I’m a big fan, but my ladder climbing was pretty modest: I started with Heimdall 1 interconnects (RCA) and upgraded to Frey XLRs. Both series 1. I tried a Heimdal 2 but it was so close to the Frey that I kept the Frey and sold the H 2. I noticed a much bigger difference going from the Shiva to the Vishnu power cables. I might want to climb a little higher with power cables. I started out with a Heimdall speaker cable but felt it was too thin—looking back it could have been more my room and amp at the time—but I switched to Acoustic Zen Holograms and never looked back. Also have blue heaven HDMI. I feel the Nordost line are pure and dynamic, very accurate and resolving. If the Holograms are adding a bit Of roundness and smoothness, it works for me.
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I am a NORDOST fan. Here are my experiences:
(1) LEIF SERIES: NORDOST PURPLE FLARE
its a very good cable doing yeoman duty, but it is comparatively expensive to its peers. I tested it extensively in A-B shootouts in my $5000 “B” system. Again,because everything is system dependent, it was a yeoman product that did not excel sufficiently to warrant its $$ price point , so I sold it off and replaced it with another brand ( bonus - cheaper ) that was every bit the equal.
(2) NORSE SERIES : NORDOST HEIMDALL and FREY
I had had an all-HEIMDALL ARRAY that was fine, until a favourable
all -FREY array (XLR interconnects, shotgunned speaker cables, shotgunned jumpers) presented itself as an upgrade.
Why the upgrade?
The FREYS bested the contenders and pretenders after extensive A_B shoutouts in my $40,000 “A” system. I would have continued up the model lineup to a VALHALLA but , alas, budgets always prevail.
in short, it bested all comers in MY system at its price point. The contenders and pretenders included CARDAS, FURUTECH, KIMBER, ATLAS, ECOSSE, CHORD, DH LABS, VAN DEN HUL, and a bevy of others.
Have I personally used the ODINS and actually personally swapped them in and out? ...NO .... I capped out at all-FREYs in my own system (ka-ching already!)
NOTE: The FREY was better than the HEIMDALL and significantly better than the PURPLE FLARE above (..... not even close.);That is not surprising to me in that it follows the experience I witnessed at an audio expo in Toronto, the write up in an audio publication is reproduced as follows.
here is the CANADA HI-FI reporter’s take from the NORDOST cables bake-off exhibit actually performed live at TAVES.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 to the ODINs
http://canadahifi.com/taves-consumer-el ... rge-de-sa/
".....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...."
1) +1 on the observation that the higher you go in their product line, the better they get. As stated, I currently have the FREYs (ICs and speaker) after prior personal experiences with the PURPLE FLARE and Heimdalls that supports this observation.
(2) there is a good reason why many mag reviewers personally use VALHALLAS in their reference systems.
(3) Having attended numerous audio expos, go see how many electronics makers and dealers use higher end model NORDOST as their cable of preference at these shows.
(4) my fantasy Trip down the Yellow Brick Road to Audio OZ is a potential upgrade to VALHALLAS (currently on my wish list going forward ......)
Nordost Heimdall is the level to start with.
Like every other cable, it's subjective and argued to death on value/price.
I use Heimdall II throughout. $20K Odin power cords have been in my system. It was something more appropriate for a $100K+ system, but an experience to just plug in a couple of power cords that retail TWICE the cost of my system!
Cable madness is a topic that EVERYONE is right and wrong.
I didn’t start with Sartori —found a good deal on the Holograms and jumped in. I did try some Acoustic Zen interconnects—the matrix reference I believe—but they were so stiff they just didn’t work from a physical sense. My equipment is in a salamander cabinet. Sounded fine, but never really gave them a chance.
Well i am also NordOst fan , after i have been so lucky to have a local dealer that has been very very helpfull in letting me try out different levels af NordOst cables , started out with the QB4 and Frey 2 Power cords , that just made a big difference in my system. Then i have tried Frey 2 - Tyr 2 and Valhalla 2 loud speaker cables , and they are each a jump up in performance,,,,for the Valhalla 2 i was blown away at how good a Loudspeaker cable can be revealing and cohesive as well as just sounding so right, and i had thought it would just have put my system in a kind of not really good sounding , but it did otherwise.
For interconnect what they to me see to do right is layering - 3D and ease.
If you are using a CD Player you really owe yourself to try Sort Kones under it.
Right now i am testing an NordOst Heimdal 2 Ethernet cable against my Audioquest Vodka , and have to say that NordOst wins as layering is much better , its much easier to " look " into the music scene.
I’ve never auditioned any Nordost cabling. But, I do have 2 of their QBases. They help clean up noise that my two other pricey power distribution blocks don’t do. The external ground lug is great for grounding all of my separates. The QBases also play very nicely with my other brands of power cables and power conditioners. It’s an amicable group. Curiously, I don’t use the primary earth outlet in either QBase. A little to revealing for my tastes.
"IMO you have to go up the line retry far to avoid thin"
I never understood/heard that often repeated remark. The latest version does however have a subtle warmth to them. Perhaps the Nordost is removing artifacts in the signal and revealing this "thinness?" I have no idea.
It's all subjective,in the ear of the listener, and their wallet.
That said, my lame hearing couldn't discern the micro change of sonics once you get past Heimdall/Frey.
I’ve never auditioned any Nordost cabling. But, I do have 2 of their QBases. They help clean up noise that my two other pricey power distribution blocks don’t do.
This has been my exact recent experience with a new QB8. I have used many different types of power distribution and filtering products in the past; inline serial filtering, DC blocking, parallel filters e.t.c
All have reduced noise to a lesser or greater degree.
But I always ignored the Nordost QBase because its just a power strip, and an expensive one for what you get. But it has turned out to be better than my MIT filtered strip. A slight noise when putting my ear to the speakers, that I always thought was caused by my power amp, completely disappeared after installing the QB8. The ground lift on sockets other than primary earth must really be doing something...
I think Nordost power cables, and their ethernet, HDMI and USB cables, are all worth checking out and are very good in comparison to, for example, the equivalent Audioquest and Wireworld.
But its their Speaker cables and interconnects which I think are overrated and overpriced for what you get. And yet its these cables which most people will try first. For the same money there are many other options.
FWIW I recently switched from a really good AQ current silver model interconnect to Valhalla 2. I was biased against the Nordost thinking it might be thin and bright. Truly from the first note my sound went from very good to great. Vocals became more prominent in a very good way with a more spacious sound. I would never call them bright or etched but rather very smooth with the kind of detail you would expect. They are not as full in the midbass as one might want in a lean sounding system but adding a Shunyata power cord on the dac corrected this issue which was small anyway. I’ve never enjoyed my system as much.
I thought that the AQ was the stopping place but now can’t go back. I now understand the accolades but hate the price. That’s the ever present hitch.
Count me as a Nordost fan but not a fanboy. What that means is I have tried Nordost products and passed them over for other brands but other products have happily stayed in my system.
missioncoonery wrote: "IMO you have to go pretty far up the line to avoid thin." That is the opinion I formed after testing the Red Dawn and Heimdall II speaker cables. They were thin and punchy in my mid-fi solid state system. The Heimdall did have one outstanding characteristic, though: amazing transparency and detail. I could hear things I'd never even heard before on old CDs in stunning clarity. But the downside was a lack of soundstage depth, width and tonal balance, with highs too prominent (but extremely well extended) and bass lacking definition and body (but very strong and dynamic). The Red Dawn sounded veiled and punchy.
On the other hand, I loved the Heimdall II interconnect and decided to spend the extra dollars to get a Tyr 2 analogue interconnect that remains in my system. The Norse interconnects have warmth, richness and nuance, exactly the kinds of qualities I wanted in my system. The Tyr adds a little more body, atmosphere and detail over the Heimdall but the difference in a modest system is not night and day. Still, I'm glad I sprang for the upgrade because I have no compulsion at all to ever upgrade that cable.
Also, I have QRT Qk1 and Qv2 power products and they made a significant difference, especially noticeable with lyrics because I can understand words in favorite old songs for the first time ever.
The other Nordost product I own is a recently acquired Silver Shadow coax cable that I ran between my CD player and Arcam SA20 integrated amp to test the SA20's Sabre DAC. I noticed an immediate improvement in clarity, detail and soundstage with the digital interconnect and the upgraded DAC. However, after recently moving to a new home I'm back to the Tyr 2 analogue interconnect. I need to do some experimenting to find out why the analogue cable suddenly sounds sweeter and more refined. It must have something to do with room acoustics because that is the only significant change for this system.
My educated guess is that Nordost speaker cables won't work for me until the Tyr 2 level because Heimdall 2 was such a letdown. From what I've read about Frey 2, it also can be a little forward and accentuated and I very much value tonal balance. A Tyr 2 speaker cable at $7,000 would be a very imbalanced purchase versus the cost of my other components, and that is my big hesitation, but I would consider it after a careful home demo...something I am not yet ready to do. The other main speaker cable I aim to demo is the Kimber 6063, an upgrade from my current Monocle XLs. The Monocles almost hit the sweet spot but I find them a little hard-edged and unresolved despite moments of brilliance. Drums and solo vocals are perfection but I'm still suffering from too much astringency and edge in some recordings.
Nordost to me is like Porsche: a luxury brand with a unique, somewhat accidental engineering history that is loved for its unique qualities and high quality standards. And there traditionally have been some major flaws. Like Porsche, if you're buying into the lower, more entry levels you might always be left wanting more and that is part of their brilliant marketing. The value proposition isn't necessarily there, but as you move farther up the line it can become a very compelling product line.
Sounds like we may follow similar paths. I had a full loom of Valhallas, then switched to Transparent Reference. Now I'm back to all Valhalla cables. To me, Transparent Reference was too fat and undefined in the base, and the treble left a lot to be desired. I found it offputting to have to spend more to go even higher in the Transparent line just to get the tight bass and top end magic that I had with Valhalla. I've demoed a lot of cable brands in my system. I'm settled on Nordost, upgrading to Odin over time.
Over the past 4 years I have completely converted from MIT to Nordost, starting with Heimdall IC's, Frey SC's, Blue Heaven USB then Heimdall 2 USB and I'm now up to Valhalla 1 IC, SC and Tyr 2 USB (series 1 unless noted) and now am incorporating the power cabling, (Vishnu, Brahma, Frey 2 and just now acquired my first Valhalla), QBase 4 and various Sort Kones.
My recommendation is that you follow the Nordost's recommendations. They suggest starting with QBase and power cords. On it's face this seemed insane to me 4 years ago, but I have come to believe that the Nordost religion is more or less correct... even if I don't always understand or agree with their explanations. My experience is even the lower lines sound better when a full loom is utilized. My electronics may tend towards warmer or darker (Aurender, Classe Sigma SSP, BAT VK 500 SE, ProAc Response 5) but I have never found the products to be thin and harsh unless the electronics were thin and harsh. I did find that the MIT line masked thin and harsh electronics.
For example, I was using Classe Sigma Amp5 for balanced L+R channels in addition to surrounds. When I first inserted the Heimdal's I found the combination unmusical. I very shortly later replaced the Classe with the BAT and nirvana promptly ensued!
My 2 channel system has a retail that is in the $50-$75K region with 7.1 channels taking it up close to $100K. I now have something like $25K in Nordost products so this represents nearly 30% of overall system "value" and I have at least $10-$15K retail currently planned (3 more Valhalla, Frey2 or Tyr 2 PCs, Qbase 8 and QKore6) planned. It is an insane amount to spend on cabling and accessories, except that each of these purchases will raise the quality of sound from my system and when I purchase the next set of electronics (high end 2 channel pre-amp and DAC) at the expected $15 K each range, all of the Nordost will be there ready for it. I would not spend any of the money if I couldn't clearly hear the improvement and the value to me.
I agree with the poster who suggested the Heimdall level, but full loom! This product provides a really good overall value for the money.
I hope this helps!... It only hurts when you whip out the wallet.
Big fan here! I use the Tyr Phono and interconnect and the Frey speaker cables. Large upgrade over my prior cable looms. I recently added a pair of the Black Cat Coppertone ic's into the mix...from my digital front end. While the Black Cat's are NOT as resolving, or quite as dynamically expressive, as the Nordost cables ( very few are, IMHO), they are certainly not severally embarrassed either! That and the price difference makes them also an easy recommendation.
Nonetheless, I think if one wants to gain resolution and dynamic expression, the Nordost cables are my first option.