Nordost’s Sort Kones
Nordost can be usually relied on to provide effective demonstrations at shows, and SSI 2011 was no exception. The product demonstrated this time was the Sort Kone, which represents Nordost's latest thinking on component support. Nordost's Bjorn Bengtsson described the Sort Kone as a "directly coupled and mechanically tuned resonance control device, using a sophisticated new approach to the problem of supporting sensitive electronics." You can read all about the rationale for the design at www.nordost.com, but, whatever the theory, the bottom line is the sound.
Bjorn Bengtsson demonstrated the Sort Kone's effectiveness by first playing a piece of music on the demo system (Simaudio CD player, Simaudio integrated amplifier, Joseph Audio speakers, and, of course, Nordost cables), and then playing the same piece of music, at the same volume, with Sort Kones under the CD player. The improvementwider/deeper soundstage, and a more "see-through" qualitywas quite remarkable, and hard to credit to a component support.
This was with three AC (aluminum-ceramic) Sort Kones ($100 each). There are four models in the line, starting with the AS (aluminum-steel) model at $80 each, to the top-of-the-line TC (titanium ceramic) Kone, which costs an eye-watering $420 each. The sound was even better with TC cones under the CD player, but the magnitude of the improvement was not as great as going from no components supports to AC Sort Kones. Bengtsson admitted that the cost-effectiveness of the TC Kones in a given system may be questionable, and suggested that you'd be better off with cheaper Kones under all components than TC Kones under just one.