CES & THE Show 2010 • TABlog

by Marc Mickelson | January 9, 2010

What is Foundation Theory, and why does Roy Gregory think it's important? Should you think it's important?

Gregory, the longtime editor of Hi-Fi+, now works "in the industry," as veterans say, leading the way at Nordost toward better understanding and appreciation of the company's products. Foundation Theory is the notion that addressing an audio system's groundwork -- the AC that powers it, the cables that connect everything, and the supporting products for the components -- is not only important, it's vital to hearing what an audio system is truly capable of.

To prove his point, Gregory set up a high-quality entry-level audio system featuring Simaudio electronics, Raidho speakers and a mish-mash of recognizable cables and power products. He played some of our music -- specifically the cut "Destiny" from the Zero 7 CD Paul Bolin brought with him -- and then set about making incremental changes to the system, swapping the cables and power products for others from Nordost, of course.

Out went the power conditioner and power cords, followed by the interconnects and speaker cables. The improvements -- less grain, a deeper and especially wider soundstage, a more natural quality to the music -- were obvious. Then Gregory positioned the electronics on Nordost's new Sort Kones, which begin at $65 each, and the sound went further down the same path, especially when he rearranged the Kones so they were directly under each unit's transformer and output stage. Finally, he changed the speakers' jumpers, inserting Nordost's new Norse jumpers ($149/set), and the sonic picture was complete. The Zero 7 cut, which sounded flat, gray and dreary at first, was transformed into demo material -- no straining to hear minute differences, no kidding.

If you've ever wondered where Gregory found the energy and insight to write a half-dozen reviews for single issues of Hi-Fi+, the magazine he edited, sit through his demonstration of Foundation Theory. He and Nordost are on to something.

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