Nowadays, what I look for in a cable is pretty simple to sum up: higher resolution of those low-level details that bring instruments and vocalists (and the space they are playing in) to life; a neutral tonal balance, which doesn’t favor the bass or the treble (i.e, isn’t particularly dark, or bright, or both at the same time); high transparency to the sources ahead of and behind the wire so that differences in recording/mastering quality, digital and analog replay, amplification, and transduction are marked; freed-up dynamics with no sense that the wire (or the network box it may be plugged into) is sitting on the energies of the music, either at low levels or high ones; and the complete absence of RFI, hum, and other spurious noises, which some wires seem to tune in like antennae (and others don’t). It is also nice—particularly for a reviewer, who is prone to plug and unplug his wires a helluva lot more often than the average civilian—if a wire is both sturdy, relatively light, and highly flexible, rather than fragile, bulky, and stiff. The last thing I need is something I have to wrestle with every time I change review gear—or that begins to break down after a half-dozen or so swaps.
Like I said, what I want in cables and interconnects is easy to summarize; achieving it—all of it—is a different matter. I haven’t heard a cable yet that does all of the things I’m looking for equally well, although (sonically, at least) Synergistic Galileo comes closest. And now—with some differences in emphasis that I’ll get to by and bye—so does Crystal Cable’s Absolute Dream.
Despite my aversion to cable reviewing, I took Crystal Cables’ top-line wire and power cords on for two reasons: sentimentality (Siltech, Crystal Cable's partner, was my first indisputable glimpse of “better” in a cable and interconnect) and, well, charm.
The charm part was entirely the work of CEO of Crystal Cable, Gabi van der Kley-Rijnveld. The TAS crew and I had dinner with Gabi and her husband Edwin in Munich last year during the M.O.C. trade show, and in the course of the meal I got to know a good deal more about Ms. vdK-R, whom I’d only met in passing at previous trade shows.
A child prodigy—the first I’ve ever had the chance to talk to—Gabi spent her youth and young adulthood traveling the world, living the busy life of a professional concert pianist, before retiring to the Netherlands to become a teacher. (One of her first pupils was Siltech founder/CEO Edwin van der Kley-Rijnveld and...well, you can guess the rest of the story.) Though she never intended to become a businessman, life with Edwin and her own musical training (upon which Edwin grew more and more dependent for the voicing of his cables) gradually changed her mind. Crystal Cable was the outcome. While Edwin still does the technical design work, it is Gabi’s ear and sense of style that distinguishes Crystal products from Edwin’s own Siltech ones.