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Nordost: The One That Almost Got Away

"That can't be right," I thought as I looked at my phone. The UPS tracking info said that the Nordost cable shipment I was expecting was Delivered. But there was nobody home during the day to accept the package. Surely it should have read: The customer was not available on the first attempt. They wouldn't have left a box containing many thousands of dollars' worth of cables on my front doorstep like it was a sample of laundry soap, would they?

Nordost on doorstep

Yes. Yes they would. I arrived home to find the box leaning against my front door, because obviously it was more delivered than if it was standing upright on the door mat.

Fortunately, I live in a small townhouse complex that's a fair distance removed from the road. It's very private and I know my neighbors, so it all worked out for the best. However, this was the second package in a few months that was worth in excess of $10,000 that didn't require a signature. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Nordost Tyr 2 cables

Anyway, I lugged the box into the house and set to opening it up. A box of cables is just like Christmas morning -- there are lots of little packages, each a jewel waiting to be revealed, their little heads crowning out of the bubble wrap. My first job was to pull out each Nordost Tyr 2 cable and catalog it against my system requirements. Power cords -- check. Single-ended and balanced interconnects -- check. Speaker cables -- check.

I've often wondered how many cable reviews have been confounded by the simple premise that unplugging and replugging cables breaks down a buildup of oxidation, revealing fresh metal-on-metal contact. Could this activity be responsible for some of the improvements reported by reviewers, rather than the new cables themselves?

As luck would have it (hah!), I had reason to do a complete unplugging and reinstalling of my entire system one week prior to the arrival of the Nordost shipment, and the start of the review period. It's like this: here in Ontario, Canada, we had the coldest February on record. It was hellishly cold here, rarely topping -20ºC for the month of February. Turns out that the turn-off valve leading to the tap that feeds my outside hose faucet wasn't sealing correctly, and the trickle of water backed up and froze, bursting a pipe. The place where it burst was -- you guessed it -- right behind my equipment rack. So when I turned the water back on this spring (two weeks ago, you see), I heard gushing water and turned it back off right quick.

Turntable and broken wall

There wasn't much water on the floor (about two towels' worth), so after I unplugged my entire system and moved my rack, it was easy to clean up. But I did have to cut open the wall to get at the pipe, the repair of which cost me one of my cherished Saturday mornings. I left the wall open so that the insulation inside could dry out, and I'll get to the drywall repair shortly. In the meantime, I've got this gaping, scabby hole in my wall, which goes a long, long way toward eradicating any of the aesthetic improvements I've implemented over the past year.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that two weeks prior to installing the new Tyr 2 cables, I had broken the seal and made sure that any benefit from removing oxidation was negated. I will be totally honest and say that if that pipe hadn't burst, I probably wouldn't be crowing about how I'm so diligent and unbiased.

Nordost Tyr 2 speaker cables

Tomorrow Jon Baker of Nordost is flying in to Toronto for a visit. He thought he would stop by to ensure that my system's set up to his and (most importantly) my satisfaction. I hope he doesn't mind the busted-up drywall.

Jason Thorpe
Contributor, SoundStage!