The Jour­ney to Higher Qual­ity Au­dio With Nor­dost Leif Ca­bles

Fol­low­ing the Ideal Path to Up­grad­ing Ca­bles. Part 2 of 3: In­ter­con­nect Ca­bles

NOVO - - WELCOME TO CANADA - by Suave Ka­jko

You may not spend much time think­ing about the ca­bles be­hind your mu­sic sys­tem be­cause they re­mind you of a snake pit from an In­di­ana Jones movie. If you grab the wrong ca­ble it just might bite you. Or maybe your thoughts are less imag­i­na­tive and you don’t think about the ca­ble nest be­cause it’s out of sight, out of mind. What a lot of novice mu­sic lis­ten­ers don’t re­al­ize is just how vi­tal of a role ca­bles play in the per­for­mance of an au­dio sys­tem. But the truth is that if you ig­nore ca­bles, you’re sim­ply not get­ting the best sound from your speak­ers and elec­tron­ics.

Wel­come to part 2 of this 3-part se­ries in which I sug­gest how to ex­tract the very best sound out of your ex­ist­ing sound sys­tem by up­grad­ing the stock ca­bles, of­ten in­cluded with au­dio com­po­nents, to the Nor­dost Leif Blue Heaven se­ries ca­bles. I se­lected this se­ries be­cause it de­liv­ers tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits, it is at­trac­tively priced, and of­fers ex­cel­lent value for your money. If you fol­lowed my ad­vice in the pre­vi­ous is­sue of NOVO, you should now be bask­ing in the joy of im­proved sound from your ex­ist­ing sys­tem. Per­haps you also took the time to clean up all the dust bun­nies be­hind your sys­tem - well done if you did! If you haven’t fol­lowed my ad­vice, it’s not too late - you can read part 1 of this se­ries at http://novo.press/the-jour­neyto-higher-qual­ity-au­dio-with-nor­dost-leif- ca­bles.

In part 1, I up­graded the stock OEM power cords with the Blue Heaven power cords and the re­sults were sig­nif­i­cant. I was re­warded with a lower noise floor; crisper, ex­tended high fre­quen­cies; and tighter, more ar­tic­u­late bass fre­quen­cies. The sound­stage also im­proved by gain­ing a greater width and depth. Com­bined, th­ese ben­e­fits trans­lated into sound that was more mu­si­cal and al­lowed me to peer deeper into the mu­sic. So why did I start by up­grad­ing the power cords? Be­cause that’s where you’ll get the best bang for your buck. When up­grad­ing ca­bles, au­dio ex­perts sug­gest fol­low­ing the flow of the power / sig­nal path. This means

you would up­grade the power cords first, then the in­ter­con­nect ca­bles and fin­ish off with the speaker ca­bles.

With the power cords up­graded, it was time to move on to re­plac­ing the in­ter­con­nect ca­bles. To re­fresh your mem­ory, my test setup in­cluded a: ModWright In­stru­ments LS 100 preamp and KWA 100 amp; Jeff Row­land Con­tin­uum S2 in­te­grated amp; Raidho C 1.1 speak­ers; Sonos sys­tem; Brys­ton BDA-1 DAC; and Gold Note Giglio turntable. While I nor­mally use higher-end Nor­dost and Sko­grand ca­bles with th­ese com­po­nents, the great thing about us­ing high-end au­dio gear with en­try-level ca­bles is that the gear is so trans­par­ent, it al­lowed me to truly “hear” the per­for­mance of the ca­bles.

As the next step in my up­grade path, I tested the Blue Heaven RCA in­ter­con­nects ($374.99 US, 1 me­ter pair) be­tween the DAC and my Jeff Row­land in­te­grated amp, as well as the ModWright preamp. Th­ese in­ter­con­nects can be pur­chased with ei­ther un­bal­anced RCA or bal­anced XLR con­nec­tors. Their con­struc­tion em­ploys four, 24 AWG, sil­ver-plated 99.9999% OFC solid core con­duc­tors which are wound in such a way that elim­i­nates the need for un­nec­es­sary fillers or pad­ding. Nor­dost uses high-grade FEP in­su­la­tion in th­ese ca­bles for its su­pe­rior di­elec­tric per­for­mance.

Try­ing the Blue Heaven RCA in­ter­con­nects with my com­po­nents re­sulted in an­other in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ment, over the up­grade that the Blue Heaven power cords brought on board. The back­ground be­came slightly blacker, which in turn al­lowed the vo­cals and in­stru­ments to of­fer a bet­ter pres­ence, when lis­ten­ing to var­i­ous acous­tic tracks from the “Sons of Anar­chy” sound­track. It was as if a faint fog had dis­si­pated from in front of the mu­sic sys­tem, al­low­ing a cleaner, more trans­par­ent sound to im­merse. The midrange, in par­tic­u­lar the vo­cals on songs like “John The Reve­la­tor”, “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Hey Hey My My” sounded more or­ganic, re­solved and fo­cused. Sim­i­larly, in­stru­ments sounded crisper and more pal­pa­ble, with a slightly brighter pre­sen­ta­tion, which gave the sense of in­creased res­o­lu­tion es­pe­cially in the higher fre­quen­cies. Thanks to the qui­eter back­ground, the echo of the vo­cals on the track “House of the Ris­ing Sun” also de­cayed at a slower pace, mak­ing it sound more nat­u­ral. The bass on all the tracks I lis­tened to also ben­e­fit­ted from bet­ter def­i­ni­tion and im­proved co­herency. Th­ese qual­i­ties made th­ese record­ings sound a few steps closer to a live acous­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.

XLR in­ter­con­nect ca­bles are the pre­ferred choice of many mu­si­cians, mu­sic tech­ni­cians, and au­dio­philes be­cause they re­sist pick­ing up er­rand in­ter­fer­ence. This is par­tic­u­larly true over long ca­ble runs. Will XLR in­ter­con­nects make your sys­tem sound bet­ter? The truth is that this de­pends on your au­dio com­po­nents and whether their in­ter­nal cir­cuitry is full bal­anced and well de­signed. In some cases bal­anced XLR con­nec­tions will sound bet­ter, in other cases un­bal­anced RCA con­nec­tions will sound bet­ter - the only way to know for sure is to try both types and judge for your­self. You could also look up your au­dio com­po­nent online since re­views will likely make com­par­isons be­tween the per­for­mance of the bal­anced XLR and un­bal­anced RCA out­puts.

The Blue Heaven XLR in­ter­con­nects sport the same ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion as the Blue Heaven RCA in­ter­con­nects, the only dif­fer­ence are the con­nec­tors. When I tried the Blue Heaven XLR in­ter­con­nects ($374.99 US, 1 me­ter pair) with my com­po­nents, I ob­served a lit­tle more air and open­ness in the sound­stage, which placed the in­stru­ments and vo­cals even fur­ther apart from each other. The im­prove­ment was sub­tle, but not­i­ca­ble. For some­one who loves the three di­men­sion­al­ity of well recorded mu­sic, this was a real treat. Or­ches­tral and acous­tic record­ings ben­e­fit­ted from this im­prove­ment the most.

Whether you en­joy lis­ten­ing to the scream­ing of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters or the smooth­ness and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Frank Si­na­tra, in­te­grat­ing good qual­ity ca­bles that match your com­po­nents and speak­ers will en­sure that your sys­tem will per­form at its peak. If you love your mu­sic and have never up­graded the ca­bles in your sys­tem, you should re­ally give it a try. Your sys­tem will sound only as good as the weakest link, which is of­ten the sneak pit be­hind your au­dio stack. Many lis­ten­ers take a step by step ap­proach to up­grad­ing, start­ing with a sin­gle power cord or by up­grad­ing all the power cords at once, be­fore re­plac­ing the in­ter­con­nects and speaker ca­bles. I pre­fer this ap­proach as well be­cause it al­lows you to get a true sense of the im­prove­ment each ca­ble brings on board and also helps to spread out the cost of up­grad­ing over time.

The Nor­dost Leif Blue Heaven ca­bles are an ex­cel­lent choice for lis­ten­ers look­ing to push the per­for­mance of their ex­ist­ing sys­tem to the limit. Of­fer­ing a high ra­tio of per­for­mance ver­sus value, th­ese ca­bles are well priced and at­tain­able to just about everyone that’s pas­sion­ate about mu­sic. To learn more about Nor­dost ca­bles, check out www.nor­dost.com.

Join me in the July/Au­gust 2018 is­sue of NOVO as I move higher up the “sonic lad­der” by in­te­grat­ing a Blue Heaven USB in­ter­con­nect ca­ble and speaker ca­bles into my sys­tem. In the mean­time, happy lis­ten­ing!

Nor­dost Leif Blue Heaven RCA in­ter­con­nects and XLR in­ter­con­nects

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