Power cord shootout: Nordost vs NVS Sound vs Elrod

Power cord shootout: Nordost vs NVS Sound vs Elrod

It really wasn’t that cold.

Or really that icy.

Our driveway did, however, have residual ice left over from the February record snowfalls. But Kevin, who we invited over as a tie breaker, is an avid skier, so we thought the driveway, very steep with a hairpin turn at the top, would be safe for him – that he’d be able to make it up to the top.

He blames what happened on being blinded by the setting sun. That, being suddenly blinded at the top of the driveway, it was just the most natural thing to do when he gunned the car aiming for where he remembered the driveway curve to be.

Woulda worked too, except that the snowbanks on both sides of the hairpin turn were massive, reducing the width available for a car to make it through unscathed.

So he ended up running into a snow bank (no damage to the older Nissan Sentra) and then proceeded to back up, sliding around some, getting his car going nowhere – and situated in that, hopefully unfamiliar to all you, sideways direction at the top of the driveway. Since going backwards would have him and his car [Becky, don’t read this part] sliding down the steep mountain-side a good ways, and going forward got him nowhere with just lots of whining spinning tires, he came up to the house to roust us up to help.

After removing as much ice as possible from in front of the car, he was able to proceed and join us at the little shootout. Anti-climatic I know (thankfully).


In many ways this is a lame shootout: We are comparing a roughly $10K PC (Nordost ‘Odin’) with a roughly $5K PC (NVS Sound ‘Silver Inspire’) with a roughly $2500 PC (Elrod ‘Statement Silver’). Totally mismatched, but you can discern the character of the power cords, a character which will be found up and down their product lines.

And we thought it was fun. Hopefully you will too. 🙂

The system consists of the Acapella ‘Atlas’ loudspeakers, the EMM Labs MTRX amplifiers with titanium faceplates, Audio Note U.K. M9 Phono preamplifier, DAC 5 Signature DAC, and CDT-Five transport. All on a HRS ‘MXR’ equipment rack.

In this system, the best place to compare power cords is on the preamp (the preamp power supply box of Audio Note M9 Phono). The amp, the EMM Labs MTRX amplifier, has 30 amp IEC connectors, not the standard 15 amp’ers that our power cable contestants all have.

Our test CD tracks were an orchestra playing Mozart, a cut off of Dire Straits ‘Brother in Arms’, and a track off of a Black Keys album.


After using Odin power cords for a month or so, we started the shooting…


NVS Sound – Silver Inspire | BLACK KEYS

[Neli and Kevin wanted to wait until we heard more songs before voicing an opinion. I have no such compunctions :-)]

Mike: More suspense; less dynamic; less loud; less brash; more like music; more engaging; sucks you in more; kind of like Kharma speakers; more emotionally exciting; still an edge to the sound of this song; closer to the musician’s intentions; not as clear sounding

NVS Sound – Silver Inspire  | DIRE STRAITS

Mike: More PRaT; more laid back; less separation; more focus (better imaging) on voices; more presence of voices; [I wrote down that in many ways, this was like tube (NVS Sound) versus Solid state (Nordost)]

Kevin: Good separation; detail; harmonics; possibly more fatiguing (!? I did not experience this, and can only think that the nature of the un-broken-in sound of the Silver Inspire was causing Kevin to have to listen harder to hear the same details that the more dynamic Odin made very easy to hear – and that this extra amount of concentration required was fatiguing him. This conjecture is based on other conversations occurring during and after this shootout)

NVS Sound – Silver Inspire  | DIRE STRAITS

Neli: Not as big, open or relaxed; singing just for the listener [an effect very Acapellish, where there is a special intimacy between listener and the musician]; less of an edge

Mike: Odin a little better at low volumes; NVS more beautiful



ELROD – Statement Silver | Mozart

Mike: Clearer, simpler, rawer, less resolution, harmonic timbre issues? Not as accurate, not as much going on in the music.

Kevin: Weightier, not as much detail, especially apparent in the lower frequencies

Neli: Starts to question whether the NVS Sound was broken in [I thought she had burned it in, but apparently not. So mostly just 4 days at CES on a lower powered AN DAC 5 Signature]. Elrod more open and dynamic

ELROD – Statement Silver | Dire Straits

Mike: more open, more slam, imaging quite a bit fuzzier, rougher sound, clumsier presentation, and has a little edge to the sound.

Kevin: Bass more muddled, but weightier

Neli: Bass not as detailed

ELROD – Statement Silver | Black Keys

Mike: Rougher voices, and ‘hi-fi show sound’. Sour notes, good bass beat otherwise

NVS Sound – Silver Inspire | BLACK KEYS

[Back to NVS to see if our impressions are holding stable]

Happy sound. Anticipation. Suspense. Not as open or dynamic.

Perhaps we should break it in and try again? That is the plan. We then returned to the Odin.


The NVS had more beauty and presence and engagement compared to the Odin, but was not as clear, dynamic or open sounding. Both had an incredible amount of resolution and detail.  The Elrod was a real trooper, but was rough and clumsy sounding in comparison to the other two [at 1/4 to 1/2 the price].

We are proceeding the break in the NVS Sound and will repeat this shootout… to see if the Silver Inspire gets closer to the unworldly clarity and dynamics that the Odin provides us…. most likely when the driveway is not quite as icy. 🙂