NEWPORT 2016: NORDOST
Nordost came out swinging at T.H.E. Show assembling a beautiful room of all-star components that just sang together and included the largest turntable isolation base seen since since I started this hobby.
Nordost was providing demonstrations on the hour and I was a little early, so I had a little extra time to see what they had setup. There was this suitcase size box sitting under a beautiful Brinkmann turntable. Now, I am a huge believer in isolating a turntable from the room, and personally my turntable doesn’t ever leave its HRS M3X isolation base, but I have never seen an isolation base like the Minus K Technology. It was larger than my carry-on luggage and was screaming…. Touch me.
My phone is on the isolation base in the picture, this should give you sense of scale.
I must have spent 10 minutes banging on their equipment stand and watching the isolation base. The top platform floats on the frame. Luckily no one asked me to leave as I poked, prodded and knocked on the base and stand to see the impact on the Brinkmann turntable and Swedish Audio Technology arm.
From their Minus K website, here is how this big daddy isolation base works:
“Passive vibrational isolation tables offer the most Vibrational noise reduction for the price. They work on the same basic principle as the suspension of a car – though the wheels move up and down rapidly as you drive over a bumpy road, the spring supporting the mass of the cab keeps passengers from feeling the vertical bounce. Unlike air tables, in which air pumped into the system acts as the spring, and active tables, which use sensors and actuators to electronically correct for positional information, passive isolators are entirely passive, as the name implies.
The idea is simple, explains David Platus, president of Minus K Technology, which manufactures such systems. “A passive isolator can be a piece of cork – as long as it provides a much lower frequency than the frequency of the vibration you want to attenuate.” The lower the natural frequency of your isolation system, the lower the frequencies it will be able to cancel; the bigger the gap between your system and the noise it’s combating, the better the isolation. (Minus K tables operate at about 0.5 Hz, and start isolating at 0.7 Hz.) Minus K tables combine a stiff spring with a “negative stiffness mechanism,” which effectively loosens the spring while maintaining its load supporting capacity. For example, if a 10-pound load would normally deflect the top of the spring downward by an inch, that same deflection might take just a single pound.”
Back to the room, there were high odds for that this room would deliver. It brought together some of my favorite things, things that I have seen time and time again work together beautifully.
Specifically, the equipment in use alongside Nordost cables
- Dan D’Agostino Progression Mono amplifiers. These seem to have endless power, and when I heard them a earlier at Music Matters 11, they produced the best sound I have ever heard from Wilson Audio speakers paired up with the Wilson Audio Alexx speaker.
- Wilson Audio Sasha series 2 speakers, which I feel are the sweet spot in the Wilson Audio range.
- Dan D’Agostino Momentum pre-amp & the recently introduced Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono pre-amp. Many folks are familiar with the pre-amp, but I was impressed with the Momentum pre-amp when I had some additional time with it at Music Matters 11. Musical, beautiful, and built like a fine swiss watch.
- DCS Rossini Player (DAC & Transport) with the optional DCS Rossini Clock
Everything was cabled with Nordost Valhalla 2 across analog, digital & power cables. That’s A LOT of Valhalla 2!
Nordost Power Cable Demonstration
The demonstration provided by Nordost focused on their power cables. We got to listen to the system briefly, and it sounded fabulous. No surprises considering the All Star cast assembled.
On the menu, was testing out the a key ingredient of the Valhalla 2 system- power cables.
- They only swapped the power cable connected to the DCS Rossini player, rotating through various power cables.
- The rest of the system did not change and had Valhalla 2 wiring for everything
For the DCS Rossini Player, they started with a stock basic power cable, and then worked up through 3 of their cords. If I remember correctly they used a Purple Flair, then Hemdall 2, and last the Valhalla 2 power cords.
The demo clearly demonstrated that as you switched the power cord on the DCS Rossini Player from stock cord and moved up the Nordost line that you could hear an improvement.
Specifically, most things seemed to get better (dynamics, detail) and did so fairly linearly as you moved up their cable line.
All this was audible even under show conditions. The demo was overly simple by just swapping the power cord on the DCS Rossini player while leaving the rest of the system with their high end Valhalla 2 power cords.
In reflection had they gone bigger by swapping out more then just one power cord on the DCS Rossini player, it may have had an even more dramatic presentation and given listeners a greater feel of the impact of their power cables.
Once the demo was complete, and all Valhalla 2 cables were returned to their positions, the system sang.