" I was also expecting the sound to be ultra pure, ultra fast and ultra precise but, untypically, the cable was fluid, warm and very musical..."
When Lightning strikes…
This article is part of our extensive loudspeaker cables group test. We recommend checking the full article here: The Union of Snakes: the world of low and mid-tier loudspeaker cables. This is also where you can find the lists of the recordings and the audio systems that were used throughout the test.
For the U.S. based Nordost the audio business is a side job as their main activities are into military, medicine and space applications. They came with the idea of flat cable 20 years ago and Flatline was born. Since then the Nordost’s audio catalogue has expanded, the flat geometry with parallely run wires is still something that sets the Nordost cables apart from competitors. Not always the cables look like the White Lightning, that is a subtle ribbon. The flagship of Nordost, the Odin, employs the same principles in a construction that resembles a tank track.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary Nordost introduced a new redesigned Leif series that uplifts and extends their original economy line of cables: White Lightning – Purple Flare – Blue Heaven - Red Dawn.
The White Lightning does not use strands. The conductors are 10 solid core OFC copper wires in FEP and are silver-plated. The conductors are manufactured by Nordost in-house in a rather complicated production process - should you need to learn more details please check our reviews of SPM Reference and Valhalla.
The Nordost’s ribbons have specific assets and specific drawbacks. The White Lightning is snow white which looks quite trendy. As the outer ‘jacket’ is plastic you do not have to be afraid that the cables could become dirty over a time – a cleaning cloth will make them shiny again.
The White Lightning is a directional cable so the signal should flow in the direction of small arrows. Nordost uses Z-plugs to terminate their cables; those are lightweight hollow bananas made of a thin and flexible metal foil (beryllium and copper combination) that expand inside an amplifier and speaker terminals in ‘springy’fashion.
Both the Nordost cables in our test, the White Lightning and the Purple Flare, are our winners in a convenience competition: with the bend radius of only 10mm they can be easily twisted and turned and if you want to run them under a carpet or behind furniture you can. Just be careful in case you need to leave them on a busy floor not to step onto them.
The introduction fanfares of George Benson’s White Rabbit reveal a Nordost cable in a minute: the White Lightnings render the brass in a typical blazing fashion that is so synonymous with Nordost. I was also expecting the sound to be ultra pure, ultra fast and ultra precise but, untypically, the cable was much closer to the sound of the Audioquest Rocket 33, that is fluid, warm and very musical.
The White Lightning does not bath the recordings in a golden light (like the Audioquest), rather it is opening windows for daylight to come. I believe this is more correct way to interpret CD discs, but I have to admit it induces less emotions at the same time. More precision, less joy, I would say.
The soundstaging of the White Lightning is a tad more compact than with the reference, the Krautwire Fractal, so the chairs of the players of the orchestra were closer to each other in Star Wars’ The Arrival at Naboo. However, I was pleased with how continuous the soundstage was – no breaking apart to layers or events did occur.
To sum it up the White Lightning is a good cable, not exceptional in its price category, however. Should you want to get a flavor of the real Nordost sound, you have to reach deeper in your pocket.
Other cables in the test:
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