Nordost, VTL, dCS and Stenheim | AXPONA 2023


It was in the Nordost room at AXPONA 2023 that I might have discovered the best low frequency performance of the show. All the essential ingredients were there–Stenheim‘s flagship Reference Ultimate Two speakers ($155,000), VTL MB-450 Monoblock Amp ($30,000/pr.) and VTL MB-185 Series III Signature Monoblock Amp ($27,000/pr.), VTL Reference Line Preamp Series III ($35,000), VTL Series II Signature Phono Stage ($15,000), a dCS digital stack, VPI Avenger Direct Turntable ($36,000) and a Lyra Etna Cartridge ($8,995). Behind the rack, flowing rivers of Nordost Odin 2 cables seemed both chaotic and hypnotic.

Words and Photos by Marc Phillips

I’ve wanted to reconnect with Nordost ever since I reviewed the QKORE grounding system a couple of years ago. Since then they’ve expanded the line–the latest is the QBASE AC distribution units which apply their latest grounding technologies in the context of a power strip. I’ve gotten in line to review these.


Let’s get back to the amazing low frequency performance in the Nordost room. I’m not sure at what point I realized that the Stenheims were reaching deeper than any other system at the show, but I felt my pants legs flap more than once. I don’t think I’ve experienced a good old-fashioned gale of bass like that since the first time I listened to a pair of Infinity IRS Betas back in the mid 1980s.

That tight, visceral low frequency performance was also accompanied by a HUGE soundstage, which supplied the Nordost system with a swagger for the ages. That’s when I made the connection, that all these strengths were made possible by an incredibly low noise floor–which, as I’ve said a hundred times in the last few months, allows more music to reach your ears unfettered with artifacts. I’m eager to revisit the Nordost grounding products, considering I’ve learned so much about this since the QKOREs were in my home.





If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.

Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.