Nordost Valhalla vs. Acoustic Zen

Has anyone had a chance to compare the Nordost Valhalla line to Acoustic Zen? I replaced Quattro Fil/SPM with Silver Ref/Satori and found that in my system it betters the Nordost cables, or any other cable I have tried.
Sorry but these cables are light years apart... as is their price differential.

I am curious about what you have in your system that made the AZ Silver Reference sound better than the Nordost Quattro Fil. In my system the Nordost sounds much more neutral than the AZ Silver Reference.

My system is listed in Virtual Systems. Look for Tok20000.


Hi Keith and Ryan,

Ryan, I tried AZ Silver after your recommendation and I purchased my set from Keith. I think that overall, the Quattro Fil is a far superior to the AZ Silver cable in all respects. Given that Valhalla is better than Quattro Fil, you know where I am going with this.

However, my friends system which had a significant degree of harshness & sharp edges with ALL other cables he tried was miraculously fixed by using the Silver Reference cables.

Additionally we tried the new Hologram speaker cables on both systems. On his, the Hologram improved everything. On mine, the Hologram sounded congested - veiled and quite frankly, horrible.

I tried the Matrix reference cables on my system and they were among the harshest and most difficult to listen to cables I've ever owned. I asked the manufacturer about this & after telling me that AZ cables break in quickly, they retracted their statement and said that on "some" systems Matrix can take more than 300 hours to break in. That is just ridiculous!

In summary, I think that if a system has a problem with harshness, the Silver Reference is the way to go. If a system lacks inner detail and is too "soft sounding" - one should use Matrix reference.

If a system already has a good tonal balance, the Hologram will strip away much of the sound and harmonically shroud the music with the "Zen Sound" - whereas if a system has sharp edges the Hologram will smooth it out. Needless to say, on both systems the Hologram and Silver seemed to hold the equipment back and prevent it from reaching its full dynamic potential.

I am not familiar with the lower end Satori cables and presume or hope they are more neutral than any of the other cables produced by AZ.
Keith, did you try the Valhalla or just the Quattro Fil? To my ear the Quattro Fil is very sterile sounding compared to the Silver Ref. I did an experiment in my recording studio and recorded the same music through each cable, and then played back the results. It was startling how much more ambient detail and even reverb was available through the Silver Ref that the Quattro Fil could not pass. I am using BAT VK150se amps, Wadia 860x CD and Dunlavy 4 speakers all plugged into a Sound Application CF-X with Krakatoa power cords and Satori speaker cable.
I've tried both. I own the Vallhalla's. Don't you just hate when a product that insanely expensive is jusifiably that much better than the competition.
Heya Bryan and Jim,

I have not tried Vallhalla. I am only repeating oppinions that I have heard from several folks I have talked to that have tried them. Acuujim was one of those folks. I use Nordost Quattro Fil and Siltech 80B in my system. Quattro Fil is the most neutral IC I have yet heard. Siltech is a close 2nd (still being broken in).

Now looking at your system Ejlif... I see you are running a Wadia 860x straight into some Bat150se amps. I have a lot of experience running digital sources directly into amps... This setup is not the best thing to do. I would highly advise getting an amazing tube preamp for your system. The mechanisms that most digital sources (like the Wadia) use for regulating volume are not that great (especially at low to mid volume levels). It is effectively a form of passive preamplification (using metal filimants) that is ok but still does not compare with high class seperate preamplification.

Anyway, back on the subject. The AZ cable is dimensional. However, it seems to create some false air around instruments/voices. It seems to enhance the midrange of a system. The AZ might take some of the digital edge off of your source. I still think you should try a great tube preamp (it will take the digital edge off as well).I do thing the AZ competes with the Nordost; however, the Nordost does not seem to emphasize anything. It seems very neutral and amazingly accurate.

Comparing the AZ to the Vallhalla is... well... in the end a little pointless. Vahalla is about two tiers of price higher than the AZ (the Quattro Fil actually ebing in the price tier inbetween the two). If it is in the same league with the AZ something is very wrong. I am sure some systems (lower end) the AZ would sound better than the Vallhalla. However when one moves up to reference level electronics, the differences become very evident. The Vallhalla has to be superior, else those folks buying it are totally insane... (maybe not far off from the truth... heh heh...) I find those moving into the Vallhalla have tried nearly every high end IC on the market. They seem to all conclude that the Vallhalla is best. I am sure it hurts to admit this because of it's extreme price... Personally, I would not be using the Vallhalla unless I had a system of total retail value of around $60k+ (spending about 10% of total system price on cables). AZ makes sense with systemps of around $10-$20k retail.

Anyway, this and $2 will get you a $2 of coffee at Starbucks.


Wow you guys are right diffrent cables sound radically diffrent to diffrent systems and ears. I would say that Quattro Fil would work better in a bright system than Acoustic Zen Silver Ref. I would say that could be the only problem with Silver Ref is that it passes so much through that it could be to revealing. To my ear the Silver Ref is as much better than Quattro Fil than I would expect Valhalla to be over Quattro Fil. I have also tried Siltech 80b and I liked it too, it is a bit like Acoustic Zen, just a little to laid back in my system. I am just amazed at the diffrence of opinion here, I wanted to know if there were others out there who had the same experience and were as impressed with Acoustic Zen as I have been. I was buying new cables every couple of weeks trying to find the best match. After getting the Zen wires I have stopped. I think the Power cord and digital cables are awesome as well. The Krakatoa power cord makes the Powersnakes King Cobra seem like a piece of junk in comparison in my system. Thanks for all the replies.
My system is also mostly Quattro and various different Siltech. I find the Quattro betters the Siltech except in the bass. I hear slightly more detail in the bass with the Siltech. (In my system of course.)
Like Ejlif I found the quattro fil to be a bit on the sterile side and found the AZ Reference to better it in a some areas specially the bottom end. The AZ reference cables are really one of the best cables in it's price range in my opinion,does wonders on solid state gears.
In my system it sounded too laidback though that's why I sold them.
I heard the Valhala speaker cables briefly at Sanctuary of Sound and at the time Stewart had it hooked up on a Red Rose Mono tube amps and Talon Khorus X with Mephisto II CD player, and that was one of the best setup's I've ever heard.
My point is the AZ refs are great cables but the Nordost Valhala's are one of the few elite cables at the top of the heap.
just my 2 cents.
you're comparing apples and oranges..i have tried zen's and own valhallas' ....apples and oranges!!
Apologies for the somewhat late entry to this thread. I recently acquired some Valhalla and tried it in lieu of my AZ silver ref. Notwithstaanding the fact that I was already using an all AZ cable loom throughout which should favour their interconnect, the Valhalla walked straight over it by a considerable margin. The overiding attribute was one of increased energy, though quite frankly it does everything right. It was the sort of difference that resulted in my wife walking into the room and remarking how good things sounded; in itself a somewhat infrequent occurance. Before the AZ, I had used Nordost cables extensively over 5 or so years, working my way through their hierarchy before culminating with QF's. I moved to the AZ to get a more organic presentation, however the valhallas have shifted the goal posts over the QF, in a similar manner as the latter model did over it's predecessor, the SPM. Bullet plugs add a further improvement of a similar magnitude for a pleasingly minimal cost.