Art Dudley Listening - Stereophile Dec '09 Nordost

Reading this month's issue of Stereophile, I came across Art's monthly column - Listening. The overall theme was building a foundation for a given system, whether it be physical, mechanical, electrical, etc.

The Nordost boys came to his house with platforms, quantum field resonators, and Nordost cables. At the moment, I do not have the resources to investigate platforms or quantum field resonators even though in the article, they do work to some degree.

My question is concerning cabling. More specifically, Nordost cabling. The folks from Nordost recommended using cables within a similar line and performance specifications. For example, not using Valhalla speaker cables with Blue Heaven interconnects. What caught my attention, and seemed counter-intuitive, was the cabling they chose. From memory, they used Tyr Speaker cable, don't recall the IC, and Vishnu power cables. Basically, the highest, and therefore most expensive, cable was the speaker cables. Cheapest was the power cords.

When assembling my system, it seemed to me that I would be better off moving up the Nordost IC line, then SC, and finally PC's. Am I missing something here? My interconnects are Quattro Fil, speaker is Red Dawn, and PC is Shiva. Should I have gotten better SC and lower line IC's?

I recall Art doing a couple accounts on Nordost wires. For a time or still he also used Nirvana SX's. One of his reviews was on the Heimdahl cables which he said were quite close to the Vallhalla. Each instance the cables used all over were the same models. IC & sc.


From what I've found so far, one can step down a level (once well into the line) from the source IC to the main IC. The SC link seems best put if it is either the same as either of the other two ICs or one as congruent. In any case being as neutral there as you can get is the deal.

the whole issue of wires, whereever they are applied is always a contentious affair. Reviewers, by and large, account for IMO, fantastic systems. rigs outfitted with stuff the largest percentage of us will never see in our homes. hearing these accounts leaves us then still pondering questions like this one. our answer too seems imbedded in the prospect of doing the best you can with what you have to do it with, and all the while as to your own preferences.

I'm not a real big fan of Nordost generally speaking, so I would submit contacting a Nordost dealer who has had the line for some time will gain more insight for you and your situation.
I am a big Nordost fan. I think you should start with your IC and substitute used Valkyrie for the Quatro Fil. I have both and the Val is a large step up, not far off from Valhalla and available for reasonable cost on used market.

It has been my experience that one should NOT use all Nordost cabling. Nordost tends to the fast, detailed, transparent side and all-Nordost becomes too much of a good thing; you need to balance out the sound with a slightly warmer cable along the line. So I would not use Nordost SC.

Just my thoughts. I use JPS Aluminata as IC from pre to amp, and then Valhalla speaker cables. Together, I get a great combo of speed, transparency, detail with some body and a touch of warmth.

Can you hear differences in cables? Absolutly. Do these differences show up in properly conducted double blind testing? Hardly ever. Dudley should be ashamed of himself for not using a double blind approach to reviewing cables.
I don't think I can recall any instance (in recent times) of a subjective audio reviewer using the double-blind approach to doing any equipment review, cable or otherwise. So if Dudley should be ashamed of himself, it shouldn't be for that reason. I mean, it's not like it's common practice in the industry...
Plato is right--(and with a moniker like Plato, how could it be otherwise? :))--it isn't Dudley's problem, it's the industry's problem.
12-09-09: Buconero117
Dudley should be ashamed of himself for not using a double blind approach to reviewing cables.
Only on cables? Why not components, too?

Seriously though, how could any publication afford to do double-blind tests? I'd think that requires at least twice the staff and probably 4x amount of time.
Blindjim, I just found it odd that the speaker cables where the highest line, followed by the interconnect, and finally the power cable. I can see their reasoning in using low end power cables because in my system, they made the least difference.

However, when assembling my system, my reasoning was that the interconnects deal with the lowest level signal and therefore must be of the highest quality I could afford, hence the used Quattro Fil XLR. Once the low level information is lost, no speaker cable will be able to make up for it.

Nglazer, I can agree in that it may not be a good idea to use all Nordost. I've swapped out the Red Dawn SC for some Canare DIY cable and the top end did get a little subdued. Not by much, but enough to take the edge off an overly bright system. For me, I like my Nordost set up. Quattro Fil IC's, Red Dawn Rev2 SC, and Shiva PC's.
My system and ears seem to benefit from a consistent and like loom theory and application. I make exception only in the phono cable (low output MC to 64db gain phonostage), which handles the source information at an extremely low level voltage and seems to favor a silver litz, well the rest of the kit including internal speaker wiring, sounds best with tri-gage, 6n copper of a single brand and model cabling.

That said, what I found most striking about the review in question, and I must comment that I have been an ardent reader of Art's reviews since his Listener magazine days, is when Mr. Dudley seems to be writing about something that he is not too crazy about, that he may have even been dragged into, and it shows.

Although he showed the utmost respect to the Nordost folks and their product lines, to me Art made a point to what is of most importance to a music lover and audiophile listener. That being that we all have our own set of ears and our own interpretation of what music or maybe more to the point, our Hifi should sound like. As he slowly and thoughtfully striped one piece of alien gear at a time back out of his kit, the sound returned to his preference, his liking.

In my mind, Art has always been extremely thoughtful in what he writes and includes in his system, how it's set up, and how it plays with the synergy of the lot of it. Nordost and Quantum are certainly noteworthy providers and have their merit in many of our Hifi's, but now the question is ... whether it fits in with what you are doing and satisfies your ear.

What might have really been fun was to wire the rig with Nordost Odin PC and Thor collector, with quantum and listen, then load the deck in the other direction with all Tyr or Valhalla IC's and SC and see what each of these experiments brought to the table in bettering the musical experience. In other words, is power (mains) the source or is music information the source of what makes the greatest difference in an electrical Hifi kit for your Hifi dollar?!

Happy (Hifi) Listening!
Rfsayles, I completely agree with you regarding his writing style. It did seem as he wasn't too thrilled, but was cordial and professional about it.

I'd be VERY interested to read or hear a comparison between Odin/Thor and Valhalla signal wire. Since I live overseas, I use a PS Audio P500 power regenerator and it works wonders on my system. Before I was using a standard balanced step down transformer, but the P500 took my system to another, although small, level. What helps more? Power or Signal? Definitely something to ponder.

I also think the loom theory has quite a bit to do with perception. When I wash and vacuum my car, it runs better...or so it seems. The same applies to my system. The canare DIY cable sounded good, but there was something missing I couldn't identify. It wasn't until I re-installed my Nordost loom that it all came together. Either way, I'm very happy with Nordost and the only way I would replace my SC or IC is if I move up to Heimdall since it's the first to use monofilament in the wiring. Until then I'll keep enjoying my rig!

Hey, my car does too! ;^)

I had a PS300 and other than running hot, real hot and contributing to global melting of the ice shelves it sounded very nice (my tabby loved it... winters in Michigan are brutal). I like the premier because it burns a fraction of the energy and is on standby 24/7 without any concern.

My comment came from an enjoyable reading of a Hifi+ issue review/study of max'ing the mains with Nordost's best the Odin and a strong case made for the power of a good power cord in the loom. I recall the notion raised that that cord was given more credit for improvement than an upgrade to the IC's or SC's, in a price no object demo. Can't find which issue.

Happy Listening!
Actually, if you look at what was used, it does make perfect sense. The speaker cables and ICs were both TYR - the 3rd series from the top - Odin, Valhalla, TYR. The Vishnu power cable is 4th from the top - Odin, Valhalla, Brahma, Vishnu. So there isn't that large of a spread. All Nordost was trying to explain was the advantage of consistancy across components, there was no need for an all Valhalla "loom" to explain that.
Rsrex, you are correct sir.

The "spread" of cabling in my system is rather wide, but I'm happy with the way it comes together. Quattro fil IC, Red Dawn SC, and Shiva PC.
With all due respect to you Rsrex, it may make perfect sense to you, I can't
say, and I well understand Nordost's Roy Gregory and Joe Reynolds objective.

Is it an advancement in the listener's enjoyment of music (in his/her system)?
Not for Art Dudley, and maybe, just maybe not Gherrera1 either. I couldn't

What I can say, in fact, is that Art and I like our completely different Hifi
systems sound, consistently loomed with completely different cables,
whether or not perfect sense has anything to do with it. I think we agree with
Nordost in theory and practice. And maybe we just like different looms from
what they have to sell.

I get the feeling that we sometimes decide there is logic without proving with
our ears that there is something, that's all. Logic and audiophiles are
sometimes strange bed fellows. There is nothing like trying gear in our
system to hear, if in fact, it works for our ears. That's the only caution I
would offer to Gherrera1.

Happy (looming) Listening!
Gherrera1, a must read issue for you... Hifi+ Roy Gregory reviews an entire loom of Odin vs. a full loom of Valhalla in his system and comments on his "power first cable logic" that he has been establishing in issue 62 before leaving Hifi+ as editor to join Nordost as VP of marketing. If you can't find the issue e-mail me.

Happy (reading) Listening!
Thought I'd add my 2 pennies. I spend oodles of time and money until I found Nordost heaven. I love them. I found the biggest difference was their power cables in accordance with Roy Gregory. I have all Valhalla power cables, and with each addition the sound steadily improved, though the least difference was from the wall plug to my Furman IT-Reference 15i. I tried Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, then Valhalla power cables. Shiva were terrible, very thin and reedy compared to much less expensive Grant Fidelity PC's. Vishnu was nice, but Brahma gets you the good stuff, and the Valhalla, ahhhhh.

For IC's, I tried Baldur, Frey, and Tyr. Baldur were terrible. Glorious highs and no bass. It was a very unbalanced sound. Frey was where the good stuff starts. Tyr is better, but not a huge difference, though it's there. For my money, Frey and Brahma would be the best price/performance balance, though Frey/Vishnu would be good too. Source IC's were the most important. Speaker cables the least.

My system: Martin Logan Summits, Simaudio SuperNova CDP, Sonic Frontiers line stage preamp, Ayre V5-XE amp, Thorens TD166 Mk II, Blue Circle phono stage.

My all Nordost system sounded faster, with fabulous airy highs. I can see it being too much if you like a warmer, more rolled off sound. All Nordost with Krell/Bryston might be too much. YMMV.
I can see their reasoning in using low end power cables because in my system, they made the least difference.

So, this is a problem around power cords. Most if the entry level power cords are nothing but basic electrical wire with a nice jacket hence you do not hear anything significant. But once you cross a certain level, power cords take over. Seriously, they become the most significant cable, more than the IC or the SC. They change things at the very fundamental level. They affect the way the equipment generates the signal. But you hear all this only when you go to the next level of power cords. Something like a Tel Wire, Lessloss, Shunyata Python, Transparent Reference, Purist Aqueous etc.

I would go with PC -> IC -> SC.
Ditto^ It all starts with the PC and proper AC grounding and distribution. None of your componets will work without power. It starts the whole process of exciting electrons. Spend your money on PC and distribution, the fewer filters the better. You are looking for bandwidth not contouring the sound via filter networks and other gimmicks.(no boxes, add-ons, vudoo etc.) then the IC from source to pre amp or integrated. Buy the speakers you "LOVE" There is no need to buy a SC that ads landscaping, tone, color etc... to your speakers sound. You bought them because you like the way they sound why would you want to change there inherit sound?? Find a good quality neutral cable and get off of the merry go round.
Tom - Your comments relative to AC power and proper grounding being the very necessary foundation for a "good" system are very similar to those expressed by a Nordost rep at a presentation I attended just a few days ago in Dallas. After establishing that foundation, his opinion was that the most important cable in any system was the PC from the wall outlet to a good power distributor, followed then by source PC's, IC, and then SC's, in that order.

My big question is "What is the best way to establish a good ground?
Blind testing is good for testing the listener , but little else .
same review that said none of it sounded good until a power cord was put on his computer server?

yeah, right Art---keep up the BS.
I dunno, Keith. I've had good success with an upgraded power supply on my Mac Mini.