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RMAF 2015: Everything matters at Nordost

Nordost-238

It seemed totally insane at first glance. Then, after a second look — and a listen — it made perfect sense.

Nordost was demonstrating two tweaks in its mezzanine room at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Neither one cost more than a few hundred dollars. But the system Nordost was using to demo them was probably was close to a half-million dollars. Cable alone was, according to a Nordost sales rep, “north of $350,000.”

Suddenly, I felt my consciousness floating outside my body, looking down as my head exploded.

“Here’s what we’re demoing,” the rep, Michael Taylor, said, after my mind returned to the corporeal plane.

He handed me a small, rounded object, about the same length as a tube of lipstick but twice as big in diameter. It had a standard electrical plug on one end.

“This is the QK1 ($250 each). It has a load-resonating coil to fight vibrations. It works mechanically.”

Next, he handed me a similar-looking device. “This is the QV2 ($350 each). It has a circuit board, since it is a frequency generator. It sends midrange and upper-bass harmonics through the AC to fill up holes in the signal.”

Taylor cued up a female vocal test track, without the tweaks. Playing on Jeff Rowland electronics and Magico S5 speakers, it sounded lovely.

“Now, with one QK1,” he said, plugging the device into a Nordost power strip. He repeated the track.

“Now with two QK1s,” Taylor said, plugging in another object and playing the song again. “Now, adding the QV2,” the rep announced, repeating the song before plugging in a second QV2 and going through the process one more time.

“The sound has a much bigger soundstage. It’s gets deeper and fuller every time you add one of those things,” said a gentleman on the front row. “It really works,” said another, slightly dumfounded. “The bass is tighter,” said a third.

I noticed the same improvements, but I still was trying to get my brain to repair its blown synapses at the mention of $350,000 in wire.

Nordost is known for its flat, hi-purity, computer-style cable. They are often praised for their speed, neutrality and tonal balance.

The overall design and materials used are not cheap nor can they be obtained in bulk, ready to cut and crimp onto off-the-shelf connectors.

“It can take an hour, for instance, to make a meter and a half of our (benchmark) Odin 2 cable,” Taylor said.

I gulped. Taylor smiled.

“You know, some manufacturers want you to believe there’s meaningful performance differences to be had with cable lines that are priced $20 apart,” he said. “But it just doesn’t work that way.”

Feeling pressure building inside my skull again, I circled back to the QK1 and QV2.

“The QV2, especially, tends to work better in pairs,” Taylor said. “You can plug the QV1 and QV2 in anywhere, but they need to be on the same circuit your system is on.”

That’s when I finally “got it” and my head returned to normal size. When you’re doing an A-B demo, if you are going to be able to hear the instant change from adding anywhere from one to a handful of tweaks, you better be sure the rest of the system approaches state-of-the-art neutrality.

I’d had a similar experience with Nordost at previous audio shows, attending A-B demos of the company’s speaker cables, interconnect, power cords and even USB connectors.

To Nordost, it’s a simple approach — everything matters. But be warned: Listening could recalibrate your brain.

RMAF 2015 coverage brought to you by Noble Audio! Click for more ….

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About John Stancavage (195 Articles)
Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile

8 Comments on RMAF 2015: Everything matters at Nordost

  1. Wow. I defy these gullible tweakos to perform better than chance on an ABX test. There is no (read: zilch) scientific evidence that something like this is anything more than complete hokum, designed to bilk you out your cash. If you’re dumb enough to pay that kind of cheese for a useless gizmo, maybe you deserve to be relieved of your funds.

    • Scot Hull // October 21, 2015 at 4:27 PM //

      That’s a little harsh, isn’t it?

      They say they work. You say “no way”. You may be right, but as The Accuser, the onus is on you.

      Simple way to find out, really. Empiricism, or it didn’t happen.

    • try it before accusing. My brother came 5 days, put the QV2 in my system, I felt a difference (not big although), someone like you could maybe argue. BUT then , when he left (and took back his QV2), I immediately felt that something big was missing, and I was unhappy for at least 2 weeks … life has gone from my system … life that came back when I introduced … Nordost Sort Kone! and I can perform blindly ABX test to compare AC vs BC ones! QV2 and AC cones did not make the same effect, but enhancement of life in the system is present in both!

    • I’ve tried, and also own now, both Qv2 and Qk1 and they really work.
      Don’t you think it’s a bit silly to complain about something you never tried for yourself or even know anything about?

  2. What can I say, where is the reference here? Its all relative isn’t it? How do you know whether or not the original equipment had a negative compensation device attached which was then neutralised by QV and QK? What is it about how systems are demoed these days anyway? How many of us can keep speakers placed 5m away from walls? Totally misleading really. I’d bet you could get similar results with a tacima cs947 which btw even improves picture quality when connected to video equipment and costs less than 50 quid.

    I have been in this hobby for far too long spending bucket loads of cash on all sorts of devices and cables and still could not find what I was looking for. It all changed when I came across this small company which does active speakers and now I just connect my 24/96 source direct to it and it sounds far far better than what what I had earlier which was nearly 30k worth of stuff. The worst part is that these companies keep refreshing their products every 6 months so the used market is worthless and I could not recoup half of what I had spent – what a waste really.

  3. Completely BS!

  4. It’s this kind of crap that sending potential new audiophile away from the industry! The price put on these voodoo crap no wonder why we’ll minded new generation of music lovers have little respect for the industry thus they rather go and buy beats headphone because they can hear the bass difference for a few hundred bucks rather than 350 k worth of wires that may make argumental difference to the sound coming out of a system. This is why the industry may die and is only been now boosted by headphone sales which are priced easily affordable by people that like to hear decent sounds. This cable company that sells ridiculous price for cables and make voodoo claims and being supported by you old so call audiophiles just don’t help gaining the respect this industry deserve and thus gain new audiophiles. And why is new generation like mooing ba ck to vinyls? Because it sound different and maybe nicer but you don’t have to pay hundred of thousands of dollars on cables to achieve that sound! An audiophile recorded album compare to a normal recorded same album may sound different and maybe the audiophile one may sound better but they only may cost 20 or 30 dollars difference! Not hundred of thousand of dollars of cables to achieve a difference ! New generation are not idiots! They are more knowledgeable and well connected through the net thus more educated and have more information and readily available material to try for themselves and can suspect out the companies that sells ridiculous price common stuffs supported by their voodoo claims and then reviewers supporting them ! You want the industry to thrive then Stop with this crap and supporting these companies that claim craps and price them as such!

    • John Toste // October 20, 2015 at 2:02 PM //

      I could be wrong but it seems that the words “voodoo” and “crap” account for a large percentage of your vocabulary.

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