Pros: Excellent product
Cons: awkward and elongated customer experience
All it takes is one experience that isn't so great and suddenly you realize how fragile small startups selling niche products like this one are. Norse, now Norne Audio, seems like a wildly understaffed and over-stressed company that needs expansion to keep up with demand but can't afford it. When you've been fed the 'suit and tie' presentation by enough of these small companies it becomes exceedingly easily to forget exactly how small they are.
When a Draug 2 was ordered for me as a gift, I was very excited. I'd heard so much about these cables and of course I'd started babbling about them to those closest to me who'd listen, and for someone to spend that much on me was a huge surprise. They placed the order at the beginning of December, and of course I anticipated some hang-time before I would find it on my doorstep. Come the beginning of March, I was getting a little worried. I contacted them and received expedient reply that made it seem like they'd completely forgotten about the order. They immediately shipped it and it seemed to be over with.
When I upgraded from a Schiit Valhalla to a Ragnarok, however, I felt this affliction overtake me that seemed to draw my eyes to the balanced connection right next to the single-ended connection the Draug had originally been ordered with. I'd heard about some theoretical improvements balanced systems made and I gave in. Cue shipping my Draug off to get reterminated and a splitter added to it which would require another retermination on the other end of the cable. Mind you, the order of the emails between myself and Trevor shows I did make modifications to the order but not after he billed me. Trevor, Norne's customer correspondant, told me to send $15 over Paypal after I'd stated everything I wanted done. I did so and waited for just over three months before asking questions. Once again, I was apologized to and told the cable would immediately be shipped back and my $15 refunded. At the same time, Trevor told me I hadn't paid for the entirety of the repair-work. What? I'd only ever been billed for $15 ...
I sent him an email saying I'd gladly pay the rest of the bill if that's what had been causing the delay, and then there was silence. No response, nothing. About a month later, I contact him again and he ships it to me again.
The thing that jarred me about the experience was that I didn't ask for anything to be done - I only asked what was going on. Trevor was continuously falling over himself it seemed to make it seem like things were getting done, but only when I asked. Of course I respect that repairs take time, after all, I've been sending off my old McIntosh gear to Terry DeWick for over a year now under the understanding that it would take 100+ days to complete repairs, but here's what Terry did. When my Mac got to his bench, Terry would poke me with an email just to let me know I was up next. I'm given a couple murmuring emails about where he's at with the repairs and then finally I get the invoice. This process is simple, clean, and representative of professionalism from a single dude in Tennessee who's about as busy as any repair-man out there.
The sum total of this has nothing to do with the product, you'll note. For those wondering about the actual product; Norne represents something close to the very best money can buy. Trevor showed me what copper can really do when I thought silver was the way to go. The product is as beautiful as it is exceptional in it's performance, but this one communication error brings up a point which is the SOLE REASON I'm posting this review. Trevor's only mistake was that he jumped where he should have stood firm. The man is trying to do so much and the fact that more mistakes haven't been made is a testament to how outstanding he is at this job. He only needs to stand firm and educate his impatient and ignorant customer (me) on what exactly is going on instead of immediately shipping or trying to resolve an issue that doesn't exist.