Perhaps you have been waiting for this second installment in my Nordost QRT Power Products Series review. Yes, this is Part 2 but who says sequels can’t be just as exciting? Afterall, there was Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back, not to forget The Dark Knight. Anyone disagree…? And, now it’s time for our second installment in this Nordost QRT Power Products Series trilogy. Now, I don’t want to be spoiling fun, so if for some rare chance you missed Part 1, it’s not too late to avoid any spoilers; you can read it here.
Without further ado, let’s dig in on Part 2 with the Nordost QKORE Ground Unit and QKORE Wires. Grounding is a vital piece of the pie to maximizing the performance of an audio system. Nordost’s QRT Power Product Series, as you’ll recall from Part 1, are aimed at ‘the effective reduction, if not elimination, of the negative effects that sub-standard AC and DC power have on AV electronics’. Nordost achieves this by controlling ground flow, limiting EFI, RFI and timing errors on the AC line, and ensuring clean and stable flow of current. And, worth keeping in mind is that though Nordost’s QRT products work a-la-carte, the fact is that the more QRT pieces in place, the merrier – as they yield their greatest benefits working together as complementary system.
The QKORE Ground Unit is designed to optimize the ground connections of the system it’s connected to. Power and ground connections in a standard home are difficult to optimise, even more so when a dedicated power line with ‘independent’ ground isn’t available, as is the case with most real-world homes. In my case, I have a listening room with several dedicated circuits for my audio system; including separate breakers and direct power lines from the mains panel. However, even in my case, I couldn’t implement a fully independent second panel and ground. Would the Nordost QKORE Ground Unit and QKORE Wires provide an audible improvement?
Nordost provides a full description of the QKORE Ground Unit on their website, which I know I couldn’t hope to explain better, so here it is:
“The QKORE is a parallel grounding device, which provides an artificial, “clean” earth for hifi audio systems using both an electrical and mechanical approach. This unique product combines Nordost’s patented Mono-Filament technology with purpose-built, Low-Voltage Attractor Plates (LVAPs), constructed with a proprietary metal alloy and a passive electronic circuit, in order to draw stray high frequency noise and voltage-generated magnetic fields to a manufactured earth point, leaving a clean reference behind. This passive system is contained in a mechanically tuned housing, and outfitted with gold-plated, WBT binding posts, which easily connect each component to an artificial ground. By providing for a balanced and very “clean” ground point, by-products of electrical balance imperfections between voltage and ground are no longer added to other pollutants, dramatically increasing high quality audio circuit performances.”
The QKORE Ground Unit is provided in three models: the QKORE1 is designed to pair with the Nordost QBASE distribution block, providing a single alternate ground for the primary side of the power supply; the QKORE3 provides three ground bindings posts which can be connected to any component in your system on the secondary side of a power supply – the audio circuit. And, for those who have monoblock amplifiers or a QBASE and multiple components, the QKORE6 provides 6 grounding posts. That’s one for your QBASE distribution block, two for your monoblock amplifiers and then three grounds to cover all your other audio components. All three models in the QKORE lineup are purposefully designed and built out of billet aluminum with a sleek and understated aesthetic that will complement any system just like those shorts on Margot Robbie, as Harley Quinn or Mjölnir in the hand of Chris Hemsworth.
Now, we can’t forget the hardware for making all the ground connections. For that, Nordost designed their QKORE Wires to ensure the least resistance to ground. Mechanically tuned and incorporating Nordost Micro-Mono-Filament technology with FEP insulation and 16-guage silver-plated OFC solid core conductors, they come in spade, banana, XLR, BNC and RCA flavors to ensure a secure connection to your system.
Nordost provided me with a QKORE6 and a full set of QKORE Wires to connect all my components that included a Nordost QBASE QB8 power distribution bar, Simaudio 280D DAC, Rega Apollo CDP, Bryston 4B3 amplifier and a Bryston BP173 preamplifier. Now, since I don’t have monoblock amplifiers, another option could have been a QKORE1 and QKORE3 but the single box was in fact the simplest solution and also, still provides greater flexibility in its ability to cater to monoblock amplifiers. The music source for all my focused listening sessions was Tidal HiFi music, via my resident Simaudio 280D streaming DAC.