POINT YOUR COMPASS TOWARDS AUDIO SOLUTIONS AND NORDOST
Sydney's Audio Solutions is a specialist retailer established in Mascot by friends Tony Stanzos and Nick Papas. The foundation of friendship is one of the core business values that the larger than life proprietors carry on today with their customers.
If you've ever visited the Botany Road store, you'll know what we're talking about. While most stores are built around the sales counter, the hub of the Audio Solutions showroom is a dedicated wet bar featuring a high-end espresso machine.
Chatting with Stanzos, it's clear he knows his customers. He'll tell you where they holiday each year, their children's names, or what their hi-fi or cinema journey has entailed since Audio Solutions opened its doors in the year 2000.
It's this friendly approach to business that factors largely in the Audio Solutions business success story.
Which is also why when Audio Solutions hosts one of their regular social evenings featuring a brand or product and its corresponding representatives after hours, a good turnout is guaranteed.
Whether it's the highly-regarded spread that Audio Solutions is renown for, the loyalty of its customers, or perhaps both, an evening held on Thursday 27th September turned out a full house of punters itching to know more about the Nordost cable brand from Holliston, a town of Massachusetts.
All Cables Compasses Point to Nordost
In attendance, thanks to Australia's Nordost distributor, Advance Audio, was the charming Bjorn Bengtsson, the Swedish technical guru for Nordost who pointed out that the brand's name translated from German to English means 'north-east'.
That might not mean much on first thought, but it's the direction of the company's headquarters on a map from within the United States. And with this knowledge, you'll likely notice the compass that forms the letter 'O' of the Nordost logo for the rest of your days!
After some brief words from Stanzos, another display of Audio Solutions' hospitality, and a short intro to Bjorn, attendees were split into two groups.
While one group was treated to a series of A/B demonstrations across the Nordost cable range, the other was enjoying a PS Audio presentation in conjunction with musician Mary Webb, never seen far from her acoustic guitar, who played a few tracks from her latest album to the captivated audience.
With limited time in which to showcase its cables, the main event of the evening focused on Nordost's Power and USB cables. Playing selected tracks with a matched volume across each presentation, Bjorn and Advance Audio's General Manager, Nigel Ng, demonstrated a range of cables including the Heimdall and Frey ranges. While I was tucked away off to one side of the standing room only studio, the differences were not subtle.
Attendees entered into a friendly and informal discussion at the end of each A/B comparison and those that spoke up, unanimously reported audible improvements in the bass and vocal clarity, detail and tonality.
While I use cables in my system that would be regarded as ultra high-end, one area I've remained somewhat sceptical, if not naive, is the digital USB cable. Following the same demonstration process, starting with a generic manufacturer supplied cable, then the Red Dawn, before finishing with the Frey 2 USB-C cable, many attendees uncontrollably let out gasps of enlightenment in agreement to what was being heard. I held back the urge to whip out the credit card on the spot.
The fact remains, there are many non-believers when it comes to aftermarket cables. The snake-oil brigade will fight to the death claiming there are no audible differences and spend a lot of time chanting a mantra that probably equates to something along the lines of “It can't be measured so it can't be heard”.
Our friend and colleague Ed Kramer, Editor of Soundstage! Australia was also in attendance and confidently raised the often controversial question (usually ending in tears on enthusiast forums!) with Bjorn relating to double-blind testing, or 'ABX'.
Not phased at all by the topic, Bjorn described the development and testing procedures utilised by Nordost and was equally confident in his explanation. Nordost's development team, of which Bjorn is part of, certainly do double-blind test their products not only when designing new products, but even just for fun on any given occasion. Dedication!
As mentioned previously, the audible differences between the ranges of cables were not subtle, and all were superior to the manufacturer supplied generic versions. So hearing of Nordost's repeatable results in blind-testing really comes as no surprise.
Nordost and selected Australian dealers offer in-home evaluations of its range of cables. With no obligation, if you're serious about high-fidelity music reproduction, it's a no-brainer to aim your cable compass at Nordost.
We'd like to thank Audio Solutions and Advance Audio for the invitation to StereoNET and our readers to attend what was both a very enjoyable, and insightful evening.
Audio Solutions are located at 1195 Botany Road, Mascot NSW.