QRT Power Products and the QBASE QB8 Power Distributor
countered in any cable. As you might expect, many of these technologies utilized in the Norse 2 family have trickled down from the years of research and development spent on the company’s Reference and Supreme Reference Ranges.
To try out in my own reference system, Nordost sent me a full loom of Tyr 2 cables, which included multiple power cords ($3,799 each / 2m length), RCA interconnects ($2,509 pair / 1m length), XLR interconnects ($2,509 pair / 1m length), as well as a pair of speaker cables ($6,249 pair / 2m length). To complete my system, I also asked Nordost to provide me with a Norse 2 Heimdall 2 digital interconnect ($734 each / 1m length) and the QBASE QB8 power distribution unit ($1,399). As mentioned above, in addition to cables Nordost also produces a series of power products, which include QBASE power distributors, QX power purifiers, the QV2 AC line harmonizer and the QK1 AC enhancer. All of these devices are designed to improve the quality of AC power delivered to the sensitive electronics in an audio or home theatre system, thereby significantly enhancing sonic and video quality.
The QBASE-Mark II QB8 power distribution unit, supplied for this review, provides a straight-line, low-loss AC distribution path from the wall socket to your components. It does not feature any form of in-line filtering or active cir- cuitry, in order to offer the lowest possible AC supply impedance. Its star-earthed design provides a connection to the cleanest possible ground via a centrally located “Primary Earth” output socket. This is achieved by adding a tiny lift in the earth impedance of all of the other output sockets, which routes the signal grounds directly to the centre of the star and the clean earth terminal.
The QB8 features an impressively constructed aluminium casework that is a pleasure to lay your eyes on, much like a high-end audio component. The metal components and internal PC board combine to make a single, mechanicallytuned construction that resists vibrations, designed carefully to improve power performance. The QB8 offers eight wellspaced sockets, mounted to a very sturdy frame plate.
Eight and four socket versions of this power distributor are available in the US, European and Australian markets, while the UK version offers a single six-socket model. Each unit is equipped with a fuse which provides over-current protection of the source circuit.
A Systematic Approach To Connecting the Cables
Does the order in which you upgrade cables in the system matter? Absolutely. The power chain begins at the wall outlet so this is where you should start, and then follow the flow of the signal path. This means starting with the power distribution, followed by interconnect cables and finally the speaker cables. Supplying your system with cleaner power will result in the biggest performance gains for each of your components, while the interconnects and speaker cables will further refine the performance of the system as a whole.
I spent many hours trying the QB8 power distribution box and the various Tyr 2 cables individually in two different systems to get a true sense of their impact on performance, prior to integrating all of them into a single system. One system included my recently purchased, very special Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 integrated amp (a spectacular sounding amp in every regard; check out my review on www.canadahifi. com) and my long-standing Focal Electra 1008 Be II speakers. The second system comprised of the ModWright Instruments KWA 100 amplifier, the LS 100 tube preamplifier and Monitor Audio GX 200 speakers. In both systems, my sources were the Bryston BDP-1 digital player and the Sonos system, running through a Bryston BDA-1 DAC. During my listening sessions, I also compared the Tyr 2 cables to many other cables I had on hand, including Nordost’s own Leif Blue Heaven and Norse 2 Heimdall 2 cables. Editor George de Sa also joined me, lending a second set of ears and valuable input, during one of my extended listening sessions.
Listening Tests: QB8 Power Distribution Box
I began by integrating the QB8 power distribution box into my system, along with a Tyr 2 power cable, running between the wall outlet and the QB8. I’ve had a highend passive power distribution unit in my system for the last several years, albeit a lower priced unit than the QB8, so I didn’t expect much of an improvement, if any at all. But of course I spun up a few of my favourite tracks and listened carefully.
The “Songs of Anarchy” soundtracks have always sounded great in my listening room, offering natural vocals, palpable instrument performances, a vast amount of musical details and a formidable soundstage. With the QB8 power distribution unit and the Tyr 2 power cable in play, I immediately noticed something I haven’t heard before. The three-dimensional soundstage that I’ve become accustomed to from my system suddenly became almost holographic. The soundstage gained a focus and pin-point accuracy like never before. Musician voices and instruments benefitted from having more air between them, making them more distinct and very easy to locate within the soundstage. This increased volume of air around vocals and instruments gave them more room to breathe and made them sound a little more life-like as a result. The background also became noticeably quieter, revealing additional layers of resolution and details.