Nola Micro Grand Reference Gold Debut

T.H.E. Show Newport Beach presented two opportunities to hear the encouraging debut of the Nola Micro Grand Reference Gold loudspeaker ($22,200/pair with stands). On both occasions, the speaker was paired with Nordost cabling, this time top-of-the-line Odin throughout.

Fed by an excellent Esoteric K-01 used as a transport, VAC tube DAC, and VAC 160i integrated amp, with noise quieted by two Nordost Quantums, the Nola Micro Grand Reference Gold loudspeaker was making beautiful music. Once the stereo Marchisottos quieted down, and Carl was able to play music undisturbed, it was impossible not to warm to his soothing choice of bossa nova. The CD he played had such beautiful depth that it was easy to imagine that it was a high-resolution file. The soundstage was all encompassing, as in fabulous, yet the sound of the triangle extremely delicate. The longer I listened, the more I was convinced that his speaker’s tweeter is very special.

Listening to a selection from the famed Mercury Living Presence 35mm recording of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, again I found the sound lovely and dreamy. The divided violins were especially captivating. Bravo.

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COMMENTS
Psychedelicious's picture

Glad to see it was the speakers, amps and source components that got the credit for the good sound, this time around.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

the truth of the matter is that cables transmit the sound. The faster, more transparent, more responsive, and more neutral the cables, the better someone can hear exactly what the component is capable of producing. Hence my positive impression of the Nola was directly related to and influenced by the performance of the Nordost cables.

To return to the audiophile koan I posted earlier in these blogs, cables have no sound in and of themselves, unless perhaps you use them to knock on someone's head to see if there's anything there. But as part of a system, they are as important as every other component in the chain.

Psychedelicious's picture

the truth of the matter is that cables transmit the sound. The faster, more transparent, more responsive, and more neutral the cables, the better someone can hear exactly what the component is capable of producing

Conductive cables convey electrical impusles between components, not sound. Their importance to a system is obvious—at least until such time when wireless, self-powered speakers take over. The issue is this: The law of diminishing returns kicks in early with cables, not so much with the other components in a high-end system.

I strongly suspect exotic cables are all about pricing parity—the typical customer for six-figure systems is not looking to pay less for interconnects and speaker cables, just because there are limits to how good a cable's performance can be. Psychologically, symmetry matters—even when it comes to pricing. That's expecially true for the "cost no object" crowd.

I'll be sure to attend the next major audio show that takes place in the NY region. With any luck, some samaritan from Stereophile can open my ears, and my mind. I'd love to be surprised, but I heard nothing to give me an indication that will actually happen, at least not when I was at the 2013 New York Audio Show.

I'm a fan of high-end components and the listening experience they provide—but not of the way some cables get the credit for the performance of those components. Claims of increased "transparency" add an ironic dose of highly flamable fuel to the "Emperor's new cable" argument.

Psychedelicious

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The issue is this: The law of diminishing returns kicks in early with cables, not so much with the other components in a high-end system.  

Is there demonstrable proof of this? Sounds like myth to me. As mythical as the oft-repeated "rule" that only 1/10 of the money you spend on your system should be dedicated to cables. 

On the other hand, your observation about pricing symmetry is intriguing.

jason

 

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GeorgeHolland's picture

ability to hear differences in cables is the myth. Isn't it wonderful how the Nordost cables got rid of all that pesky noise in the system? /sarcasm

ChrisS's picture

Long time no hear!

I thought your brain exploded from our last encounter, you left in such a huff (or was it a minute and a huff?)... Have you recovered?

Psychedelicious's picture

I'm on safe ground saying that a well-engineered cable—one that does not cost "a lot*"—is designed for the application in which it is used, and that application is on a residential scale (2-3 meter runs)—will convey electrical impulses in a manner that is effectively transparent to human hearing. 

Your claim regarding the effect of cables—such as improvements heard after swapping a single power cord with a "newer model" from the same line—are analogous to declaring that Russell's Teapot exists.

*For the sake of debate I am defining "a lot" as anything that costs more than a full-time, minimum wage worker earns in a week—$360. 

ChrisS's picture

You claim to hear differences in cables, but those differences aren't worth $10,000.... But now people other than yourself shouldn't hear any difference?

Psychedelicious's picture

Of course. If a cable is not suitable to the task assigned to it, then there is a risk of changing the character of the electrical impulse being conveyed. This is why measurements help—to identify issues caused by capacitance, resistance, and inductance.

A cable that does its job properly is effectively "transparent" within parameters that are relevant to this discussion—the range of human hearing. Cables can be designed in a manner that colors sound, and that coloration could be viewed as a positive attribute by some people, in some situations. One could even refer to such exotic cables as "art," then this discussion would make much more sense—as far as the justification for the pricing is concerned.
 

MVBC's picture

Are you seriously pretending that an audiophile running these shoeboxes would get a better result spending $50k in cables than switching to a pair of 4348 JBL Professional monitors fed by 12 gauge generic cables for about half that price?

Really!angry

ChrisS's picture

Find a cable you like at a price you like. Buy it.

(Then apply for a position at Adbusters....)

Ross's picture

The stands look like they should hold old Life magazines.

corrective_unconscious's picture

The law of diminishing returns kicks in early with trolls.

GeorgeHolland's picture

have reverted to using the word "troll" when anyone disagrees with their holy opinion. I like to call it honest discussion and digging for the facts. If some one praises the sonics of an uber cable then why not test it? Why not try to pick it out from two other lower priced ones, sight unseen? Why not search for answers instead of relying upon faith? Even JA admits there is such a thing as sight bias. The flashier and more expensive it looks, the "better" it sounds. A little real scientific curiousty is good for everyone, it saves you quite a bit of money in the long run.

ChrisS's picture

How about when everyone disagrees with you!

ChrisS's picture

Georgie Porgie,

Your posts have nothing to do with honesty, discourse, digging for facts, or reality. There's nothing scientific or curious about them either... The content of all your posts is singular and simple- you bash JA, his staff, and Stereophile.

GeorgeHolland's picture

on who's posts are full of actual content and who's are just childish "oh yeah!?" replies?  Don't bother replying, you will lose. Also I wouldn't have bothered replying at all, since YOU are the resident TROLL here not me, but I just wanted to get one barb in before ignoring you forever. Now have fun waiting and waiting and waiting for me to reply to you from now on................

ChrisS's picture

Who's listening, Georgie?

ChrisS's picture

I'll keep making fun of you anyways.

Dynamic's picture

These speakers sounded amazing for the size, Insane soundstage and imaging, BUT! the Acoustic Zen sounded a little better for 16k . you can use 10dollar cables and youll get the same sound , Many test have been done and cables do play a part in how sound is produced but some $25 dollar cables have been seen to perform as well as 200 dollar cables 'audioholics' site . I was shocked when i heard these though .

MVBC's picture

"Micro Grand Reference Gold loudspeaker" ... LOL

They're missing another Ultimate Universal Platinum Supreme Whatever... Especially given this little shoe box, the whole naming is ridiculous.crying

As for this: The faster, more transparent, more responsive, and more neutral the cables, the better someone can hear exactly what the component is capable of producing. Hence my positive impression of the Nola was directly related to and influenced by the performance of the Nordost cables

Considering that their interconnect Valhalla 2 only go up to 87% of speed light the whole system is therefore limited by that lower value, regardless of the speaker cables light speed %.

Pro-Audio-Tech's picture

These sounded great I thought, did anyone hear them???
 

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