Then there is the sheer speed of the Odin 2. Nordost cables have long been renowned for their alacrity but the Odin 2 takes transient speed to a new level. In some ways, the rapidity of the Odin 2 translates into its own form of dynamic power. The cable’s ability to deliver commanding transients will leave even the most experienced listeners slack-jawed. Consider the cut “Secret Love” on the album Love for Sale, which features Hank Jones, Buster Williams, and Tony Williams. The opening drumroll sounds like an AK-47 is firing away in the front of my listening room. Or take the EMI LP of Shostakovich’s Cello Concert No. 1 with the legendary French cellist Paul Tortelier and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Not only is the overall resolution off the charts with the Odin 2, but the timpani whacks sound like hand grenades exploding. You get the mallet whistling down, the impact, and then the explosion of air. Bass could hardly be more taut with the Odin 2. And it’s not just that the cable possesses the ability to deliver a bullwhip quality in the nether regions. It’s that the definition is also superlative. This isn’t bass as a mushy, indistinct blob; on the contrary, every nuance and shading is delivered with ravishing finesse. On the opening cut “Café” on the Impulse! label’s recording of the Art Blakey Quartet, Art Davis’ bass plucks are perfectly enunciated and defined in space with not a hint of bloat or splashing. The sense of decay is spooky and there is simply no overhang with the Odin 2.
While it would be going too far to call it a refulgent sound, Odin 2 endows instruments with a pleasing sense of body. A most impressive recording that I recently acquired in Los Angeles at one of the remaining vinyl stores, Record Surplus on Santa Monica Boulevard, is an EMI pressing of Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, which is played by Ida Haendel with the aforementioned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Written in Canada in 1939, it is a deeply emotional concerto that, as the liner notes indicate, appeared “when the world was wavering on the brink of its second holocaust.” The Odin 2 not only helps to set up an enormous soundstage, reaching into the corners of the hall, but also recreates the sweep of the orchestra. I had the feeling that the I was hearing not just the string section but the individual instruments that make it up, akin to the sensation of listening in a concert hall.
This precision means that the Odin 2 layers the instruments front to back, and left to right, with remarkable verisimilitude. On Chad Kassem’s Analog Productions 45rpm pressing of Shelby Lynne’s album Just a Little Lovin’, the cable helps to preserve the harmonic distinctions among instruments. The accuracy of the Odin is perhaps most notable in the treble region, where the greatest virtue of the new cable is likely its ability to soar into the empyrean. Treble appears endless. Whether it’s vocals, saxophone, or the string section of an orchestra, the sense of purity and expansion in the treble adds a layer of air to the proceedings that is quite addictive. On an Erato CD compilation of popular recordings by the late French trumpeter Maurice André, I was taken aback by the extra pop and explosiveness that the Odin’s ability to reach into the treble with ease imparted to his piccolo trumpet. On Offenbach’s “Parisian Dream,” the notes were enunciated from the bore of the trumpet with a delicacy and power that almost defied belief. Cymbals had a metallic crunch that showered into the air like a profusion of fireworks exploding on July 4th. At the same time, Odin’s ability to convey the smallest swishes of cymbals was riveting.
Lest this sound like a dithyrambic paean to Nordost, I feel obliged to mention that there are pluses and minuses to the level of resolution provided by the Odin 2. For one thing, it will prove ruthlessly revealing of equipment upstream. This cable deserves to be allied with top-drawer equipment to really strut its stuff. It’s also the case that some listeners may prefer a more sumptuous cable. I don’t mean to imply that the Odin 2 is in any way sonically anemic. Nordost has handsomely overcome some of the deficiencies that constituted a kind of penalty for the speed of its earlier versions. It is emphatically the case that there is no hint of stridency with the Odin 2. In the crowded world of high-end cables, however, there are indubitably other competitors that will deliver more overtones around each note, a more overtly silky background and a grander bass.
In my view, Nordost deserves the highest possible commendation for building on its previous efforts to produce a statement product that is remarkable for its purity and resolution, transparency and clarity. If you get the collywobbles at the imposing prices that state-of-the-art cables command, then you look should elsewhere. But if you can shoulder the tariff, then the Odin 2 is worth every penny and more. Mighty Odin, indeed.
Specs & Pricing
Price: Odin 2 speaker cable, $29,999/1m pr. (additional half-meter increments, $3999/pr.); Odin 2 analog interconnect, $19,999.99/0.6m pair (additional half-meter increments $2499/pr.); Odin 2 power cord: $16,999/1.25m
93 Bartzak Dr.
Holliston, MA 01746