Curious How These Nordost Speaker Cables Do What They Do

For a day and a half I’ve been listening to Nordost Red Dawn Rev.II cables in my system(Quad VA-One and Dynaudio Excite X14),courtesy of a friend who is in turn demo’ing some ungodly expensive upgrade...My reference are the Acoustic Zen Epoch..What these cables have brought to my system are:
The first thing I noticed is the music seems to come easier,ie:a touch louder than normal at low levels and it’s so clean I find I’m listening louder..
wider,deeper,and sharper defined imaging and staging...deeper,better defined and tonally richer bass...increased low level detail retrieval...a treble that is not as easy on the ears but seems better defined,almost sharp and I can see where some systems could move way to far into bright with these cables...
So I attribute the cleaner/sharper tone to the addition of high purity silver to the cable but I wonder what it is about the materials and construction that allow the bass,imaging and staging changes and especially the ease which music seems to come now?Any comments(from those who have found cables do matter)and NOT from those who believe they are snake oil PLEASE!!!
More listening and I think piano has lost a little body and weight...
Freediver Red Dawn are on the thin Sid’s a bit brighter and revealing than your Zen, why the piano lost body weight
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Tomorrow I have not even broke in Ryan R610’s(Bi Wireable)AND Nordost Norse Bi Wire Jumpers arriving...Should be a fun weekend!
John unfortunately is spot on!

The new Nordost are very different from the old one they are more natural , not bright, more body and weight. More balance.
Three key points in my experiences:

(1) There is no one-size-fits-all "silver bullet" cable choice among the brand contenders and pretenders. We all know that your cable choice is entirely system dependent....full stop.

(2) I settled on an all NORDOST FREY full array (shotgunned speaker cables, matched shotgunned jumpers, and balanced interconnects) as my final choice governed by a performance versus budget matrix.

In an extensive in-house series of A-B shootouts, having a matched loom array with matched model ICs supporting their speaker cables took it to the next level.

(3) The higher up in their model line you go, the better they get.... bottom line. There is a reason why many reviewers use them.

Here is the CANADA HI-FI reporter’s take from the NORDOST cables bake-off exhibit actually performed live at an audio expo show in TORONTO .

I personally attended that show and agree with the reporter’s following article on his experiences.

They stopped at the improving model bakeoff summit at the Valhallas (one below the Odins) with the inference that a move up the model trendline in improvement keeps going further.

".....I had a chance to sit in on a couple demonstrations in the Nordost room, giving my feet a well deserved break. I’m very familiar with the benefits of high quality cables and use a full Nordost Heimdall 2 loom with my reference two-channel setup.

That being said, I always find the Nordost demonstrations to be an “ear-opening” experience. Michael Taylor from Nordost demonstrated the significant sonic benefits of replacing an OEM cable with a Nordost model – in particular
1) a swap of a single USB cable, from OEM to Nordost Blue Heaven ($250/2m), to Heimdall 2 ($500/2m) and;
2) a swap of a single RCA interconnect, from OEM, to Blue Heaven, to Heimdall 2, to Tyr 2 and finally Valhalla 2.
Along with convincing the audience in the room that cables DO matter, I’ve now got the bug to upgrade...."

Damn weather,my speakers are held up somewhere until freaking Tuesday...
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I have tried almost every major cable
ie. Kubala Sosna, Transparent,Tara MIT
any many more
I am using GT Audio Works planar speakers no crossover on the mid planar pure copper traces
And got best results from Triode Wire Labs
cables - the most musical cable you can buy
very affordable- detailed, non fatiguing and 3 dimensional


Cables/power cords are the best part of our hobby. There are a plethora of "flavors" to sample. Have fun.

Happy Listening!

What I can’t wrap my head around,especially as an electrician,is how it’s possible for an electrical signal conductor to effectivelly change the regeneration of the signal between the amp and the speakers...
Bell labs and the U.S.Gov.spent how many millions wayyy back to test wire and they say it makes no difference but I know what I hear...
I think my next dilemma is do I get the new McIntosh I/A I want or the really really good cables for what I have...
@jmcgrogan2   Any advice on how to go about mixing cables for best results, based on your learning curve? Thanks.
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My style is choosing the speaker cable first then pc, from there I will play with interconnect.if you been expose to many different cables, you know which cable to choose, example if I want more clarity I go with Kimber  ic, their kcag and silver streak does that, they have expensive one as well.If I want to have more weight n tonal balance Audioquest cables are good choice.If you want more air Teo GC is good at it. Nordost are really fast...Clearday are silver less bright than other silver, If you want with sparkle sound siltech is doing that... It’s a lot of work....if it’s your passion it’s really fun...other tip, if you think the cable has potential to your liking leave it till it settle in the system.           
Agree with Jmc that what initially can sound exciting and more detailed can become too much over time.  Not saying it will, and it all comes down to system synergy and individual tastes in the end, but something to keep in mind while auditioning.  Also realize that you're comparing to cables that cost about 3x your current cables.  At that price you'd skip two levels at AZ to the Holograms, which would be a more realistic, fair, and probably a more interesting comparison.  Be that as it may, enjoy listening and comparing. 

@jmcgrogan2   Thank you for your very thorough and detailed response. Very, very helpful!
David Iam fortunate to be mentored by two brothers , they have good ears, they brought me to their houses to listen to their 20k systems, their system do have 3d, good bass, palpable, micro and micro is to die for, PRAT all there.They are so musical.So I knew what a good system sound. It took many years before I accomplished , what they have, one I did not have the finances to do it, second I did not have a lot exposure to different cables to mix and match, so it took time.i also attended many Axpona show , I live 30 min from the venue , it still did not help much.Also Iam very impatient to leave gears and cables to settle...I know you have good gears , synergy is the key, expensive does not mean it will work, John is right, Until I decided to commit longer hours to listen to my systems, I really did not know exactly what’s happening in both of my systems, once I committed my listening skills got better and better, there are times I recognize all the teaching of my two mentor during my listening time, usually from 12 midnight and 4am.I realize it will take our time sleep and money, to be able to learn this hobby and how to listen properly.Reviewers spend weeks months to review such cables and gears, they are fully committed why 99% of the time they get it right.This open up my eyes. It’s about my goal, my commitment , willing to learn this hobby, trust me once your system go so musical , the reward is non ending enjoyment listening to music...
One system can’t do it all as John said , thank God Iam fortunate to have two, like you David.i play redbook on my transport and dacs and sacd disc on my sacd player times I will change speakers If I plan to play jazz music for 2weeks...yup this is crazy and fun..,,
@jayctoy   You are very lucky to have had the opportunities to learn and experience and grow with your mentors' guidance and exposure to their systems. Thank you for sharing your journey. Mine has been more of a solo effort until more recently.
David you are so welcome.You are also lucky , John was so precise in his post as well for us all to learn from it,
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@freediver If you want to know why, see 

Your initial comments are entirely consistent with what one would expect from Acoustic Zen Epoch to a Nordost. The AZE have a poor PVC dielectric relative to the Nordost FEP. The AZE inductance is probably higher. The Proximity Effect will be radically different between the two geometries.

What I can’t wrap my head around, especially as an electrician, is how it’s possible for an electrical signal conductor to effectively change the regeneration of the signal between the amp and the speakers...
The signal is not 'between' the amp and speakers. The whole kit and caboodle is a system. The LRC of your amp, cable and speakers interact dynamically.

Do not be in a rush to choose.

@jmcgrogan2 +1, twice

@soix  Agreed an initial patina can wear off rapidly. Price has little to do with performance. Some components are very sensitive to cables and others are not. An inexpensive cable may function better for any given component depending on said component parameters.
Freediver, I see these cables come coiled in the box, but are you (and anyone else on here who has them) using them partly coiled or have you completely straightened out the cable prior to use?

Any coiled section in the cable could potentially act as a capacitor and additional capacitance will likely change the tone (eq) of your system - regardless of what your cables are made from.

Sadly, for this debate, the only cable rule I buy into is the longer your run, the stouter your cable should be. If your Nordost Red Dawn Rev.II cables are much stouter than what went before and your runs are long - i.e. at least 5 meters, then this may be a factor. Have you tried good regular stout copper cable as a test?
The Nordost design is fundamentally flawed.  Music is not portrayed naturally, the fundamentals are skewed higher on the scale and the overtones are not harmonious.  Just plain wrong sounding.  IMHO
Well, Nordost is certainly all wet on their explanation of cable directionality. Maybe Nordost should pay closer attention to how Audioquest controls wire directionality.

“Are Nordost cables directional?
Yes, Nordost cables are directional. This is especially true for single ended (RCA) interconnects as the shield is connected at the source or output end only.”

>>>>But what about their unshielded cables? Why do they have arrows?

“Which way do directional arrows point on Nordost cables?
The directional arrows always point away from the source. For example, from a CD player to an amplifier, the arrows should point towards the preamplifier or power amplifier. On a speaker cable the arrows would always point towards the loudspeaker.”

>>>>>>If cables have no directionality when they are manufactured then why have arrows, unless all Nordost cables are shielded, including speaker cables? (Apparently, from what I can tell Nordost speaker cables are unshielded.)

“How can cables be directional?
When cables are manufactured they do not have any directionality. However, as they break in, they acquire directionality. Although the cable signal is an alternating current, small impurities in the conductor act as diodes allowing signal flow to be better in one direction over time. This effect is also called quantum tunneling, w hich has been observed in experiments over 25 years ago. Regardless of the purity of the metal used, there are still diode effects in all conductors. In addition, the insulation material will change when it is subjected to an electrical field.”

Editor comment: Yikes!
Blimey - that’s a bold statement by a manufacturer:

"Although the cable signal is an alternating current, small impurities in the conductor act as diodes allowing signal flow to be better in one direction over time. This effect is also called quantum tunneling, w hich has been observed in experiments over 25 years ago. Regardless of the purity of the metal used, there are still diode effects in all conductors."

Whilst Quantum Tunneling is offered as an explainaion for certain phenomena (and tunnel diodes do indeed exist), I haven’t seen any evidence to link impurities in metals with this effect. Either way, how would they know in which direction these impurites were arranged? I wonder how they came up with that??!!

Eggs Ackly! Not only that, for typical and ubiquitous very high purity conductors the amount of the impurities is inconsequential. One millionth. Besides, if Nordost’s theory of directionality were true then fuses would exhibit the same phenomenon. But they don’t! That Nordost theory is actually what HiFi Tuning’s theory was, a long time ago - that wire directionality was dertermined by the break in process.  But now HiFi Tuning understands that the manufacturing process determines the directionality of fuses (and wire in general).
I am now onto the Heimdal series and for my system and my ears each step up the Nordost line has brought benefits.
Bass bloom has been much reduced compared to the all copper speaker cables I was previously employing, speed and detail is enhanced but not to the point it is tiring and wearisome ( at least not yet). I generally listen to music 4 to 6 hours a day.
All of my Nordost cables have been purchased used so two benefits in that, cost saving and already broken in (hopefully).
Will I continue to upgrade further? Maybe not as even used prices on higher product like Valhalla are quite prohibitive right now.
But am I happy with my present loom of Heimdal, heck yes!
God forbid you have any natural bass bloom or overtones like actual instruments do in an orchestra!!  That would be sooo distracting
John maybe 99% is way too high? Maybe 80%? In general, on their own system maybe? John , I never plan to have two systems , although 90% of my gear and cables are used, In some way I am fortunate but the downside I end up comparing my two system, it’ get complicated. It never stop. Your post will help a lot here , it’s very accurate...Uberwaltz you won’t regret with the Heimdalls, they are very good , I do have the Speaker cable heimdall 2, and the ic heimdall 1, and the Vishnu pc.just let them settle for at least 6 days...

Hopefully one can tell the difference between natural and unnatural bass bloom......


Very happy so far with the Heimdall, all purchased used so broken in and have not noticed any further changes since installing them. I am not sure that the cost vs sq factor in going higher up the chain will be of benefit to me with present equipment anyways.
Uberwaltz- I go to the Symphony so I don’t have to wonder :)
@freediver - in addition to the many comments above regarding purity of conductors and different material types - I believe a couple of other factors in cable performance is the "geometry" and "size" of the conductors

Geometry: is how the conductors are placed withing the actual "cable" itself e,g, one of the most well known geometries is braided - as in Kimber Kables.

Size: of late there is now a growing trend to use a different gauge conductors for signal and neutral conductors.

Personally, after a lot of trial (and error) experimentation - I now use a "helix" cable, where the neutral is twice the gauge of signal conductor and is wrapped around the signal conductor. See link below

My thought process is that this design eliminates any noise transfer (by inductance) from the signal conductor into the neutral conductor, which can occur with cables where the two conductors lie side-by-side inside a sleeve.

The noise transferred into the neutral is fed back into the neutral side of the amp and interferes with its operation , so removing that noise enhances clarity. Enhanced clarity also improves the "phase effect" between left and right channels which improves the Imaging.

I’ve found the Helix design provides exceptional clarity and superb 3D imaging along with a more detailed and deeper bass performance.

My thought process may be "flawed", but the Helix Cables works exceptionally well :-)

Anyhow - I believe geometry is just one more thing to consider when selecting ALL cables.

Regards - Steve
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I have come to regard all cables as some form of tone control along with any other aspects they may enhance in ones system.
Just me but it is easier and usually cheaper to swap cables around than gear.
However my next plan is trying out a Lyngdorf with room correction which hopefully will eliminate any need for "tone control" surgery.....we will see
Listening to Robert Hall Lewis on my system....the Transparent Gen 5 Ultras are astounding! If you frequent the symphony or live music in general, what the Transparent cables convey is just simply jaw droppingly right across the frequency range. From triangles to double bass....and the tympani :(). Oh my!!
Well I've had the Ryan 610's set up for a day.The combination of Quad VA-One,Red Dawn Rev.II and Norse Bi Wire Jumpers is very very pleasing,no hardness whatsoever,although they aren't disappearing like the tiny Dyn's but I don't think they are well broke in yet...
I got interested on Schiit Loki it’s supposed to do some tone control, might eliminate too much cable swapping?its only $149
factors in cable performance is the "geometry" and "size" of the conductors
geometry trumps material
size affects resistance which is almost negligible

People, Electronics 101: Ohms Law : An amplifier / loudspeaker is a series circuit and the same current flows through all of the components.

Ergo the same current flows in both the plus and minus wire.

A wire configured differently for each leg may sound different but it sure ain't due to the signal contaminating the neutral.

Weird geometry will change the Proximity Effect and thus the cable eq.
Just looked up the Loki.
Interesting but as presently built it looks like can only go inline on a single ended input
Or if you were using seperates I guess it could go Between pre and power amp if you were using single ended.
In that application it may have some merit.
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@david_ten Are you still on your cable search?

Did you end up comparing the Audience SX with the Cardas Clear Beyond interconnects?

If so, what did you find?
@ieales - I find your comments in response to my post a little perplexing...

People, Electronics 101: Ohms Law : An amplifier / loudspeaker is a series circuit and the same current flows through all of the components
. Actually Ohms law states
The potential difference (voltage) across an ideal conductor is proportional to the current through it. The constant of proportionality is called the "resistance", R.Ohm’s Law is given by: V = I R where V is the potential difference between two points which include a resistance R.
As stated above ohms law actually applies to a DC circuit - there is inductance and capacitance (i.e. reactance) to take into account when applying it to AC circuits.

But I do concede that it can "loosely" be applied to AC circuits - just not that loosely in this case.

As for...
Ergo the same current flows in both the plus and minus wire.
That may not exactly be the case for speaker cables...

Allow me to cite Physics 101"...
Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form

And the definition of a loudspeaker... 
A transducer is a device that converts one form of energy into another form. For example, in a loudspeaker, electrical energy in a wire coil set up by the current is converted into the vibration (mechanical energy) of the speaker diaphragm and then into a sound wave (acoustical energy).
 So, there is current (i.e. energy) flowing down the signal (i.e. the plus) conductor, which in a loudspeaker is "mostly" converted into motion and heat in the driver coils.

Ergo - the current (i.e. energy), or maybe even the voltage, in the neutral (i.e. minus) conductor cannot possibly be the same as the signal conductor.

As for ...
A wire configured differently for each leg may sound different but it sure ain’t due to the signal contaminating the neutral.
You then go on to cite
Weird geometry will change the Proximity Effect and thus the cable eq.
Proximity Effect? would that be (i.e. according to Wiki)
A changing magnetic field will influence the distribution of an electric current flowing within an electrical conductor, by electromagnetic induction
So we appear to agree on one thing - INDUCTION causes a cable to behave differently

Listen - I do not know the why’s and wherefore’s as to the reasons why helix geometries perform better than standard geometries.

What I AND some "industry professionals" have observed when using cables utilizing a Helix geometry...
- they outperform most other cables having more "conventional" geometries
- they offer outstanding clarity and expansive imaging
- they excel in dynamic performance
- they provide exceptional control and depth of the lower frequencies
- they do not colour the sound

I thought long and hard before responding to your rather bombastic response to my post above.

We are all here to learn and share - no one person has ALL the answers.

I was just offering an opinion as to...
How These Nordost Speaker Cables Do What They Do

From that perspective - what I have seen is that some Nordost cables appear to be using a type of helix geometry combined with different gauge conductors.

But thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Regards - Steve

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Steve (Williewonka), your response to ieales about Ohm’s Law was correct, but he is correct in saying that equal currents exist in the positive and negative conductors connecting an amp and a speaker. (Although later in this post I’ll mention an extremely minor exception to that which might occur in the case of an active speaker).

For current to exist, there must be a "complete circuit," from source to load and back. In the case of an AC waveform, such as an audio signal, the direction of the current in both the positive and the negative conductors alternates every half-cycle, and the two conductors play an equal role in the transfer of energy from source to load. Energy is transferred in the form of an electromagnetic wave that is distinct from but is intimately associated with those currents, and that electromagnetic wave in turn propagates mainly in one direction, from source to load. (In the case of an amp/speaker interface some energy may also propagate from speaker to amp, as a result of "back-emf" produced by the drivers, or as a result of the release of energy stored in the inductive or capacitive components of the speaker’s impedance, or as a result of reflection effects that can occur at RF frequencies due to impedance mismatches).

An analogy that can be drawn would be to an ordinary light bulb. It consumes energy, of course, converting some of it into heat and some of it into light. But the amount of current entering it and leaving it via its two terminals, one of which is connected to AC "hot" and the other to AC "neutral," is identical.

The very minor possible exception I mentioned earlier is that in the case of a powered speaker a tiny fraction of the current in the positive conductor could conceivably return to the amp via a ground loop, part of which would consist of the safety ground conductors in the power cords of the amp and the speaker. In other words, to a very small extent, depending on the internal grounding configurations of the amp and the powered speaker, the AC safety ground wiring might be part of a relatively high resistance path that is in parallel with the negative conductor in the speaker cable, and it might thereby conduct a tiny fraction of the current in the positive conductor that would otherwise be returned to the amp by the negative conductor. (When two paths are present between a source and a load, current will utilize both paths, and at a given frequency will divide up between them in inverse proportion to their impedance at that frequency). But even in that case the amount of current leaving the amp will be identical to the total amount of current returning to it via whatever return path(s) is or are present.

Regarding "how Nordost cables do what they do," I have not studied them sufficiently or seen enough information about them to be able to provide meaningful comments at this time.

Best regards,
-- Al

sorry you thought my post bombastic :-$ perhaps I get a bit carried away when fundamental laws are ignored.

the current (i.e. energy), or maybe even the voltage, in the neutral (i.e. minus) conductor cannot possibly be the same as the signal conductor.
It cannot be otherwise. As you state, energy cannot be created or destroyed. It changes state in the load.

The work is done by V pushing I through the load. If you measure a loudspeaker circuit, very little V is lost from either amplifier terminal to the speaker. Almost all V is across the load. Power is V x I. If the current were different in each leg of the cable, energy would either be gained or lost.

Apply a steady 1kHz 1V signal to a speaker. Regardless of where an ammeter is inserted in the circuit, the RMS current is the same.

In a DC circuit, V and I are in phase. In an AC circuit, V and I are not in phase if there is any L or C.  Cable LRC change the phase and relative amplitude in combination with amplifier and loudspeaker LRC.

Phase angle is dependent on the difference between L reactance XL and C reactance XC, which vary with frequency. In cables like zip cord XL & XC may vary by a factor of 100 to 1. Some exotic cables XL & XC may vary by a billion to 1. XL can vary by a factor of 10,000 and more between zip cord and exotic cables. Exotic cables should endeavor to have less inductance, but some are worse than zip cord.

Asymmetric cables have a different L & C relative to parallel or woven and as such affect the current phase differently. These phase changes may be euphonious with some amplifier / loudspeaker combinations, not so much with others.

Some put sugar in coffee and prefer the 'sweetened' result.

One cannot, in absolute terms, say it is better [more accurate].

One can only say it is more accurate if one compares the source wave form to the resulting sound at your ear!

@almarg - I think the lightbulb analogy is not a great example because the bulb is connected between two terminals that are both carrying an alternating voltage/current - I agree in that scenario there would be the same voltage on the +ve and -ve conductors

However in an amp, only the "SIGNAL PATH" of the circuit carries the alternating voltage/current
- the "power rail" is always at some +ve DC voltage
- the neutral rail is always at zero volts.(or should be)

The output terminal of transistor or tube performing the amplification carries the AC signal
- but the neutral side of the amp's circuit remains zero volts

The neutral conductor in the speaker cable, being connected to the neutral rail, should be at zero volts - should it not?

 I can see there would be  "a flow of electrical energy" that is from +ve output terminal - via the loudspeaker and cable - returning to the amp's -ve terminal. But somewhere along the way power has to be converted/consumed and that means either the current or the voltage has to change - doesn't it?