Are Nordost Cables Worth the Upgrade? HiFi Manufacturers Think So!

Some people make the argument that cables don’t matter. They ask the question, “If the component I buy comes with all the cables it needs to run included, why wouldn’t I just use the cables that come in the box for free?”

It’s true, many of the audio devices you purchase may come with cables included. Unfortunately, the cables that are typically provided are not the ideal options for the components they are paired with. Many hifi manufacturers are pressured to meet a certain price-point when releasing a product to market, which really limits the cables they are willing to supply in the box. They believe that they are best served putting all of their resources towards the electronics themselves, instead of the power cords or linking cables which make the components run. In most cases, cables are simply supplied with components so that the components can be used immediately. However, when used with these standard cables, performance suffers.

Manufacturers know that what they provide for free with your purchase isn’t the best choice. Need proof? The next time you attend a hifi show, take a moment to look behind the systems in your favorite manufacturers’ rooms. That’s what we do! You’ll notice that the cables they choose to use when they’re trying to make a good impression are not the standard black cords they give away…they use Nordost!

When showcasing their products, many of the manufacturers you love use Nordost products to show their components in the best light possible. You should do the same with the carefully chosen components in your home system! Just because, for the sake of convenience, manufacturers are forced to make compromises in what they supply, doesn’t mean that your system should be limited by the “standard” cabling that they can afford to provide in the box for free! Upgrade your system with Nordost to make sure your system is living up to its performance potential.


Curious about why audio cables are so important? Find out what audio cables do, which aspects of cable design impact performance, and which cables should be upgraded first HERE.


Nordost Playlist – June 2022

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. 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 June.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. Electrified II—Yello—Toy
  2. Inside And Out—Feist—Let It Die
  3. Mustt Mustt—Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan—Mustt Mustt (Real World Gold)
  4. Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us—Fink—Perfect Darkness
  5. So Do I—Christy Moore—This Is The Day
  6. Oh My God—Lula Wiles—Shame and Sedition
  7. Normal—Katie Pruitt—Expectations
  8. Summer Wind—Kathy Stack—Psychemagik Presents: Magik Sunset, Pt. 1
  9. Music For a Sushi Restaurant—Harry Styles—Harry’s House
  10. Masterpiece—SAULT—5

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.

Questions and Answers: Product Warranties

All Nordost products bought from an Authorized Nordost Dealer are covered under warranty. However, to benefit from your warranty, you must register your Nordost purchase. From time to time, we are asked questions about our warranty, what is covered, and how to register products, so we thought that we would answer some of our most-asked warranty-related questions for you here! 


Q: What is the warranty on Nordost products? 

A: Nordost products have a non-transferable, limited lifetime warranty to the original purchaser (with the exception of our QRT products, which carry limited 2 or 5-year warranties, and our headphone cables carry a limited 2 year warranty). In order to benefit from Nordost’s warranty program, Nordost must receive a completed product registration form along with proof of purchase. Register your Nordost product here.  


Q: How do I register my Nordost products so that I can benefit from Nordost’s warranty program? 

A: If you have purchased your Nordost product directly from an Authorized Nordost Dealer, you can register your Nordost products directly on the Nordost website. To access the Product Registration Page, simply click here, or you can find the link located on the navigation bar at the bottom of every page on our website. To complete your product registration, complete all the necessary fields and upload an image of the proof of purchase provided by your Authorized Nordost Dealer at the time of sale.

If you prefer, Warranty Registration Cards and proof of purchase from an Authorized Nordost Dealer can also be mailed to: 
Nordost
93 Bartzak Drive
Holliston, MA 01746 USA


Q: Is there a warranty on pre-owned, or second-hand Nordost purchases. 

A: Nordost’s products have a non-transferable warranty to the original purchaser. If you purchase a previously-owned Nordost product from a private seller, the product will not hold its original warranty.

However, if you purchase a Certified Pre-Owned Nordost Product directly from an Authorized Nordost Dealer, your product has been inspected by Nordost and deemed a “factory-certified used product” which can be resold under warranty. If you have purchased a Certified Pre-Owned Nordost product from an Authorized Nordost Dealer, a Certified Pre-Owned Warranty card will be included in the packaging.


Q: How do I register my Certified Pre-Owned Nordost Product? 

A: If you have purchased a purchase a Certified Pre-Owned Nordost Product directly from an Authorized Nordost Dealer, you should fill out the Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Registration Card provided with your purchase and send in the completed form, along with your proof of purchase, by mail to:
Nordost
93 Bartzak Drive
Holliston, MA 01746 USA

OR, Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Registration Cards and proof of purchase can also by scanned and emailed to info@nordost.com, or faxed to + 1 508 893 0115

Nordost is headed back to AXPONA in Chicago!

After a long hiatus, it’s time to go back to AXPONA! Come and see Nordost April 22nd-24th, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, Chicago in the Schaumburg F room.  We are bringing together some of the leading brands of in the industry to give Axpona attendees a truly world-class listening experience. With top-of-the line equipment from Stenheim, VTL, Wadax, VPI, and of course, Nordost, you don’t want to miss this impressive reference system. In addition to our showcase system in Schaumburg F, featuring a full loom of our Odin 2 cables, Nordost will also be performing our renowned live demonstrations and product comparisons in room 739. It’s been a long time since we have been able to visit the AXPONA audience in Chicago, and we can’t wait to see you all again!

Positive Feedback reviews the QSOURCE Linear Power Supply

We’re delighted to share a recent review which is especially helpful, since it looks at the QSOURCE as a product in its own right, and not just as an upgrade for the QPOINT (or QNET for that matter)!

In his review, Marshall Nack from Positive Feedback, describes the improvements in imaging, soundstaging, and presence that he experienced when connecting the QSOURCE to his network switch. He was impressed that the QSOURCE was able to “couple deep resolution, transparency, and relaxation”.  

“To introduce intangibles like atmosphere and timbral finesse, along with tangibles like deep resolution and transparency out to the corners, you might consider the Nordost QSOURCE… the level of refinement the QSOURCE LPS brought exceeded my expectations; my quest for a Hi-End LPS ends here.” – Marshall Nack, Positive Feedback

You can read Positive Feedback’s review in its entirety here: Nordost QSOURCE Linear Power Supply. Or, you can find this review and more great Nordost reviews on our Reviews Page.

Why Are Audio Cables Important?

Audio cables can be a controversial subject in the audio community, and people tend to end up in one of two camps: cable believers and cable deniers. So, instead of blindly joining one side or the other, get informed!

Sure, you can say that cables are an indispensable component in virtually every hifi system. But why? What do they do? What characteristics should you look for in cable design and how do they impact performance? What is the harm in mixing different brands of cabling? Why should you invest in aftermarket cables instead of opting for what is provided with components at purchase? When upgrading the cables in a system, where should you start?

In this download, you will find the answers to all these questions, and more, so that you can be confident about why audio cables really are so important.

Includes:

  • Characteristics of audio cables and their effects
  • An introduction to the “sonic signature” of cable designs and the importance of complete cable looms
  • Aftermarket cables vs cables “included with purchase”
  • Upgrading cables and where to start in a system

Read now: WHY ARE AUDIO CABLES IMPORTANT?



Audiophilia Reviews Valhalla 2

We are thrilled to share a fabulous review which was published this month on Audiophilia.com. Anthony Kershaw evaluated our Valhalla 2 range, and was so impressed with our reference cables that he dubbed the range one of Audiophilia’s Star Components! Here’s a taste of what Anthony had to say:

“The cables allowed laser-like focus of the multi layers to play exactly as the engineers and performers envisioned. So, every effect the young Stravinsky brought to his orchestration…is heard clearly, but, most of all, musically. As such, the timing, transparency and resolution of the cables are astounding. So, while everything in the orchestra is laid clearly before you, the sheen and tactile effects from the V2’s design, construction and materials make every musical choice a delicious event. This is playback way beyond technique.” – Audiophilia 

This glowing Valhalla 2 review is now available, in its entirety, on the Reviews page of the Nordost website.  

How does cable design affect the audio performance of digital cables?

When you’re looking for a digital interface, cable design is of the utmost importance, but what aspects of cable design matter, and how do they affect the performance of your digital cable? There are several electrical characteristics to consider, the top four being: characteristic impedance, capacitance, shielding and transmission speed. 


Characteristic Impedance: 

When speaking about the impedance characteristic of a digital signal, it is important to note that, while you may want to focus on the cable alone, the transmission line of a digital signal starts where the RF signal is generated inside the digital source and ends where the signal is decoded inside the digital receiver. However, for the cable alone, the impedance characteristic is defined as the ratio of voltage to current at the input to an infinite transmission line. The stability of the impedance characteristic depends on several design aspects of the cable, including conductor size and geometry, insulation material and the thickness of that insulation, and connector quality and type (75 Ω for S/PDIF, 110 Ω for AES/EBU, 90 Ω for USB, and 100 Ω for UTP Ethernet cables).


Capacitance: 

In digital cables, high capacitance of a cable will slow down voltage transitions, causing an unevenness to the flat portions of a square wave. When this happens, the D/A receiver on the other end of the signal will have a harder time identifying the data transmission. Many aspects of cable design that help to minimize capacitance are the same aspects that affect the impedance: decreasing the conductor diameter, changing the conductor geometry, and using insulation with a low dielectric constant. The art of designing a high-quality digital cable is finding the balance between what needs to be done to keep capacitance low and avoiding negative impact on the characteristic impedance of the cable. 

To keep capacitance low, Nordost implements their proprietary Mono-Filament technology in their digital cable design. By intricately and uniformly wrapping single or twisted pairs of FEP Mono-Filament around each conductor before encasing them in an extruded layer of high-quality FEP, each conductor is surrounded by its own air dielectric. In decreasing the interaction of the conductor to the insulation, the signal is no longer hampered like it is in more traditional digital cable designs.


Shielding:

Whereas in analog interconnects shielding is used only to keep foreign elements away from the signal, in digital transmission, shielding both keeps external radio frequencies and electromagnetic interference away as well as keeping RF signals inside of the cable itself. When designing a digital cable, one important thing to keep in mind is the compatibility of the specialized connectors with the shielding material, as that will determine how manufacturers implement the shielding into the design. 


Transmission Speeds: 

While fast transmission speeds are always sought after in cable design, for some digital cables it is absolutely essential. USB cables, for example, must perform a digital handshake (where the signal travels from source to destination and then back in 26 nanoseconds) to work. When using a conventional design, that handshake is only possible at short lengths. Nordost USB cables, on the other hand, employ Mono-Filament technology, enhancing signal speeds so much that we are able to build cables twice the length of a standard USB cable or longer, and still achieve a reliable handshake.


For more information like this, to better understand the technical challenges of digital audio data transmission, and to know what to listen for when auditioning digital audio cables read our download, Digital Audio Cables: How Can They Make a Difference?, now!  


Nordost Playlist – July 2021

Nordost products are designed to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. All of us here are passionate about great music, and want to share our passion with you. 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 July.


You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  | SPOTIFY  |  QOBUZ


  1. We Cannot Resist—LUMP, Laura Marling, Mike Lindsay 
  2. Bed Head—Manchester Orchestra—Bed Head 
  3. Lowdown—Boz Scaggs—Silk Degrees 
  4. Slow Mover—Angie McMahon—Salt 
  5. You & Me—Dave Matthews Band—Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (Expanded Edition)
  6. Comerte Entera—C. Tangana, Toquinho—Comerte Entera
  7. Somebody Help Me—Otis Brown—Southside Chicago
  8. Tip Toe—SAULT—7
  9. Dreams—Fleetwood Mac—Rumours
  10. Against The Wind—Victory—The Broken Instrument