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.

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

By Michael Taylor

We all know that Sort Kones are fantastic tools to help get the most from your system.  Getting rid of vibrations that degrade the signal path is essential for clarity and proper imaging.  What some people don’t know is that you can maximize performance just by achieving the best placement possible.

Many people place Sort Kones under components uniformly, essentially using them as new feet.  However, since they are acting as mechanical diodes, their specific placement becomes important. You want them as close to the things that are causing the vibrations as possible.  How do you do that, you ask?

Easy, jump onto your computer and enter the brand and model number of the component you are looking to support into the search bar.  Click images after the results come up and you will inevitably find a picture of the component without its top on, showing the inner workings.  Look inside to see where the parts are located and search for the parts you think would vibrate the most (i.e. power transformers, filter capacitors, hard drives, motors, etc).  Then simply shift the Sort Kones to line up underneath those vibration prone parts.  Once your Sort Kones are in place and the unit is stable, you’re all set.

This one little tweak will allow you to get the most out of your Sort Kones and have your components sounding their best!

By the way, this little trick works for our QPOINTs also.  Just look for the board location and tweak your QPOINT placement based on what you find.

Questions and Answers: Cable Auditions

At Nordost we have always maintained that auditions are a BIG part of the audio cable selection process. Cable demonstrations can be a fun and informative experience, and is an integral part of determining what’s right for your home system. However, when conducting at-home auditions, there are often a lot of questions. We have compiled some of our most frequently asked questions here, to help you make the most of your own auditions!  


Q: How can I try Nordost products in my system?

A: Most Authorized Nordost dealers have a demo case available so that you can borrow cables and audio accessories and try them in your system. You can find a Nordost dealer near you in the Where To Buy section of the Nordost website.


Q: How should I do an at-home cable audition?

A: There are several things that you can do in order to maximize your at-home audition experience. Some of these things include refamiliarizing yourself with your system before you start to make any changes. Do some critical listening (rather than passive) so that you can appreciate the improvements you are about to hear. Another thing you could do is identify your area of interest. It’s better to concentrate your audition instead of doing a system-wide change (as tempting as that is!). For more pointers and greater detail on ways to enhance your at-home demonstration, read our previous blog, Six Steps to Successfully Audition HiFi Cables in Your Home Sound System.


Q: What music should you use when auditioning cables?

A: When auditioning cables, we suggest that you play whatever tracks that you are most familiar with! One of the most enjoyable aspects of comparing and upgrading audio components and cables is discovering nuances that you’ve never heard before in a piece of music that you have listened to a countless number times. However, if you’d like recommendations for tracks that will help you identify specific sonic changes, such as imaging, harmonics, bass definition etc., we have created some playlists with specific songs that will help you do that. You can listen to these tracks here: Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify.


Q: What type of audible changes should you expect when auditioning cables?

A: At Nordost, we have a wide-range of audio cables. Each cable has a certain set of technology and manufacturing techniques that are integrated depending on where they stand in our line-up. Each one of these technologies and production practices has a sonic impact on the cables. In order to help you during the audition process, we have listed how these cable design elements can be identified from a sonic perspective, which you can read here: Sonic Perspectives of Nordost Technologies. We have done a similar thing for those of you who would also like to audition our QRT products, here: What to Expect from a QRT Demonstration.

2021 Blog Round-Up

When we were thinking of a nice way to start 2022, we thought…why not give the people what they “liked” most throughout the past year, all in one spot! This 2021 blog round-up includes our posts from this past year that received the most engagement, whether it be likes, shares, comments, retweets, Instagram reactions, or however you feel like measuring now-a-days. Here are our favorite blogs, back by popular demand!  


What to Expect From A QRT Demonstration

Nordost’s QRT products are easy and effective to demonstrate in any system. But while their performance improvements are immediate, we recognize that people appreciate knowing what to listen for when they sit down to a product audition. In this blog, we list some of the sonic effects that you can expect to hear when introducing each of our QRT products into your sound system! 


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

Did you know that not all ground is not created equally?!? Well, it turns out that there are two typs of grounds in your system: Natural and Artificial Ground. This blog explains what both types of grounds are, as well as how you can address them when making improvements to your sound system. 


How to Make The Most Out of You Bi-Wired Loudspeakers

Bi-Wired Loudspeakers can be tricky to set up correctly. However, when done right, they could mean a wonderful audible enhancement for your system! This blog tells you what having bi-wired loudspeakers mean, describes three different ways they can be wired, and lets you know the advantages or disadvantages of each option. 


Cartridge Mounting & Alignment in 6 Easy Steps

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!  In this blog, we have simplified this process to six easy steps so that you can minimize tracking errors and achieve the most accurate sound from your turntable.


How Does Cable Design Affect the Audio Performance of Digital Cables?

We all know that cable design makes a difference. But what aspects of cable design should you pay attention to when looking for a digital cable upgrade? This blog highlights the top four characteristics high performance digital cables must have, and explains how each of these characteristics affect the cable’s performance. 


Five Easy Turntable Upgrades

There are several simple tweaks and changes that you can make to improve the performance of your turntable. This blog shares five easy adjustments and modifications to upgrade your turntable in order to get the best sound from your analog system.


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

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!

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