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Nordost Valhalla appreciation thread - Page 5  

post #61 of 272
Thread Starter 

Solder sucks

After the QuickSilver experiment I found that the softer the conductor material is the muddier it sounds like. After it hardens after a couple weeks it will increase transparency, but it's still soft enough to be wiped off. Silver solder hardens after 1 second so it is better.

But solder is still softer than the conductor itself. I don't want the signal to go through soft solder . I wonder how a solderless system sounds like, any ideas how to do it? I would solder some wire at the tip of the conductor and attach it somewhere so that it pulls the conductor so that it presses tight at the contact point. No solder is in the path then right? Maybe there will be problems with vibration?
post #62 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyline889
Before my father gave up audio and got in to woodworking, he used to have Nordost SPM reference interconnects in his system, they were good but they didn't completely alter the system as Patrick states. Increased clarity and resolution and even a touch of sybillance were introduced by the interconnects, but they weren't dramatic. There's a big difference between a car like the Porsche Carera, Aston Martin V8, BMW M6, Dodge Viper, Honda/Acura NSX, Noble M12, etc and a Honda Civic coupe.

By his reasoning and by your metaphor, it would be like me saying; if I stick an HKS Mega-flow intake on a Honda Civic or if I put some VP110 in a Civic's tank, improving the sources of intake of the engine, it'll outpace a Honda NSX. It just is not physically possible. When dealing with cables we are talking about relatively miniscule differences, differences that a lot of people can't even hear. I guarantee you that even someone who isn't a car enthusiast can tell the difference in performance between a Porsche Carera and a Honda Civic, can the same be said about a reference interconnect and one from Radioshack?

I myself am a firm believe in cables, if the rest of my system were done and I had the cash, I'd definitely buy something like the Nordost Valhalla or the Nordost Tyr however, I do not believe any cable can 180 a system. He says his K1000 went from shrill and harsh to full bodied with an unbelievable warmth, c'mon people. Even Alwayswantmore tested out his Valkyrja recabled K1000, the one he says has unbelievable bass and warmth. Even he, the guy who loves the K1000 and has a Wadia and a Sig 30 feeding into it, said it was too harsh for his taste.

Don't even get me started on what he has done to those cables, and that poor GCC-100. Have you seen his solder jobs and connector "improvements"? Yes, Patrick knows more about cables than the engineers at Nordost! Amazing, he should go into the cable industry! He'd make millions with his patented EMI cloth/Toilet paper dieclectic technology!
I just have to agree!!
post #63 of 272
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyline889
Yes, Patrick knows more about cables than the engineers at Nordost! Amazing, he should go into the cable industry! He'd make millions with his patented EMI cloth/Toilet paper dieclectic technology!
If I would make a cable Nordost Valhalla would be the design, it has it all. It's too fat which compensates for vibration and hides background noise, it has silver plating to compensate for a muddy system and give fake detail and transparency. The stock Valhalla exaggerates the black and white levels to bring fake dynamics. The problem is it sacrifices a lot of detail in the process which most people don't want anyway since they use tubes...

But fix the problems in the system and the cable design can be improved. I'm using 1 conductor per signal in my whole system now, it is revealing and has loads of background noise but ERS Paper removed that noise!
post #64 of 272
Thread Starter 

XLR = Best tweak ever!

I purchased a couple silver Neutrik XLR connectors (NC3MX-BAG). It's the old version and cost me $10. I'm too poor to buy better plugs. These are still much better than my Eichmann Bullets.

I realized that my soldering skills aren't as good as I thought. It looked like a mess, but at least the conductors stay connected. The XLR connector has 4 parts and I didn't know how to connect them together so I didn't bother, I just used the part that had the pins.
I soldered the other ends to the pins of my DAC1. After it was complete and I saw the job I had done I was expecting to get worse sound.

Since I didn't want to get disappointed I wrapped the interconnects with one layer of ERS Paper, and the ends with 4 layers.

First impression: Sounds unreal. Very smooth with new worlds of detail. Very relaxing to listen. Now I know what "sweet" means.

The improvement was much bigger than what I would have expected from any other upgrade. It's the 2nd biggest improvement I have ever heard.
I'm not hearing the silver plating anymore, it was the RCA connectors that gave the edginess. There is nothing wrong with Valhalla. I'm not upgrading to Tara Labs Zero anymore.

See my upgrades below. Modding the Valhalla interconnect gave 1 000 000 and 1 300 000 scores.
________________________

My upgrades

1 = Noticeable improvement
10 = Night and day

July 2005

Valhalla power cord for Krell KAV-500i = 15
High Current Ultimate Outlet between wall and Power Plants = 5
QuickSilver on everything = 15?
QuickSilver on fuses = 2
MultiWave II+ for source = 5
xStream Statement between wall and Power Plants = 60
44.1 kHz to 768 kHz = 5
MultiWave II and II+ for amp = 20
Solid-Tech isolation = 100
QuickSilver GOLD upgrade = 5
Valhalla between wall and Power Plants + hardwired = 60
Hifi-Tuning Gold fuse = 1
Nordost Solar Wind 1 conductor + remove PCB = 220
Nordost Valkyrja 1 conductor = 140 (360 compared to Stefan AudioArt)
PS Audio GCC-100 = 200?
Cary 303/300 as transport for DAC-1 = 500
Modded Valhalla power cord (2+2+1) for DAC1, and computer as transport (Valhalla and Power Plant) = 5000
Computer to Cary transport. From 2 to 1 Power Plant. 2 conductor Valhalla power cord for amp. Extra isolation step. Cary from 3 to 0 isolation = -200 (less detail but more neutral?)
Valhalla digital XLR = 5?
Valhalla power cord 2 to 1 conductor for DAC1 = 100
Valhalla power cord 3 to 2 conductors for Cary = 5
Valkyrja internal wiring for CD player = 5
Valkyrja speaker cable hardwire into PCB = 380
Valkyrja input signal wire for amp, from 24 AWG to 22 AWG = -3
Modded Valhalla interconnect 1 conductor = 1 000 000
Brilliant Pebbles Mini = 0.05
Bypass fuses amp = 80
Bypass fuses Cary transport = 2?
Shortening Valhalla power cords = 1
Disconnecting ground of DAC1 = 0.5?
Valhalla power cord 2 to 1 conductors for Cary = 5
Valhalla power cord 3 to 2 conductors for wall = 1
4step to 5step isolation for DAC1 = 1200
Hardwired into Power Plant = 5?
ERS Paper full coverage = 2 000 000+
Valhalla power cord 2 to 1 conductors for wall = 5
Valhalla interconnect XLR + hardwire + ERS = 1 300 000

November 2006

Numbers are only accurate when based on the order the upgrades were made.
post #65 of 272
in regard to ac power cables,
i was just thinking about this thread.

i would like to point out something that might have gotten lost in all of this. i think there was some mention of this.

iec sockets and their resulting internal connections are a terible host for a decent cable. if you are getting cables like this, my opinion is that they must be soldered to the power supply rails. why stop there? you should solder all the internal jumpered conections and replace all internal cables. otherwise you end up with an experimental "crock pot" of flavors.

iec sockets were first developed to meet osha requirements for industry and hospitals. this way there is no reason not to replace a compromised cable.
it opened up yet another cottage industry for suppliers of audiophile "tweaks".

ever hear of a bottle neck?
pop the top and have a look-see at what you are hooking this up to.

as both an engineer and audiophile i am torn on this subject.
i feel industrial quality cabling is the best solution sonically. industrial quality cabling is rather inexpensive. a cables job is to deliver clean power free of interference. industrial spec cable does just that.

deisgner cables add "flavor". all add one spice or another. or a mixture. i personally try to design systems for myself that are completely true to the source. of course most audiohpiles tastes tend to differ from mine.

you may find it intresting that the few amplifier sets that run six figures($usd)
use captive industrial quality cables. not only will replacing the cable void your hundred grand amps warranty, mark lev and krell will strongly advise against this. safety is at stake. even if the installation is preformed by qualified service persons. these amps require dedicated branches and draw more current than the iec spec allows for.

there are several reasons for these amps having captive cables. however, i strongly doubt they decided to skimp on what cable was permanently mated to cost no object audiophile products. they could have spec'd any cable they wished so long as it could meet the current demands. at that price nothing was stopping them from using exotic cables. they most likely wanted their amps of that caliber to sound as they do by themselves.

now, look at both points i made above. most of us do not have components like that. most components have a iec socket on the back. go look what is inside of most of these components. low grade cabling all the way down to the existence of ribbon cables. the low level tends to be inches from the high level even in $5,000 components.

i truly do think that expensive aftermarket cables change the sound of components and the overall system.

they in my opinion do exactly the following:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick82 View Post
If I would make a cable Nordost Valhalla would be the design, it has it all. It's too fat which compensates for vibration and hides background noise, it has silver plating to compensate for a muddy system and give fake detail and transparency. The stock Valhalla exaggerates the black and white levels to bring fake dynamics. The problem is it sacrifices a lot of detail in the process which most people don't want anyway since they use tubes...
this is a very convincing agrument that the cables you adore(and all of them) do change the sound of a system. from this i read that they tend to make a good system sound terrible maybe they bandaid a poorly designed system.

i like crushed red pepper on a slice of pizza. however, i doubt i would like the entire shaker ontop of it. nor would i pay 20 times extra for this displeasure.

every time i go against the audiophile mantra i expect to get screamed at. to my surprise a lot of people tend to agree with my limited views of audiophiledom. this is why i love the internet. i would not test these theories at a social event lol.

btw, patrick82. i was not intending to put words in your mouth. that is how i personally understood the quoted statement of yours. that is also exactly how i hear these cables. being truthful, i do not care for them either.
the examples of 6 figure amps may be extreme. i do feel they are warranted however. since nordhost cables also tend to be of extremes. hmm. $500 sonys are "wired with monster cable". maybe krell and mark lev could get together with nordhost and raise the price another 50 grand(a joke).

music_man
post #66 of 272
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
iec sockets and their resulting internal connections are a terible host for a decent cable. if you are getting cables like this, my opinion is that they must be soldered to the power supply rails. why stop there? you should solder all the internal jumpered conections and replace all internal cables. otherwise you end up with an experimental "crock pot" of flavors.
IEC socket is easily bypassed, and you don't need soldering, you can just insert the conductors into the crimp thing that was connected to the IEC socket. With Valhalla it fits like a glove.

You can also buy Neutrik Powercon connectors for very cheap, they are better than all audiophile connectors. It is weird that audiophiles buy $100+ connectors when they can get far better sound for 1/10th of the price. Neutrik Powercon and XLR is the way to go, it gives you thousands in savings as well.

I didn't notice much of a difference when hardwiring my Valhallas though, it sounded smoother with more low-level detail, but I wasn't sure. I have also replaced the internal wiring and the difference wasn't big.
However, bypassing the fuses of amp and hardwiring the headphone cable to PCB gave huge improvements.


Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
from this i read that they tend to make a good system sound terrible maybe they bandaid a poorly designed system.
Yes, Valhalla is a band-aid for a poor system, it makes it sound like real life, but it's fake. Neutrality, dynamics, black background, detail...they are all fake.
My computer has loads of jitter which makes it sound thin with edgy emphasized detail. The fat Valhalla compensates for it by making everything heavier than neutral and making the edgy detail smoother! The end result is fake real life.
But with my Cary transport that has less jitter it makes it sound worse. It sounds way too heavy and smooth which is fatiguing. After I modded the Valhalla by disconnecting most of the conductors it sounds acceptable. Valhalla with a single 16awg conductor connected is more neutral while multiple conductors are band-aids for jitter.

Valhalla is the best match for gear costing a fraction of this power cord! It made the biggest difference for my computer and Benchmark DAC1. But it made the smallest difference for my Cary transport which cost me two times more than anything else in my room. I even thought Cary was worse as transport than my computer and wanted to sell it, but no, it's better, the Valhalla band-aid was just in the way.

Valhalla + jitter + vibration is a great combination, it makes it sound like real life. Vibration makes it sound open but the background isn't black, but if you add the fat Valhalla it hides some of the detail and makes the background black. But then some of the detail is gone, no problem, just add some jitter from a crappy source! The end result is fake real life.

That's what I got from my colored "ValhallaPC" system (video). But the better I made my system the darker and smoother it sounded, detail had improved as well so I realized it was more neutral. The more I tweaked my system the less open it sounded like, I started hearing the albums instead of real life. Each album now sound different instead of the same, but with fat Valhalla in a crappy system each album sounded like real life.

Now I'm using 1 conductor Valhalla for the whole system except for the computer where I use the normal 3 conductors per signal.
The difference between 1 conductor Valhalla (16awg) and stock power cord (18awg) is that Valhalla has more detail and is smoother. The silver plating gives fake detail and it sounds smoother because of the polished surface and low dielectric. Smooth fake detail, who doesn't like that?

Valhalla gives a sound that is the best of both worlds. No neutral cable can do this. And the best of all, you can modify it easily to get synergy when you improve your system. As I said earlier, Valhalla was the only thing that was worth spending my life savings on.
post #67 of 272
patrick82, i completely agree with everything you just said.

it is not like a bandaid though. it is like a super bandaid! (if you are lucky) it will take a $300 sony receiver and make it sound close to a krell.

the only issue i have is the price of the cables. why not just buy the krell in the first place if that is what one wants? i realise that cannot always be done. like computer as a source. that is where we agree. it is great for that.
lucky every computer has a iec socket.

we also agree 100% that if one must have a break in the power chain a powercon is the only way to go. far superior to the loose noisy iec.

the reason you did not see hardwiring them make a huge difference is because the cables are "tuned" to add their intended flavor for these systems. they carefully researched their designs.

the cables do not improve a perfect system. they change the sound of any system. they work miracles for poorly designed systems. that is why companies can sell so many audiophile tweaks. why do so many people buy a less than stellar system than spend as much as a good system trying to fix it up?

in case anyone wonders if these cables really change the sound,
they do. as an engineer it is easily proven on paper. they are no voodoo magic device. they are however, a very precisely designed device that takes much thought to develop and tune. any scientist that tells you they are rubbish and do not change the sound what so ever, well i can prove him wrong on paper! that is all the scientist types buy into anyhow. they do not usually have ears.

how they work:
the geometry and materials used in the construction of the cable change the time alignment of the ac signal in which it reaches it's destination. they can not speed it up. standard a/c is close to the speed of light. they can slow it down or change it's direction several times. they can also use materials with more or less capacitance or resistance. they can even make the cables such that the ground reaches the destination quicker or slower than the neutral does. this is completely safe as we are talking pico seconds.

of course this is why these are so expensive. dealing with pico second science is complex and takes hours of trial and error to perfect.

like i said iec sockets were developed to facilitate the easy replacement of damaged cables. they actually appeared on audio euipment as it is cheaper for manufacturers to offer this solution on products destined for multiple countries. that way one simply gets the correct cable with their product. no more rma when the person plugs the amp in the 220vac with the jumper set at 110vac. also i always wondered why the usa versions even had a 220vac jumper. this forces one to use a converter if they go overseas. bad idea if it draws more than 6 amps from the wall.

iec sockets also did something else i mentioned. they allowed the new hobby of "cable rollling" to take place. another area where manufacturers could capatilise on this market. i do not blame them. the high end audio market has so little profit these days. they need to offer these tweaks or the industry will disolve. many people simply cannot afford ml or krell etc. they buy a $1000 amp and feel that they have made an improvement later when their money replenishes and they add a cable. since those people people may still be no where near affording $10,000 amps that are the ones that will actually sound bad with nordhost type cables.

it is intresting that those amps will sound bad indeed. there is also a scientific reason for that. those amps are designed to sound as they do by themselves. you cannot make them better. the designer gave them eveything they could have right from the drawing board. beyond using quality cables, adding "flavoring" can only make them sound worse. a fine chef uses spices in moderation. these cables are too "strong" for top end electronics.

also, high end electronics tend to be hardwired as i mentioned.
the manufacturer wants a solid connection and has no control of the user plugging in the wrong cable that can actually do damage. the damage can be spectacular too. like an explosion. these amps also tend to draw 20-30 amps which excludes the iec specification anyhow.

well i am really glad my ml gear has captive cables. thanks mr. levinson! he has saved me from another "rolling" fiasco. i know all too well with tubes. intresting then that some of the highest end tube gear also has soldered tubes in the places where they can last a long time. the ones that do not have a sticker on the back that says if you go rolling out of spec your warranty is history. i put a tube of the same family but with different heater voltage in a amp recently and(as i sort of expected) boom!

constantly rolling cables will loosen the iec prongs and the prongs in the wall receptacle. unless you have hospital grade connections. this will lead to arcing which will lead to the demise of the structure you live in! this is not a joke. i am sure if tuberoller sees this he will agree.

hospital grade receptacles everywhere(if you own your residence) are a very good idea. the nec(national electrical code) should allow no less. $50 audiophile receptacles are understood to be governed by the same laws as their cable cousins. they do add flavor. that is all that they do. whether you like that flavor or not is up to you. they do not "improve" anything. period. not as the manufacturers purport. you are limited by everything behind that receptacle. which is a whole lot of wiring,tranformers and other noisy rusty crud(not withstanding the pigeon poop). one hint: for your own safety, do not go rolling wall receptacles! if you buy one, let it be the only one.

then their is power conditioning. i will be brief on that one. for high end equipment it is a darn good idea. if for nothing else to protect it. not all equipment will see a sonic improvement. however capacitors and resistors etc. are sacrificial components. do not load them with voltage spikes and emi/rfi noise. this is totally different then the cable debate. these devices if properly designed should not add any sound(flavor) to a system. they simply deliver the clean uninterupted power the electronics expect/require.

btw patrick82, it is no wonder the cables did not work with the cary. that unit is designed to be the best it can be by itself.

music_man
post #68 of 272
Thread Starter 

XLR

That tweak took only 6 hours, usually my tweaks take all day because my rack is under my computer table. It's good exercise. 2 days later I'm full of muscle, I can feel tightness inside my t-shirt, it's harder to move.


2nd impressions XLR: It sounds too smooth but I'm not bothered by it because there is more detail. Ambient decay, strings and vocals have huge detail. Extra decay makes soundstage bigger, strings always shimmer, vocals keep moving around. Everything is alive and shimmering, nothing is stable. Smooth decay is all over the place, it makes it sound more open.

Vocal comprehension has improved, I no longer need to guess what they say, I can hear it easily. I have been able to understand all the words I have heard so far, before it was about 99%.

I'm hearing subtle low-level detail, there are lot of things going on, I keep hearing new sounds, it's like listening to music for the first time. I keep listening to all my albums but then I realize I don't have enough time so I skip ahead in every track so I can hear a little of them all.

It sounds smoother than 768kHz upsampling + Mullard tubes ever sounded, but there isn't a sacrifice in detail, there is more detail! This is with computer as transport + Benchmark DAC1.

I would have expected it to sound this smooth from $22 000 source upgrade and $13 000 cable upgrade, but instead I got it for $10.
The man who invented RCA plug, there must have been something wrong with his head. XLR is better in every way, it makes RCA sound broken. RCA isn't fuctioning properly, no wonder people add tubes to hide the problem.
post #69 of 272
of course xlr is better than rca. xlr is not a consumer product.
neither are $10,000+ audio components really. i know but few $10,000+ components that are sans balanced connections.

in years gone by ml used such things as "camac" and "gascon" that was really snazzy stuff.

patrick82, i am gald you enjoy tweaking so much. may i suggest it is time you move up to some really high end gear? then you could discover "listening" lol.

personally i am never satisfied putting bandages on stuff that could benefit from them. i like to get stuff that does not need fixing(tweaking) to begin with. that is not snobbish, before someone says that. patrick82 must have spent more on cables and tweaks than an entire cabinet of ml .

music_man
post #70 of 272
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
of course xlr is better than rca. xlr is not a consumer product.
neither are $10,000+ audio components really. i know but few $10,000+ components that are sans balanced connections.

in years gone by ml used such things as "camac" and "gascon" that was really snazzy stuff.

patrick82, i am gald you enjoy tweaking so much. may i suggest it is time you move up to some really high end gear? then you could discover "listening" lol.

personally i am never satisfied putting bandages on stuff that could benefit from them. i like to get stuff that does not need fixing(tweaking) to begin with. that is not snobbish, before someone says that. patrick82 must have spent more on cables and tweaks than an entire cabinet of ml .

music_man
It's great when tweaks cost 10 times more than the electronics. If they go up in flames I can replace them for about $2500 if I buy used. Valhalla cables should survive a little fire until I cut them out. My $3000 isolation rack survives everything, only the rubber bands and springs would need to be replaced. I don't care about my $5000 Cary transport though, let it burn, computer is good enough.

In another forum someone is using Valhalla power cables with his EMM Labs DCC2 SE and CDSD ($22 000), he says there's a improvement. The manufacturer also recommends a better power cable.
I wonder how much you need to pay to get something good enough that can be plugged into the wall and doesn't require any tweaks. I'm too poor to find out.
post #71 of 272
Thread Starter 

XLR again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick82 View Post
I don't care about my $5000 Cary transport though, let it burn, computer is good enough.
Ok, the difference between Cary and computer is now HUGE, it wasn't big at all when I was using RCA connectors. It seems like the weakness in my system now is the transport! Half a year ago I couldn't even hear a difference.

If it sounds smoother than this I wouldn't be able to hear a difference, I think my brain needs to adjust a few weeks. I'm getting headaches from the extra speed as well.

XLR upgrade was crazy. The improvement was bigger than when I upgraded from EMU0404 soundcard into Benchmark DAC1, my ears were more crappy then though. I was already using Nordost Valhalla interconnect with that $99 soundcard.
post #72 of 272
Thread Starter 

Statement sucks

The difference between Cary transport and computer is so big that every time I change from Cary to computer it sounds horrible.

So I got an idea. I thought if I would replace the Valhalla power cord for computer with PS Audio xStream Statement it would remove some of the edginess. I was expecting a subtle difference but NO, the difference between power cords is many times bigger than before. Even grandmother can hear this, it's that big. With Statement ALL the edginess was removed but it also removed all the music, it's just dull, nothing else. I waited for music to begin but it had already started. It's that bad. I don't know what I will do with all my Statement power cables now.

When I put back Valhalla transparency was back, I don't care about the edginess when it sounds like this.

Maybe I need to replace Toslink with Valhalla digital RCA cable, I'm already using AES/EBU for the Cary. It doesn't feel good with the RCA, but maybe for digital signals it doesn't matter much. I don't have a choice anyway. I wish DAC1 had two AES/EBU inputs.
post #73 of 272
I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
post #74 of 272
patrick82, i have never witnessed a person so enamored with all manner of audio tweaks. you are nordhosts poster child! they should hire you for pr.

i say there is no right or wrong way to enjoy this hobby. i do however find this highly unusual. i can hear the differences bewteen all of these products. however, they are not of the earth moving proportions that you suggest. at least to my own ears. i think most people would find as i do regarding this.

maybe you have some special super ears for a human. seriously. then you are blessed. i cannot think of another explanation as to why you hear these differences as you explain them. i do believe you. the detail with which you remark on the changes makes you sound very sincere. maybe i wish i could hear all that. on the other hand it may be a great burden to constantly search for "more". seemingly never satisfied.

any player at the level of the cary(assuming the rest of the components are up to snuff) and "quality" cables would be "a" rated gear imho. i'd personally leave it at that and just listen to it. i don't know if i should be happy or sad for you. well if you are happy then that is all that matters!

music_man
post #75 of 272
patrick82, this is going to sound strange. i just got done telling you that i mean you no insult. in fact i praised your beliefs.

a moment ago i happened to click on the page where you hardwired the cary,gcc100 and whatever else.

personally i would not be applying ac power to those devices after that job!
what you did looks pretty unsafe.

for one thing i would not even have done something like that myself to a cary. my soldering skills are in another world than what you just showed us.

it is not just your soldering skills that come into play here either. mixing and matching conductors of a helical wound cable takes an understanding of things such as dc-offset. which you obviously do not. i am sorry. i don't mean to be rude i am trying to save you from disaster.

if i were you i'd strongly consider unplugging that at once and having it professionally serviced at this point. for your own safety.

edit: i just saw all the mentions of "i don't care if it blows up". maybe your neighbors/family do! you are very odd indeed. i cannot even think of doing that to components of that caliber. the ers page was pretty intresting also. maybe you do not realise what type of mishap is in store for you?

music_man
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