I have told this story before, but
just in case you have not heard it, Nordost is, in part, responsible for
Secrets magazine being launched.
It was way back in 1993, when I
attended one of my first CES conventions in Las Vegas.
This was before I ever considered
publishing a hi-fi magazine.
At the convention center, I met
Vincent Garino, who was manning the Nordost booth. At that time, their only
product was Flatline, which was a simple flat conductor speaker cable, using
Teflon as the dielectric.
I obtained a roll of it, since I
needed to put the cable under the rug. My wife had been after me to take the
cables off the nails in the ceiling molding. Those cables were too thick to
put under the rug, so when I saw the Flatline, I knew I had the problem
What I found was that the Flatline
made a difference in the sound. That really surprised me. How could simple
speaker cables do that?
Well, the cables were not that
simple, as their flat conductors and Teflon insulation were there for a
I suddenly realized there were
lots and lots of things about audio I did not know would make so much
difference. When I found out why they made a difference, I though I might as
well tell everybody else, and Secrets was born.
Anyway, that was back in the days
when "Cables" were just emerging as an actual component in audio systems.
Since then, Nordost has prospered.
Their technology, which they had designed for military use, now has expanded
to include low-loss mono-filaments that are used in heart pace makers. And
oh yes, audio and video systems as well.
I have used Nordost products now
for more than a decade, and have always been very pleased with the
At present, Nordost Valhalla is
their top of the line interconnect and speaker cable technology. It uses
silver-on-copper extruded conductors, and each conductor is wrapped with a
mono-filament in a helix. The helix separates the conductor from the Teflon
which surrounds it, so you end up with a dielectric constant somewhere in
between air and Teflon. The lower the dielectric constant, the better, for
this lowers capacitance.
The only problem with Valhalla is that it is
very, very expensive to manufacture. Since everything is extruded, the
chances of having a defect in one of the conductors is high. So, the discard
rate is high. And, so, the ultimate cost to the consumer is high. Mucho
high, in fact.
can't keep Valhalla products on the shelf. They make them as fast as
possible, but it's not enough. So, it is not like they aren't selling all
the products they make. However, not everyone an afford these things.
Nordost has trickled the technology down to some new models, including
Heimdall, which is reviewed here. Other models include Tyr and Frey.
difference between Valhalla and the other models that have the
micro-filament technology is the number of conductors. While Valhalla
speaker cable has forty conductors, Heimdall has twenty-four (twelve
per leg in the speaker cables, 24 gauge). Frey has twenty-eight, 24 gauge,
and Tyr has twenty, 20 gauge.
I decided to try out the Heimdall interconnects and speaker cables.
is a close-up photo of the Heimdall interconnects.
Besides the cool mono-filament
technology, the Heimdalls use the new WBT RCA connector that has a single
contact for the ground, pointed out by the arrow. This differs from
conventional RCA plugs, where the contacts go all the way around the
perimeter. This reduces eddy currents. Eddy currents are circular currents
that can waste energy. By using the single contact, eddys are reduced.
Click Here to Go to Part II.