High End 2013

One of the truly significant product launches at High End was Nordost's much-anticipated revamping of its Valhalla cable line, dubbed Valhalla 2. From an appearance perspective, the cable takes on the look of a mini Odin, as it sports the now-familiar wooden-block attachments of the company's top-of-the-line cables. Closer inspection reveals that a difference is a whole new range of terminations on all cables, and the new Holo Plug terminations are very sophisticated-looking.

Valhalla 2 uses Nordost's dual mono-filament technology. The interconnects have ten 24AWG oxygen-free silver-plated conductors and cost $7600 per meter pair -- $6500 for the first half-meter and an additional $1100 per additional half meter. The speaker cable consists of 28 22AWG conductors and is $9600 per 1.25-meter pair, with $1500 per additional half-meter increment. The dedicated tonearm cable consists of four 24AWG conductors and comes standard in 1.25-meter length at $5000, plus $600 per additional half meter. A 75-ohm digital cable is offered in a standard 1.25-meter length for $3300 with $1200 per additional meter length. Finally the new power cord comes with either 15- or 20-amp terminations in a standard one-meter length for $5000, with additional meter lengths adding $1000 each.

Valhalla 2 demonstrations showed the newly redesigned cables to be truly stunning in terms of what matters most, their sound. The Nordost team's demonstration began with switching out a single cable between the wall power junction and the distribution block, and the improvements across the board were obvious and not in any way subtle. Duke Ellington's piano on This One's For Blanton snapped into focus with a single cable swap. Next, the CD transport power cable was swapped and finally the cable between the CD transport and DAC, and the results of these three changes were each impressive.

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