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Nordost SuperFlatLine Speaker Cable Review

Rate this speaker cable:

  • 1. Waste of money (piggy bank panther)

    Votes: 240 94.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 5 2.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 2 0.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 3.1%

  • Total voters
    255

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Nordost SuperFlatLine speaker cable. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $360.
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable high-end review.jpg

As you see, the cable name is fully descriptive with parallel copper traces running from one end to the other. The edges of the cable are somewhat sharp and overall the cable feels somewhat delicate (think flex PCB if you are an engineer). The terminations were surprisingly loose as I inserted them in the banana jacks of my Audio Precision analyzer.

Company provides a set of "specifications" which are hardly useful:
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable specifications.png


Nordost SuperFlatLine Speaker Cable Measurements
I tested the cable as if it were an interconnect (and hence with higher impedance than it would see in real life). There, the SuperFlatLine showed transparency with analyzer's internal bypass:
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable measurement.png

Seeing the large surface area of the cable and audiophiles always worrying about noise intrusion in cables, I put my usual test transformer at 90 degrees to the cable. This induce fair bit of mains noise:
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable transformer measurement.png


I then switched the cable to a generic 12 gauge I bought form Amazon a while ago:

Generic speaker cable measurement.png


As you see, the induced noise level is much less now. The SuperFlatLine cable was so sensitive that having the transformer 12 inches away from it still induced fair amount of noise.

Note again that these are high impedance tests. With typical low impedance amplifier and speakers, it will be much harder to inject noise into a speaker cable. Still, all else being equal, the Nordost cable is much worse in this regard due to simple physics of its construction.

I also ran the classic frequency response test showing no difference between the cables (and no cable):
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable frequency response measurement.png


For grins, I set the analyzer to 1 MHz and pumped a 10 kHz squarewave into the cables:
nordost SUPERFLATLINE speaker cable squarewave measurement.png

As you see, there is not the slightest difference even though this signal is "illegal" in 44.1 kHz or even higher sampling rates.

Conclusions
The Norodost SuperFlatLine cable clearly falls in the category of paying more and getting less. It is much more susceptible to noise pick up, and its physical construction is a bit of a pain to deal with.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Nordost SuperFlatLine cable.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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solderdude

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@amirm do you still have the controversial flat speaker cable that was sent to you several years ago ?

There could be measurable HF differences between the generic and this cable with a 10kHz square wave (10MHz BW) when loaded with speaker alike impedances though.
Not consequential differences though :)
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm do you still have the controversial flat speaker cable that was sent to you several years ago ?
I do! They asked for it back a while ago. I said sure, send me a shipping label but never heard back. So I put them in storage. Just saw that they will be attending the local audio show. Was thinking of taking them back them.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Could be fun/useful to measure them, but only with real speaker loads perhaps....
That I could do. I thought they wanted me to repeat whatever test they did and I have not had the patience to read and see what that was.
 
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amirm

amirm

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What? But the velocity of propagation is 91%. How can this be?
It is 91% speed of light. I think that is good enough for audio. :)
 

Matias

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Can you measure between amp and power cube and run power sweeps and multitone? Just for completeness of having high current tests as well.
 

Rja4000

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At least, this one offers a functionality difference, since you may hide it under a carpet.
But the price is not justified, even for that use.
(And you probably can't twist it, which will make it very unpractical for real life use).

Would be interesting to compare with a cheap functionally similar (ie another flat) cable, indeed.
 

martijn86

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That's a great antenna! It proofs that you don't need any funky cables for hifi an that generic cables are tried and tested boring designs that just work.
I wonder how home made cables made from shielded (s/ftp) ethernet stacks up to generic cables. They can be had for less than €1/m for 100% copper, a pretty color, a couple of y-transition heat shrink tubes and a set of connectors, soldering tin and dielectric grease. I think you might just end up with a better cable than any Nordost cable. Not that you need anything better than a generic cable, but sometimes you want something pretty or like to make something yourself.
 
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TNT

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Not that i care about speaker cables - but your DUT never saw a speaker load...?

//
 
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amirm

amirm

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Can you measure between amp and power cube and run power sweeps and multitone? Just for completeness of having high current tests as well.
I have already packed the cables. I think at this point we all agree that those tests would also show the same thing we are seeing in this test.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Not that i care about speaker cables - but your DUT never saw a speaker load...?

//
Per above, I have done those tests before and they don't show any difference there either. It is just more work.
 

pma

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I tried to find some technical information on this cable, and found this in their brochure:

Flatline_MkII.png


At least some info on capacitance (31.8 pF/m) and inductance (0.394uH/m). This would make 111.3 ohm characteristic impedance. Cannot see the resistance parameter. I doubt their promoted "propagation delay = 91% speed of light".
I have not voted, because I miss "0" option, "designed as opposed to laws of physics".
 

digicidal

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About the only justification I could see for using something with this form factor would be to run them behind baseboard or under a rug... but it's too delicate for that, and doesn't have the right jacket material for in-wall use... so???
 

Guralex

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@amirm Thanks for the review!

For the latest several reviewes of "wonderful audiophile-grade connectivity", such as power filters, cords etc. (especially that situation with Danny and GR Research) I'm seeing a lot of comments such as "We CAN HEAR a difference in sound at 20KHZ+ and noise at -120DB level!!!!!"

I'm just wondering if it's possible to use some top-tier monitors, top-tier measurement mic, connect everything with cables under review and perform a "live testing"?
It will give an obvious representation of "If the microphone is not able to catch a difference - the human ear won't do either"
 
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amirm

amirm

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I'm just wondering if it's possible to use some top-tier monitors, top-tier measurement mic, connect everything with cables under review and perform a "live testing"?
Acoustic measurements are difficult to do for small signals because of room noise/lack of repeatability. And at any rate, they lack the resolution that we can have with electronics testing.
 
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