Nola & Nordost

I had a quick look in Nola's room, and as soon as I saw their giant speakers, I knew that these were not going to be in my designated "Under $15k" price range. Indeed, the speakers (whose name escapes me, but it has something to do with boxing) were just under $200k/pair. They sounded great, with tremendous dynamics, but I have trouble relating to speakers in that price range. "Do you have anything new and relatively affordable?" Yes, said Nola's Marilyn Marchisotto. The $9998/pair KO (another boxing reference) was being used in another room in demos by Nordost.

When I got to the Nordost room, there were doing a comparison of various HDMI cables, the Nordost cable said to be the only Made in USA cable of this type—and, of course, claimed to sound better and have better image quality than other cables. They did several comparisons of sound only, replacing various cheap HDMI cables as well as some expensive ones, at least one of which costs several times the price of the $350 Nordost Blue Heaven cable. And, yes, the sonic differences were quite evident, in Nordost's favor. But what I was really interested in were the speakers: the Nola KOs sounded very good indeed, with the open-baffle midrange producing a similarly open sound. My photo shows Nordost's Michael J. Marko and Paul Ritchotte (left and right) are having a good time switching cables.—Robert Deutsch

Jason Victor Serinus adds: This was my first opportunity to experience the demonstration that pits Nordost’s US-made Blue Heaven HDMI cable ($350) against others. Nordost’s Rune Skov, in charge of International Product Training & Sales Support, first let me hear a stock Belkin HDMI cable. How many ways can you say flat, dull, and colorless? For lack of time, we skipped up the ladder to a competitor’s $1200 cable. On a recording of Mark Lanagann singing “Bleeding Muddy Water,” it sounded quite good, but Nordost’s much less expensive Blue Heaven produced, to these ears, clearer, even more alive, and more focused sound.