When we were thinking of a nice way to end the year, we thought… why not give the people what they “liked” most?! This 2020 blog round-up includes the posts that we have published throughout the year which received the most engagement. Whether it be likes, shares, comments, retweets, Instagram reactions, or however you feel like measuring now-a-days, here are the blogs that you engaged with, most all in one place!
This year, everyone had to spend a bit more time than usual in their homes. One of the ways music-lovers passed the time was by listening to their home sound systems. To make that listening experience more enjoyable, we shared five easy practices and/or products that improve the quality of your sound system for little to no cost!
This blog is a helpful tool when you are looking to upgrade your audio cables. As you go from one range of Nordost cables to the next, there are several technological aspects that change in terms of cable construction. This guide will prompt you to pay attention to certain sonic properties in your music, to hear what each technological benefit brings to your sound system.
By now, most people understand that unwanted vibration is damaging to a hifi system. However, “vibration” is a catch-all term. There are actually two completely different types of vibration that you need to worry about. This blog explains the difference between these two variations and what causes them.
One of the major factors that sets Nordost apart from the rest of the audio cables out there is the revolutionary technology that makes up our cable designs. However, sometimes just listing that technology doesn’t help customers understand what that technology is, or what it does! This blog provides brief explanations of some of these technologies to help you better navigate our product offerings.
We almost didn’t include this post into this list because it seemed like a brag… but it was by far one of our most popular posts of the year! It’s hard to keep up with all of the hifi reviews and articles in the many different blogs, websites, and magazines out there. So if you are a Nordost fan, or just want to see what people are saying about our products, this blog provides you with a list of the various awards we have been granted throughout 2020, as well as links, so that you can read each review attributed to the award in full!
Along with poor grounding, unwanted vibration may be one of the most ubiquitous problems in hifi. Damaging vibrations, no matter the source, have the ability to alter sound causing distortion, disrupted imagery, and even timing issues to the music you’re trying to enjoy. Not only is vibration a ubiquitous problem in hifi, but it’s pervasive throughout the system– affecting your components, loudspeakers, audio racks, and even cables. Luckily, ridding your system of unwanted vibration can be easy.
Nordost has not only introduced one anti-vibration product, but an entire Sort System made up of three products that are uniquely specialized to combat vibration, depending on the element of the system they are addressing. Unlike other anti-vibration products on the market, which define themselves as either isolation/de-coupling or coupling devices, Nordost’s Sort System takes a different, more comprehensive approach: resonance control. (For a deeper look at the difference between isolation, coupling, and resonance control, check out our blog: Three Ways to Address Vibration Control). The following will help you better understand each of Nordost’s Sort devices and show you how they fit into your system to help you rid unwanted vibration.
The Sort Kone is designed to address vibration occurring within components. It is built using a unique three-part construction, which creates a mechanical diode. When pressure is applied to the Kone, a one-way path is established through which the internal vibration produced by moving parts in the chassis of electronics can escape. When you place Sort Kones under audio components (a minimum of three Sort Kones per unit is required) music becomes more focused, there is an increase in depth and transparency in system performance, and the dynamic range is broadened. Nordost Sort Kones are available in three levels of performance (aluminium, bronze, and titanium) to fit a wide range of system and budgetary needs.
The Sort Füt is a mechanically tuned resonance control device designed to address the vibration generated both within loudspeakers and through audio racks. It is purpose-built to enhance the performance of your hi-fi system and improve upon standard spikes and stabilizers. The Sort Füt’s proprietary four-part construction eliminates unwanted vibrations by providing a direct ground path out, allowing extraneous energy to escape either the loudspeaker or audio rack it is attached to, while simultaneously preventing external vibrations from traveling back through the device. The result: a reduction of intermodulation distortion, a proliferation of musical information, and an increase of tonal and textural details that will allow your system to achieve the dynamic range it is capable of.
The Sort Lift is designed to minimize the points of contact that cables make with the ground and reduce boundary effects, without negatively affecting the resonant properties of the cables themselves. Each Lift is composed of two integral components: the base and the springs. The base inhibits any transference of electrical charge from the floor to the cable and eliminates static build-up on the dielectric itself. The springs use flexible, titanium alloy spring-wire, which makes up both the support wings and tension wire supports. Both elements of this floating spring system are coated in FEP, mirroring the design of Nordost cables and making the supports an extension of the cable jacket, eliminating any electrical interference, while allowing the cables to maintain their natural resonance properties.
To learn more about our Sort System or to arrange a demonstration, contact your local Nordost retailer. For more information about vibration control, including how to identify different types of resonances, their sources, and how to manage those harmful vibrations, so that you can enjoy your sound system to its full potential, download our guide, The Importance of Vibration Control, today.
Since their release at High End Munich in 2019, Nordost’s QPOINT Resonance Synchronizer and QSOURCE Linear Power Supply have been generating constant buzz within the hifi industry. Just recently, The Absolute Sound featured this revolutionary combination of products in a review to further explore the unbelievable impact that they have on two-channel systems, which, as author Jacob Heilbrunn even describes in the title of his article, is “Strange but True”. In the end, both separately and as a pair, Jacob concluded that there is no question about it, the QPOINT and QSOURCE provide “valuable sonic benefits in a high-end system”. Here is a glimpse of what he had to say about both products:
QPOINT: “With the introduction of the QPOINTS, the orchestra really snapped into place. It was like a photo that went from blurry to sharp in the blink of an eye. It was a sheer pleasure to hear the interplay between the harpsichord and orchestra…What a revelation!”
QSOURCE: “The QSOURCE [powering the Roon]…offered a substantial improvement in image density, resolution, and hall ambience.”
As this hectic year starts to wind down, it’s a good time to reflect on the high points that we have enjoyed. Luckily, Nordost has had SEVERAL this year: 13 to be exact! That’s the number of awards that Nordost has won for our outstanding products in 2020 alone!
As a company, Nordost strives to provide hifi enthusiasts with the means to bring life into an audio system in order to truly enjoy music as it was intended. We take a lot of pride in the audio cables, power products, and audio enhancers that we produce, so we are always honored to be recognized by reviewers, industry leaders, and prominent publications for our work. We thought that you might like to celebrate with us!
“The Frey 2’s performance and general neutral and happy nature never disappointed. And they were wonderful in all sorts of repertoire from grandiloquent to introspective.” – Anthony Kershaw, Audiophilia
“Odin 2 takes your system to new levels of performance you might not have thought possible: in this respect, it’s like listening to great old recordings played back on top-notch new equipment – you end up asking yourself, “did they know how good this is when they made it?” Odin 2 does that to both music and the equipment upon which that music is played.” – Alan Sircom, Hi-Fi+
“The V2+ tonearm cable follows the house V2 sound of exceptional transparency and stunning transient playback, without ever falling to the temptation of over-sharing the treble content. The midband and top are deliciously open and see- through, seamless and nearly organic in naturalness, while bass is disarmingly honest and musical in its flow. This is a staggeringly insightful wiring upgrade to hear what’s hiding in the groove.” – Andrew Harrison, Hi-Fi+
“The instrument focus and clarity are both excellent and the soundstage is expansive…the bass is powerful and punchy and the drums and hi-hats are crisp, tight and engaging. The great energy is splendidly conveyed and the instrument focus of the hi-hats is particularly well defined.” – Neville Roberts, Hi-Fi Choice
“…connecting all elements in our system to the artificial ground is equivalent to replacing any of its elements with a superior one. But – and here it starts to be interesting – we get more of everything that we already have in the system, not something completely new.” – Wojciech Pacula, High Fidelity
“In advance of installing the QKORE Ground Units, I had imagined what such a product might accomplish. Those daydreams were prophetic—the only surprise was how significant it turned out to be…it did more to improve my sound than any alternative I can think of at that price.” – Marshall Nack, Positive Feedback
“…Purple Flare really shines in the midband with a slightly forward, driving energy that imparts a dynamic liveliness to all genres of music.” – Neil Gader, The Absolute Sound
2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: Heimdall 2 USB 2.0
“I experienced, in my own system, what others have been pointing out: USB cable can greatly impact sonic performance. The Blue Heaven USB cable was quite good, but I was impressed by how much more detail, texture, body, and spatial information came through with the Heimdall 2 USB cable in place. It all added up to a more life-like and enjoyable musical experience all around.” – Kirk Midtskog, The Absolute Sound
“Frey 2… has rebalanced the scales, taking the transient and micro-dynamic elements of the past and integrating them with richer mids and a brawnier, meatier bottom end that gives orchestral music more discernible, atmosphere and weight. In a word, there’s more fidelity to the live event.” – Neil Gader, The Absolute Sound
“…the outcome of using the Valhalla 2 is truly prodigious. Everything instantly improved as a result of using this dynamically unconstrained cable. It was easy to detect that the Valhalla lowered the noise floor, and that the bass notes became more defined and stygian…the bennies were evident across the sonic spectrum, in ways both large and small.” – Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound
“With the Odin 2, the notes seem to leap out of the loudspeakers with the tiniest, low-level details excavated with remarkable fidelity…the Odin 2 played a vital role in bringing their magnificent performance to life.” – Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound
“…the elegance, the poignancy, the fragility of a musical line is what conveys the emotion at the heart of music. This is what the Nordost QKORE does so well. I can’t help thinking that to achieve the most from any high-end stereo Nordost QKORE is an essential product to consider” – Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound
Technical jargon and industry shorthand can be intimidating and confusing when you are just becoming familiar with a hobby—and hifi has PLENTY of it! We thought we would save you a trip to your google-machine, and spell out what some regularly used acronyms mean when talking specifically about your vinyl set-up!
ASF (Anti-Skating Force)—
This is the equal but opposite force that turntables use to counter the frictional vector force that pulls the tonearm towards the center of the record (also known as “skating”).
VTF (Vertical Tracking Force)—
The amount of “weight”, or downward force, that the cartridge stylus exerts on the grooves of the record. This force can be measured by the stylus force gauge, and adjusted by sliding the tonearm’s counterweight forward or backward to achieve a specific weight range specified by the cartridge manufacturer.
SRA (Stylus Rake Angle)—
the angle at which the stylus is raking the record grooves. The optimal SRA angle is the angle at which the record grooves are cut (in most cases 92 degrees).
VTA (Vertical Tracking Angle)—
the angle at which the cartridge stylus sits in the record’s grooves when viewed from the side of the tonearm (this in turn, determines the SRA).
PRaT (Pace, Rhythm, and Time)—
This is often used to qualify how good or realistic audio equipment is at sound reproduction. Does it make you move? Is it toe-tapping?
If you have gone through, or are currently in the midst of, constructing your ideal sound system, you have come across the term “grounding”. Achieving a clean reference ground is postulated as the holy grail when it comes to having the ultimate high-end audio system. However, it is important to understand that when talking about “grounding” you could potentially be referring to three separate things: earth ground, signal ground, and chassis ground. Here, we are going to look at all three ground variations, to clarify the differences between each one, and hopefully help you identify which “ground” you need to address in your home system.
Earth Ground refers to a direct, physical connection to earth, or an electrically neutral body. By connecting a ground wire in your system to “earth”, whether it be directed to an artificial ground or natural ground, you are providing a path for extraneous current. When earth ground is being addressed, you are effectively draining the system of unwanted, “spurious” current that is circulating through the circuit and adding noise to the background. In order to confront problems with earth ground in the system, Nordost offers two solutions: the QLINE and the QKORE (specifically the QKORE1 and the primary side of the QKORE6).
A signal ground is an analog or digital ground that is attached to every signal being transmitted between devices in a system. Since these devices are usually powered separately, it is inevitable that there will be small differences between their potentials, causing small currents to circulate in order to compensate. These currents add to the background noise, obscuring low-level detail in music reproduction. Furthermore, as there are usually multiple signal ground paths in a system, those ground paths can pick up on each other’s interference. Nordost’s QKORE3 and the secondary side of the QKORE6 attract those currents, leaving a clean reference point for the signal ground.
A chassis ground refers to the connection that establishes an electrical link to a metallic enclosure. Describing chassis ground can be confusing because, when speaking about audio equipment, a chassis ground can differ depending on manufacturer. A chassis ground can be connected to the earth ground if it’s meant to prevent electrical shock, or the signal ground when intended for shielding. It can also connect the earth to signal ground, or it can even float. No matter how the chassis ground is connected to the earth and/or signal ground, the previously mentioned products and solutions offered by Nordost will help your system address the chassis ground. Additionally, Nordost’s Tonearm Cable + can help address the chassis ground, depending on how the ground whip is implemented.
At Nordost, it is our goal to be a resource to our fellow music lovers and provide you with the information you need in order to make the most of your home hifi system. To do that, we offer downloads on a variety of topics that we think will help them to do just that. Our newest such download will give much needed information on turntable set-up.
A correctly set-up turntable, tonearm, and cartridge can make a world of difference when you sit down to enjoy your favorite vinyl. With this in mind, we have put together a series of helpful hints to properly set-up a turntable. This Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide includes information on turntable adjustment and maintenance tips, accessory recommendations, a comprehensive breakdown of turntable components, and even gives step by step cartridge mounting and alignment instructions. Each one of these topics will help you achieve the best possible sound from your analog-driven system in no time.
You can now find the Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide both on the Downloads page of the Nordost website, or right here!
Over the past few months, Nordost has been happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more bearable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone.
Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this October.
We all know that vibration is essential to music. It is, after all, the way that sound travels from our loudspeakers to our ears. However, vibration can also be extremely damaging to sound. Unwanted vibrations from any source have the ability to alter sound, causing distortion, disrupted imagery, and even timing issues to the music you’re trying to enjoy. Typically, when people in the hifi-world talk about the “negative vibration” in a system, they use it as a blanket statement. But to really understand what is happening and, more critically, to address the problems in your system, it is important to distinguish which type of vibration you are talking about: external or internal.
External vibrationrefers to any vibration from the environment surrounding your system that could transfer to, and impact, your loudspeakers, components, or audio rack, therefore affecting the sound produced. Air conditioners, household appliances, uneven surfaces, foot traffic, and outside noise or vehicle rumblings can all have an impact. This even means that elements of your own system could be the cause of negative, external vibrations, ie. if the bass from your subwoofer is causing your components to shudder… that is harmful external vibration.
Internalvibrationconcerns the vibration that is generated from within the components themselves. The inner-workings of audio equipment is composed of transistors, capacitors, wires, circuit boards, and power supplies. Each of these elements produce some sort of mechanical energy and, as a byproduct of that energy, resonate. Those tiny internal resonances accumulate and have a real and audible impact on the performance of the components they construct and the sound that systems as a whole produce.
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 about the QKORE here, so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!
Q: The literature indicates that the QKORE1 is designed to be used with Nordost’s QBASE AC Distribution bar. But can the QKORE1 be used with other distribution bars in the market?
A: The QBASE is designed so that when the QKORE is attached through its binding post, the ground pin of the input is drained out BEFORE any contaminants on the AC line reach any components. If the distribution bar you would like to use with the QKORE has a similar design to that, it will work fine. However, we cannot speak for how other manufacturers design their distribution bars, so we cannot guarantee the same results.
Q: What are you supposed to do with the “mono ground” binding posts on the QKORE6 if your system does not include any monoblocks?
A: The mono ground binding posts connect to the same LVAP as the other 3 Ground binding posts that address the secondary side of the power supply. Therefore, if you do not have monoblocks in your system, you can use these two binding posts to connect any other component in your system. The thing that differentiates the “mono ground” binding posts, and makes them ideal for use with monoblocks, is that they are connected to identical-length wires, which connect to the exact same point on the LVAP. We have also found that in addition to monoblocks, front end components with separate chassis, like a DAC and a clock, benefit from being hooked up to these two specific binding posts as well.
Q: Can you connect loudspeakers to a QKORE?
A: No, you should not connect your loudspeaker to a QKORE. This could result in a short circuit to your amplifier. However, if you are using an ACTIVE loudspeaker that requires a power cord, it usually means that there is an amplifier inside of your loudspeaker. If that’s the case, then you can connect the loudspeaker to your QKORE. But keep in mind, when you do this, both loudspeakers should be connected to a QKORE unit separately.
Q: Do you have to use Nordost’s QKORE Wires to connect your components to the QKORE?
A: In theory, the QKORE will work if you connect your components using a different manufacturer’s wire. However, you would only be getting half of the benefit. The QKORE not only has an electrical approach, but a mechanical approach. By opting out of using the QKORE Wire, especially if you are going to be replacing it with a stranded cable, you will not be benefiting from those mechanical aspects of the QKORE.