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

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.