Nordost and AXPONA Demo Questions

[NOTE] This post has been removed following my receipt of a “CEASE AND DESIST LETTER” from Rodney E. Gould of the law firm of Rubin, Hay & Gould, P.C. in Framingham, MA, which represents the Nordost Corporation of Holliston, MA.



Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

16 thoughts on “Nordost and AXPONA Demo Questions

  • Ray Thompson

    Mark — you are doing amazing work in your industry, which is to be admired since it no doubt makes more enemies than friends. Taking a stand against the Snake-Oil Salesmen — even ones like Nordost, who have a very high level of apparent quality and “engineering” excellent behind their products — takes guts and is a hugely valuable service for everyone who loves high-end audio for the sake of optimizing audio reproduction. Anything that can be done to make this more of a science and less of a cult is a great benefit to the industry. In my mind you and Bob Stuart are two examples of men who are fighting the good fight. Wish there were more like you!

    • Thanks Ray…it’s is challenging.

  • Music lovers will understand what I mean by “Dulcamara stuff”. (Teaser: Rossini’s L’elisir d’amore).
    Some people are happy paying thousands of $ for cables but would question paying hundreds for SW that takes years to develop and debug by highly talented engineers. Insane.

    • Donizetti. For those who don’t know the opera, the very expensive love potion is a bottle of cheap Bordeaux wine!

  • Mark, have you ever considered sitting in on these demos with either a SPL meter or an audio recorder in hand? Even if it’s only the one inbuilt in your phone (and hence not attracting attention), it would still suffice for comparisons.

    • I should have taken my phone with me…I have those apps. Next time.

  • craig allison

    While we both know that no cable or gain-less item could actually increase the amplitude of a playback system, the perceptions that occur when midrange distortion drops significantly could in some cases be mistaken for changes in amplitude.
    I am not promoting Nordost or their devices.

    But for every polarized topic, I try to avoid extreme claims. The extreme characterization of cable manufacturers and vendors has become excessively toxic and virulent. Let me pose this question and also receive a response. Considering how many years and thousands of serious listeners have participated in the ‘cable game,’, do you really think mature adults are that consistently stupid to pay lots of dough for nothing, or allow themselves to be deluded over and over?

    The Emperors’ clothes story was about one person, not exactly a large scale study, cannot be applied legitimately in this instance.

    I have a friend who is one of the most respected audio scientists on the planet. Every cable manufacturer has offered him free cable looms of their best product. He rejects the offers saying,” I am sure the sound would be different. But I am not interested in different; I am only interested in accurate.” Unfortunately, many audiophiles confuse ‘different’ for ‘better’. And in some cases, guess what, maybe ‘different’ actually turns out to be ‘better’ in a given system.

    There are as many holes in the anti-cable rant as there are in some cable companies designs. Report as you find matters, but… turn down the attacks and stop taking serious listeners w/big investments as chumps who enjoy bending over at the cash counter. Those are the same folks who buy your recordings. What an over-cooked, mistaken broad brush stroke, that’s my two cents, and this nasty undertone from some correspondents only makes it worse. I sometimes wonder how much experience they have had.

    • I have enough experience as a professional recording engineer to know the difference between a volume change and midrange distortion changes. The playback differences in the Nordost room was an immediately audible increase in volume…and not the result of careful cable design and manufacturing. I’m reporting what I experience during their presentation. And I have to ask why would they fell obligated to “juice” the level of a more expensive cable? One simple reason. To convince the unknowing that a $6000 power cord is worth the investment.

      In answering your question, the answer is an unqualified yes. Mature adults are suckered into ridiculous purchases all the time and cables are very fertile and profitable ground for the industry. I would agree with your expert friend that cables are no supposed to do anything but deliver…without degradation…both analog and digital signals from one device to another. Any differences in sound…and this will only happen with analog cables…is a loss of fidelity.

      Pointing out facts should not be taken as attacks. We’ve been over this before with Neil Young’s fantasies. Audio consumers deserve to hear the facts…if you regard them as attacks, that’s your issue. There are plenty of serious listeners with expensive systems that are being fleeced by makers of audiophile accessories, over-priced cables, and misrepresented software. They have the money and have drunk the Kool Aid.

      The Nordost demo room delivered unbelievable differences in “sound”…and the changes were not the result of power cords or anti-resonance devices. Those are the facts.

      • craig allison

        Still did not respond to my main question regarding mass idiocy on the part of thousands of experienced listeners, which is not a supportable inference but seems to tail behind this type of article.

        I do not have a personal stance here.

        • Read my comments Craig, I answered your question with an emphatic YES. I believe that thousands of experienced listeners have been fooled into believing that cables should be used to “adjust” the quality of sound in an audio system. This is perpetuated by statements from “experts” like Robert Harley who writes, “…if your system is a little on the bright and analytical side, mellow-sounding interconnects and cables can take the edge off the treble and let you enjoy the music more. If the bass is overpowering and fat, lean- and tight-sounding interconnects and cables can firm up and lean out the bass. A system lacking palpability and presence in the midrange can benefit from a forward-sounding cable.” This is completely wrong headed. There’s not a professional audio engineer, mixer, or mastering engineer worth his salt that has ever considered doing any of those things. What the hell is a “forward-sounding cable”? The cable industry and its advertising dollars have skewed the realities of cables out of all proportion. The problem is they’ve been doing this for so long that they actually believe it.

  • Soundmind

    Now here I have our best kept secret, a liniment made from ingredients so rare we have to go to the four corners of the earth to get them. Then they have to be specially shipped in environmentally controlled containers to our laboratory where they are blended and stabilized. Put some on your bald head and it will grow hair like you were five years old again. Take a sip and it will cure your rheumatism. It can even cure cancer. And if you put a few drops on your audio equipment it will make a $200 boom box sound like a $200,000 high end audio system. There’s a sucker born every minute. Never give a sucker and even break. Anyone want to tap into a secret bank account with over 12 million dollars in it from a fugitive prince in Nigeria? Just send us $100 to cover the cost of processing your access. I understand that scam has been successful since the 18th century.

  • Butch Patchell

    I’m wondering why, if Patrick is being truthful, did he not ‘call them out’ when he observed that the demo was rigged? If I were attending and noticed differences in the levels or tracks played during an A/B comparison, I think I would have at least suggested that perhaps the presenter had inadvertently changed some settings while moving from one cable to another.

    • Butch, I has no reason to believe that Patrick is lying. He’s young and probably attending his first trade show. I took the time to visit the room and experience the entire demo myself to determine what was happening to the sound in that room. The presenter did not alter the volume in front of me…I was watching for that. But he did play each music selection only twice rather than repeat the same track for each more expensive cable. That was reported by both Patrick and myself. My best guess is that they had each track on the CD as a quiet version and loud version.

      I considered saying something but didn’t. I know that a couple of others reported a rather nasty exchange between Ted of Synergistic Research and themselves when inquiring about some of his products.

  • Robert Werner

    … Butch – No, Patrick did it right. You don’t want to start a confrontation in a place like that for fear there may be some guy like me there. I have a very short fuse for stupidity and dishonesty, and I prefer to debate where I have less chance of going to jail.

    As for the “magic” power strip that changes the volume with elevation… A few gyros, accelerometers, and GPS chips and you could transmit an elevation signal to a level control somewhere, even into a guys phone in whose other hand is a remote volume control. If you find all this absurd, you’re probably an honest guy. But some people are just so swayed by the prospect of selling 2 meters of SJTW wire for 10 Franklins that their judgement is a bit fuzzy. Is it time to do background checks on “high end” audio salesmen? Bring it on!

  • A few comments, first at a grand opening of a high end audio store in my area I pulled out my iPhone and fired up Analyzer my frequency meter app. You could feel the fear in the room. Nobody in high end wants any measuring equipment around. And this appeared to a good store not a rack in sight.

    Second Craig let me respond to your challenge about mass idiocy with one word golf. Every ad is about 10 more yards. Drivers, irons and balls a far larger market than high end audio are all marketed that you need the latest model to get that extra ten yards. And it almost never works because there is an overall distance standard in the rules of golf. At one point a couple of years ago Taylormade reduced the product cycle on drivers to six months. At that point golfers said we’ll buy one expensive new driver a year but not two and Taylormade’s revenues went from $1.8 billion in 2012 to $989 million in 2015. That is still a lot of people deluding themselves over and over, not hitting their drives any farther and paying lots dough for nothing.

    “Considering how many years and thousands of serious listeners have participated in the ‘cable game,’, do you really think mature adults are that consistently stupid to pay lots of dough for nothing, or allow themselves to be deluded over and over?” Let’s start with speakers. According to Robert Hartley, one in fifty speakers is worth buying. Doesn’t that mean 98% aren’t worth buying? Herb Reichert has written “the single biggest mistake audiophiles make is picking the wrong speaker.” And my personal favorite Herb Reichert quote “there are thousands of bad speakers to choose from.” I could go on but if you can’t pick a speaker how can pick a cable? Somebody is buying all those bad speakers so there are a lot people deluding themselves. Not much of stretch to think they won’t keep deluding themselves with cables. I’ve written two responses to reviews of audiophile Ethernet cables, Digital Audio Review December 16, 2014 and Part Time Audiophile August 10, 2015. My conclusion is clear properly functioning generic CAT 7 is all you need. Spend any more and I would say yes you are deluding yourself.

    • Very good points. Craig wants to believe that just because thousands of people have been suckered into purchasing expensive cables, that they must be on to something.


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