I met Vince Garino, President of Nordost, about 10 years ago at my first CES. He had a small booth in the main hall, and his only product - Nordost Flatline - consisted of flat conductor speaker cable, with Teflon dielectric, at about $2 per foot, purchased by the roll.
I had used some standard solid-core speaker cable in my home theater, but it was so heavy, I had to suspend it across the top of the side walls to reach the rear speakers. My wife did not like this, so I was looking for something else.
When I saw the Flatline, I knew I had my answer, as this stuff would go nicely under the rug. So, I bought a 100 foot roll, put it under the rug, and terminated the cables with banana plugs.
I really had only changed the cables because I needed something that would be out of sight. When I turned on the system though, I got an unexpected surprise: the highs were better. I had no idea that cables could make a difference in the sound. Whether it was due to a difference in the resistance, capacitance, inductance, connectors, or all of the above, is arguable, but the cable change did improve the sound. It was about this same time that I had begun publishing Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity on the Internet.
Secrets has reviewed many Nordost cables since then, and cable aficionados all agree that, over the years, as Nordost improved their technology, the sound quality went along for the ride. There are many consumers who feel cables make no difference in sound quality, and as the cable prices for most of the high performance cable companies soared, so did their criticisms. Current Nordost top of the line models sell for thousands of dollars, and Nordost can't keep them in stock, so somebody out there must like what they hear.
In order to reach out to the mass market, Nordost has now introduced their WyreWizard line, which is affordable to everyone. The great thing though is that some of their fancy technology has filtered down to these new products.
WyreWizard consists of Enchantress, Spellbinder, and Dreamcaster for interconnects, and Spellbinder and Dreamcaster for speaker cables. While the WyreWizard interconnects come prepackaged, the speaker cables are sold in bulk rolls to dealers who can cut them to specified lengths and terminate them for consumers. Terminating speaker cables is very easy though, and it is more economical to just purchase the total length you need and terminate them yourself.
WyreWizard cables all use silver-plated OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper) conductors, surrounded by Teflon dielectric. Teflon is rather expensive, so it is not something you usually see in mass market cables. Termination for the interconnects is very high quality RCA plugs, and Nordost's spring-loaded banana plugs for the speaker cables.
Going up the line, the only thing that changes is the number of conductors, i.e., two in the Spellbinder, four in the Dreamcaster, and eight in the Enchantress. Nordost sent us Spellbinder and Dreamcaster for review.
For the listening tests, I put the cables in our two-channel system, consisting of a Classé CDP-10 CD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, BAT VK-75SE power amplifier, and Magnepan MG1.6/QR speakers. I also tested them with a Lexicon RV-8 receiver (review forthcoming), in two-channel mode, with a Yamaha Universal DVD player and a pair of Carver Amazing Mark IV ribbon speakers.
Consumers who purchase WyreWizard will likely not sit around and try to see if they can hear more "air" around the trumpets in some piece of Baroque music. They will more likely just put them in and expect them to deliver quality sound with their CDs and movies. That is what happened here.
Highs were clean and crisp. Bass was deep. The connectors held tightly (the spring-loaded banana plug is a great design), and the cables were easily placed around corners. I really could not fault them in any way. They will certainly be a nice upgrade from the generic no-brand-name stuff that you can find in electronic supermarkets (the ones that come in a plastic bag and cost about $6 for a one meter pair of interconnects).
On the Bench
The LCR tests indicated that the Dreamcaster interconnects have higher than average capacitance, but not the highest we have seen. Inductance and resistance on the other hand, were the lowest we have seen for analog audio interconnects. LCR values for the speaker cables were about average.
Click HERE to see the data table.
Nordost specifies LCR data for their products on their website. The 18 gauge conductors in the Spellbinder speaker cables should be sufficient for most applications. However, if you have high powered amplifiers (above 200 watts per channel), or you are going across the room to reach rear surround speakers, then the Dreamcaster, with its four conductors - two per leg - might be warranted.
Since the capacitance changes with the number of conductors, you might want to take this into consideration, depending on the output impedance of your DVD player or preamplifier, i.e., select the cable with the lowest capacitance (i.e., the Spellbinder) if your source output impedance is higher than 600 ohms. (See, for example, this link.)
Below is a summary table of my evaluation of the WyreWizard.
Because of Nordost's reputation, success of the WyreWizard line is almost guaranteed, However, it is nice to know that consumers will be getting a fine product regardless of whatever reason they buy them.