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!

Nordost Playlist – November 2020

Nordost is happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more enjoyable 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 November.

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

  1. Run—Joji—Nectar
  2. BULL$HIT—Evann McIntosh—BULL$HIT
  3. Bluebeard—Cocteau Twins—Four-Calendar Cafe
  4. anything—Adrianne Lenker—songs
  5. The Court Of The Crimson King—King Crimson—In The Court Of The Crimson King (Expanded & Remastered Original Album Mix)
  6. Are you going to tell her (feat. MC Zaac)—Tove Lo—Sunshine Kitty
  7. Cry Everything—Kindness—Something Like A War
  8. Lost without You—Freya Ridings—Freya Ridings
  9. Spend Some Time—Amaarae, Wande Coal—Spend Some Time
  10. Avril 14th—Aphex Twin—Drukqs

What You Need to Know About Cable Burn-In

Q: Why do you need to burn-in cables? 

A: During the manufacturing process, as insulation is extruded over the conductors, gases can become trapped. This, combined with the high electrical charges often found in new cables, can result in a brittle and bright sound that lacks the detail and depth desired for music reproduction. When cables are burned-in, the trapped gases are dissipated and small impurities in the conductors’ metal begin to act like a diode, favoring current flow in a particular direction. 

Q: What changes are audible in a system when cables are properly burned-in? 

A: Your system will be capable of producing a fuller and more natural sounding performance. You may also notice an increase in the detail and nuance in the music, as well as a greatly improved dimensionality in your system’s soundstage. 

Q: How is using a designated burn-in machine better than using your system to naturally burn-in your cables? 

A: Naturally burning-in cables within your system takes an extremely long period of constant play time. Additionally, the music that we listen to can never expose cables to the complexity of signal or the frequencies that a burn-in machine is capable of.

Q: How often should you burn-in your cables? 

A: Minimally, you should burn-in your new cables when they are first purchased. However, if cables are left unused for a prolonged period of time they become stagnant and should be reconditioned accordingly. Even through everyday cable use, electrical equipment experiences current leakage, imparting a charge onto your cables. By having your cables treated with a burn-in machine, you are conditioning them and allowing the charges to neutralize once again.

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!

High Fidelity Reviews the QKORE6 Ground Unit

We have another great review to share with you, and this time it’s on our QKORE Ground Units! Nordost’s QKOREs are parallel grounding devices which provide an artificial “clean” earth for hifi audio systems using both electrical and mechanical approaches, and people LOVE what they do to their systems. In fact, in his review in High Fidelity, Wojciech Pacuła went as far as to say that the QKORE is the “best-built device of this type on the market”.   

“…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. In other words, the sound we worked for, polished and refined, will be improved, not changed.” – Wojciech Pacuła, High Fidelity

You can now read High Fidelity’s QKORE review here: NORDOST QRT QKORE6

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

Expert Insights: How to Build the Ultimate Home Theater

October 6, 2020 by Mike Cahill

Originally published on Redfin

With theaters closed across the nation and streaming services rising in popularity more rapidly than ever, cinema fans are spending less time in ticket lines and more time upgrading their current entertainment space into a state-of-the-art home theater. While it seems as simple as going to the store and buying the biggest TV with the highest quality display and calling it good, many have found that it takes careful consideration to replicate an authentic cinema-like experience. Factors such as lighting, audio, acoustics and comfort all play a substantial part in creating the ultimate home theater. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts in home theater systems from New York to Austin to provide you with some tips for creating an authentic cinematic experience at home. So sit back, grab some popcorn and learn how to create the home theater of your dreams.

Invest in quality equipment

When it comes to the ultimate home theater, the screen and projector can make or break the experience. Home theater projectors need to have at least a 500,000:1 contrast ratio to make the “dark scenes” truly dark and suspenseful. Otherwise, the blacks will appear grayer, than truly dark. In addition, silver or gray screens help increase the contrast ratio, while still providing a bright and colorful image. If you like scary movies, this tip is for you! – Go Outdoor Movies

Replicate the real thing

To build the home theater of your dreams, it should be as close to reality as possible. Recreating the movie experience as intended. At Bang & Olufsen, we strive to recreate the experience as the Director intended for the audience to have a true, life-like adventure; nothing more, nothing less. – Adam Rejino, Manager at Bang & Olufsen SOCO

Ensure your screen supports your projector’s resolution

Ensure that the screen you pair with your projector actually supports the projector’s resolution. There is a lot of bad information and false claims out there about a projector screen being “4K Ready” or “4K Compatible”, but that does not mean that it will actually resolve 4K. A screen surface needs to be texture-free in order to not distort the geometry of a 4K pixel (which is 4x smaller than a 1080p pixel) and ensure that you get the full fidelity from your projector. – ProjectorScreen.com

Take advantage of integrated smart home tech

Homeowners going beyond the ‘norm’ and pushing the boundaries of the home-cinema space have started using integrated smart home technologies. By connecting all in-home devices such as speakers, projectors, televisions, LED lighting, and security systems over an encrypted network to an intelligent control system, the user gains the ability to see the advanced functionality of the home. The possibilities in this space are limitless. Imagine pretty much anything you would want to do is activated via voice or wall-mounted touch screen. Specifically, in the home cinema space, we’ve seen this integrated tech being used for :

  • Voice-activated lighting control
  • Zoom enabled cinema rooms
  • Augmented reality and reactive video programs
  • Advanced sound space control
  • Voice-activated audio presets

While no amount of tech in a home cinema is a replacement for a grand design, homeowners looking to push the limits are having these networked smart systems installed in their cinemas and their entire homes. – Limitless Sights and Sounds

Incorporate sound-absorbing materials

What would a cinema be without the curtains getting pulled away from the screen? Use heavy drapery textiles covering the screen when you are not watching a movie, and let the draped curtains move from your screen to the sides when viewing. The sound-absorbing draped curtains will help to improve the sound quality tremendously in your home theater. Still too sharp sound and/or sound waves that are bouncing around? In addition to the curtains, we would recommend adding some sound-absorbing wall tiles, panels, ceiling tiles or a rug. – Unika Vaev

Make your smaller home theater sound like a larger room through the use of our absorption and diffusion technologies. You can have a low – frequency definition equal to your voice and music using our proprietary carbon and foam technologies. Your voice will stay on-screen following the action and your music will fill your room for all to hear. – Acoustic Fields

Take acoustics into consideration

Do not forget to consider acoustic treatment when planning your home theater project as the best speakers on the market can sound horrific in a room that is not properly treated. Multiple sound sources (speakers) produce a lot of sound energy especially when combined with subwoofers, and many home theaters are in small rooms with lengths and widths less than 30 ft which can be problematic if untreated. Each sound source and corresponding surface needs to be accounted for and treated with proper absorption or diffusion. The most critical areas to treat are the first reflection points in order to eliminate noticeable echoes and the corners of the room where low-end bass waves tend to congregate and cause problems. – Sound Assured

Photo courtesy of Sound Assured

Don’t underestimate the power of quality audio cables

When building a HiFi or home theater systems, homeowners often overlook quality audio cables. Cables are the link that ties your system together, ensuring that each of your thoughtfully purchased components is performing to their maximum potential. However, the most important cable of them all is the power cord. Poor quality power cords are often the limiting factors in a system, polluting it with noise introducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequencies (RF). A high quality, optimally built power cord, on the other hand, is designed to be less prone to (and even reduce) noise, resulting in an automatic upgrade to any A/V system—a must-have in all systems! – Nordost Cables

Choose ambient light rejection materials for your ceiling

When it comes to creating your ideal home theater, Elite Screens recommends using one of their popular Ceiling Ambient Light Rejecting Materials such as the CineGrey 3D/5D in a dedicated home theater environment for the following reasons: 

1) Angular reflective material does not scatter light in the room

2) Improves black levels and color purity for an enhanced contrast image

3) Ambient Light Rejecting Technology absorbs/reflects light

4) ISF Certified material provides accurate color reproduction – Elite Screens

Invest in comfortable cinema seating

Look for features in home theater seats that are focused on total comfort, such as powered headrests and lumbar. Your neck and back will thank you after hours of binge-watching. Attachable accessories that wirelessly charge your QI-enabled phone on the armrest or cradle a glass of your favorite wine are common additions to our customers’ home theater seats. – 4Seating

Originally published on Redfin

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

Pictures from Nordost Nation! September 2020

Nordost is lucky to have such incredibly loyal and enthusiastic customers! One great way that our fans let us know that they are happy with the work that we do is by posting pictures of their Nordost products in action. Here are a few photos that have been shared with us recently. Feel free to send us pictures of Nordost in your system, via Facebook, info@nordost.com, or #nordostcables on Instagram, so that we can continue to share them with the whole Nordost family!

@paolo_troilo‘s beautiful listening space.

@uncle_santa and his four-legged friend seem really happy with their system!
“A Nordost Odin 2 octopus has taken over the headphone lounge…”  🤣 @absoluteaudioyyc is burning-in some Odin 2 cables so they sound their absolute best!
The force is strong with this one, thanks to @10.onezero.10‘s Reference Bi-Wire Jumpers!
@solverenolen has got the collection to match the system!
@great___sound indeed!
@_jason.n.n‘s Sennheiser HD 800 and Nordost Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable
@norbert_sajewski is showing off his White Lightning Loudspeaker Cables!
“Kicking off my Weekend Listening Sessions with the Luxman L-505uXll Amp and D-03X CD/DAC.” – @jimmy_hifi
@cultoffonza‘s system is wired with Heimdall 2 and ready for listening!

Audiophilia Reviews Frey 2

We are happy to share that our Frey 2 cables have received some much deserved attention this month! In a glowing review, Anthony Kershaw of Audiophilia.com, spoke to the benefits that a Frey 2 loom brought to his sound system. In his article, Anthony applauded Frey 2’s synergy and loved how our cables “got out of the way of the music”. 

“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

You can now read Audiophilia’s review here: Nordost Frey 2 Speaker Cables, Interconnects and Power Cords

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

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.