pl | en

Server/audio files transport


1| Alex Brady @ Nordost QPOINT x 4


Kontakt: NORDOST | 93 Bartzak Dr.
Holliston, MA 01746 | USA


feel uncomfortable when I have to answer questions that I don't know the answer to. I try to say simple "I don't know" then, but it's not always that simple. Like when, when one of the longtime, regular readers of "High Fidelity" sent me a short email in which he expressed his disappointment with my attitude. He thought that what I did and what I wrote were two different things. According to him, there was no point in it.

And it was about the QPoint, a device used to control noise (resonance) in audio devices, about which its manufacturer, Nordost says "Resonance Synchronizer" (HF | № 184). Its test, first published in our pages, and then in the Positive Feedback (accessed: 28.01.2020 ) and (accessed: 28.01.2020), aroused a lot of emotions. Because it is a product that has - apart from one Acoustic Revive device - no representation in perfectionist audio. Theoretical foundations have been known for years and used in "sensitive" industries, but not in audio.

Since its operation can be precisely described and evaluated, I had no doubt that it was extremely useful in high-end systems. At the end of the test, I wrote that "it almost hurt me when I had to give it back." This is a phrase often used by audio reviewers. From experience I know that it is usually just a stylistic figure, which is to emphasize the importance of the final assessment and almost never translates into specific actions, i.e. purchase. But it's normal for a writer to have many resources at his disposal, including licentia poetica. The main thing is to be honest in all this.

Knowing the importance of words and knowing how widely they are spread around the world, I try not to abuse this phrase. I know its value, stylistics is not alien to me, and yet - I wrote what I wrote. And that's what disgusted our reader (whom, by the way, I cordially greet!). And rightly so - I was at that time suspended between the decision and its absence. And if it was just about buying QPoint or not - it would be easy! I would have bought and that would have been it. In the case of reference systems owned by audio reviewers, however, everything gets complicated.

| Operation: Nordost "Q"

Looking at my system and listening to it "with" and "without" the device in question, I was not able to accept that although buying it I would take a step in the right direction, it would be a half-gesture, and thus - ultimately - insufficient. And I can't afford it, because the reference system is like an instrument in the hands of a musician - you have to know it well and trust it. Because, I was thinking, if one QPoint sounds so good, two will sound better, right? And if two, why not three? And let's go all out - four: for the player, preamplifier, its power supply and power amplifier. And I started to like it ...

So, with my dilemmas, I came to Alex Brady, a man who runs trainings at Nordost, exhibitions and, in general, all matters that require deep technical knowledge and musical sensitivity. You know him - his photos can be found in the report from the Audio Video Show 2019. They present the moment of awarding the "Statement in High Fidelity" award to Audioquest (for Niagara) and Nordost (for QPoint).

And now - Alex did visit me before, in July 2019, when he brought QPoint to me, installed it at my place and listened to my system with me. So when I explained my doubts to him, he knew what I was talking about and immediately suggested that he would bring four devices to me and we would listen with me to how they worked in my system. So I was in control of this part of the case. You can probably already see that this is not the end, can’t you? - And it was just the beginning.

Studying the "Q" series further, I could not fail to notice that an integral part of such a system, especially if you have two or more QPoints, is an external, linear power supply. The devices are delivered with small, in-wall switching power supplies, but Nordost also offers QSource, a power supply with four outputs for QPoints and two additional for low-current devices, e.g. routers, file players (like Mytek Brooklyn Bridge) etc. So I asked this device to be brought to me as well.

If you know what QSource looks like, you know that next to the IEC power socket, Nordost engineers have placed a solid speaker terminal, they recommend to be connected to an external, artificial ground. We tested this type of products many times in High Fidelity (HERE, HERE and HERE) and I know that they result in significant changes in the sound, usually positive. And Nordost also offers such an artificial ground - which is obvious - the QKore. The QKore6 version allows six devices to be connected to it. So Alex offered to bring this item too.

It is stupid to talk about it, because it will turn out that I am a bit crazy in my inquisitiveness and focus on the goal, but let it be: since QSource requires power supply, why not power it via the Nordost cable from this company's power strip, right? The strip can be connected to QKore artificial ground. And in this way, instead of taking a small package with four QSource devices, Alex came to me with a huge sports bag and two backpacks, to bring:

  • QPoint x 6 (!),
  • QSource,
  • QKore6,
  • QBase8 Mark II (+ power cable),
  • a lot of QLine cables (for grounding) and QSource DC Cables (for powering the QPoints).

| QPoint (x 4)

Alex has a lot of experience in the application of Nordost products. He knows that any change in the reference system is a big shock and discomfort for the reviewer. So he suggested that I do not introduce everything at once, but rather divide this operation into smaller stages. It was hard to disagree. So you have in your hands (on monitors and displays) the first part of my journey around the world of "Q". The whole will have four views, as detailed above. The first of them was carried out together with Alex, who flew to Krakow especially for me and devoted the whole day (and part of the evening, but this part is not suitable for the press ...) to me.

We set up four QPoints in my system. The one for the player was placed underneath and was facing up, because I tested it once, and the ones on the preamplifier, its power supply and amplifier were placed on tops and were directed down. In the amplifier I placed it above the input section (at the back), and in the preamplifier and power supply directly above the tubes.

I had to prepare an additional strip to connect to and disconnect from devices’ power supplies. For this purpose I decided to use - it might have been an overkill, but hell, we are on the top high-end level - the Acoustic Revive RPT-4EU Ultimate, powered by the Acrolink 8N cable -PC8100 Performante Nero Edizione (№ 1/15), and placed on the Acoustic Revive RST-38H anti-vibration platform (autographed by Mr. Ken Ishiguro).

The test consisted of switching the power supplies on and off. We used four discs for auditions:

  • Takeshi Inomata, The Dialogue, Audio Lab. Record/Octavia Records OVXA-00008, SACD/CD (1977/2001)
  • Frank Sinatra, My Way (50th Anniversary Edition), Capitol/UMe USM Japan UICY-15851, “Signature Sinatra", CD (1969/2019)
  • Mayo Nakano Piano Trio, MIWAKU, Briphonic BRPN-7007GL, Extreme Hard Glass CD-R (2017);
  • Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Darkroom | Interscope Records/Universal International UICS-9161, “7-inch mini LP", CD (2019)

International Sales & Product Trainer

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: We are after listening sessions with and without four QPoints – what can you tell me about changes you observed?
ALEX BRADY: What I heard above all was the complete disappearance of the loudspeakers, which was heard in all four tracks that we listened to. The sound with QPoints was more "present" and had more energy. It was also more engaging. The sound seemed louder than when QPoints were turned off - and yet we were very careful that the volume level was the same every time they were turned on and off. These devices have done something in this system that you always count on when improving something, that is, they allowed us to forget about the system and focus on music.

WP: It seemed to me that there was „more” of everything in front of us, as if more was happening there, am I right?
AB: these four tracks were completely different from each other, it's not just about the vocals, but just about the music. With The Dialogue I heard things in the sound of the percussion, which I had no idea that they were there, and which could not be caught without QPoints. As if the "personality" of the system has changed, as if the tonal balance has changed, etc. You know your system better than I do, but I must say that I am a fan of these speakers (Harbeth M40.1 - ed.), because they are incredibly communicative, they show every change in the system before them.

Anyway, I think that what QPoins bring to your system will be clearer and clearer to you during the following weeks and months when you add more elements of the QRT system to it. My experience with these speakers tells me that they will perfectly show any change. Looking at you I can see that this is a big change now :)

WP: It's amazing, but we had the same expression on out faces when we played the first track with four QPoints, because we reacted similarly - with a smile.
AB: And similarly, when I connect QSource and QKore to them, there are similar changes, but better ordered. The way QPoint works can be heard now not only in vocals, but also with applause - it was more intense, more real, but without brightening and unpleasant hardening of the sound. Everything was more tangible.

Out of curiosity, I’d like to try one small change – let’s switch the QPoint on top of the amplifier from the Mode II (green LED) to font color="#3857b0">Mode II (blue LED) and try it with Sinatra’s song, OK?

QPoint had two operating modes: I and II. Each of them offers a slightly different pattern of generated noise, which interacts with the noise inside the device. Alex says that - in general - Mode I (blue) is best for sound sources and preamplifiers, and Mode II for integrated amplifiers and power amplifiers. And that’s how we listened to the music most of the time.

AB: It was a small change in the system and the sound is different, right? It may be a matter of taste, but personally I preferred the sound in Mode I, i.e. with the blue diode, in the whole system including the amplifier. I think the sound was more delicate with it, slightly softer, and certainly shown a bit further, with a better perspective. Listening to the vocal itself, I noticed more subtlety and minor changes in it.

WP: In the Mode II (green), the sound – in such, direct comparison – was bit harder. Although before, without comparison, we couldn’t hear it. AB: Yes, I could hear that in the Mode II the sound was slightly more divided. After going back to the Mode I we heard more liquid sound, with better „flow”.

WP: These were not dramatic changes, but I see that it is possible to shape the final sound of the system in this way. Yes, of course - it was immediately obvious that we have specific preferences and both liked Mode I here more. I expect your preference will be similar when you try QKore - depending on what elements you ground and how the sound will change slightly. And then you also need to make some A/B comparisons to determine which system will be the best in this particular system. But that's what it's all about, right. About constantly looking for "better", no matter how "good" is what you have here and now...

It was a unique experience. Four QPoints are to stay for good – from now on they will be a part of the „High Fidelity” reference system. Next stages coming soon. Stay tuned!