Nordost Playlist – August 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 August.


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


  1. Short And Sweet — Brittany Howard — Jamie 
  2. MS — Alt-J — An Awesome Wave 
  3. Down in Mexico — The Coasters — The Best of the Best (Remastered) 
  4. Save Me — Aimee Mann — Magnolia 
  5. Walking On The Moon (Walking on the Dub) — DubXanne — The Police In Dub
  6. Strawberry Letter 23 — The Brothers Johnson — Right On Time 
  7. The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove — Dead Can Dance — Into The Labyrinth 
  8. Brown Eyed Lover — Allen Stone — Building Balance 
  9. Just Don’t Talk About It — Rosanne Cash — 10 Song Demo
  10. Lucy — Jay Som — Soccer Mommy & Friends Single Series, Vol. 1: Jay Som

Nordost Technologies Explained

Nordost is a technology-based company. Over the nearly 30 years in which we have been contributing our world-renowned audio cables, power products, and audio enhancers to the hifi industry, we have differentiated ourselves from the noise through our technology.  We are confident that our groundbreaking proprietary technology and unique and precise manufacturing practices are directly responsible for the success of our products. To understand Nordost, and to understand Nordost’s products, you first have to have a clear understanding of the technology that we have developed over the years and use as the defining features of our cable ranges. To clarify those technological capstones, we have put together a brief explanation of some of Nordost’s technologies to help you better navigate our product offerings.


MICRO/DUAL MONO-FILAMENT WRAP

Mono-Filament technology refers to Nordost’s patented process of separating the conductor from its FEP insulation. During production, each conductor is intricately and uniformly wrapped in either a single strand (Micro), or a twisted pair (Dual) of FEP Mono-Filament, before being encased in an extruded layer of high quality FEP. This highly precise process allows every conductor to be surrounded by its own air dielectric. This revolutionary insulation process is directly responsible for the dramatic increase of signal speeds and excellent mechanical damping found in Nordost cables.


FLAT SPEAKER CABLE DESIGN

Due to the intricate extrusion process that Nordost employs, we are the only audio cable manufacturer able to achieve a flat cable geometry in our speaker cables. The flat nature of Nordost’s cables enables the following benefits: an increase in signal transfer speeds, the elimination of strand interaction, the optimization of the mechanical spacing and layout of conductors, a decrease in skin effect, and a reduction of physical surface contact.


MECHANICALLY TUNED LENGTHS

By analyzing the natural resonances of conductors, we have derived a proprietary formula to determine the optimal length of each cable, according to their unique geometry. By ensuring that the conductors are cut to these specific lengths, we maximize the sonic performance of our cables, eliminating timing errors.


HOLO:PLUG® CONNECTORS

These low mass, high end, connectors are designed to seamlessly fit the internal geometry of each individual cable that they house. HOLO:PLUG® connectors are the perfect marriage of electrical and mechanical tuning, allowing Nordost to have complete control of our highest quality interfaces—not only of the cable itself, but from end to end.


TOTAL SIGNAL CONTROL

In utilizing TSC shielding on our Supreme Reference cables, we are able to maintain the integrity of signal transfer while protecting our cables from the electrical pollution produced by RFI and EMI. When paired with our patented HOLO:PLUG® connectors, TSC provides 100% total shield coverage without the rigidity that is associated with other shielded cables.


4 Easy, Free Ways to Address Vibration in Your Sound System

If you have been following this blog, then you already know the remarkably detrimental effects that unwanted vibration can have on your sound system. Smeared imaging, timing errors, and musical distortions are only some of the negative side-effects that hifi enthusiasts live with when they don’t defend their components, loudspeakers, and audio racks from an incessant assault of errant vibrations. Many times, vibration goes unchecked because system owners aren’t willing to invest in the sometimes costly audio accessories designed to address this problem. However, there are a few small, easy adjustments that you can make to your system that will help to greatly reduce the effects of harmful vibrations, without having to spend a cent! 


1. System Placement: 

For aesthetic reasons or special constraints, you may want to hide your audio equipment, or shove it into the corner of a room. However, system placement can play a critical role in the amount of vibration that you are introducing into your system. Avoid placing your audio equipment in corners, behind speakers, or within the same space as household appliances like air conditioners, washing machines, etc. By simply positioning your audio rack in a relatively isolated but open location, you will drastically improve the audible performance of your sound system.


2. Steady Surfaces: 

Obviously, the ideal place to rest your audio equipment would be on an audio rack, purpose-built to minimize vibrations. However, if that is not an option for your listening room or your budget, make sure that whatever surface you choose to hold your components is a sturdy surface that doesn’t shake, rattle, or move in any way. If it has the ability to be leveled, all the better! 


3. Avoid Confined Spaces: 

Resist the urge to neatly tuck your bookshelf speakers inside your actual bookshelves. Avoid placing your speakers or equipment in box-like, confined spaces that could cause resonance or vibrations, like shelving units or cabinets. These confined spaces act like echo-chambers, bouncing vibrations straight back into your speakers and impacting their performance.


4. Leave Space: 

When placing your loudspeakers, make sure that they are minimally two to three feet away from your equipment (preferably resting on their own stands or dedicated surfaces). The sound emanating from you speakers is vibration in itself. When those vibrations hit your components, there is an audible impact. The more space you allow between your speakers and audio components, the more space you are introducing to allow for those vibrations to dissipate into the air, without doing any harm to your equipment. 


While making these changes might not address ALL of the damaging vibration impacting your system’s performance, it is a great start! To learn more about different methods of vibration control, read our blog Three Ways to Address Vibration Control, or download our informative guide, The Importance of Vibration Control.


Nordost Playlist – July 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 July.


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


  1. Lazarus—Porcupine Tree—Deadwing
  2. I’m Still Here – From “Pose”—Pose Cast, Patti LuPone—I’m Still Here
  3. Darkest Hour of the Night—Ash—Teenage Wildlife: 25 Years of Ash
  4. No Glory in the West—Orville Peck—No Glory in the West
  5. Everybody’s Gotta Live—Love—Reel to Real
  6. Gymnopédie No. 1—Erik Satie, Philippe Entremont—Erik Satie & Friends
  7. The World of Tomorrow—Komputer—The World of Tomorrow
  8. Don’t Let the Old Man In—Willie Nelson—First Rose of Spring
  9. RADIO—Rammstein—Radio
  10. Djougou Toro—Volta Jazz—Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta

Questions and Answers (June 2020)

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 I wire my system with cables from different ranges within the Leif family? 

A: Yes. You can definitely wire your system with a mix of cables from the Leif range. Our cables all have the same design philosophy, so while products improve due to added conductors, gauges, and technologies, they all have the same sonic signature. This allows you to budget your cables accordingly, and upgrade piece by piece when needed. 


Q: What is better: short interconnects or short loudspeaker cables?

A: The signal loss on Nordost cables is very low due to the use of extruded FEP insulation and Mono-Filament technology. Nordost cables can run over longer distances with less signal loss than regular cables. However, when planning a system set up, it is wise to keep lower level signals such as tonearm cables and analog interconnects relatively short.  It is better to use longer loudspeaker cables as these typically have much more current and voltage being provided by the power amplifier.


Q: Why do Nordost 75 Ohm digital cables come with BNC to RCA Adaptors? 

A: The correct termination for true 75 Ohm impedance is a BNC connector, due to the mechanical spacing of the center conductor relative to the outer insulation. We have found that keeping the integrity of the 75 Ohm cable with a BNC termination and using an RCA adaptor always provides better sonic results.  It also means the cable can be used easily as a clocking cable, which typically uses BNC connections for superior performance.


Q: Power cords can’t make a difference after the miles 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 does occur in your home. Not only that, but it is 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. 


Nordost Playlist – June 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 June.


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


  1. Mississippi Goddam-Live At Carnegie Hall, New York, 1964—Nina Simone—In Concert 
  2. ‘Round Midnight-Remastered 2013—Thelonious Monk—‘Round Midnight 
  3. The Weight-Live—Mavis Staples and Company—Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration 
  4. Lucille—Little Richard—The Very Best of…Little Richard
  5. Greens—Be Steadwell—Queer Love Songs 
  6. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)—Marvin Gaye—What’s Going On-40th Anniversary 
  7. Where Do We Go—Solange—A Seat at the Table 
  8. The Boss—James Brown, They J.B.’s—Black Caesar 
  9. Time’s A Wastin—Erykah Badu—Mam’s Gun
  10. Easy Living (with Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra)—Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson—Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) 

The Well-Grounded System: An Update


By Mike Marko

Five years ago, that sunny day when I first pounded in that ground rod and attached the Nordost QLINE ground wire to my Nordost QB8 MKII power distribution system was an absolute revelation.  The sonic improvements were unmistakable: in general, there was not only better timing to the system, but, specifically, far better bass definition.  However, a problem was lurking.  By adding an earth ground to the electrical wiring in my house, I actually unbalanced the grounding scheme of the house and the entire neighborhood.  You see, in my neighborhood there is only an earth connection at the pole that supplies power and ground to groups of homes at a time.  After looking up the electrical code (always a good thing, especially before a project like this!) I found that, in my case, adding an earth ground at the house was not a good thing. To complicate things further, ground rods also vary in their conduction to the earth.  Ground moisture and salinization affect this conduction, so performance often varies. But I loved the sonic improvements!!! So: what should I (and you, dear reader) do?

Enter the QKORE.  The QKORE is Nordost’s ground-breaking (pun intended) system for establishing a quiet ground reference for stereo systems – Unlike other grounding options, it does not violate the electrical code and is easy to employ even in high-rise homes.  The QKORE system utilizes Low Voltage Attractor Plates (LVAP) that act as an artificial earth ground to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) so these nasties are totally attracted to the LVAPs for dissipation.  All without the bother of an actual conductor in the dirt with far more consistent performance!

The QKORE system goes one step further in addressing ground noise, which can be generated after the power supply in any given component.  This noise is insidious.  It masks low level detail, much like a noise masking system in an open-plan office.  The idea of noise masking is to generate enough of a noise pattern – modified white noise – so that, in this analogy, one office-person’s noise doesn’t intrude on the acoustic space of another. It is highly effective too.  The low-level noise distinctly generated by loudspeakers above a suspended ceiling makes it very difficult to hear the person next to you; all the while, the noise, itself, is inaudible.  This also happens in your system when ground “noise” masks the low-level signals one is fighting to hear.  Like the ambience and reverb decay in your favorite music hall or the intimate feeling of a small jazz club or a great studio. 

So, while the primary ground reference can now be established by connecting an LVAP to the incoming AC ground, the QKORE can also now attack the DC noise generated by the components, themselves.  Nordost calls this the secondary ground connection.  It is accomplished by using special QKORE grounding wires that use common audio connections to link the ground after the components’ power supply to its own LVAP.  These audio connection QKORE ground wires only connect to an unused ground connection at unused input or output connectors, like RCA, BNC, XLR, RJ45, etc. 

The QKORE 1 deals with just the primary AC ground noise and connects to your power distribution strip.  The QKORE 3 is solely intended for secondary ground DC noise utilizing audio connectors on the components themselves.  The ever popular QKORE 6 is a combo unit with two LVAPs that do both jobs in one unit.

But, you may ask, “How does all this compare to my original ground rod system?”  Well, let me say unequivocally that the QKORE solution sounds far better and is far more stable, day in and day out.  My system has never sounded consistently better and the low-level resolution and bass performance are out of this world!


Questions and Answers: AXPONA Livestream


As you all know, our industry had to cancel its trade shows this Spring, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t go to AXPONA! On Friday April 17th, the day AXPONA would have been held, Nordost took part in the AXPONA Livestream. We were represented by Nordost product trainer and International Sales Manager, Bjorn Bengtsson, who spoke to our good friend and dealer, Bes Nievero at Music Direct. If you missed Bjorn’s interview, you can still see (and share!) it on Facebook, but in case you would rather read your information, here is what we talked about during the Livestream!



Q: What is the state of things with Nordost given the Corona virus?

A: All Nordost retailers are well stocked with Nordost products! We prepared early for some sort of disturbance due to the coronavirus, and since all of our products are made in America, we were able to stock-up all of our retailers before things got serious. We can’t wait for things to get back to normal, but until then, we’re just happy we can still make people’s lives at home a little more bearable by making their hifi systems sound the best they can.  


Q: Many people are using standard interconnects from their turntable to their phono amps. Why is it important to use a dedicated tonearm cable?

A: The task of a dedicated tonearm cable is different from that of a standard interconnect. That mostly has to do with the nature of signals that it transmits. The signal coming from a tonearm cartridge is incredibly small, delicate, and needs a massive amount of amplification—from 100x to as high as 1000x (MM to low output MC). It is very important that this signal being amplified is protected from both internal and external interferences. That kind of protection requires a dedicated cable design.  


Q: How does the new Tonearm Cable + differ from the previous models that Nordost made?

A: Nordost’s tonearm cables have always aimed to protect the delicate signals being transmitted from the cartridge to the phono amp, but now we have expanded our way of doing that to make it even more effective. In the new Tonearm Cable + design, you still get Nordost’s patented technology, combined with solid core silver-plated conductors, and the high bandwidth and low capacitance that is always associated with Nordost, but now they are constructed using twisted-pair conductors making up left and right channels, which are then individually shielded. That way there is no inter-channel interference, and they are also protected from external interferences.  


Q: Why is a group of smaller gauge wire better sounding than a larger core conductor?

A: Actually, a group of smaller gauge wire doesn’t sound better than a larger core conductor. You have a lot of strand interactions with a multi-stranded cable, which is why we choose to use solid core conductors.

Nordost Playlist – April 2020

It seems like ages ago that we were traveling around the world, visiting our friends and business partners, and educating end users about the effects that our products have on sound systems. In order to demonstrate these products, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort systems and accessories. While we might not be able to use our music for demos at the moment, we find that music means more to us than ever. We wanted to share some of the tracks that we have been playing to get us through these wild times, and hope that they bring you enjoyment and help you pass the time. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but we hope that there’s something for everyone.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this April.


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


  1. Murphy’s Law—Roisin Murphy—Murphy’s Law
  2. The Expert—Yello—Touch Yello
  3. Broken—Laurie Anderson—Life on a String
  4. SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK—Joji—BALLADS 1
  5. Glass, Concrete & Stone—David Byrne—Grown Backwards
  6. Break My Heart—Dua Lipa—Future Nostalgia
  7. Mille après mille—Isabelle Boulay—Les grands espaces
  8. Tarova—Snarky Puppy—Culcha Vulcha
  9. The Ballad of Bill Hubbard—Roger Waters—Amused to Death
  10.  Fame—Ocie Elliott—In That Room

Questions and Answers: Tonearm Cables

 

With the expansion of the Tonearm Cable + to our Blue Heaven, Heimdall 2, Frey 2, and Tyr 2 ranges, we thought that we would take the opportunity to share some of our most recent and frequently asked questions about tonearm cables!

 


So many turntables come with a fixed tonearm cable. Will an aftermarket tonearm cable really make a difference?

Yes! While many entry-level turntables come with a fixed tonearm cable, that is not the case with most mid-fi and hi-fi turntables, and there is good reason for that! The tonearm cable is the most critical and sensitive cable in a vinyl-sourced hifi system! The delicate signals generated by pick-up cartridges in these systems demand low-capacitance cables in order to protect from signal loss and image smearing. The signals carried by these cables are also very susceptible to EMI and RFI, so shielding and grounding must be a priority. Bottom line: If you are looking for proper performance from your analog system, invest in a purpose-built tonearm cable.

 


I bought a Heimdall 2 tonearm cable a few years ago. Will I be getting anything different if I upgrade to the new Tonearm + Cable?

The new Tonearm Cable + is a complete redesign from our original tonearm cable offerings. The new cables incorporate a twisted pair design, a construction which naturally helps minimize noise. Additionally, we have taken even more steps to eliminate EMI and RFI by individually shielding the left and right channels with silver, braided shielding before wrapping them in an additional layer of braided shielding. The Tonearm Cable + also includes a completely isolated, shielded, silver-plated bond wire which uses our Micro Mono-Filament technology. Lastly, each Tonearm Cable + comes with two, detachable, silver-plated bond whips (again using MMF), which connect to the cable’s shielding in order to totally eliminate any additional noise that could be introduced during signal transfer, no matter the unique construction of the components used in your sound system.

 


How will I know which of the new grounding options to use in my home system?

The grounding needs of your tonearm cable are directly affected by the components in your system, how the manufacturers of those components chose to address grounding, and how those components work together. Because of that, there is unfortunately no easy answer to this question, and some experimenting will be required on your end. To help you through that we have provided you with a step-by-step process in our Tonearm Cable + Instruction Manual.