Nordost Displays Valhalla 2
Intrigued by Ariel Bitran’s initial assessment of Nordost’s new Valhalla 2 line, as well as the repeat responses of website readers who seem determined to answer the modern koan, “What is the sound of one hand clapping in the hot wind?” I spent awhile listening to Valhalla 2 in Nordost’s room in the Hilton. Paul Ritchotte (L) and the ultra-modern Rune Skov were only too happy to oblige, switching between Valhalla 2 and the original Valhalla line (including the power cables that are currentlypun intendedon my desktop’s iMac and Dynaudio Focus 110A self-powered loudspeakers).
On a not-so-shabby system that included a Burmester 061 CD player; Roland Aeris DAC, Chorus preamp, and G25 stereo amp; and Nola Metro Grand Reference Gold loudspeakers, the men began by making a single switch of power cable on the CD player between Valhalla and Valhalla 2. To these ears, there was no question that the Valhalla 2 delivered far more body and weight, and far more convincingly balanced a keyboard recording’s highs with the instruments lower tones.
The final comparison I had time for was on a recording by Ravi Shankar’s daughter, Norah Jones. While I expected bass to be more solid, I was taken aback to discover that highs were actually clearer and more lifelike, and the entire presentation more transparent than the Valhalla line I thought excelled in those areas. “Far more convincing throughout the range,” I scribbled in my notes.
“Valhalla 2 combines the best of Odin and Tyr 2,” I was told. I don’t know how to confirm that without lots and lots of listening, but I could certainly see the differences in geometry between Valhalla old and new. Valhalla 2 features a totally different, asymmetrical internal layout and dual microfilament construction, and now sports Neutrik connectors.
“The change of connectors, which were specially designed for Valhalla 2, made a big difference,” said either Paul or Rune. “And the new hollow plug connector has similarities to both our Sort Kones and Q-Base.”
I also learned that Valhalla 2 speaker cable has less connectors than Odin, but higher-gauge conductors. Insulation is FEP Teflon, and the cables are more flexible and forgiving when you move them around. “Everything has changed,” said Rune.