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AXPONA 2018: Holm Audio, NAD, Dali, Nordost and the Foundation of Great Sound

KEF R Series

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The role of silence in the music is more important than most casual listeners understand. Silence eliminates the world around you, allowing the music to stand distinctly from all else. Silence in music is how we mentally keep time, otherwise it’s just unmemorable noise. I think of pauses in the music as auditory bookmarks.

The Story

Nordost’s QRT range of products have been created to tackle and wrangle poor quality AC power, to effectively get it all in line. Think of them as the drill sergeants, tasked to tame and discipline the electricity dancing around all unruly-like in your stereo (or home theater) system. There are various ways that many of the QRT devices control ground flow, RFI, and timing errors that naturally plague all AC powered systems. Much like the components of a Pastrami Reuben the QRT products work work best in harmony and cumulatively to create a “distortion-less condition” of power that is greater than the sum of its electronically-purifying parts. After auditioning at AXPONA, that is a deal I am ready to accept. When everything in the system is working in concert to create lower noise floors, it is proven that the image and focus of the music benefit.

Initially people entering a room at an audio show are hesitant to stay seated when what they feel is voodoo is being peddled. However when attendees quickly hear the differences in a relatively hostile environment like an audio show, no one is surprised that it becomes rather hard to get them to leave. Fear now abated, many settled in for the sometimes lengthy Nordost demo.

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AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

Holm Audio hosted and presented the room with NAD Master Series electronics and Dali loudspeakers, which isn’t the most esoteric of gear, and yet within the demo of Qkore (models 1,3,6) Ground Units, Qkore Wire, and Valhalla USB, etc. — improvements were vast and impactful.

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The Sound

Listening to Edie Brickell & Steve Martin’s “Way Back In The Day” from their album So Familiar we collectively take chances by moving cabling components in and out of the system. Using just the Qk1 AC Enhancer (compared to without), we see an overall bigger and possibly brassier presentation of Steve’s twangy banjo plucking, which now do more than just snap into place, they instead linger and decay in a more realistic fashion.

Going through the same track again, we add in the Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer and in short time Edie’s vocals in the lower mid-range become more audible around the rough textures that before were unaccounted for or lost within the shuffle of tones.

Overall, many of the unexpected benefits I found in the system, were when product units were switched in and out of the path (or parallel). Instrument tone and dynamics had improved beyond the more than clear noise reductions. Resulting in ultimately a more expressive musical rendition. Cue crowd applause.

The System

NAD Master Series Electronics

DALI Rubicon Series Loudspeakers

Nordost Qx Power Purifier (Qx2, Qx4)

Nordost Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer

Nordost Qk1 AC Enhancer

Nordost QBase Mk II AC Distribution (QB8, QB4)

Nordost QKore Ground Units (QKore1, QKore3, QKore6)  

Nordost QKore Wire

Nordost QLine Ground Wire

All system cabling by (you guessed it) Nordost

5 Comments on AXPONA 2018: Holm Audio, NAD, Dali, Nordost and the Foundation of Great Sound

  1. John Parks // May 23, 2018 at 2:59 PM //

    LOL – That is the first article I read on PTA and is still my favorite. I often lament the fact that there are no similar events in the DFW area, other than invite-only, few and far between dealer soirees where everyone sits, arms crossed with perpetual scowls etched on their facades. The aforementioned open house was a lot of fun and I was lucky that hardly anyone showed up (I am sure the dealer does not share my opinion) and I had Johan to myself for a couple hours.

    Hell, I would pay to attend a Public Vinyl Demo like EAV hosted – or pay to find a way to make it happen. Keep up the great work, Eric! I’ll have to just live vicariously through you for the time being…

    • Eric Franklin Shook // May 23, 2018 at 8:28 PM //

      I’m stealing this…”soirees where everyone sits, arms crossed with perpetual scowls etched on their facades.”

      I took a review system out to a record store for RSD’18. Only cost me some gas, bourbon, and sweat.
      https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2018/05/04/the-record-store-day-hi-fi-roadshow-at-gravity-records/

      • John Parks // May 24, 2018 at 11:49 PM //

        Please do!

        Very nice article, Eric – I was way ahead of you (well, behind, since you wrote the piece) and read it already. That is a fine idea and I just may start looking into it. I am sure a place like Half Price Books (great chain, if you have ever been) would be hip to something along those lines. I see your review system is pretty compact and tidy. My primary stereo has a heavy amp, tower speakers and the turntable has multiple, separate pieces – all kind of hard to casually lug. In my living room, I have a simple turntable and a B&O A3 – that may just work… Then again, I could just convince the wife that a third system is necessary “for music, for art, for COMMUNITY!” Yeah, that’ll do it.

  2. John Parks // May 23, 2018 at 8:49 AM //

    I recently attended a KEF/Hegel?Nordost open house and met the nice gentleman from Nordost pictured above. We did not listen to the “Q” products, but I did get a nice demo on their USB cables. Going from a generic printer cable to Nordost’s mid line to upper line apparently changed the sound for the better. I was about to ask to go in reverse with the cable demo to make sure it was not due to familiarity through repetition when Johan from KEF took over the show. I was interested in the KEF R500, which sounded awesome and I was sold. Then, Johan ruined everything and plugged in the Reference 1s – I am trying to figure out what organs to sell to come up with the scratch! To make matter even worse, he then hooked up the Blade IIs. At least I came to my senses before robbing any banks to feed my obsession…

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