Have you heard about Nordost Sort Kones, but want to get a better idea about how they will improve your home audio system? Or do you own a set of Kones already, but are unsure about where to place them for the best results?
Our new video, “Nordost Sort Kones – Introduction and Placement Guide” serves as a perfect introduction to these anti-vibration, resonance control devices. In viewing this video, you will learn what Sort Kones are, what they do, and how they will impact your system’s performance. This video also serves as a helpful set-up guide so that current (and soon to be) owners of Sort Kones know that they are using our product properly and can ensure that they are maximizing the performance of their sound systems.
As audio hobbyists, we are always looking for ways to improve the music we love, on the systems we love just as much. In this industry, hearing the word “improvement” often quickly leads to a much lighter wallet. However, not all improvements will break the bank.
Are you a vinyl-lover? Well, people who are new to analog hifi, may be surprised to learn how transformative something as simple as keeping things clean can be.
We aren’t being glib! All you have to do is keep your records and the stylus tip clean and you will be able to create a much better sound from the system you already own! A stylus brush and cleaning fluid are small investments and absolute must-haves for all turntable owners.
For your records, cleaning vinyl by hand with clean cheesecloth strips and record cleaning solution is a fast and cheap way to get the improvements you are looking for. If you have a large record collection and/or buy a lot of used vinyl, a vacuum suction RCM (Record Cleaning Machine) or an Ultra Sonic RCM can achieve professional quality results and save you some valuable time.
However, it isn’t only the records themselves that can benefit from some attention. Even cleaning the inner sleeves that hold your records goes a long way. All you need is an anti-static gun to keep your records in tip-top shape.
All of the tools mentioned above can be purchased individually but you can also pick up a complete turntable setup kit from manufacturers like Acoustic Solid and Acoustical Systems.
Since power cords are commonly known as the most important cables in an audio system, it’s no surprise that that we often get questions about them! We thought it would be helpful to put our “most asked” questions about power cords here so that you can find all of your answers in one place. Have any more power cord-related queries? Let us know!
Q: How do power cords affect your sound system?
A: Depending on how the specific power cords are constructed and what technologies they use, there can be several different sonic effects attributed to upgrades. However, in general, the biggest sonic differences tend to be registered as a change in dynamics (which sometimes disguises itself as a volume change), and in a distinction in imaging and soundstage.
Q: Can power cords really make a difference after the miles that electricity travels in wires to get to my house?
A: While they are not audio-grade, the cables used to transfer electricity through the grid and to your home are actually a significant gauge. The “choke point” usually occurs in your home. Not only that, but it’s very important to try to minimize the effects of artifacts, EMI, and RFI that are introduced to electricity on its journey to your home and continue to be introduced from your home appliances.
Q: Why should I upgrade the power cords supplied with components at purchase?
A: Manufacturers typically add in the power cords supplied with their components at the last minute. Oftentimes, this power cord is merely supplied as a means to an end, for as little cost as possible, so that the manufacturer can make the intended price-point of their product. As a result, little thought or effort goes into how it may affect the component. For proof of this, next time you are at a hifi show, pay attention to the cables being used in each manufacturer’s room. You will notice that when they want to make their product sound as good as possible, manufacturers opt out of using the power cords they themselves provide at point of purchase.
Q: In what order should you upgrade your power cords?
A: The most important power cord in your system is the power cord feeding your distribution bar. This should be the first power cord you upgrade. Beyond that, while no two systems are the same (and there may be many variations), we suggest upgrading the rest of your system in the following order: pre-amp, power amp, DAC, phono stage, transports (based on usage).
Q: I’d like to upgrade my cables. Ideally, I would like to stick to the same series of power cords throughout my entire system, but for budget reasons the upgrade will be a slow process. Can I wire my system with power cords from different ranges within the Nordost range?
A: We completely understand why it might be hard to stick with your “ideal” cable throughout the system, so prioritizing does make sense. One of the reasons why we design our cables the way we do is so that they can easily be upgraded and mixed throughout your system without any drawbacks. All Nordost cables have the same design philosophy, so while products improve due to added conductors, gauges, and technologies as they progress up the lines, they all have the same sonic signature. This allows you to choose your cables according to your own personal needs and budget, and upgrade piece by piece as needed and when able.
Q: What is the minimum recommended length for power cords?
A: The minimum recommended length is 2 meters.
Q: Is it worth upgrading the power cord that feeds a streamer in your home entertainment system?
A: When we aren’t enjoying our music, many of us are spending a lot of our time streaming television and movies. For those of you that use an Apple TV media streamer, or any other streaming device powered by a figure 8 power cord, there is an easy, inexpensive upgrade that is sure to take your streaming to the next level! Nordost’s entry level Purple Flare Figure 8 Power Cord is the perfect solution for your Apple TV. The Purple Flare Power Cord is a high-speed, low-loss power cord that will allow your streamer to produce a picture worthy of your home entertainment system.
For more information on upgrading your streamer with the Purple Flare Power Cord, read this review.
Q: Is it worth upgrading the power cord that feeds your subwoofer?
A: If the amplifier in your subwoofer isn’t as good as the amplifiers in your primary loudspeakers, it’s imperative to optimize its situation, in order to allow your subwoofer to succeed. This can easily be done by upgrading the power cord feeding the subwoofer. A really good power cord is essential to ensure that the built-in amplifier performs at its absolute best. With quality AC feeding your subwoofer, you will finally be able to enjoy those powerful, low frequency notes in your music, and not be stuck experiencing them as just a rumble.
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.
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.
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.
should I do an at-home cable audition?
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 makes do with fewer conductors, increasing resistance, and compromising the performance of the loudspeakers.
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 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.