Lars had just kicked off his power cord demo when I snuck in.
Nordost runs demos like this at shows all the time – swap a cable and listen to the change in the sound of the system as a whole. This demo was no different. After the crowd was upbraided for not paying enough attention to “the heart” of their system, which apparently, is the power delivery, Lars proceeded to show us how silly it was to sit our power conditioners on the floor (“you are killing your heart!”) and how we needed to find it some space on that expensive rack we had all our other audio gear on.
Lars then proceeded to do some serious violence to just about every testing methodology the Internet trolls continuously rail about in order to show off his power cable line. First, he told us what he was doing. Second, he did the changes with cold cables. Third, he warned us what to expect. Fourth, all the swaps were relatively fast – each change got no more than 30 seconds of play time before we were on to the next rung in the product ladder. Lars would talk, play the demo track, stop, talk about the change while powering everything off, and then swap just the power cord on the power distribution unit (“The most important cable in the system!” Lars warned) for the next one up the Nordost food chain.
I have to say that I was not carried off by the power of the demo — I think it could have had far more impact if the changes hadn’t been so gradual. However … By the end, I was convinced that there was more air, more punch, and more tonal presence with the Odin power cable over their entry cable, but the degree of difference between, say, Odin and Valhalla (or between any of the two cables, swapped in sequence), wasn’t obvious enough given the conditions at the show. Had he jumped from entry to midpoint and from midpoint to reference (that is, skipping three or more at a time), I think we’d all have gasped.
Tangentially to the demo, I have to say that the system playing in the room (which I never got a chance to find much out about), sounded great. Transients and attack were just startling. And while I wasn’t familiar with the gear, the system sounded totally transparent, for lack of a better word. The “window to the music” (if you’ll forgive the cliche) was clear — I couldn’t really hear the system at all. I think that was the point Lars he was making. And that, I got.
If I’d been able to just sit and listen to the fantastic Scandanavian blues tracks Lars was flicking his way through, I’d have been tickled pink. Apparently, this is what was going on between the demos, but such as luck would have it, every time I happened to venture by, someone was demoing something. Oh well. I wish I remembered what he played ….
What I did hear coming out of those speakers, with their ceramic drivers and ribbon tweet, certainly emphasized what I’ve heard called the “classic Nordost” sound — very linear, with great extension and only a hint of warmth.
Contrast this with the sound I heard, later, in the Merlin/Cardas room, where everything was all-warmth, all-mid-range-lushness, all-the-time, and you had, essentially, the two polar opposites in approach to audio. Instructive.