Nordost- Blue Heaven Headphone Cables- Terrific Value and Quality at an affordable price

Nordost first entered the high end cable market in 1991 with their flatline speaker cables that became internationally accepted and were well received. The success of Nordost over the last two decades is through the efforts of CEO Joe Reynolds and his team who continue to evolve with innovative designs and technology. They believe in long term value with their award winning products. Nordost products are all made in the USA. The explosive growth in the  personal audio market  has many companies designing products for headphones and computer audio.

The Heimdall series of headphones cables were introduced in Newport Beach in 2014. Headphone listening is growing at record pace with newer products continuously being introduced. Space restrictions and a younger audience are driving the growth in the marketplace. The products are evolving and are now at levels of sound quality that audiophiles and music lovers demand. The Blue Heaven is Nordost’s second headphone cable and is attractively priced at $399.00 for the 1.25m and $499.00 for 2m.

The thing I admire most about Joe Reynolds is that  he understands what is happening in high end audio. Many headphones are compromised with poor cable design.. The introduction of  the Heimdall 2 high end headphone cable system was a complete system designed for all types of headphone users.  Priced at $799 it includes a XLR 4 pin connection for balanced amplifiers, plus two different 3.5mm and 6.3 mm extensions, so users could adapt their headphones to both single ended amplifiers and mini portable digital players. Heimdall 2 is designed more for users with multiple devices and its stellar sound and innovation dramatically improved the sound quality of all headphones I used with it(review in progress).

CES 2016  was exciting to see all the new innovative product introductions. The Venetian is where we find most of the high end audio companies. Nordost was on my list as one of the companies to visit with and see what Joe and his team were going to introduce for 2016. Nordost was at the Venetian showcasing new and exciting products with a variety of reference quality headphones.

The Blue Heaven headphone cable was on display. I listened briefly and was thrilled to see that the  Blue Heaven cable was going to be introduced. Blue Heaven speaker cables, USB and interconnects have been my reference cables for several years. My system continues to evolve through the years but the one steadfast has always been the Blue Heaven series of cables. The flat line speaker cables always deliver musicality and tonality for me. Blue Heaven has always delivered phenomenal quality  and value. Excited after listening to the Blue Heaven on a few different headphones, I knew these were going to be special and requested review samples from marketing manager Meredith Gabor.lg-Blue-Heaven-Headphone-Cable_600-lightbox

Design:

The Blue Heaven jacket is different from most cables in casing design. It is in a flexible lightweight high density polymer jacket. The conductors used are 34 AWG 7/42 conductors and twisted into a Litz construction which increases flexibility while reducing stress.. Proprietary Mico Mono-Filament technology is applied. The technology is intensive and involves individually wrapping each strand of FEP before it is encased in extruded FEP insulation and according to the Nordost website improves the cable’s dielectric. Nordost also includes Aramid fiber strength to accommodate demands on headphone.

The fibers insure the mechanical integrity of the cable and take the strain away from the conductor and portions of the Aramid fibers enhance sound quality. OFC copper is used and the purity of the copper is 99.9999.The cable is terminated with a 3.5mm mini standard plug and includes a threaded (1/4) stereo phone adapter and allows users to either use it for  a portable devices or desktop amplifiers. The lengths available are 1.25mm and 2m Lengths. The 2m length review sample is priced at $499.

Sounds:

Listening to many reference grade headphones over the years I have always noticed differences when using aftermarket cables. Most manufacturers build products to a specific price point and in many instances the cables are often neglected, which can lead to compromised performance. The Blue Heavens arrived for the Sennheiser HD800, HiFiman HE-1000 and the Mr Speakers Ether C in attractive packaging and  a convenient storage box.

The Sennheiser HD800 has a reputation in the personal audio community to have a poor quality stock silver coated  cable. Since they are one of my reference headphones I always found the HD800 to be a terrific reviewing tool. The HD800 is brutally honest and reveals  exactly what every component in the system is really doing . The most important thing for me while doing reviews is to provide readers with an honest evaluation of the gear I review. The stock cable on the HD800 is grainy and bright. Many feel it is the major drawback of the HD800 and can make the treble sound bright and harsh. Using the Blue Heaven cable with the HD800 tamed the brightness over the stock cable. Noticeable was more clarity within the soundstage. I could hear a clearer and more open picture of what each individual instrument sounded like in most recordings. Also apparent was more air and space between the performers.

Lang Lang’s piano sounded alive and dynamic, yet noticeable were the delicate notes in “Scherzo NO 1”from his “Live in Paris album”. The solo piano had more depth and clarity. The HD800 was more vivid in presenting the music with better tone and musicality. The cable never called attention to itself and let the music flow with terrific dynamics and tonality.The ENigma Dharma also use the same connectors as the HD800. Using the Blue Heaven with the Dharma, the results were similar and a major improvement over the stock cable. Music was more defined and had better transparency.  Both headphones were noticeably improved using the Blue Heaven.

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Mullet  a Headfi.org listens with the Dharma and the Blue Heaven

The HE-1000 is another reference headphone that has exceptional transparency and cable differences are easily heard. Using high quality cables can reward the listener with a cleaner and clearer picture into the musical performance.  The HE-1000’s inner detail and transparency step up when using high quality cables..

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Kd Lang’s rendition of “Hallelujah” from her “Recollections album” is one of the best female vocals performances I have experienced. Lang’s rendition is magical. The HE-1000 with the Blue heaven had her sounding as well as I have heard it performed. KD is to the right of the piano in the center of the stage you can hear every syllable in the vocal with clarity. The orchestra was set in the rear layered with space and air. The sound was breathtaking. The Blue Heaven clearly stepped up the HE-1000 to another level over the stock cable. Never did I feel anything was missing in her performance. The musicality and her vocal had me captivated.

The Ether C designed by Dan Clark, has the DUM cables available as an option, which in itself is an improved cable over the stock cable. The Blue Heaven on the Ether C was harder to describe major differences. The subtle sound in AB comparisons showed improvement slightly in transparency. The Blue Heaven matches all other cables in my system and typically I find it best to use cables from the same manufacturer to get peak performance. The Blue Heaven on the Ether C once again was a slight step up in performance. The Ether C and the Blue Heaven are anther excellent match and enjoyable musically.

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Conclusions:

Investing in reference headphones can be an expensive proposition. Investing big dollars in top tier headphones is an investment in musical enjoyment. Getting the most out of headphones is imperative for me not only because I do reviews but also to hear everything the headphones are  capable of producing. Using compromised cables in a $1200-$3000 product restrict the overall performance of the transducer .  Investing substantial money to hear the best top tier headphones only makes sense to hear everything they are capable of producing.

The Blue Heaven cables made a difference in all  headphones used. The differences were noticeable. The Blue Heaven with the HD800 was a major step up in performance over the stock cable. Instrument separation was improved within the soundstage. The grain and grunge were removed. It was as if I sprayed Mr. Clean on the window and was able to see a cleaner and clearer picture of the performance. Brush strokes on drum cymbals were more defined. Imaging was better on every headphone used and more inner detail was easily noticed in the recordings.

The results were more of the same on the HE1000 and Ether C. Tonality and musicality is what it is all about for me when listening to headphones or speakers. Listening with the high quality Blue Heaven headphone cables  removed the obstacles that are always present from lesser quality cables. The Blue Heaven delivers music without grain and lets each headphone perform at a higher level. The Blue Heaven offers non-compromised performance at a value price. If you want to see what your headphone is  capable of producing you should check out the Blue Heaven cables.  Highly Recommended.

http://www.nordost.com/

SPECIFICATIONS

Insulation: Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
Construction: Mechanically tuned lay, Micro Mono-Filament, 7 strand twisted Litz design
Conductors: 4 x 34 AWG
Material: 99.9999% solid core OFC
Velocity of Propagation: 80%
Termination: All cables come terminated with a 3.5mm Stereo Mini Connector and are supplied with a screw-on 1/4” (6.3mm) Stereo Phono Adapter
See chart (link to the right) for compatible headphones and available termination options for the headphone end of the cable.

 

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