We are all too familiar with the garden hose thick, heavy, inflexible, tech-flex covered variety of aftermarket power cables that audiophiles seem drawn to; I myself am not immune to associating bigger (in this case thicker) with better. The Nordost Heimdall 2 power cord; however, takes a different path. Heimdall 2 power cords are slender and limber specimens that have a rather futuristic look - I could easily picture them in a sci-fi flick (prop departments take note!). As well, their vibrant red colour, smooth skin and slender profile give them what I would refer to as (and I might be alone here) an almost edible candy-like appeal – those with young children or a sweet tooth, beware. The cables are terminated with substantial black plastic plugs that have visible brass screws - reminiscent of commercial grade plugs – though a step above in apparent refinement. I found that the plugs fit very well, which gave me confidence in their contact. Along with the standard Norse 2 features mentioned above (i.e. Micro Mono-Filament FEP Construction & solid-core, 99.99999% OFC with 60 m silver-plating) the power cables have the following specifications: 3 x 16 AWG conductors; 10pF/ ft capacitance; 4.0 Ohms per 1000ft/304M DC resistance; 15 Amp – power rating (termination dependent) and; a signal propagation delay of 85% light speed.
Following the suggested implementation strategy, mentioned above, I first inserted the power cables, replacing the power cord on my CDP, preamp and amp. I held-off on the QB8 power distribution bar, instead plugging the power cords directly to my dedicated circuit wall sockets. The result, quite frankly, was a surprise that had me riveted. Spatial cues were enhanced, along with micro dynamics. Before me was a larger soundstage with increased image size, along with richer tonal colour and complexity. Listening to Shelby Lynne’s sultry and impressively recorded album Just A Little Lovin’ served to provide me with deeper insight. The title track on this album is amazing and I’ve become very familiar with its subtleties. The opening kick-drum always gets me and with the Heimdall 2 power cables in place, the dynamic impact, though having a familiar magnitude, was clearly faster on the uptake, bringing with it a greater sense of the drum skin and making the experience that much more real. From another perspective, the opening cymbal strike came across with greater extension but also seemed to jump out from what I perceived as a quieter background. Listening to the tapping of the hi-hat, I was taken aback by the abundance of harmonic complexity; noticeably more consistency to its timely clash. Shelby’s vocal style is enthralling and with the Heimdall 2 power cords even more so. There was a lovely smoothness to her vocalizations and with it came greater warmth, without any compromise in detail. When an instrument is rendered with more intricacy, it gains expression and this is exactly what I heard with the bass guitar, while the lead guitar also revealed an extra level of micro-detail, increasing my engagement. All of this sat within an imaged venue that was now larger, more open – gaining depth and even height, rising up in the upper corners.
Having experienced the improvements wrought by introducing the Heimdall 2 power cables, I was ready to add the Nordost QBASE QB8 power distribution unit. The QB8 is impressively built with a thick extruded aluminum enclosure akin