NORDOST Valhalla

MJ01.12.2009

Power cables

It is scary to hear how much information is hidden on spinning silver discs. It is even more scary that such information can be brought out to daylight by something so ordinary as a power cord. Nordost's Valhalla is among the finest available.

 

100% reference

Funkce a forma

90%
Ergonomie
89%
Zvuk
98%
Zpracování

All the magic of the Valhalla, I dare say, is in its wires. Nordost believes that in stranded designs the signal jumps from strand to strand reducing its integrity, so the cable consists of seven solid core extruded silver over OFC conductors suspended in the famous Dual Micro Mono-Filament matrix. The silver ‘plating’ happens through a process of extrusion that, unlike standard electro-chemical methods, results into a homogenous silver layer of a pre-defined crystallic structure that perfectly adheres to the OFC core without any molecular imperfections.
The method of extrusion is used also for encapsulating each individual wire in FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene aka Teflon) to achieve an airtight insulation. Nordost is so confident in the longevity of such a design that it does not object to using their cables in harsh marine environments.

Similarly to other Nordost’s Reference Series cables the Valhalla uses microfilament technology, here in a dual configuration. The aim is to create more air space around conductors (thus achieving the best possible dielectric values) by winding two twisted threads of FEP helically over each polished conductor. By this, the conductors are to a certain extent suspended in inert air. It is quite a clever though expensive solution as the process is very slow. Surprisingly, none of the Nordost power cables (except of the Odin) is shielded in any way, though some basic protection against interferences is achieved by the braided geometry.

In terms of flexibility the Valhalla yields no issues and easily accomodates everywhere, unless you require too tight turns. At one end the cable is terminated with Wattgate IEC connector, at the other end there is HiFi Tuning plug with gold plated pins. Though not bad for sure, it is not an exceptional solution, as the same connectors can be found on a multitude of other cables. Well, this brings me to the conclusion that the magic of the Valhalla´s sound must be in the wires.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
88
Výbušnost
88
Artikulace
90

How does the Nordost Valhalla  compare to the Furutech Powerflux sonically?

With the Furutech Powerflux in my system and Rebecca Pidgeon spinning in the SACD player I was getting a very balanced sound with perfect articulation and a little hint of sweetness. There was exceptional fullness, roundness and bodily presence to the sound that lent a glowing quality to instruments and vocals. I got completely absorbed by the sound, like I had been transformed from an observer to a participant of the session. The plucked double-bass intro was easily the best I have ever experienced in my system and with its weight and energy the Powerflux effortlessly outperformed the Valhalla here.
Also with the Shostakovich’s Eleventh I received a magic result, a kind of U-R-there feeling. If the symphony’s marching rhythms were ponderous with other excellent cables, they became hell unleashed with the Powerflux. The fully fleshed sound of skins on big kettles made walls of my listening room vibrate – the energy of sound swept across the room with a penetrating force, the devastating thuds of timpani were perfectly contoured and focused, not in an audiophile way but in a very real and almost frightening way. Pure bliss it was.

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
89
Vzduch
90
Transparentnost
90

I noticed that horns possessed less blazing quality which made the Powerflux a tad inferior to the Valhalla. When it comes to the brass the Valhalla excels and has no challenger. Anyway, once we have a human element in music, the Powerflux transcends the Valhalla by a degree. Therefore I preferred the former more on voices, being it Jacintha, Rebecca, Elvis or Johnny Cash. In a conjuction with the impeccable midrange world of Audio Physic’s Virgo V speakers the Powerflux was simply more emotionally involving. Where the Valhalla provides an ultra high-fidelity-borders-reality experience, the Powerflux creates the illusion of a liquid live performance. What we may perhaps miss is the air and ringing open clarity of the Valhalla - the Powerflux is more laid back and uses more tinted color palletes. Listening to a piano one can easily concentrate on overtones, vibrancy and echoing of the music notes (the Valhalla) or on the size of the instrument, the notes’ tonality and color shading (the Powerflux). Once you live with the Powerflux for a while it will require some time to adapt back to the Valhalla when it comes to the weight, solidity and physical palpability of sound.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
88
Dynamika
90
Časování
90

Now, let me take a piano recording. Thomas Tirino (Ernesto Lecuona, The Complete Piano Music vol. 1, BIS) is recognized as one of the finest interpreters of the Lecuona’s music. His grand Steinway’s sound was beutifully captured by BIS engineers through Neumann KM140 microphones in NYC Patryck Sound Studios. The sound si balanced with a bit of studio dryness which contributes to high sonic intellegibility.
A 2-minute piece named Zambra is a sibling of more famous Malagueňa. It is a rhytmical piece structured in the traditional and sensual flamenco style. Through the Valhalla, the transients of piano strokes are lightning fast with sustained tomes lingering in the air. Actually, it is easy to track the reverbs of studio despite that decay of the reflected sound is quite fast. I do not know how and where the Neumanns were positioned during the recording session but I can swear that during the valhallized playback it is possible to spatially distinguish individual piano strings, one by one as they are hit. The depth of image is breathtakingly precise resulting into a studio-like quality that is more on the ´professional´ side than on the ´emotional´ one.

Let´s now switch to the Powerflux. It is apparent that the sound is somewhat darker, more velvety if you want. The edges of the transients are not razor-sharp as they are with the Valhalla but they are not blurred or excessively softened either. The Powerflux may also not be that outstanding in resolving various ambient clues, however, it is outperforming the Valhalla with its sheer musicality. Zambra was more entertaining, more emotional and more involving in my powerfluxed system. If you concentrate enough you will find similar spatial genius, though it is less obvious to notice it immediately.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
89
Šířka scény
90
Hloubka scény
90

In Battery (right out from Metallica´s legendary Master of Puppets album) it was refreshing to hear microresonances of strings of the 2nd guitar in the song´s intro – I have never noticed that before. The Valhallas rendered fast portraying and cleanly and clearly laid out sound with enough guitar bite and believable Hetfield´s vocals. Being powerfluxed, the sound subjectively slowed down a bit thanks to its darker balance, however, it developed a bigger ´thump´factor, it was more pounding and dense, more thrashy.

You can guess from what I discovered in my system that it is impossible to vote for a winner between the Furutech Powerflux and the Nordost Valhalla. No matter which of the two cords wins in your system but you will lose a significant amount of money. I would advise you to audition the Powerflux or the Valhalla only on the condition that you have your budget ready.
Let me make one final remark: it is scary to hear how much information is hidden on silver discs. It is even more scary that such information can be brought out to daylight by something so ordinary as a power cord.

[This review is a part of our extensive POWER UP! power cord megatest. For other valuable information, competitors,and lists of recordings and equipment that was used we recommend to check the full article here.]

Cena v době recenze:31 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Perfect Sound Group, Praha, tel. +420 722 960 690

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: EMM Labs TSD1 (transport) and EMM Labs DAC2 (D/A DAC), Accuphase DP-78
  • Amplifiers: Audiomat Opus 2 and Audiomat Festival, Accuphase A-60
  • Loudspeakers: JMlab Focal Alto Utopia Be, Audio Physic Virgo V, Dynaudio Evidence Master, Plinius SA Reference
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Nordost Valhalla, Nordost Odin
  • Power conditioning: IsoTek Titan, Nordost Qb8, Nordost Thor

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