Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet Cable Review

Living in the 21st century means living in a surreal world where everything is connected and our daily rhythm is intervein with all sorts of networks. What was considered science fiction three decades ago is now a reality. Our lives are surrounded by computers and depend in one way or another on the provision and exchange of data. 

Digital audio, of course, cannot escape this dynamic. On the contrary, with each passing year, we become more dependent on digital cabling, especially with the unstoppable rise of audio streaming. Whether it’s a NAS-based system or streaming from one of the services, Ethernet cable implementation is inevitable. 
Digital/data cables are all about ones and zeros, right? Not quite, as many have learned, especially in recent years with the rapid increase in the use of streamers, music servers, etc., where USB and Ethernet cables are mandatory utensils. 
As with any high-end audio cable, initial enthusiasm can quickly wane. Many corresponding factors prevent quick acclimation. Still, among high-end audio cables, the Ethernet cable is perhaps the most uncompromising in the realms of plug and play. The rest can be too often plugged and prayed…
Nowadays, awareness of the importance of high-end audio cables is finally on the rise, and they are considered by many to be the veins of the high-end audio system. Whether you like it or not, data transmission cables are an essential part of it.
Yes, there are a lot, and I mean a lot of audio jewelry, as the pro audio industry likes to mockingly call some of the esoteric cablings and there is more than enough factuality that addresses this particular criticism… 
Then again… There are also more than enough properly designed cables that are consistent in their quality and performance in the first place with technology applied properly, and functioning as they should. 
You would not believe how many “exotic” cables fail to do their basic job. USB cables are a prime example of this. It’s a mystery to me how that can be a reality. It just goes to show how important it is to do your homework from A to Z, and Nordost is certainly the company that does everything it can to ensure persisting quality and unquestionable operating.
It starts with packaging, materials, connections, technical testing, etc. And all this before the actual raison d’être comes to place. 
Producing a cable of consistent quality and unchanged performance is a somewhat more complex undertaking and task than many think. 
It is a matter of a separate essay and something I’ve pondered about already on more than a few occasions. 
Just imagine… Every time cables are moved, something about the structure changes. No cable is escaping this effect, and it can be measured, as is common in other industries. So picture something like the coveted monocrystalline silver cables staying in the desired shape (and performance) even before installation, and what about the constant flexing afterward? That is why the proper technology at the proper place makes all the sense. 
While bias has shifted significantly in recent years, high-end audio cables are particularly susceptible to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Yes, that kind of cognitive bias…
One of the biggest problems with this phenomenon is that too often cables can not be acclimated in a very short time. It’s the same occurrence happening with speaker crossovers, capacitors in electronics, etc. 
Cables become less of an eternal mystery if one follows the slower pace, which is marked with a lot of patience. This will also prevent a constant trial and error of different cables as too often they are not really showing even a brink of their designated role. 
Moreover, there are areas of physics to which we do not yet have access, and the underlying processes and properties elude the resolving power of measurement. That part can be too often swept under the carpet of logic as a silent matter.

Valhalla 2 Ethernet

To meet the growing demand for high-speed data and increased bandwidth, the Valhalla 2 Ethernet cable offers the advantage of eight solid 23 AWG conductors wrapped in high-density polymer insulation. These annealed conductors are arranged in four twisted pairs before being triple-shielded. Each of these design aspects minimizes skin effect, eliminates crosstalk and EMI (electromagnetic interference), and provides a high-performance network cable that offers far more bandwidth than is required for today’s typical data needs.
To further differentiate V2 Ethernet cable from its competitors, Nordost has introduced its unique mechanical tuning process. By carefully cutting each conductor, calculating equal lengths, Nordost reduces internal microphonics and high-frequency resonances. 
Precisely cutting each conductor to a length determined by the cable’s geometry, material and application ensure the even arrival of all signals, dramatically reducing timing errors.
To complete this reference design, the Valhalla 2 cable is terminated with a fully specialized, gold-plated 8P8C/RJ45 connector designed to withstand ESD (electrostatic discharge) and optimized for mechanical reliability. The resulting cable supports frequencies and transmission speeds that easily meet Category 8 requirements.

Valhalla V2 Ethernet Versus Valhalla V2 

Here are some of the things that set Valhalla V2 Ethernet apart from the rest of the Valhalla V2 cable loom
  • No Micro Mono-Filament (MMF) or Dual Mono-Filament (DMF).
  • No Silver Plating
  • No fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP)
Micro Mono-Filament (MMF) and Dual Mono-Filament (DMF) provide a physically large construction. The outer diameter of a cable construction with Micro Mono-Filament has a smaller AWG conductor (the metal core) compared to a normal insulation construction.
Conversely, equivalent AWG conductors (metalcore) require a larger outer diameter of the cable construction with Micro Mono-Filament compared to regular insulation. This makes the cable bulkier and more difficult to terminate in the limited space provided by an RJ45 connector.
The silver plating Nordost does is very, very thin (60 to 80 microns) and was originally designed to prevent oxidation processes on the surface of the conductor that is in contact with the air. If Micro Mono-Filament (MMF) is not used, there is no need for silver plating.
Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) is a special fluoropolymer that is ideal for Nordost’s Micro Mono-Filament and Dual Mono-Filament technologies. For their Ethernet constructions, Nordost uses a high-density polymer, a foamed type of insulation with a dielectric constant close to FEP/MMF construction. It offers other mechanical properties that are more suitable for this particular application.

The Music

Words can only go so far, but they are necessary to constitute something tangible to work with. Especially with high-end audio products, there is no escaping the consideration of the only medium that matters: music. 
Conveying the emotions and insights is a difficult task that each reviewer tries to solve in his or her own way, but undoubtedly we all strive to ensure that as little as possible is lost in translation.
The close relationship between words and reality shapes the virtual actuality that speaks to us on a broader level, and as human beings, we are comprised to decode believability above all else. 
As always, a lot of music was used in the review of the Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable, but here are a few references that highlight its merits. 
A unique rendition of The Cars’ legendary “Drive” By Joe Policastro Trio is the embodiment of a fertile lushness full of decays. vibrancies and soulful interplay. 
I rarely return smitten by revisiting covers. Yet Pops! delivers some truly great interpretations of familiar compositions. 
“Drive” delivers me goosebumps in both the original and the cover, each for their reasons, but the Joe Policastro Trio’s version simply bypasses all the usual sensory guards, and Valhalla V2 has again shown that keeps sacrosanct attributes unaltered.  
It was more than interesting and fascinating to watch what happened with the plugged-in Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable. 
A crisper and clearer rendition of “Drive,” with the music sounding less fragmented and more whole was just a start.
Not only were the harmonic overtones denser, but the usual scant difference in Ethernet cables was rivaled with the Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable, so notes, decays, delays were more consistent and less mired, blurry. 
This was further cemented by the Beachcomber Dallas Wind Symphony Frederick Fennell. 
The music is guided throughout the album with a magnificent sequence that continuously expands in texture and contains a wealth of information.  With Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable non of the important variants did not overlap with the upbeat narrative or caused the piecemeal disorientation as many of the ethernet cables do. 
Album How Do You Live by electronic wizard Amon Tobin is an exercise in structure and function with ongoing emerging onerous electronic backdrops. 
Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet offered a different, clearer, and more focused imagery, sounding less like a mechanical pulsating narrative and more like a tenacious non embellished sonic momentum. 
There are many fine interpretations on Hot Jazz For A Cool Night: A Jazz Christmas. Still… Louis Bellson perhaps stands out the most for its straightforward sonic illustration. 
With Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet, the shoreline separating realms of detail and dynamics become less clear. Everything from the notes to the leading edges to the anchor points became more systematic, enlivening “Little Drummer Boy” without magnifying glass spectacle, but rather providing a more reality-driven reproduction. 
I felt better conceptualization, details were rendered malleably (they were shaped in place without breaking apart), and the music was not alienated by dynamic variety.
But perhaps the greatest strength was the mass of ampleness music energy at any time. 
One attribute of the lesser performing ethernet cable is the semi-transparency, which can be easily detected with Chanson d’Amour by The King’s Singers (Wayne Shanklin).
On contrary, the Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable rendered the track with more balance and less Fisking. 
The “Chanson d’Amour” sounded less teeming and allowed me to linger in a moment of enjoyment without fuzzing out. I felt the music came out better and was fuller. 
The voices were also postulated more in the forte, more real, and without the tone evanescence. All of this enveloped The King’s Singers with a much more delicate and fluid flow.
After Silence album by Andre Heuvelman highlights many aural contours that can be easily perplexing to render. 
The Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable in a refreshing way entitled organization of spatial fundamentals without deviating from the essentials. A feature that alone deserves high praise. 
We are always looking for a better illusion with every upgrade, and with the Valhalla V2, sonic backgrounds and foregrounds appeared with newfound potency. The music structure was also coded without estranging the crux of musical undercurrents.
“Oblivion” can too easily show how something in the system kiboshes, asphyxiates, and shimmers with artificial light. 
Similar to photography or painting this can introduce unfavorable hues. Where there are too much shading, reality shrinks and collapses under the weight of false reflection.
With Nordost Valhalla, V2 Ethernet cable music was less brushstroke-more-vivid and less pastel-alike, which was also evident in Anouar Brahem’s album: Blue Maqams.
The multiplicity of “Opening Day” was rendered with a level above clarity and has featured far better imagist alike quality permitting of entering into deeper depths of sublime.
In digital reproduction, we are always dealing with acquired confusions, closely related to phases and delays, atomized down to the tinniest fractures. This is what we are most sensitive to. 
With the Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet connected, “Opening Day” was projected as a more comprehensive soundscape. And the dynamic development was a far stronger stand-out positive. 
It’s interesting how different Ethernet cables can blur the leading edges and change the curve of attack, sustain, decay and release. This can fundamentally alter the dynamic imprint, but also the timbre, changing the orb of the instruments and dynamic trails. 
Valhalla V2 proposes no sonic beaming effect, no overly-beautiful bells, and whistles that equip the music. 
Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet cable simply consists of more factual traits that make the music harmonically astute and fusing-centered. 

The Conclusion 

I remember the days when kilobytes were considered solid gold in computer terms. This goes back to the early eighties when with all the difficulties included I’ve had the luxury of getting a Sinclair ZX81 computer. At the time we’d dreamed of kilobytes. Buying this precursor to the spectacle called the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was as daunting as buying the additional ZX81 16K RAM. It cost about the same. 
A lot has happened since then and in a relatively short time. Not only do we store gigabytes of data, but we send and receive it every minute. 
Handling this massive amount of data has brought many new challenges, and all kinds of cables are now mandatory to support this mindboggling exchange of pieces of information of various kinds. Not only Ethernet but also optical cables, etc. 
It is hard to imagine these quantities of data in their entirety, but the fact is that we are dealing with a kind of semantic and, in our case, seemingly endless amount of bits that are translated into audio data that still needs to be decoded to the music. 
Digital bits move silently, but the illusory controversy surrounding perfect bits delivery and unpacking and decoding petitions our inner validating of objectivity. 
Envision the slow or partial loading of the website, document, image, audio, etc. If the packet is not received in its entirety, the missing data is evident, right under your nose. 
One can only imagine what this means for the audio side. Still… Most of us have experienced slow audio transmissions, either over the phone or through dedicated audio/video communication software, streaming, Bluetooth, Wi-fi, etc. 
When the transmission is capped, the sonic outputted starts lagging, stuttering, losing bits, being resampled, scaled-down in quality, etc. 
A close relative has been working with various types of signal transmissions for decades and has always been actively involved in up-to-date associated paraphernalia. It’s interesting to learn how everything, and not just video/audio quality, can suffer from poor cabling (not just interruption). Many devices stop working when the intended function is not achieved due to incorrect or improperly executed cabling. The stories I have heard about optical cables, Ethernet cables, data cables, etc. are startling, to say the least, and not just related to packets or data loss. 
To clarify again: The data packet, in its basic task, must be delivered at least in unaltered form and error-checked throughout. 
Various anomalies or missing data can be of all sorts, but as mentioned earlier, so-called digital hubris in action can be closely observed objectively. 
I own numerous Ethernet cables ranging from off-the-shelf,  pro-grade to audiophile branded. In my evaluations, it was both interesting and intriguing to observe the differences. 
What I found with the various Ethernet cables is that the mediocre (designed & performing) Ethernet cables have a natural tendency to be reducible. They simply lack the density of the properly designed Ethernet cables. 
Also, similar to USB cables, length matters. That’s another topic that probably requires a separate essay, but you can find some of the rationales in my earlier posts about cables. Most importantly, they somehow need to be at least one meter in length. Or between one and two meters to start with. It gets more complex with different lengths. 
As expected, the Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet was also a step up from the Heimdall 2 Ethernet cable, which already performed very well. Valhalla V2 was not just different, but better.
Interestingly, we have an inherited epistemological system that deals with the perception of sound, time, phase, temperature, color, and depth.  Our neural network connected with the logical centers always strives for a harmonious balance, and when that balance is disturbed, we sense it immediately. 
Although so-called data drifting is not directly related to physical changes, we are very sensitive to them. Especially when something is wrong in the digital realm, it even becomes physical in our reaction. 
Our body and our sensors associate these differences with stress. And this has been researched many times scientifically, even involving MRI machines. Another interesting topic, that I’m already working on putting incomplete writing. 
Even though we are often told that audio-related findings are probabilities, we are dealing with a collection of data in the evaluations. 
There are some unembellished technical insights, mostly from other industries, related to the conductor material and special technical solutions of Ethernet cables. Even if the high-end audio cable business is not nearly as large (scale-wise) as other cable industries, it is competitive and highly profitable. 
Not everything is revealed in the technical data. Ultimately, even an Ethernet cable must carry an enclosed potent data message that includes all the spatial information as well as the emotional binding force. As drastically esoteric as this may sound, it is what it is. A fact. 
In the abstract, each cable can intentionally or unintentionally manipulate the transmissions. Compared to the numerous Ethernet cables I own or I’ve tried over time, I feel that many spoil the music. 
Still, the Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet offers a unique bandwidth that provides order rather than bombarding the listener with information or introducing an often noticeable slant.
The Nordost Valhalla V2 Ethernet simply reproduces more of the essence of the music, which translates into better sound reproduction, greater depth of soundstage, finer extraction of detail, etc. 
It’s not as sonically confused and cluttered as other Ethernet cables I have tried, but offers a musically richer output. 
There are a lot of mediocre cables out there. Perhaps the amount of mediocre cables gives a different kind of objectivity to appreciate the good and great cables. And the Nordost Valhalla 2 is one of the few that stands out from the crowd. 
There’s just less shadowing and a grander scale, a larger glimpse of reality with Nordost Valhalla 2 Ethernet. 
The existence of high-end audio cables is a vexing dilemma, with a simple transmission function and signal connection paradigm and dilemma always in question. But the fact stays. Once the data or part of the data is lost, it cannot be recovered.
We may not be able to measure many things in digital, but the differences occur with unprecedented fidelity and repeatedly. 
With mega computers, we are beginning to learn how correlation replaces causality. The largest computer clusters the world has ever seen let statistical algorithms find patterns that science cannot.
This somehow correlates with factual observations captured during repeated listening. Again, it’s all about and all around the data.
Anything that has a logical summary. Habitually repeated testing can avoid the placebo effect. 
Science is built on logic, as is all of Western philosophical understanding. Science is also always progressing and being questioned and called accountable. 
It is hard to draw the line between subjective and objective narratives on all fronts, but if a repeated process results in a favorable outcome, the unvarnished observer will accept the results regardless of the expected reactions. 
Even conceptualizing this is a pretty radical idea to put in a nutshell. It requires some serious notional rethinking of what kind of calculus should be involved. 
If the high-end audio cables are considered the wires or the high-end audio system, what kind of wires are digital? I am not sure, but it could be one of the tiny aortas or those mini-veins that carry the blood (information) and are close to the epicenter (brain). 
It’s really hard to say for any cable manufacturer that they own the answers at offer an end of the game. Not everything is and can be explained and laid out in great detail. 
Every high-end audio cable manufacturer will be somehow secretive of their equipment, unique materials, and even assembly to prevent competitors from copying and pasting. And as we have seen, this happens on a much larger scale than is talked about. 
Nordost is among the surest high-end audio cable manufacturers I’ve had the luxury of dealing with within the universe of endless hits and misses when it comes to reliably expected sonic and operating results. And this quality extends all over their portfolio. Of course in varying degrees. 
The Nordost Valhalla 2 Ethernet cable feels like a logical extension of what was achieved with the Heimdall 2 Ethernet cable. Of course with an expected bump up in the performance. Quite more profound than expected by yours truly. 
Nothing bridges spirit and subtlety like music, and if binary complexity is not limited by the help of an Ethernet cable that makes all the difference, then so be it. 
For what Nordost has achieved with the Valhalla 2 Ethernet cable, and what it can achieve, I am more than happy to present the first 2022 Mono & Stereo Highly Recommend Product Award.  
Matej Isak

The price

  • US$3,299 USA price for one metre

Technical specifications

  • 8 X 23 AWG Solid Core Conductors
  • Twisted Pair Design
  • Triple-shielded: Screen foil and Dual Braid
  • Mechanically tuned lengths
  • High density polymer insulation
  • Specialized EMI and ESD resistant gold-plated 8P8C/RJ45 connectors 
  • Extremely high bandwidth


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