Nordost 2020 Awards

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!


An Audiophilia Star Component 2020: Frey 2

“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


Hi-fi+ Editor’s Choice 2020: Odin 2

“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+


Hi-Fi+ 2020 AWARD WINNER: Valhalla 2 Tonearm Cable +

“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+


Hi-Fi Choice Recommended: Heimdall 2 Tonearm Cable +

“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


Hi-Fi Choice Recommended: Blue Heaven Power Cord

“The overall performance is clear and refined with a very low noise floor. The Blue Heaven is certainly a very good value-for-money, high-quality power cable option.” – Neville Roberts, Hi-Fi Choice


HIGH FIDELITY REFERENCE AWARD: QKORE

“…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


Positive Feedback Writers’ Choice Award 2020: QKORE

“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


2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: Purple Flare

“…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


2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: Frey 2

“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


2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: Valhalla 2 

“…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


2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: Odin 2

“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


2020 The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards: QKORE

 “…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


Quick Guide to Turntable Acronyms:

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? 


For more information about turntable-related terms and turntable set-up in general, check out our Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide!


What’s the difference between Earth, Signal, and Chassis Ground?

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.   


For more information on grounding, download The Importance of Electrical Grounding in Audio Systems today!


Complete Turntable Set-Up Guide

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!


Nordost Playlist – October 2020

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.


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


  1. Ghost Dance—Patti Smith—Easter
  2. How Do You Sleep—Sam Smith—How Do You Sleep
  3. Season of the Witch—Donovan—Sunshine Superman
  4. Avratz—Infected Mushroom—Converting Vegetarians
  5. Fancy Man—Devendra Banhart—Ape in Pink Marble
  6. A Whiter Shade of Pale—Annie Lennox—Medusa
  7. You Were Meant For Me—Jewel—Pieces Of You
  8. Me x 7—Alicia Keys—Alicia
  9. Autumn In New York—Billie Holiday—Recital
  10. My Lady’s On Fire—Ty Segall—Freedom’s Goblin

Two Sides to Vibration

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 vibration refers 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. 


Internal vibration concerns 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. 



To learn each of these harmful vibration types can be addressed, check out some of our previous blogs on anti-vibration techniques: Three Ways to Address Vibration Control and Four Easy, Free Ways to Address Vibration In Your Sound System.

You can also download our comprehensive guide: The Importance of Vibration Control.


Questions and Answers (QKORE)

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.


Sonic Properties of Nordost Technologies

Auditioning audio cables is probably an important part of your buying process. You deserve to know what you are buying, understand the differences between the products you are considering, and hear how those differences will impact the performance of your sound system. 

At Nordost, we have a wide variety of products which incrementally improve as you move up our range. By visiting our website and talking with your authorized Nordost dealer, you should have a good understanding of specific technologies incorporated into each of our product ranges. However, when it’s time to sit down and evaluate how each one of those technologies impacts your sound, you may still need more direction. 

In order to help you make better sense of what you’re hearing, we have listed some of the technologies used in our cable design with notes on how they can be identified from a sonic perspective. 


Solid Core Conductors (as Opposed to Stranded)

Look for increased textural aspects in the music, especially in the mid-tones. You will find that the instruments sound more life-like. Another thing to notice is a perceived increase in volume, especially when comparing power cords. 


Adding Conductors / Increasing Gauge Size

Pay special attention to timing. This can sometimes be heard in the drive and dynamic realism of your music. 


Mechanically Tuned Lengths

This brings a darker background to the table and a smoothness to the sound. It strips artifacts and gives the music a sense of “correctness” that wasn’t there before. 


Micro Mono-Filament

Higher signal speed means less time traveling through the cable, and as a result, less loss of information. This translates to an increase in detail and nuance in the music. You may notice this in the emotion that comes across in a performance, particularly in the vocals. Also pay attention to the soundstage, which will start to lose its defined boundaries. 


Dual Mono-Filament

Even faster signal speed means even more information. Listen for decay times in instruments, as well as additional realistic qualities of both instruments and vocals. You will also find the rhythm and pacing of the music to be more precise. 


HOLO:PLUG® Connectors

Pay attention to your system’s soundstage. You should notice a much wider and deeper soundstage, as well as an overall smooth tonal balance. This can also be heard as spatial awareness of the instruments and singers. There may be a 3D element to your music and soundstage. 


TSC Shielding

With 100% silver shielding, TSC provides even more defense against EMI and RFI. There will be a blacker background and noticeable noise reduction that will especially affect the low-end. This often translates into more realism and coherence in the performance. You may notice that small nuances in the music start to come to life.


Nordost Playlist – September 2020

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 September.


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


  1. Birds—Dominique Fils-Aimé—Nameless 
  2. One Fine Day—David Byrne—Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
  3. Waving, Smiling—Angel Olsen—Whole New Mess 
  4. Lo/Hi—The Black Keys—“Let’s Rock”
  5. The Mummers’ Dance—Loreena McKennitt—The Book Of Secrets 
  6. Wildflowers—Tom Petty—Wildflowers 
  7. Uninvited—Mallrat—Uninvited 
  8. Fóld fær andlit—Hildur Guðnadóttir—Fólk fær andlit
  9. Rainbow—Kacey Musgraves—Golden Hour
  10. Oxbow—Waxahatchee—Saint Cloud

Hi-Fi Choice Reviews Nordost’s Heimdall 2 Tonearm Cable +

Nordost’s re-engineered Tonearm Cable + recently received some attention from Hi-fi Choice. Reviewer, Neville Roberts, gave the Heimdall 2 Tonearm Cable + a “Five Star” rating, praising the energetic and refined attributes that the new cable brought to the performance of his analog system. 

“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. 

You can read Neville’s review in its entirety HERE.

You can find this review and more great Nordost reviews on our Reviews Page.