How to Make the Most Out of Your Bi-Wired Loudspeakers

Do your loudspeakers have multiple sets of terminals on their rear panels? If they do, they have been configured with a bi-wire (or possibly tri-wire) crossover. This generally means that they were designed so that one pair of terminals are designated for the high frequencies and the other pair for the low frequencies. Great news—bi-wirable crossovers could mean wonderful audible enhancements for your system! But you have to make sure you’re using this design feature to your advantage, or risk tanking your system’s performance.

When using Bi-Wired Loudspeakers, there are three main cabling options for your set-up: supported shotgun, bi-wire, and bi-wire jumpers. This blog will take you through each option and let you know how they can help (or hinder) your system’s performance level.


“Supported” Shotgun:

Typically, you would use a cable configured in a “shotgun” termination with standard loudspeakers which don’t require bi-wiring. You may ask, “With a bi-wired loudspeaker, how could you possibly support both the tweeters (which support the high frequencies), and the woofer (which supports the low frequencies) with a single run of loudspeaker cables? The answer: you can’t. That’s where the word “supported” comes in.

Many bi-wired loudspeakers are supplied with metal links, which connect the tweeters with the woofer (or vice-versa depending on which pair of terminals you have connected to your amps via your loudspeaker cable). To be clear, at Nordost we do NOT recommend this method. By using these standard, metal links, you are effectively throwing away all the good you’ve done (not to mention the investment you’ve made) with your carefully integrated high-quality audio cables in the last inch of cabling. Naturally, your second question would be, “If metal links are detrimental to the sound, why would a loudspeaker manufacturer provide them with their product?”. Unfortunately, that is a cost issue. In many cases those manufacturers don’t want their design to be prohibitive, so to allow you to use their loudspeakers as soon as they’re purchased, they may include these plates (much like is done with the cheap power cords that are often supplied with electrical components). However, when asked, loudspeaker manufacturers would rarely suggest those plates be used as a permanent solution.


Bi-Wire Cables:

A bi-wire cable is a single run of loudspeaker cable that is terminated with four connectors on the loudspeaker-end instead of two (as is done with shotgun speaker cables). This solution allows you to connect all terminals of a bi-wired loudspeaker without having to buy two pairs of loudspeaker cables, or using standard metal links. In theory, this seems like a good solution, and at Nordost we believe it is a better option than a “supported” shotgun configuration. However, when you bi-wire a loudspeaker cable, you are effectively splitting the cable in fourths in order to serve all terminals. As a result, each terminal is benefitting from less conductors, increasing resistance, and compromising the performance of the loudspeakers.

Alternatively, you could also use two pairs of loudspeaker cables running from your amp to the tweeters and woofer of each loudspeaker, respectively. While this may be the ideal solution, it can become costly, which is where the third option comes in…


Bi-Wire Jumpers:

Bi-Wire Jumpers allow you to use one run of loudspeaker cables to connect your amplifier with your loudspeaker without hindering the performance-level of your system, like you do with standard metal links. At Nordost, our Bi-Wire Jumpers are made using the same technology as our loudspeaker cables, essentially offering an extension of the speaker cable itself. This ensures that an identical sonic signature can be used throughout your entire system, without interruption. Bi-Wire Jumpers are a great way to affordably and immediately integrate bi-wire loudspeakers into your system. This can be either a great long-term solution, or a means to tide you over while you save up for that second pair of quality loudspeaker cables.

For more Do’s and Don’ts about Bi-Wiring and to learn how to best configure your Bi-Wire Jumpers, download our guide today!


Cartridge Mounting & Alignment in 6 Easy Steps

An accurately aligned cartridge will keep the needle in the groove, minimize tracking errors, and achieve the most accurate sound from your turntable. Correctly mounting and aligning your cartridge, is a multi-step process that involves several tools, and some patience…but the results are well worth it!  To give you a better idea of how to get started in this task we have simplified the process in 6 easy steps: 

1. Insert the screws and nuts through the tonearm headshell in order to hold the cartridge in place. (Do NOT initially tighten the screws all the way down!) 

2. Once loosely attached, use tweezers to connect the four tiny wires that come from the tonearm to the cartridge’s color-coded ends. 

3. Before tightening the mounting screws to the arm’s headshell, the cartridge’s alignment must be set correctly. Use an alignment tool to align the cartridge. We recommend tools offered by Acoustic Solid, Acoustical Systems, Baerwald, Feikert, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, and VPI.

4. Use a “pivot spindle” measuring tool to set the distance between the tonearm pivot and the spindle. This distance should be specified by the manufacturer of your turntable. 

4. Align the cartridge stylus using a mounting template. 

5. Now that all adjustments have been made, tighten the mounting screws. (Make sure not to over tighten them!)


For more information about this, and all things turntable set-up, download our Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide today!

Digital Cables: How Can They Make A Difference?

At Nordost, we try our best to give our customers the knowledge they need to optimize their audio systems and get them performing at their best. One way that we do that is by providing you all with a series of helpful guides ranging from loudspeaker and turntable set-up, to the importance of grounding and vibration control, all available for download on our website. The most recent of these valuable articles deals with digital cables.

Digital audio cables are arguably the most controversial component in hifi. As hifi audio cable manufacturers, when it comes to our digital cables, we are constantly asked two questions: “How do digital cables make a difference in a hifi system if all they do is send ones and zeros?” And, “How does the design of a digital cable help in the signal transfer?”. This informative download breaks down the answers to both of these questions, explains the technical challenges of digital audio data transmission, and lets you know what you should listen for when evaluating the merits of a digital audio cable so that you can upgrade with confidence. 

Download “Digital Cables: How Can they Make a Difference?” today!

Questions and Answers (May 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 our most recent and frequently asked questions here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!


Q: Can you use the new QRT Stand Mount with older versions of the QBASE? 

A: The QRT Stand Mount was designed to fit the QSOURCE as well as all Mark II versions of the QBASE. Older versions of the QBASE AC Distribution Unit will not fit the QRT Stand Mount.  


Q: What purpose do the detachable ground whips that come with Nordost’s Tonearm Cable + serve? 

A: All ranges that include a Tonearm Cable +, from Blue Heaven to Odin 2, come with two detachable ground whips. These ground whips can be used to ground the shielding of the cables as an additional ground loop prevention when needed. In order to determine if you need to use the Detachable Ground Wires, follow these steps: 

  • First, play some music without any of the Detachable Ground Wires attached and see how it sounds.
  • Then, try inserting one of the Detachable Ground Wires to your cable on the end closest to the turntable. Connect the spade of the Detachable Ground Wire to the ground post on your turntable.
  • Next, if you have a ground option on the phono-stage end, disconnect the Detachable Ground Wire from the turntable end of the tonearm cable, and insert it into the phono-stage end instead. Connect the spade of the Detachable Ground Wire to the phono-stage ground, and listen again.
  • Finally, if applicable, insert both Detachable Ground Wires to the two ends of your cable, connect them to ground on the turntable and the phono-stage, and listen one last time.

Q: Is the Valhalla 2 Ethernet cable shielded? 

A: Yes the V2 Ethernet cable is constructed using individually shielded conductors, arranged in twisted pairs, which are then wrapped in braided, silver-plated copper shielding, before being encased within a high-density polymer insulation. This fully shielded cable construction virtually eliminates the crosstalk and electromagnetic interference (EMI) that has always afflicted previous network cables.


Q: When I’m auditioning Nordost’s QPOINT Resonance Synchronizer, what should I be listening for?

A: When auditioning the QPOINT, listen for the following improvements: 

  • Greater musical organization, focus, and coherence 
  • A controlled sense of dynamic freedom and force to the sound 
  • Instruments maintaining their natural quality 
  • Vocal separation and three-dimensionality

Grounding Your Hifi Audio System: “Natural” vs “Artificial” Ground

When “grounding” an audio system, the first thing that audiophiles do is make sure that their AC receptacles are in order. This is a great first step! It is vitally important that the AC line and load wires on all receptacles being used in your hifi system are correctly phased and properly grounded.

However, if you really want to address earth ground, the most practical and worthwhile upgrade is to install a dedicated circuit for your audio system. This step should be followed by installing a separate, external ground path to an external ground rod. Each of these solutions provides a path out for unwanted, “spurious” currents that circulate through the circuit and add noise to the system. Unfortunately, these measures ONLY address earth ground, and don’t do a thing to address signal ground. 

Signal ground becomes a problem whenever currents are generated during transmissions between devices in a system as a result of the small differences of potentials in those components. In order to rectify the background noise and loss of low-level details caused by contaminants on the signal ground, you need to elicit the help of an artificial ground. An artificial ground is a sink of impedance lower than the house earth ground, so that high-frequency noise on the signal ground will drain away, leaving a clean reference behind. 

Signal ground can be addressed two ways. The first option is to use an extremely low-impedance cable to connect the signal ground access point on the termination to the ground pin of an unused wall socket. However, the second option is far more versatile – a passive grounding box. Nordost’s answers to artificial ground are their QKORE Ground Units, a series of parallel grounding devices which can either separately provide an artificial “clean” earth for the primary side of the power supply (earth ground) with the QKORE1, and the secondary side (signal ground) with the QKORE3, or can address both the signal and earth ground together with the QKORE6! 

For more information about grounding your audio system, download The Importance of Electrical Grounding in Audio Systems.

What to Expect From a QRT Demonstration

If you’ve yet to explore Nordosts QRT products, now’s the time! QRT Power Products and Audio Enhancers are specifically designed to improve your audio system by alleviating the poor-quality AC and DC power on your sensitive electronics, providing everything form proper grounding to synchronizing the electromechanical resonances of your components. Like all Nordost products, QRT solutions are easy to demonstrate in any system and the performance improvements that they bring to your music are immediate and unmistakable. However, we recognize that for some people, sitting in on a demonstration can be intimidating. Often times, listeners appreciate knowing what to listen for when they sit down to audition a product. 

While it may be impossible to pinpoint the exact effect that each QRT product will have on your system, (due to the fact that each system is different based on the components that its comprised of, and how those components interact with each other) we still want you to have an idea of what to expect. To do that, we have listed some of the sonic effects that you can expect to hear when introducing each QRT product into your sound system! 

What to listen for when auditioning the … 


QBASE AC Distribution (QB8/QB6/QB4)

  • Develops the soundstage, imparting 3D quality to imaging
  • Tonal richness and depth in the music becomes more noticeable
  • A quieter background allows layers of resolution and details to come to the forefront of performance
  • Brings a sense of neutrality to the system, allowing the sonic signature of your components to shine

QKORE Ground Unit (QKORE1/QKORE3/QKORE6)

  • Strips noise from the system, imparting a blacker background, which allows you to appreciate details and nuances in the music
  • Improves pacing, timing coherence, and natural decays in the music
  • Extends the soundstage, presenting a livelier presentation with stronger image outlines
  • Improves the accuracies in both the timbral and bass region, opening up the entire dynamic range

QPOINT Resonance Synchronizer

  • Enhances the musical organization, focus, and coherence 
  • The two modes of operation emphasize slightly different aspects of the musical reproduction 
  • Introduces a controlled sense of dynamic freedom and force to the sound 
  • Allows the natural quality of the instruments to shine through, as well as vocal separation and three-dimensionality

QSOURCE Linear Power Supply 

  • Dramatically lowers the background noise 
  • Any device it powers will produce a much wider/deeper soundstage with more clarity, ambience and resolution
  • Music reproduction has more dynamic range and is more nuanced 

QVIBE AC Line Harmonizer (QV2) 

  • Increases aspects of depth, realism, and spacing in the music
  • Lowers the perceived background noise
  • Smooths sibilants in the playback

QKOIL AC Enhancer (QK1) 

  • Increases clarity of imaging, sharpness, depth, and focus 
  • Improves elements of speed and timing in the music 
  • Lowers the noise floor 

Contact your local dealer to set up an in-store or at-home demo of our QRT products today!


What You Need to Know About Cable Burn-In


Q: Why do you need to burn-in cables? 

A: During the manufacturing process, as insulation is extruded over the conductors, gases can become trapped. This, combined with the high electrical charges often found in new cables, can result in a brittle and bright sound that lacks the detail and depth desired for music reproduction. When cables are burned-in, the trapped gases are dissipated and small impurities in the conductors’ metal begin to act like a diode, favoring current flow in a particular direction. 


Q: What changes are audible in a system when cables are properly burned-in? 

A: Your system will be capable of producing a fuller and more natural sounding performance. You may also notice an increase in the detail and nuance in the music, as well as a greatly improved dimensionality in your system’s soundstage. 


Q: How is using a designated burn-in machine better than using your system to naturally burn-in your cables? 

A: Naturally burning-in cables within your system takes an extremely long period of constant play time. Additionally, the music that we listen to can never expose cables to the complexity of signal or the frequencies that a burn-in machine is capable of.


Q: How often should you burn-in your cables? 

A: Minimally, you should burn-in your new cables when they are first purchased. However, if cables are left unused for a prolonged period of time they become stagnant and should be reconditioned accordingly. Even through everyday cable use, electrical equipment experiences current leakage, imparting a charge onto your cables. By having your cables treated with a burn-in machine, you are conditioning them and allowing the charges to neutralize once again.


Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide

At Nordost, it is our goal to be a resource to our fellow music lovers and provide you with the information you need in order to make the most of your home hifi system. To do that, we offer downloads on a variety of topics that we think will help them to do just that. Our newest such download will give much needed information on turntable set-up. 

A correctly set-up turntable, tonearm, and cartridge can make a world of difference when you sit down to enjoy your favorite vinyl. With this in mind, we have put together a series of helpful hints to properly set-up a turntable. This Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide includes information on turntable adjustment and maintenance tips, accessory recommendations, a comprehensive breakdown of turntable components, and even gives step by step cartridge mounting and alignment instructions. Each one of these topics will help you achieve the best possible sound from your analog-driven system in no time.

You can now find the Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide both on the Downloads page of the Nordost website, or right here!


Expert Insights: How to Build the Ultimate Home Theater

October 6, 2020 by Mike Cahill

Originally published on Redfin

With theaters closed across the nation and streaming services rising in popularity more rapidly than ever, cinema fans are spending less time in ticket lines and more time upgrading their current entertainment space into a state-of-the-art home theater. While it seems as simple as going to the store and buying the biggest TV with the highest quality display and calling it good, many have found that it takes careful consideration to replicate an authentic cinema-like experience. Factors such as lighting, audio, acoustics and comfort all play a substantial part in creating the ultimate home theater. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts in home theater systems from New York to Austin to provide you with some tips for creating an authentic cinematic experience at home. So sit back, grab some popcorn and learn how to create the home theater of your dreams.

Invest in quality equipment

When it comes to the ultimate home theater, the screen and projector can make or break the experience. Home theater projectors need to have at least a 500,000:1 contrast ratio to make the “dark scenes” truly dark and suspenseful. Otherwise, the blacks will appear grayer, than truly dark. In addition, silver or gray screens help increase the contrast ratio, while still providing a bright and colorful image. If you like scary movies, this tip is for you! – Go Outdoor Movies

Replicate the real thing

To build the home theater of your dreams, it should be as close to reality as possible. Recreating the movie experience as intended. At Bang & Olufsen, we strive to recreate the experience as the Director intended for the audience to have a true, life-like adventure; nothing more, nothing less. – Adam Rejino, Manager at Bang & Olufsen SOCO

Ensure your screen supports your projector’s resolution

Ensure that the screen you pair with your projector actually supports the projector’s resolution. There is a lot of bad information and false claims out there about a projector screen being “4K Ready” or “4K Compatible”, but that does not mean that it will actually resolve 4K. A screen surface needs to be texture-free in order to not distort the geometry of a 4K pixel (which is 4x smaller than a 1080p pixel) and ensure that you get the full fidelity from your projector. – ProjectorScreen.com

Take advantage of integrated smart home tech

Homeowners going beyond the ‘norm’ and pushing the boundaries of the home-cinema space have started using integrated smart home technologies. By connecting all in-home devices such as speakers, projectors, televisions, LED lighting, and security systems over an encrypted network to an intelligent control system, the user gains the ability to see the advanced functionality of the home. The possibilities in this space are limitless. Imagine pretty much anything you would want to do is activated via voice or wall-mounted touch screen. Specifically, in the home cinema space, we’ve seen this integrated tech being used for :

  • Voice-activated lighting control
  • Zoom enabled cinema rooms
  • Augmented reality and reactive video programs
  • Advanced sound space control
  • Voice-activated audio presets

While no amount of tech in a home cinema is a replacement for a grand design, homeowners looking to push the limits are having these networked smart systems installed in their cinemas and their entire homes. – Limitless Sights and Sounds

Incorporate sound-absorbing materials

What would a cinema be without the curtains getting pulled away from the screen? Use heavy drapery textiles covering the screen when you are not watching a movie, and let the draped curtains move from your screen to the sides when viewing. The sound-absorbing draped curtains will help to improve the sound quality tremendously in your home theater. Still too sharp sound and/or sound waves that are bouncing around? In addition to the curtains, we would recommend adding some sound-absorbing wall tiles, panels, ceiling tiles or a rug. – Unika Vaev

Make your smaller home theater sound like a larger room through the use of our absorption and diffusion technologies. You can have a low – frequency definition equal to your voice and music using our proprietary carbon and foam technologies. Your voice will stay on-screen following the action and your music will fill your room for all to hear. – Acoustic Fields

Take acoustics into consideration

Do not forget to consider acoustic treatment when planning your home theater project as the best speakers on the market can sound horrific in a room that is not properly treated. Multiple sound sources (speakers) produce a lot of sound energy especially when combined with subwoofers, and many home theaters are in small rooms with lengths and widths less than 30 ft which can be problematic if untreated. Each sound source and corresponding surface needs to be accounted for and treated with proper absorption or diffusion. The most critical areas to treat are the first reflection points in order to eliminate noticeable echoes and the corners of the room where low-end bass waves tend to congregate and cause problems. – Sound Assured

Photo courtesy of Sound Assured

Don’t underestimate the power of quality audio cables

When building a HiFi or home theater systems, homeowners often overlook quality audio cables. Cables are the link that ties your system together, ensuring that each of your thoughtfully purchased components is performing to their maximum potential. However, the most important cable of them all is the power cord. Poor quality power cords are often the limiting factors in a system, polluting it with noise introducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequencies (RF). A high quality, optimally built power cord, on the other hand, is designed to be less prone to (and even reduce) noise, resulting in an automatic upgrade to any A/V system—a must-have in all systems! – Nordost Cables

Choose ambient light rejection materials for your ceiling

When it comes to creating your ideal home theater, Elite Screens recommends using one of their popular Ceiling Ambient Light Rejecting Materials such as the CineGrey 3D/5D in a dedicated home theater environment for the following reasons: 

1) Angular reflective material does not scatter light in the room

2) Improves black levels and color purity for an enhanced contrast image

3) Ambient Light Rejecting Technology absorbs/reflects light

4) ISF Certified material provides accurate color reproduction – Elite Screens

Invest in comfortable cinema seating

Look for features in home theater seats that are focused on total comfort, such as powered headrests and lumbar. Your neck and back will thank you after hours of binge-watching. Attachable accessories that wirelessly charge your QI-enabled phone on the armrest or cradle a glass of your favorite wine are common additions to our customers’ home theater seats. – 4Seating


Originally published on Redfin


Two Sides to Vibration

We all know that vibration is essential to music. It is, after all, the way that sound travels from our loudspeakers to our ears. However, vibration can also be extremely damaging to sound. Unwanted vibrations from any source have the ability to alter sound, causing distortion, disrupted imagery, and even timing issues to the music you’re trying to enjoy. Typically, when people in the hifi-world talk about the “negative vibration” in a system, they use it as a blanket statement. But to really understand what is happening and, more critically, to address the problems in your system, it is important to distinguish which type of vibration you are talking about: external or internal. 


External vibration refers to any vibration from the environment surrounding your system that could transfer to, and impact, your loudspeakers, components, or audio rack, therefore affecting the sound produced. Air conditioners, household appliances, uneven surfaces, foot traffic, and outside noise or vehicle rumblings can all have an impact. This even means that elements of your own system could be the cause of negative, external vibrations, ie. if the bass from your subwoofer is causing your components to shudder… that is harmful external vibration. 


Internal vibration concerns the vibration that is generated from within the components themselves. The inner-workings of audio equipment is composed of transistors, capacitors, wires, circuit boards, and power supplies. Each of these elements produce some sort of mechanical energy and, as a byproduct of that energy, resonate. Those tiny internal resonances accumulate and have a real and audible impact on the performance of the components they construct and the sound that systems as a whole produce. 



To learn each of these harmful vibration types can be addressed, check out some of our previous blogs on anti-vibration techniques: Three Ways to Address Vibration Control and Four Easy, Free Ways to Address Vibration In Your Sound System.

You can also download our comprehensive guide: The Importance of Vibration Control.