more tricks of the trade, check out “Tiny Tweaks, Big PayOffs”. Or, if vinyl is what you are most interested in, be sure to check out Nordost’s “Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide”.  

Questions and Answers: Power Cords

Since power cords are commonly known as the most important cables in an audio system, it’s no surprise that that we often get questions about them! We thought it would be helpful to put our “most asked” questions about power cords here so that you can find all of your answers in one place. Have any more power cord-related queries? Let us know! 

Q: How do power cords affect your sound system? 

A: Depending on how the specific power cords are constructed and what technologies they use, there can be several different sonic effects attributed to upgrades. However, in general, the biggest sonic differences tend to be registered as a change in dynamics (which sometimes disguises itself as a volume change), and in a distinction in imaging and soundstage. 

Q: Can power cords really make a difference after the miles that 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 occurs in your home. Not only that, but it’s 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.  

Q: Why should I upgrade the power cords supplied with components at purchase?

A: Manufacturers typically add in the power cords supplied with their components at the last minute. Oftentimes, this power cord is merely supplied as a means to an end, for as little cost as possible, so that the manufacturer can make the intended price-point of their product. As a result, little thought or effort goes into how it may affect the component. For proof of this, next time you are at a hifi show, pay attention to the cables being used in each manufacturer’s room. You will notice that when they want to make their product sound as good as possible, manufacturers opt out of using the power cords they themselves provide at point of purchase.

Q: In what order should you upgrade your power cords? 

A: The most important power cord in your system is the power cord feeding your distribution bar. This should be the first power cord you upgrade. Beyond that, while no two systems are the same (and there may be many variations), we suggest upgrading the rest of your system in the following order: pre-amp, power amp, DAC, phono stage, transports (based on usage).

Q:  I’d like to upgrade my cables. Ideally, I would like to stick to the same series of power cords throughout my entire system, but for budget reasons the upgrade will be a slow process. Can I wire my system with power cords from different ranges within the Nordost range? 

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. All Nordost cables have the same design philosophy, so while products improve due to added conductors, gauges, and technologies as they progress up the lines, they all have the same sonic signature. This allows you to choose your cables according to your own personal needs and budget, and upgrade piece by piece as needed and when able. 

Q: What is the minimum recommended length for power cords?  

A: The minimum recommended length is 2 meters. 

Q: Is it worth upgrading the power cord that feeds a streamer in your home entertainment system? 

A: When we aren’t enjoying our music, many of us are spending a lot of our time streaming television and movies. For those of you that use an Apple TV media streamer, or any other streaming device powered by a figure 8 power cord, there is an easy, inexpensive upgrade that is sure to take your streaming to the next level! Nordost’s entry level Purple Flare Figure 8 Power Cord is the perfect solution for your Apple TV. The Purple Flare Power Cord is a high-speed, low-loss power cord that will allow your streamer to produce a picture worthy of your home entertainment system. 

For more information on upgrading your streamer with the Purple Flare Power Cord, read this review.

Q: Is it worth upgrading the power cord that feeds your subwoofer?

A: If the amplifier in your subwoofer isn’t as good as the amplifiers in your primary loudspeakers, it’s imperative to optimize its situation, in order to allow your subwoofer to succeed. This can easily be done by upgrading the power cord feeding the subwoofer. A really good power cord is essential to ensure that the built-in amplifier performs at its absolute best. With quality AC feeding your subwoofer, you will finally be able to enjoy those powerful, low frequency notes in your music, and not be stuck experiencing them as just a rumble.

Questions and Answers: QNET

Since the launch of the QNET Network Switch, the response and interest has been overwhelmingly exciting. However, with interest, comes questions! We thought that we would take a minute to share some of the most frequently asked QNET questions here, so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!

Q: The QNET is advertised as being a “layer-2 Ethernet switch”… what does the phrase “layer-2” refer to? 

A: “Layer-2” refers to the OSI model around which numerous interfaces/protocols are designed. Ethernet is just one of those protocols.

Even though there are hybrid devices out there, a switch is (theoretically) a layer-2 device, meaning that it establishes links between two directly connected nodes (i.e. operates on MAC addresses), which is the hardcoded physical address that every internet port (including wireless) has. A layer-2 device is capable of routing packets within a given local area network (LAN), but not outside of it.

Routers, on the other hand, are layer-3 devices and operate on IP addresses, through which devices on different networks (WANs or any combination of different LANs) can communicate amongst themselves.

Q: Why do the ports on the QNET offer different speeds? 

A: The QNET was conceived to be an “audio” network switch for both internet audio streaming and local network NAS audio streaming. For these purposes, 100 Mbps is more than enough speed.

At 100 Mbps it’s also possible to contain noise propagation to a minimum, compared to higher speeds, and that’s why the QNET offers 2 x 100 Mbps ports.

For devices requiring higher bandwidth, the QNET offers 3 ports at 1 Gbps.

Q: Do you need to buy the QSOURCE Linear Power Supply in order to use the QNET? 

A: No, the QNET is provided with its own switch-mode power supply so that you can use it without any additional purchases. However, just like with any DC-powered device, the performance of the QNET will be much improved by introducing a high-quality linear power supply, like Nordost’s QSOURCE

Q: Can I daisy-chain multiple network switches including the QNET?

A: While it is possible to daisy-chain multiple network switches, you shouldn’t. Daisy-chaining multiple network devices adds delay, noise, and traffic. Therefore, it should be avoided. For best performance, the QNET should always be physically connected to the main router in your network via an S/FTP Ethernet cable, preferably a Nordost Ethernet cable of your choice.