Questions and Answers: QPOINT

At the High End show in Munich we introduced the QPOINT, the newest addition to our QRT line of products. While the QPOINT is just about to start shipping, the response and interest in this product has been overwhelmingly exciting! As is to be expected when groundbreaking technology is released, we have received several questions about the new QPOINT.  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!

First, for those of you unfamiliar with this product— The QPOINT is a Resonance Synchronizer that emits a subtle field which impacts and manipulates all electromechanical resonances within its immediate proximity so that they resonate in unison. When placed in a sound system, the QPOINT imparts this unique, metronomic effect on the internal moving parts of targeted components, lowering the system’s noise floor. This cost-effective, one box solution will yield demonstrable improvements to any component in a sound system. The audible results of introducing a QPOINT to a hifi system include enhanced coherency and greater dynamic range in the music, as well as expanded space and ambiance in musical reproduction.


How do I position the QPOINT in relation to my components?

In most circumstances, the QPOINT should be placed under the component that you are trying to affect, with the black dispersion plate pointed up, towards the component (your component may need to be supported using Sort Kones). However, the best placement is determined on a component-by-component basis. For example: If you are pairing a QPOINT with a component that is constructed using a thick, metal chassis, and a comparatively thin top covering, you will get better results placing the QPOINT on top of the component, with the black dispersion plate facing down, towards the component.


Do I need to buy a separate power cord for the QPOINT?

No, the QPOINT is supplied with its own DC power cord which is attached to a switch mode power supply. However, if you would like to significantly upgrade the performance of your QPOINT, Nordost will be coming out with a new product called the QSOURCE Linear Power Supply which does requires a separate QSOURCE DC Cable.


Which component should I use the QPOINT with for the best results?

We suggest that you start by placing the QPOINT under or on top of your preamplifier (or integrated amplifier if applicable), followed by your digital components, then your analog source, and finally your power amplifier(s). However, the results can be system dependent. You should experiment with the placement of your QPOINT to determine what is most beneficial in your unique system.


 

Speaker Set-Up — Everything you need to get started

Speaker set-up is an exacting and time-consuming process consisting of endless small, repetitive motions. A centimeter back, a touch of a rotation, a tilt forward— every minute movement making a world of difference in the performance of your system. While some find system set-up to be a fun and interactive process, allowing you to intimately understand your hi-fi system, others find it to be pretty tedious.

Whichever side of the camp you fall on, if you come to this task well-prepared, it is sure to go a lot easier for you, and, hopefully, it will be quicker too! That is why we have come up with a comprehensive list of everything that you’ll need as you tackle speaker placement!

 

1) Masking or “Low-Tack” Painter’s Tape

You’ll be using your masking tape to “grid” the floor and to ensure that you are making uninformed adjustments to both the left and right speakers. You can even use your masking tape to mark the final placement of your speakers, to save you the trouble of redoing the whole process in case your speakers are accidentally moved. If you decide to mark the final placement, you may want to opt for a more discrete colored tape.

 

2) Marker Pen

You can use any type of writing utensil, as long as it allows you to clearly make marks on your painter’s tape.

 

 

3) Tape Measure

Your tape measure should be a least two meters long since it will be used throughout this process to take precise measurements of your speakers, as well as their relation to elements of the room. It may also be used to measure and mark increments on your painter’s tape.

 

4) Spirit Level

It is best to use a digital level, but both long and short bubble levels can be useful too. Use your level to make sure that your loudspeakers are on an even plane and to find an even rake and azimuth angle for your speakers. It will also help to ensure that all of your components and equipment are level.

 

5) Laser Pointer

A laser pointer will make it easy to determine if your speakers are set to equal heights. It will also help to identify the sweet spot for your system and allow you to keep track of movements relative to the listening seat.

 

 

6) Speaker-Specific Tools

These tools should have been supplied with the speakers themselves to aid in set up. Some tools may include— a spanner for locking spikes, a pry-bar for adjusting spikes, or chocks.

 

 

7) Air Wedge (optional)

If working alone, an air wedge (typically used to position doors or windows) will help you lift speakers safely, one side at a time. You should also be aware that many speakers are heavy and moving them should be undertaken only with great care and sufficient manpower for the task. Struggling to move a large speaker on your own could result in serious injury! An extra pair of hands (and ears) will make adjustments much easier, more precise, and safer too.

 

Now that you have all the equipment handy, you’re ready to get started! To figure out which set-up method works best for you, and to learn other essential tips, download our Speaker Set-Up Guide!

 


    Download the Nordost Speaker Set-Up Guide


 

Speaker Set-Up: Time for an Adjustment

It is no industry secret that, when it comes to hi-fi, proper system set-up is nearly as important as the components in the system itself. One of the most integral elements of system set-up is speaker placement. However, once your loudspeakers are perfectly placed, that rarely means your set-up days are gone for good. A hi-fi system is an interconnected entity. Every change that you make to it, whether you upgrade amps, your rack, cables, or any other component, affects the sound, and as a result, adjustments to speaker placement must be made.

At Nordost we are in the business of making your sound system perform its absolute best. As a way of accomplishing that, for years we offered a system tuning and set-up disc.  Recently, we launched the System Solution. This revamped, two-disc set-up tool both improves and expands upon our initial product, offering more content and features, including a unique mix of diagnostic tracks, calibration tools, and system conditioning aids to help with every aspect of system set-up. As a supplement to our original set-up disc, we provided a wildly popular, and helpful “Speaker Placement Guide”. However, when we introduced the System Solution: Set-Up & Tuning Discs, we thought that an update to the guide was also in order!  

If you are familiar with Nordost’s original “Speaker Placement Guide”, you already know that it provides readers with instructions to execute several speaker placement methods widely-used by hi-fi dealers, professional audio installers, and manufacturers. Now, in the newly expanded “Speaker Set-Up Guide”, we have taken loudspeaker set-up even further — sharing our 6-Axis Approach to optimizing speaker positioning. This approach addresses the minor tweaks in fore and aft, sideways, and vertical positioning as well as toe-in, rake, and azimuth angles, which are crucial to accomplishing the ever-important finishing touches in speaker placement.

Whether you are setting up your system for the first time, need to re-tweak your speaker placement after making upgrades over the years, or simply want to fine-tune what you have, our new “Speaker Set-Up Guide” serves as the perfect manual to optimize your sound system.

Download the NEW Nordost Speaker Set-Up Guide today!


 

Questions and Answers (February 2019)

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: Do the new Set-Up discs include tracks for some sort of test tone or songs that help with subwoofer set up?

A: Yes, our newly upgraded, set-up and tuning discs offer a unique mix of diagnostic tracks, calibration tools, and system conditioning aids to help with every aspect of system set-up. In fact, there are a whole suite of sweeps and discrete tones to specifically address subwoofer set-up. You can find out more about the System Solution Set-Up & Tuning Discs on the Nordost website.


Q: I know that Nordost always stresses the importance of cable burn-in, but how many hours of break-in does the QK1 need to achieve its best performance?

A: Unlike cables, our QK1 and  QV2’s don’t need a lot of break-in time. Although, since the QK1 is a mechanical device, it does need a little more time than the QV2, which is an electronic device. While you can hear immediate audible changes as soon as they are plugged in, in general, these products need to be plugged in for about a week to achieve their intended performance levels.


Q: Which Nordost speaker cables are available in bi-wire?

A: Typically, Nordost speaker cables are not available in bi-wire. We recommend that you use our Norse Bi-Wire Jumpers for the speaker cables in our Norse and Leif ranges and our Reference Bi-Wire Jumpers for cables in our Reference and Supreme Reference Ranges. We also have customized Bi-Wire Jumpers in both our Valhalla 2 and Odin 2 ranges which are essentially extensions of the speaker cables, in order to ensure that there is an identical sonic signature running throughout your entire system. However, we do offer a bi-wire option in our 4-Flat and SuperFlatline Leifstyle cables.



Q: In the FAQ section it states that the QX2 and QX4 each have a “different focus”. So, is it possible to combine both products in one system?

A: Yes, in most systems you would start with a QX4 between the wall and the power distribution/QBASE (it’s ideal to use a QX4 unit in that position because it is stronger). Then you would add other units, either QX2s or QX4s, between the distribution block and the actual components.


 

Questions and Answers (August 2018)

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 plug my mono amps, their preamp, and a separate integrated amp into one QB8? In other words, there would be two different systems connected to the same QB8 strip.  If yes, where should I plug in the monos vs the integrated?

A:  Theoretically, yes, you could have components from two different configurations plugged into one QB8. However, the QB8 was designed for a single system in terms of ground flow manipulation. If at all possible, you should try to find an alternative solution. Remember, there are current limitations in terms of what the electronics draw so you don’t blow the fuse.  Although pre-amps and source components have low current draw, the amps pull more. If you have three amplifiers plugged into a 15 amp QB8, and each pulls 5 amps, you can’t plug anything else into it.


Q: I have a Nordost Heimdall 2 digital RCA to RCA cable. Can I use it as an analog interconnect if I add one more of the same cable? Will this combination sonically be equal to a pair of Heimdall 2 Analog Interconnects?

A: If you need to, yes, a digital cable will pass an analog signal (although an analog cable will not pass a digital signal!). While the performance level would be close, in this application, an actual analog cable will sound better.


Q: Does Nordost offer a 3.0 USB cable? I noticed that the whole USB line is configured for USB 2.0.

A: Yes, our Frey 2 USB Cable is 3.0 compatible, and can be ordered with 3.0 terminations.


Q: What is the difference between the original Frey and the Frey 2 Analog Interconnect?

A: There are quite a lot of differences between Frey 1 and Frey 2. The conductor gauge went from 26 to 24, which by itself gives more “weight” or “body” to the sound.  The Frey 2 cables also went from using Mono-Filament to Dual Mono-filament technology which surrounds the conductor with even more air. The connectors went from WBT to Neutrik MoonGlo, which has far better emphasis on grounding. Lastly, we changed the conductors to an asymmetrical configuration.


 

Optimize Your Subwoofer with These 3 Simple Upgrades

  By Bjorn Bengtsson

Subwoofers usually get overlooked. During the development of our latest Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable, we realized just how little TLC is typically given to the subwoofers in sound systems. Often the complaint we hear is that subwoofers don’t integrate well enough, when listening to two-channel music. At Nordost we understand the tremendous value of high-quality audio cables, power products and resonance control, and once people hear our demonstrations at industry shows, or in retail showrooms, they understand the importance of these upgrades as well. However, whenever people begin to consider upgrades to help improve their subwoofer, we hear a lot of “buts”:

“…But what’s the point? The amplifier inside my subwoofer isn’t as good as the amplifier in my dedicated main speaker.”

“…But the interconnect would have to be so long—my subwoofer is too far away from my preamp. “

“…But why change the footers? My subwoofer already came with its own set of feet.”

I’m sure that all of these arguments sound familiar. I do have one more “but” for you however:

“…But these arguments are exactly why you need to consider making upgrades to your subwoofer!”

Let me explain:

1) Power Cord Upgrade

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.

 

2) Dedicated Subwoofer Interconnect

The price of long-length interconnects may be daunting. However, at longer lengths, having a high-quality cable is of the utmost importance. The longer a signal is trapped in its conduit, the more damage and signal-loss will be experienced, especially if that signal is being transported in a substandard cable. When dealing with subwoofers, which are typically placed far away from the rest of the system, you are introduced to a series of real challenges that a good, purpose-built subwoofer cable will have to overcome. If these challenges aren’t addressed properly, the signal will arrive “tired”, very distorted, and riddled with phase problems.

 

3) Resonance Control

In terms of mechanical optimization, low frequencies create a hostile situation. Unfortunately, the footers and spikes that come with subwoofers were not designed to efficiently drain the cabinet of detrimental vibrations generated by those frequencies. When trapped within the cabinet, these vibrations will negatively affect the driver(s) in your subwoofer, making the sound have an undesirable, muddled and boomy quality. Upgrading your footers and spikes with a product that addresses resonance, like the Nordost Sort Füt, will help minimize these harmful effects and maximize the performance of your subwoofer.

Subwoofers are worth paying attention to, and just like any other component in your system, the attention that you give them will make a huge difference! If you make these changes, you will be able to impress both yourself and your audiophile buddies with seamless low frequency integration, without any rumble. When done right, a properly optimized subwoofer will allow you to enjoy low frequency sound that will make the legs of your trousers flap, your eyes blink involuntary, and your chest cavity resonate with your favorite music…

Top 10 HiFi system tweaks to get your system sounding its best

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 11.18.38 AM    By Mike Marko

No matter what kind of an audio system you have, be it state-of-the-art two channel or entry level, there are some basic system set-up and maintenance techniques that can significantly enhance your listening pleasure. Some of these common sense improvements are easier to implement than others, but by not paying attention to these basic system tweaks, you’ll never coax the best performance out of the components you already own. In no particular order, here are 10 of the most useful tweaks you can make to get your system sounding its best:

 


 

1) Level All Components

Make sure your loudspeakers and electrical components are as level as possible.  Be precise.  Stability is critical to performance too— it makes a big difference!   It is vital to make sure your speakers are stable and not rocking on their stands or feet.

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2) Proper Listening Position

Where you sit in the room is very important in relation to your speakers and room boundaries. Stereo imaging and frequency response can be greatly affected if this detail is not considered. Normally, it is best to position your listening chair away from room boundaries. Too close to the back wall can result in boomy bass, but be careful, placing your chair two-thirds back from the front wall can make the system thin and unnatural.  Make sure to try a few locations to determine what’s best for your unique space.

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3) Reduce Electrical Static Charges

Depending on the season and your location, static charge build-up on components, cables, carpets, and speakers can be a real problem. Both static charges from components, using digital circuitry that scrambles their microprocessors, and cables, attracting dust and dirt that affects their signal transfer, need to be eliminated for good performance. Nordost’s Eco 3X is an effective tool to remove static build up.

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4) Speaker Selection and Placement

If you’re playing dubstep at club levels in a large room but are using small, stand-mount speakers, you’re going to be an unhappy camper. Conversely, large floor standers in a tiny room will be just as problematic. Properly positioning your speakers, relative to walls, your listening chair, and other objects in your room, will be critical to your listening experience. Professional help from a trusted dealer can help you optimize your set-up with these variables in mind. For more information, take a look at at our “Speaker Placement in 5 Easy Steps” blog.

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5) Electrical and Mechanical Grounding

One can hardly over emphasize the importance of system grounding. The advantages of a dramatically lowered noise floor have to be heard to be fully understood. Greater dynamic range, and the ability to hear nuances that are often buried in electrical noise, are some of the greatest benefits of proper grounding. If you can’t practically install a local grounding rod into the earth, there are solutions available that can provide an artificial earth ground for your system. Nordost QKORE Ground Units allow you to enjoy proper grounding, hassle free.

 

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6) Keep All Electrical Contact Points Clean

All electrical contacts can be subject to corrosion over time. Keeping these contacts clean and free of oxidation is very important to good signal and power transfer. Periodically cleaning and tightening all the connections in your system, from the AC connection of the wall plug, to the pins on a moving-coil phono cartridge, will improve its performance. CAIG Laboratories’ selection of deoxidizing and cleaning products work very well on these issues.

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7) Good Cables

Much has been said about cabling in systems. Some have said that, past the most basic level, improving cables will not make any noticeable difference in your system.  You might as well just go wireless, right?  Others know that you’ll never get the most from the components you already own without optimizing their connections. Wired systems always outperform their wireless counterparts. Find a good dealer that will lend you some cables to take home and try in your own system, in your own home. Only then will you hear for yourself how important these critical links in your system are.

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8) Listening Room Acoustic Treatment

Imagine setting up any audio system in a stark room with no furniture or window coverings. There will be echo and excessive reverb, as well as uneven frequency response and poor stereo imaging, no matter how good the system is. Now imagine a nicely furnished normal room with couches and chairs, framed art on the walls, lamps and drapes, crown moulding, and nice carpeting. The difference in sound will be startling, whether listening to music or simply carrying on a normal conversation. For more problematic rooms, you may need to take the extra step of adding acoustic panels, either diffusive, absorbent, or a combination of the two. Again, your local shop can provide analysis and recommendations for best performance.

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9) Resonance Control

In order for your equipment to perform its best, it is important to keep micro-vibrations (or resonance) away from the electrical components on any circuit boards. Certain components, like capacitors, are physical devices whose measured tolerance can vary significantly when subject to vibration.  Internally generated vibrations, like those from power transformers or disc drives, and externally generated vibrations, like those from speakers and subwoofers, can both pose problems. Thankfully there are many solutions in the marketplace to address these issues. A good choice is Nordost’s range of Sort products.

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10) Clean AC Power

Every bit of power needed to drive your sound system, from the source, to the amplifiers, to the speakers, originates from the AC signal coming from the wall. The quality of that power can quite dramatically affect the ultimate performance of your components. Proper power delivery must reduce the RFI and electromagnetic interference that contaminates the AC signal, without limiting the peak current that components require. Nordost QRT products can be very effective at establishing this balance.

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Whenever you see one of us Nordost folks giving demonstrations at HiFi shows all around the world, know that we take all of these points and more into consideration when setting up our systems. Stop by the Nordost demo room next time we’re in town, and let us show you what we mean!

–  Mike Marko


 

For more information about tweaks you can make to improve your system, check out our “Tiny Tweaks, Big Pay-Offs — Simple Adjustments That Make a Difference” download HERE.


 

Questions and Answers (February 2018)

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!


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Q: I recently bought a pair of Nordost interconnects, and I noticed arrows on the heat-shrink. Is there are reason that these cables are directional? If so, which way should I install them?

A: Typically, when cables are manufactured they do not have any directionality—they acquire directionality as they break in. However, Nordost single ended (RCA) interconnects are built as directional cables, since the shield is only connected at the source, or output, end. When installing the cables into your system, the arrows should always point away from the source. For example, from a CD player to an amplifier, the arrows should point towards the preamplifier or power amplifier.


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Q: My new Apple laptop only has USB C inputs.  Do you make a USB C to USB B, to connect to my DAC?

A: Nordost has just released two new USB cables with C connectors for this very reason: the Red Dawn USB Cable and the Frey 2 USB Cable (the Frey 2 cable can even come terminated with USB 3.0 connectors).  If you already have a hifi audio USB cable with a type-A USB connector and aren’t ready to upgrade to a new cable , we now offer the Frey 2 USB C adapter.


Screen-Shot-2017-07-25-at-1.15.19-PMQ: Are Nordost speaker cables available in a bi-wire configuration (ie. 2 banana connectors at the source end and 4 at the speaker end)?

A: No, they are not.  When the Norse 2 series was developed, we decided to do away with bi-wired cabling. When you bi-wire a pair of speakers, you cause a frequency phase shift (especially in the mid and upper frequencies).  The better way to go about it is to use bi-wire jumpers, or to opt for a bi-amp set-up.


Sort Systems

Q: After buying and liking the result of the Sort Füt for my speakers, I was thinking about buying another set for my audio rack, but I’m worried that with the weight of the rack, plus the weight of the components, it will be too heavy for the Sort Füt to hold. How much weight can a set of Sort Füt support?

A: One Sort Füt will support 200 lbs or 90.9 kilos per piece. This means that the four Sort Füt units you would use for your audio rack could handle a total weight of 800 lbs or 363 kilos.


 

Questions From The Show Floor

 

By Michael Taylor

Going to trade shows and dealer events are great chances for me to get out there and meet both current and future Nordost customers. You might have seen me during one of these shows, either performing cable demonstrations or manning the sales booth in the market place. One thing I always encourage is for attendees to take the opportunity to ask questions during these events. Now I would like to share two of our most-asked questions with you!

 

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Question 1: It’s easy to position round speaker cables in a system, but what do you do when they’re flat?  What is the best way to position Nordost speaker cables

Well, I can tell you what not to do: lay them flat on the floor! (Unless, of course, they are rear channel speaker cables that need to be hidden under the rug.) Let me explain… our speaker cables have a flat construction in order to keep conductors apart—allowing for both low capacitance and inductance. The secondary benefit of this construction method is that the separation of conductors makes it possible for them to resonate naturally, enhancing the performance of the cables. Since we mechanically tune most of our premium cables, we can get even more performance benefits from these resonances. Laying cables flat on the floor will dampen them, not to mention that the more surface area is in contact with the floor, the faster buildup of static charges occur. All cable dielectrics hold electrical charges, which can impede or alter the signal passing underneath them. We suggest laying the cables in a vertical position, where only one conductor touches the floor (or using Sort Lifts where nothing touches!).  Additionally, if you have any excess cables, don’t coil them. Simply run them in a serpentine pattern.

 

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Question 2: Why aren’t Nordost 75 Ohm Digital Interconnects terminated with RCA connectors?

The answer is simple: they simply aren’t good enough.  RCA connectors are, and should be used for, analog interconnects. But when it comes to digital signals, performance is dependent on keeping impedance exactly where it needs to be. The more you deviate from 75 ohms, the worse the performance—and we won’t accept that.  RCA connectors allow too much variance, which is why we won’t use them.  For 75 Ohm matching to occur, you have to use a connector which is specifically designed for that purpose: a BNC connector.  We terminate all S/PDIF cables with BNC connectors, and include a BNC to RCA adapter in the package in case your gear requires an RCA termination.  Even though an adapter may be used, it is still far better than terminating the cable with an RCA and having the impedance swing in all directions.

Questions and Answers (November 2017)

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!


Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 2.14.38 PMQ: I am in the process of upgrading my audio cables, but the way that my system is set up, I need to make sure that whatever I get is flexible. Can your speaker wire be bent to form around corners?

A: Yes, because Nordost cables are made with extruded FEP, they can be bent and folded without delaminating or damaging the insulation. Our Lief cables have virtually zero restrictions in flexibility. However, due to the solid core, high gauge conductors used in some of our Reference ranges, they do become a little less flexible, but can still be bent to at least a 90° angle.


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Q: Can I use Sort Füt under turntables? Are you aware of others doing this with turntables and/or do you advise against it for any reason?

A: You can use the Sort Füt with any component that allows for threaded inserts. We have had a lot of positive feedback from people who have installed our Sort Füt under their turntables. Not only does it help in terms of draining unwanted vibrations, but it is a great way to level your turntable as well. In fact, we use the Sort Füt under our VPI Classic Turntable in our own sound room.


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Q: I have Nordost speaker cables, and I see that there are arrows on them. What do the arrows signify? Do they make an impact on how I install them into my system?

A: The arrows that you see on your speaker cables indicate the direction of signal flow once it is set up in the system.  Since the signal goes from the amp to the speaker, you want to make sure that the arrow is pointing to the speaker.


Q: I just ordered 2 pcs of your QV2 AC line harmonizers. Can I leave these devices plugged into the wall AC outlet all the time, or do I need to unplug them when my audio system is not in use? Will leaving them hooked up to a wall outlet decrease their lifespan? 

A: Unless you experience power surges or things of that nature, you can leave them plugged in at all times.  Having them on all the time won’t hurt the lifespan, unless they are subject to surges or electrical spikes.