In my dinner conversation with her, Gabi proved to be as musically knowledgeable a person as I’ve encountered in the high end. When it comes to the sound of the real thing, a lot of people talk the talk. Gabi not only talks it; she has played it in concert and recital halls all over the world. To make a long story short, by the end of dinner I was thoroughly smitten. Reviewing Absolute Dream from Crystal Cable, the company that Gabi runs and Edwin designs for, was my chance to pay homage to both—to the past and the present.
In one respect Crystal Cable Absolute Dream is quite a pleasant departure from what I’ve grown used to over the past decade. Though complexly engineered by the redoubtable Mr. van der Kley-Rijnveld (about which, more in a moment), Absolute Dream cables and interconnects are not complex-looking. They have none of the bulk or doo-dads that previous cables I’ve reviewed have come equipped with. There are no “vacuum dielectrics” that end up making cables and interconnects as thick as corn snakes and about as inflexible and prone to snap in two at the connector ends as bread sticks; there are no massive junction boxes with leads so short you have to seat the cable box on a riser behind the speaker or component just to connect it to inputs or outputs; there are no active-biasing boxes that have to be plugged into separate power sources, creating a maze of crisscrossing wires that can, under the right (or would that be, wrong) circumstances, cause ground loops or screaming high-frequency noise or dead shorts. Nope, the Dreams are surprisingly thin (less than the thickness of your little finger) and easily manageable. In the “sturdy, light, and flexible” category they earn an A+.
They also earn an A+ in the looks department, although in this case their beauty is literally more than skin deep. Edwin van der Kley-Rijnveld has a long history with precious-metal cables; indeed, he was a pioneer in this regard. Absolute Dream is the culmination of his decades of research.
Literally at the core of the Dreams is a single conductor made from monocrystal silver—one of the first of its kind in an audio cable. A good deal of research has been done on how the impurities (typically iron) in precious metals create hysteresis effects (phase and time shifts) that subtly alter the signals passing through them. It is also a fact that the inevitable spaces between the molecular crystals in the lattice structures of metals have similar hysteresis effects, which grow worse as those spaces are filled over time with iron oxides caused by corrosion.
For a while, van der Kley-Rijnveld sought to solve both of these problems by using the purest silver metal (which has fewer iron contaminants than copper) for his conductors and filling the spaces between the molecular silver crystals in his wires with gold, which doesn’t oxidize. But relatively recently metallurgists developed a way to create metals that are essentially one large crystal with no internal spaces to fill.