Nordost QKore system grounding accessories Page 2

Setup decisions were simplified when Taylor explained that, since the component LVAPs in the QKore3 and 6 are identical, and the power-product LVAPs in the QKore1 and 6 are also identical, if I were to use the QKore6 to connect only three components plus a power product, the sound would be equivalent to connecting a separate QKore1 and QKore3. It got even easier when I discovered that the only open digital connectors on my components were single-ended BNC and RCA. This meant that I wouldn't be able to compare the sounds of the QKores' grounding via single-ended vs balanced connectors.

With no room on my rack, and little floor space behind a system wired with 1,001 cables, I feared that more boxes and wires would consume all the remaining space behind the rack. Happily, the QKores perched securely atop the diffusers that Bart Andeer of Resolution Acoustics had designed for the front wall of my listening room. I could still tiptoe through the cables.

I began by removing the QKores' rubber feet and perching each Ground Unit atop one titanium and two bronze Sort Kones. Later, well into my listening, I discovered that using two titaniums and one bronze better illumined the sound.


I listened to three reference recordings: Lou Harrison's percussion-rich Concerto for Violin with Percussion Orchestra, with soloist Tim Fain accompanied by Angel Gil-Ord&3243;ñez leading the PostClassical Ensemble (24-bit/48kHz WAV, Naxos 8.559825); Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra's knockout performance of Shostakovich's Symphony 4 (24/96 WAV, Deutsche Grammophon 002859502); and Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's recording of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra (24/192 WAV, SFS Media SFS0070). All three wallop the listener with copious bass, considerable high extension, dramatic outbursts, and a hell of a lot going on all at once.

Listening to the CH Precision I1, which includes a DAC, I heard a pervasive grayness that covered the music's glory like a light, transparent fog. I longed for richer colors in the Berg, more silence around climactic percussive strokes in the Shostakovich. Then, when I connected the QKore1 to the Tweek Geek Dark Matter Stealth power conditioner, I was ready to swear that the soundstage had widened and colors were now a bit more distinct. Once I'd gotten past the shock of discovering how more transparent and vivid everything sounded, I realized that while the soundstage had not widened, sounds now stood out more because much of the fog had lifted. I especially loved how I could hear more subtle bass differentiation in the Berg, and more vivid colors.

In connecting the CH Precision I1 to the QKore3, I now had to make a choice between BNC and RCA inputs. No contest; using an open BNC clock input on the CH I1 delivered wetter, more transparent sound. With the Harrison concerto, for example, images grew notably more three-dimensional and round. There was more air around the violin, and the percussive explosions were now distinctly behind it.

I added the dCS Scarlatti clock to the signal chain, using one of its open BNC outputs, listened, and noted: "The sound is getting ghostly quiet. Everything I love about this music and these recordings is standing out more."

For the CH Precision review, I'd intended to compare the sound of the I1's internal DAC to that of an external dCS Rossini DAC, the latter's analog outputs connected to the I1's preamp section. Connecting the QKore3 to both the Rossini and the I1 further shifted the sound, from gray around the edges to remarkably more vivid. As for which open input sounded better, when I moved the QKore Wire from the Rossini's open RCA to its open BNC clock input, BNC again delivered wetter, more transparent images.


Because I always listen to the Rossini DAC with the Scarlatti clock engaged, I next added the latter, but without the QKore3 attached. With the clock alone, the soundstage was more 3D, instruments moved farther back and seemed more naturally differentiated from each other, and an appreciable amount of additional air increased the distinction between hi-fi and high-end.

Next, when I connected the external Scarlatti clock to the QKore3, I heard the clearest, most color-differentiated sound, and the most silence between sounds, that I'd yet heard from the combo of Rossini DAC and CH Precision I1. Harrison's gamelan-like use of a wide variety of percussion—all manner of gongs, drums, bells, each with a different timbre and different length of decay—makes this recording a superb test for a sound system, as well as a thrilling musical ride.

Of the many improvements wrought by the Nordosts, one that stood out was how much longer I could hear the sounds of bells and gongs decay, even as other instruments began playing over those decays. That increased sense of natural decays in space—even with recordings, such as the Harrison, that lack a high sampling rate—validated all the energy and money that we audiophiles devote to searching out ways to increase our systems' capacity to reproduce what the finest recording and mastering engineers wish us to hear.


After listening some more, and having discovered my preference for one bronze and two titanium Sort Kones under each QKore Ground Unit, I found the music so convincing, colorful, and pleasing that I declared, "Enough snippets of orchestral tours de force!" Instead, I revisited some of the recordings I love of sopranos and mezzos singing music that brings warmth to my heart and smiles to my face, as I reveled in quieter backgrounds, more colorful accompaniment, and more thrilling overtones than I'd ever heard from my system. It was good—very, very good.

I can't imagine that anyone who's invested considerable time and energy and money in a high-end system would want to be without the markedly "blacker" backgrounds, increased transparency and detail, more vivid colors, and greater overall veracity delivered by Nordost's QKore Ground Units. Connecting just a single power distributor or conditioner to a QKore1 or QKore6 brought marked improvements; adding as many additional components as possible increased the effect greatly. The law of diminishing returns does not apply; the differences were cumulative, and anything but subtle.

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Anton's picture

I like that you could hear a difference, but not sure what your reference was.

What grounding scheme were you using prior to the QKore, and, I guess, which other grounding products were you comparing it to?

If none, then I would be wary of the conclusion, because that would become a comparison of grounding vs. not grounding, which all audiophiles know is a crucial sound issue.

If you ended up sending the product back and not keeping it, I would recommend a Google search for "start grounding," as I have found that to be a superlative grounding approach.

I enjoyed the show report, I saw this product was in use in their display room, I wonder what their ultimate ground "anchor" was way up in that high rise!

Cheers, Jason!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

First paragraph: ... in a high-end system that, in my case, is fed by an 8-gauge dedicated line with its own copper ground rod driven into the terra infirma of the fault-ridden Pacific Northwest.

Jack L's picture

.... which all audiophiles know is a crucial sound issue." quoted Anton.


So you already stated above it is a "crucial sound issue" which means there is sound difference with & without proper grounding.

Whether one can hear the difference & how noticeable is the difference depends one's listening ability - which is again personal & subjective.

I would only comment on the lofty prices Nordost is charging its those grounding boxes. Way way out to lunch !

Yours truly, a die-hard DIYer, can easily build such grounding devices
dirt cheap !

FYI, my dedicated 120V/250V powerlines hooked up from my house electric panel direct to my dual-voltage rig with inline power conditioners, got its dedicated ground wires hooked up direct to the house main grounding enchor (at the incoming underground water main) at my house basement.

I believe my rig does not need expensive grounding boxes like Nordost.

Jack L.

spacehound's picture

"low voltage attractor plate etc. etc."

I sure would raise an eyebrow.
It's meaningless pseudo scientific gibberish from beginning to end.

A suggestion: Connect your grounding rod via another 8 gauge wire to your main household water supply pipe with a metal strap. (It's standard practice here in the UK.) Then take your 'household ground' from one or the other, not both.

mrkaic's picture

Pseudo science is rather popular among audiophiles. Don’t you know?

spacehound's picture

But I'm not new. I have been interested in high fidelity music reproduction since the 1960's. Nowadays I see so many 'useful idiots' in the hifi magazines advocating such garbage (and many people falling for it) that it is beginning to put me off the entire hifi 'environment'.

mrkaic's picture seem to be new on this site. I used to be bothered by audio flat-earthers when I started reading this magazine (and other audio related stuff). Now, I just laugh at all audio pseudo-science.

spacehound's picture

But only feel moved to comment when I see reports on nonsense such as this. (I'm a mathematician/physicist by trade, employed, but now semi-retired, in the 'big' computer industry in what you might call 'leading edge applied physics'.)

The pure unadulterated gibberish I see so often in the hifi industry and its dependents, such as the magazines, has, I feel, greatly damaged the credibility of the industry as a whole. EG: Where I live, Southampton UK, used to have about eight specialist hifi shops. Now it has only one, and that one is not doing well, despite that expensive hifi is not something people usually buy online.

Also of course the 'mass' manufacturers have come up so well that the tiny specialist manufacturers can offer very little in the way of better sound except possibly for speakers. It's not a matter of diminiahing returns, it's a matter of no returns at all from the high priced specialists, even more so when the price of all other electronic equipment is reducing while theirs goes up and up. It's not that people can't afford it, it's that they choose not to buy it.

Anton's picture

How can you deny what Jason heard?


Side note: I am fine with changing 'pseudo-science' to a term that doesn't associate itself with science at all. How about we switch to 'audio mythos' or 'audio superstition' and get well clear of besmirching science at all.

spacehound's picture

But what he (or anyone else, including myself) think we hear and what sound is actually emitted are not necessarily the same.

As for your other comment, "pseudo-science" is fine. It underlines the total falsity of many of these claims. Here in the UK we have an 'Advertising Standards Authority' and some cable companies have been prevented from making such false claims.

Jack L's picture

.. and some cable companies have been prevented from making such false claims." quoted spacehound.

Basing on what "authority" or jurisdiction the 'Advertising Standard Authority' can declare whatever advertised is "FALSE claims" ?

It is NOT as easy as one may assume to prove an advertisement or commercial a "false claim" for anything personal & subjective, e.g. food, wines, sound equipment. etc etc. Otherwise the authority will be challenged legally.

Jack L.

HammerSandwich's picture

Why, what could possibly go wrong with that?

The EU regulators who blocked amplifier outputs must have seen this insanity coming.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Terra Firma" ......... Todd Rundgren :-) ..........

NeilS's picture

"...Connecting just a single power distributor or conditioner to a QKore1 or QKore6 brought marked improvements; adding as many additional components as possible increased the effect greatly. The law of diminishing returns does not apply; the differences were cumulative, and anything but subtle..."

A sure shoo-in for the next Nobel Prize for Economics, just a matter of showing empirically these thingies do indeed invalidate a fundamental tenet of economic theory!

spacehound's picture

It's physics too. This nonsense box from Nordhost, the recently announced 24,000 dollar loudspeaker cables from Audioquest, etc, etc, etc.

And there is no known science behind any of it.

THEREFORE I will only consider purchasing any of such stuff when the manufacturers show me their Nobel Prizes for physics. Until they can it all remains snake oil.

Jack L's picture

"when the manufacturers show me their Nobel Prizes for physics. Until they can it all remains snake oil." quoted by spacehound.

Everything goes by the nature - physics.

So when Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravitation physics from the apple felt on his head, he did not awarded any Nobel Prizes or whatever equal qualification. So... ?

Jack L.

hb72's picture

you seem to have a very simplified idea of physics.

Physics is not only what is covered in a collage-level physics course textbook, but it is what governs processes in nature, some of which is known and can be explained with useful theories & models, some of it is only observed, measured if you want, but not yet well understood w.r.t. fundamental mechanisms. E.g. the concept of mass and mass-mass interaction is only recently started to be understood (beyond observational level, of course) and integrated into existing theories.

Rather than referring to all-too simple text book physics, physicists tend to rely on measurements when it comes to complex unpredictable systems (human perception of reproduced music on complex hifi kit IMO is complex).
I guess in musical reproduction this *could* be via "listening" as this, though subjective, is not only the ultimate but also the most accessible musical measurement process which involves the human processing of musical signals including the errors in reproduction.

Talking of measurements: grounding issues is an issue in experimental physics (the part that focusses on measurements and validation of theories, as opposed to theoretical physics): measuring tiny differences in electric potential (nV) is a problem common to some sub-disciplines in physics, and measurements are influenced by many disturbing effects (starting from contact resistance, noise of all sorts including thermal lattice vibrations,..). --> Having a useful reference for and not introducing error/noise to such voltage measurements is key.

Back to musical reproduction: firstly one never ceases to learn - the effect of grounding, even through slightly different ground levels on 2 RCA source inputs into a pre-amp, can be heard very easily (at least I can on my equipment, a NAIM NAIT XS; mind, Naim prefers DIN plug/socket system for interconnects, because it avoids 2 ground contacts of potentially slightly different value, by using only a single one).

Whether and to what extent the effects of Nordost's grounding system can be heard I cannot say, but the obviously most useful working hypothesis might be "just about as JVS has described them for his system" until you or I have heard it with our own ears. Until then, keep calm and do not feel coerced to spend money on kit you haven't heard.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Waiting for the review of that $24,000 speaker cable by JVS :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If the loudspeaker is Quad wirable, the total cost for the speaker cable would be $100,000 :-) ..........

That would be the 'law of increasing returns' :-) ............

May be DSD 1024 and PCM 32/768 are examples of 'law of increasing returns' :-) ............

mrkaic's picture

The stuff is actually too cheap. It would sound so much better if it cost twice as much.

spacehound's picture

As I have said before, here and elsewhere, when these manufacturers show me their Nobel Prizes for discovering previously unknown physics I will start to believe there may be some truth in what they claim.

But there is another problem. I have never seen any physics equations with 'price' as a factor and I doubt I ever will.

Anton's picture

Happy new year!

spacehound's picture

I have got fed up with all the nonsensical stuff reported on many Hi-Fi sites so mostly only comment when I feel really annoyed by all the garbage.

For what it's worth Stereophile is far better than most. There is one well-known site where the 'anti-science' (not just ignorance) has reached ludicrous levels and any semblance of objectivity appears to be actively discouraged by the site operator.

Happy new year to you.

Jack L's picture

... as a factor and I doubt I ever will." quoted spacehound.


Apparently you never own/run any business to make some profit. If you did, would you tell the world how much money you make in yr business, be it
audio equipment or cars, or whatever, in "any physics equations with price"?

Jack L.

Hobbyist's picture

After reading this JVS review with some interest and a great deal of skepticism for the “LVAP” device, checking some basic physics and electrical engineering topics, and downloading some excellent AES articles/white papers on hum/noise problems by Bill Whitaker of Jensen plus a series of RaneNotes from Rane Commercial Audio Products, I then found these posts on the Stereophile website. I also studied all information available on the Nordost web site, including the product’s Instruction Manual.

It was gratifying to see from these posts that there are a number of electrically astute Stereophile readers.

I suspect that these magic QKore boxes and wires may actually do some good if your system has unequal chassis ground potentials that are causing chassis noise currents (as in AC, NOT DC, as Serinus mentioned on p. 114). If so, then the QKore devices may be working to establish a proper star grounding system, but at terrific cost. My estimate is $13,610 to ground six components and a power strip, using two platinum and one bronze “Kone” for each of three QKore boxes, which comprise the Nordost recommended setup.

As a simple “proof of concept” experiment, I constructed a star ground system, wiring together four components (all with 3-prong grounded AC) and a power strip via 16 AWG stranded/PTFE-insulated wires with spade lugs, connecting to a solid chassis ground point on each device. I did NOT use an RCA, XLR or other open jack, since jack wiring is variable. Having no idea what electrical principle gives the Nordost LVAP its low voltage attractive powers, a stack of scrubbed and sanded thin copper plates, mounted in an aluminum project box, was used to provide a low impedance sink.

Based on Coulomb’s Law and the definition of ampere (Halliday and Resnick, Physics 3rd Ed, Vol. II, p. 569, 1978), the charge carrying ability of copper is quite substantial. My stack of about 60 plates, each 0.005-inch thick and 4.5 by 0.75 inches, weighing 150 grams total, has enough copper atoms to accommodate a charge of some 6.5 x 106 Coulombs. It would take over 2,000 years to accumulate this charge at a rate of 0.1 mA. This is a typical chassis current for a medium power (20-100 Watt) audio component with a 115V mains transformer, according to Bill Whitlock of Jensen Transformers (AN-004, “Hum and Buzz in Unbalanced Interconnect Systems”).

Results: There MAY be a slight improvement in background “blackness”, but since I could not initially measure any inter-chassis currents or chassis potential differences (all zero), and had a low 1 ohm Neutral to Earth ground DC resistance in the dedicated 20 amp circuit used for the audio system BEFORE the star grounding box was added. There were no audible noise problems to begin with, so it is impossible to say if there was any real improvement, or merely a placebo effect. No harm was done, it was fun, and I saved about $13,600. (It IS a hobby, Jason!)

Bottom line – Even 150 grams of copper apparently has enough charge carriers to function as a sink for the tiny alternating currents which are the primary cause of audible and inaudible system noise.
Star grounding – good.
LVAP – audio mythology and a sales pitch. Ditto for the vibration-dampening “Kones”.

Jack L's picture

"t would take over 2,000 years to accumulate this charge at a rate of 0.1 mA." quoted Hobbyist.

So who needs the thick $356 charge drain cable built with silver-plated copper & Teflon insulation etc etc. Well, money talks !?

I can build a much much thinner cable (just to drain out 0.1mA) built with silver-plated oxygen-free pure solid copper wire in Teflon tube jacket, costing me like peanut !

My question: so we NEED to have such exotic drain cable to drain off
micro currents?

Knowledge is the power to save money !

Jack L.