When high-end audio manufacturers delve into the so-called “lifestyle” category they must tread lightly to avoid giving the impression that they’re prioritizing good looks at the expense of great sound. Sure, there are many approaches to product development and how budgets get divvied up, just as there are audiophiles who crave not only high-fidelity musical reproduction but also gear that’s a pleasure to have around—to look at and live with in their home, to enjoy interacting with it. Can’t one have the best of both worlds? Certain companies seem to think so (Sonus faber, Burmester, McIntosh, among many others), and this brings us to the inimitable Crystal Cable led by Edwin and Gabi Rijnveld, the husband-and-wife team who are the creative minds behind the Netherlands-based company. Crystal Cable stands out for its seemingly endless capacity for innovation, its high-end technology (thanks to Edwin’s engineering prowess), and its exquisite design across all product offerings, from loudspeakers and amplifiers to top-tier cables and accessories—and now a subwoofer too, the Subissimo, which I paired with the rather exotic loudspeakers under review here, the Arabesque Minissimo Diamond Edition two-way stand-mounts. Even their names are apt and clever.
First off, this isn’t a new speaker per se (see Andrew Quint’s review of the original Minissimo in Issue 256), but rather a major update, the centerpiece being a new namesake diamond tweeter. Other changes include an upgrade to Absolute Dream internal wiring featuring mono-crystal silver conductors, bi-wiring capability via a double set of solid-silver WBT NextGen terminals, internal cabinet damping refinements, and even more rigorously pair-matched mid/bass drivers (which use a strong neodymium air-optimized magnet structure and a carbon-fiber-reinforced sandwich paper cone diaphragm). A single Absolute Dream MonoCrystal Jumperset (JD-1) is also included.
If you’ve ever seen—and hopefully heard—either the original or the Diamond Edition model of the Arabesque Minissimo, chances are you’d remember or recognize it as much for its sweeping, curvy “comma”-shaped form factor and quartet of unexpected high-gloss color choices—Aquamarine blue, Pearl white, and Solar orange (like a Dreamsicle)—as for its incredible resolution, musicality, dispersion, and “disappearing act”—which make this two-way an all-around standout that defies any number of category expectations.
Its cabinet, which is machined from a single solid piece of metal resin composite, looks modern and elegant but its smooth shape is more than just whimsical; it’s also functional, minimizing resonance and facilitating wider dispersion. Interestingly, the speakers can be placed—as a mirror-imaged pair—with the fuller, rounded parts of the enclosures facing inward or outward for different sonic results, depending on your room and preferences. Per the user manual, the former configuration is said to provide a deeper soundstage, while the latter, a soundstage of greater width. The Minissimos were designed to perform well across a variety of room sizes—from 110 to 1300 square feet or more.
The Minissimos are shipped securely connected to self-contained stands, but they can also be separated from these and placed on a special dampening mat for shelf or surface mounting. The stands’ heavy steel tubes are filled with fine-grain sand and their weight ensures mechanical and sonic stability—indeed, they are said to be resonance-free. Another striking design detail is the artfully and mathematically designed laser-cut grille that serves both to protect and further showcase the diamond tweeter. And yes, it’s acoustically transparent.
Partway through my review timeframe, Crystal Cable sent me a pair of Scala weighted forms to be placed atop the speakers to enhance stability, reduce resonance, and improve dispersion. These beautifully machined solid-aluminum accessory pieces with wavelike, textured, 3-D layers follow the Minissimos’ curvilinear forms and rest like “hats” on their tops. There’s a rubberized coating around the perimeter of each to secure placement and block the transmission of vibration.
Crystal Cable’s Subissimo subwoofer was developed concurrently with the Minissimo Diamond Edition speakers and designed to “integrate simply and seamlessly” with them (or other speakers). For my review purposes I was provided with a single Subissimo, a hefty unit in the same Pearl White color enclosure as my speaker samples. Also, like the speakers, for more natural sound, lower distortion, and diffraction-free dispersion the sub cabinet has no corners, only curves. The sandwich cabinet, reportedly resonance-free and highly stable, was designed using the Comsol Multiphysics software platform for physics-based 3-D modeling and simulation. As the Subissimo is a powered sub, each woofer has its own dedicated amplifier and is mechanically coupled within a special frame designed to cancel resonance. The top and bottom plates of the enclosure are made of 2-1/4"-thick solid aluminum that serves both to build up the sub’s structure and to help cool its powerful internal amps. The sub rests on six adjustable feet that come fitted to the base. There’s a toggle switch for polarity that can be set to 0 or 180 degrees. Conveniently, the Subissimo can be left on, as it has auto-on/-off detection and will enter standby mode after 20 minutes without signal. Of course, a pair of subs will provide greater dynamic impact as well as drive the room more evenly, but as you’ll see in my comments below I was very pleased with the results of a single sub.
The way the Minissimo and Subissimo work together is a bit like a pair of Olympic figure skaters—an all-around aesthetically pleasing combo displaying a blend of power, strength, and technical abilities tempered by effortless grace and gorgeous musicality. They gain points for both technical prowess and overall presentation. One partner supports the other, and they must interact seamlessly as a unit, while minding the laws of physics.