Nordost Premiers the Valhalla 2

Rune Skov shows off the new Nordost Valhalla 2 interconnect ($9799/2m pair) next to his sweet Nordost tattoo.

On Tuesday May 28th, 2013, Nordost premiered the Valhalla 2 cable lineup at Lyric Hi-Fi in New York City. Rune Skov, International Product Training & Sales Support Manager for Nordost, gave a demonstration to a garrulous group of audiophiles who joyfully suggested what differences they heard as Skov switched out each old Valhalla cable for the new one.

The first iteration of the Valhalla is a 13-year old technology. Skov stated the Valhalla “really put Nordost on the map,” but that “it was time to make changes.” Many attendees at the demo proclaimed proud ownership of Valhalla but were curious to hear the advantages of the new design. As usual, nobody had the audacity to take the sweet spot chair. A self-proclaimed symphony-conductor and I took seats at the wings of the front row.

The Valhalla 2 power cord costs $5,999.99 for 2 meters and is $1,000 each additional meter. The Valhalla 2 power cord is comprised of seven solid silver plated 16 AWG OFC conductors intertwined and suspended in a Dual Mono-Filament matrix. It is insulated with extruded fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP), a really awesome plastic used in lab-ware and tubing for corrosive processes.

Rune started with an all Valhalla 2 wired system except for a single Valhalla 1 power cord running from the wall to a Quantum QB8 power distribution center ($1499). Other gear plugged into the QB8 included the Simaudio Moon 880M monoblocks ($42,000/pair), Simaudio Moon 750D CD Transport ($12,500), and Simaudio Moon P8 Preamplifier ($16,000). The Focal Stella Utopia loudspeakers ($95,000/pair) finished it off.

We listened to a performance Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne by Chinese cellist Ma Xinhua from the Rhymhoi release Three Wishes for a Rose. After switching the to the Valhalla 2 power cord, I heard a deepening of the soundstage, more relaxed extension into the highs, and a slightly sweeter sound overall. Skov suggested, “Everything becomes more natural.” A participant interjected that he could hear the “wood of the instrument.”

We then ran the same test with another track from the same album, this time only switching the power cable of the Simaudio 750D CD Transport from Valhalla 1 to Valhalla 2. The rest of the cables remained Valhalla 2. I heard cleaner and more extended highs, extended decay on the rumbling left hand of the pianist, and greater dynamics.

Skov sold his power chord: “Your system will never sound better than the first power chord you have.”

Third to demo was the Valhalla 2 interconnect which costs $9799 for two meters and an additional $1100 for each additional half-meter. Skov interchanged balanced interconnects on the Simaudio 750 CD Transport. We listened to Chai Lang’s performance of "Theme from the Godfather" on the Rhymoi compilation A Time to Meet Again. In this comparison, I heard a less obvious difference but still a difference. There were longer decays to the piano, a bit of shrillness from the violin was eased away, and the violin’s transition to a lower-pitched section seemed a touch less bulky.

The Valhalla 2 interconnect is offered with both single-ended and balanced terminations. With the single-ended cables, circular wood blocks wrapped around the interconnect instruct the user from which direction to transfer the signal. Both terminations feature Nordost’s new trademarked Holo:Plug technology which claims to maximize efficiency of your signal transfer by creating a direct connection with the wire’s conductors.

At this point, the conductor next to me asked for a recording with a full orchestra. I made an aggressive move and took the sweet spot.

Skov played Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre as performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Eiji Oue, and recorded by an editor at Hong Kong hi-fi magazine Audio Technique. Most startling and enjoyable were the piece’s shifting dynamics and the system’s startling impact with the unisons of timpani and double bass.

Another attendee asked for some jazz. Skov played Vietnamese-Danish bass player Chris Minh Doky’s sleepy arrangement for “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. This is jazz?

Skov suggested that the CD sounded weird and put on “All Blues” from Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. The image was comfortably spread with one sax on each side and Davis’s trumpet clearly centered. The contrast in breathiness and blowing force between Cannonball Adderley’s nearly spritely alto and Coltrane’s mellower tenor was delightful. Good call on the switch Skov!

The final demo of the presentation was for the Valhalla 2 speaker cables priced at $11,849 for a two meter pair and $1500 each additional half meter. Nordost describes:

“The Valhalla 2 Reference Speaker Cable consists of twenty-eight conductors divided into four groups of seven. Each conductor is made from solid core 99.999999% oxygen free copper and plated with 85 microns of silver…The transmission speed of the cable is extremely fast, at over 96% the speed of light.”

Someone better call Marty McFly.

Skov played song “Another Day in Paradise” from Swedish singer Josefine Cronholm. During playback with the Valhalla 1, I noted an enjoyable evenness and cleanliness to the stand-up bass and exciting shimmering rise from a cymbal quickly struck with mallets.

Skov and Michael Taylor of Nordost fell to their knees as they switched the Valhalla 1 for the Valhalla 2 speaker cables. Through the Valhalla 2, I heard more inner detail to the stand up bass with slightly longer decay. A rimshot that had before been mostly metal rim and drumstick now included much more body of the snare. The rising cymbal now featured more body of the cymbal and less shimmer.

Nordost also offers a digital interconnect and tonearm cable within their Valhalla 2 line. As I left the event, Michael Fremer arrived. He’s got some Valhalla 2’s at home. Hopefully, he will share his thoughts in the future either in Stereophile or on AnalogPlanet.com. To sum up the improvements from the Valhalla 1 to the Valhalla 2 that I heard, it seemed the new cables brought out more inner-detail to the instruments, added spaciousness to the soundstage, and eased and sweetened the highs.

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COMMENTS
JohnnyR's picture

 

 "I don't care who you are, playing unfamiliar music in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar gear will produce nothing better than random results in an ABX test, unless the differences in sound are huge.  To say nothing about whether boutique cabling makes a real difference."

The point of ABX or DBT is that you get to take your time and listen as long as you like. It's not a timed event.If there really are sound differences, you should be able to pick those out. If not then what you thought you heard under sighted subjective listening is all in your head.

Mr Serinus seems to have no problem gushing about how cable X makes (insert favorite audiophool trendy adjective here) oh so much better everytime he eneters those rooms so perhaps he should try a little ABXing. He really failed that one time him and his pals tried DBT and the results showed nothing better than pure guessing so we won't hold our breaths on that.

Atkinson lets his members act like asses without much moderation on here so blame him for the back and forth. he even joins in at times so go figure laugh

ChrisS's picture

Anyone who has studied science of any kind at a college or university level, especially where research and statistics are involved, can see that most of these "studies" and experiments don't amount to much actual science. There are a few gems amongst that mish-mash collection of flotsam and jetsam-

http://www.stereophile.com/features/113/index.html

http://www.psbspeakers.com/articles/Birthplace-of-Good-Sound?audio-topic...

You really have to wade through the rest of the garbage (have you seen the dates of some of these "studies"?) to find these...

As for flinging poo, I, unabashedly, find great sport in mocking and deriding those like JRusskie and Psycho-Georgie who are rude, ill-mannered, unintelligent, and uninterested in engaging in civil discourse with anyone on this site or accompanying forums. They make for tiresome reading and take up space, so for entertainment, I just treat them in kind as they treat others.

JohnnyR's picture

That's how you act out and it's plain to see by everyone so can the "I just treat them in kind ans they treat others" How about going back and rereading how you STARTED it all by insulting George right off the bat. He did nothing to make you act like an ass never the less YOU are the one that had to open his mouth and spew crap. Thanks for clearing up nothing and causing this mess to go on and on.

ChrisS's picture

Is Georgie hiding now?

Utopianemo's picture

Calvin,  "the point" of said testing is to either test the listener or to test the cables. Given that our auditory memory is even shorter than our visual memory, especially when evaluating things such as aspects of a sound, listening to unfamiliar music in an unfamiliar environment on unfamiliar gear is not a set of conditions conducive to accurate listening--no matter how long you get to listen to the selection.  In any case, an evaluation where the objective is to see if the listener can determine which cable is which is an evaluation of the listener, not the cable. Which is obviously why you suggest Stereophile and the like do these tests; you are already certain there is no real performance difference in exotic cables and you want Stereophile to perform tests like this to prove them wrong. Regardless of whether or not there is any real performance difference, we can all agree that of all the components in a system, the cabling makes the least amount of difference. Given that, blind testing is a terrible way to discern what is comparatively such a minuscule variance in performance. I'll again point to Tyll's methodology as the proper way to compare two audio components. 

Jason, you screwed up by not ensuring you had proper controls on the test. It just makes you look worse trying to make excuses. 

Chris, yesterday I disciplined my oldest boy for some pretty inexcusable behavior which included hitting his brother with a stick. As it turned out, his younger brother had been behaving like an ass all day, calling him silly names and pretty much doing everything he could to get a reaction out of him.

It reminded me of this thread, and pretty much the online audiophile world in general. 

JohnnyR's picture

Areil and Atkinson won't bother with any type of objective test when it comes to cables. Might hurt the money machine ya know, advertising.

ChrisS's picture

Utopianemo,

It's all been explained to him before... Good of you to try!

Their posts are not much use to anyone, so I make a "sport" out of their presence here.

JRusskie,

Georgie's like you. Go back (way back) and read his posts.

What mess?

ChrisS's picture

JohnnyR's picture

"Areil and Atkinson won't bother with any type of objective test when it comes to cables. Might hurt the money machine ya know, advertising."
 

I love how you always pick Atkinson's side when he wimps out. Stereophile has no honor, no integrity, no real value other than to straddle the fence when it comes to the real world. Either a component changes the sound or it doesn't. Why bother doing intensive testing of amps, preamps and DACs then wimp out when a simple piece of wire is involved? Atkinson says he doesn't know what to test when cables and magic bowls are the subject. You honestly believe that BS?  Yesh I guess you would, now go get into your Stereophile cheerleader skirt Chrissy and "Rah rah rah!"

ChrisS's picture

JohnnyR's picture

Still doesn't get it. Still in denial. Still the obtuse rock. Still wants the last word. Still acts out. Still believes everything Atkinson tells him. Still thinks he's smart. Still thinks the world revolves around himself. Still thinks he is important. Still thinks Russia is in the USA. Still thinks his lame "jokes" are funny. Still doesn't have any customers so sits on computer all day typing inane replies that only he thinks are witty. Still the total doofus. Still the butt of jokes behind his back. Still the ever lasting Sterophile resident troll. Still thinks that his replies bother me. ..I could go on and on but frankly you aren't worth it.angle

ChrisS's picture

How important are you?

Psychedelicious's picture

How long before cable is obsolete anyway? So who cares.surprise

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