2018 HIGH FIDELITY
Polish magazine High Fidelity reviewed Crystal Cable's THE ULTIMATE DREAM cables and awarded it with a Golden Fingerprint!
Tekst: Wojciech Pacula
This is a unique situation - the same company owns two cabling brands that are significantly different from each other. The manufacturer is INTERNATIONAL AUDIO HOLDING BV, and it owns two brands: CRYSTAL CABLE and SILTECH. What's more, the cables of both brands do not compete but complement each other. It is possible due to the unique tandem that runs this company: Gabi van der Kley-Rijnveld and Edwin van der Kley. Each of them has precisely defined tasks: Edwin is the “technical” member of the team, he is responsible for the physical product development, based on his extensive scientific knowledge and experience that allow him to implement proper changes and corrections to the cables they make. Gabi, on the other hand, is responsible for the "musical" or sonic side of the whole undertaking - ultimately she is a professional pianist, but also for organizing the sales. They play their roles perfectly and together acted like a well-oiled, two-headed machine, while finding time also for their family.
Most people associate them with the brands they are assigned to - Gabi from Crystal Cable, and Edwin from Siltech, however, in fact the case is more complex, and the responsibility of each of them is multidimensional. It just so happens that the appearance of Crystal products, their aesthetics and even the way of packaging appeal to the female part of the population. This is, of course, a simplification, but you have to start with something, right? Let's add that Crystal Cable offers the whole audio ecosystem - with an amplifier and streamer in one called Cube, loudspeakers and cabling. Even choosing from this brands' portfolio one can build several completely different systems.
The Ultimate Dream
Gabi and Edwin are members of Krakow Sonic Society. That's why they often bring novelties to us and also participate in KSS open meetings during Audio Video Show in Warsaw, as they did last year. I saw a cable from the new flagship series The Ultimate Dream for the first time in Krakow - it was the AC power cable The Ultimate Dream Power (more HERE), a part the whole cabling system, with interconnects and a speaker cable. It was not my first encounter with the top cable from Crystal Cable. For over a year I have used RCA Absolute Dream interconnect in my tests, which came from the earlier flagship series of this manufacturer.
The Ultimate Dream series is the result of the designer's reflection on Dreamline Plus and Absolute Dream series. However, one can not forget that in the meantime Siltech proposed the Triple Crown series, which raised the bar of the performance to the stratosphere (I am not exaggerating). I'm sure that the experience gathered during its development was used also for Crystal Cable cables. As we read in the company materials, the goal for the Ultimate Dream was primarily to reduce magnetic distortion, so that it could work equally well in any audio system. These are mono-crystalline cables, cast in a customs-made furnace for Siltech, in which the cable along its entire length behaves like a single crystal. This eliminates the micro-distortions present when the signal passes between consecutive crystals. But also significantly increases the cost of manufacturing. The cable topology compared to older models has been modified, modeled using the advanced Multiphysics (Comsol) software. However, this is still a cable made up of six individually insulated and shielded silver wires twisted around the seventh one that assures proper distance between all wires. This core is made of a specially shaped DuPont Teflon tube.
The cable has a small diameter, it is very flexible which makes installing in a system easy. One can realize how complex is its design by looking at its cross-section. The silver cores were insulated with a double layer of Kapton - another material invented by Dupont - and a material called PEEK (PolyEtherEtherKetone). Dense braid made of mono-crystalline copper silver plated wires is placed outside, and on it another shield, this time made of mono-crystalline gold-plated silver wires.
On both ends there are heavy, gold-plated elements performing not so much a decorative role as being part of an electrical, magnetic and mechanical system. The tested version, was terminated with silver spades. They are quite bent so the large caps of loudspeaker connectors - for example Mundorf "turbines" - will therefore require a lot of effort when tightening. With all other speakers posts connections will be easy and reliable. However, one can order this cable with banana plugs. The cables come packed in a nice, suede-coated suitcase in a color referring to Louis Vuitton's bags. Inside, in addition to the cable, one also finds a certificate of authenticity. It's a perfectly made, refined product in every detail.
My personal reference system has been based on Siltech and Crystal Cable products for years. First, there were Siltech Double Crown interconnects and Crystal Cable Absolute Dream, and then a full Siltech Triple Crown wiring, with the power cable connected to the SACD player. The power amplifier is powered by the Acoustic Revive Reference Power Triple-C cable, and the preamplifier and power strip by Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9500 cables.
The Ultimate Dream speaker cable was compared directly to the Siltech Triple Crown cable. However, we know what "synergy" means that comes from a full cable loom from one manufacturer, right? Therefore, I devoted a separate session to listening to the tested cable in the Crystal Cable system, with the Absolute Dream interconnect and two The Ultimate Dream power cables connected to the player and the power amplifier. The test is a condensed version of my observations, in which I tried to point out what are repetitive and characteristic features of this cable and not of the system in which it worked.
We all realize by now that the high-end is an art of choice. The fact that each element sounds different (uniquely modifies the signal) – is known too. So I will not say anything you didn't know when I find that the Crystal Cable and Siltech cables sound differently. However, how they differ and what makes them different was even more important and it was a new and refreshing experience for me. And that's because the general sonic direction both cables go to is the same. They also represent a similar performance level - I'm 100% sure about it. At the same time, they will appeal to different music lovers, who find different aspects of sound more important for them, who have a verying hierarchy of goals, often opposite ones.
The Ultimate Dream speaker cables show a much friendlier, warmer world than the Siltech Triple Crown. They bring the foreground closer to listener and enlarge it. It worked great for the first album I listened to, the rematered Blade Runner by Vangelis, prepared by Audio Fidelity. Dekker's voice (played by Harrison Ford) and the sounds made by the computer analisys system were presented closer to me, stronger and clearer. Although the treble was smoother, warmer and had a less pronaunsed leading edge than with Siltech.
The expressiveness and "tangibility" that I am talking about means that the presentation has a higher emotional temperature. And at the same time – I will use this term a lot - it's a quieter sound, more legato than with Siltech. With worse cables, from the lower price ranges, where the sound resolution and the ability to differentiate the presentation are not as advanced, it would mean unequivocally a warmed up and relaxed sound. But not here.
It is an extremely refined, sophisticated sound, which is better than 99% of what is currently available on the market. It does not mean that it will work best in every system, but it is simply excellent in absolute terms. The Ultimate Dream cable modifies the presentation in the direction of creating a proper order in music and "straightening everything out". With sophisticated, purist recordings, such as the recorded in a "direct" mode, without signal manipulation, The Bassface Swing Trio album, as well as a Master CD-R with "pre-mastering" recordings of Bogdan Hołownia, which were released on the Chwile album - similarly as with all other discs - they all sounded as if they were subject of some smoother mastering.
It was deeply thought-out, well-organized performance, focused on achieving a specific effect. It's about making listener like a recording. In comparison - the Siltech Triple Crown sounds a bit more “raw”. It is more withdrawn and does not build such a clearly large foreground. The differences between these cables, but also generally - between The Ultimate Dream and any other cable I had listened to before in my life - are similar to how they Master CD-R (Siltech) and SACD (Crystal Cable) disc differ in terms of the tone, minus differences in resolution.Siltech seems to be more resolving, it penetrates deeper into the tissue of recordings. But it is the Cystal Cable that is more impressive, that make sound more cohesive. The sound with it is extremely dynamic - listen to the First Impression Music edition of Jazz at the Pawnshop and you will see that everything flows towards you. This flow, however, is thick and warm. I am reluctant to use this term, because the sound is not "warmed up", nor there is any tonal modification. It is the internal warmth, coming out of a multitude of harmonious sounds, of their beautiful consonance.
So both the speaker cables and the Ultimate Dream power cables show the more beautiful face of the recordings. Adding them to the system leads to a change of perspective similar to the transition from the analog master tape (Siltech) to the top turntable (Crystal Cable) and a vinyl record. That's why I mentioned the extremely impressive sound. There is an unbelievable depth, beautiful colors, and all this with details, small sounds that usually escape our attention. Crystal Cable extracts, polishes them and exposes them accordingly.
However, we do not pay attention to them, as with other detailed 9in a good way) cables, because it is a "complete" presentation. Not as resolving as with Siltech, not so incredibly well differentiating, but - within the assumed framework - outstanding. The sound seems bigger and louder with Crystals than with other cables. So one can reduce volume by 1-2 dB, and it will be loud and clear anyway. This, in turn, causes absolute release from tension and stress. These are the cables that "end" the search - in the sense that they "include" everything that we have. With them we simply listen to music, and we have no need or desire to try anything else. If you have a top-notch, balanced system, The Ultimate Dream cable will operate as a buckle that fits and fuses everything perfectly together.
Like any other element of the audio system, the Crystal Cable Ultimate Dream has a clear and unambiguous sonic signature. Since these are absolutely top cables, when we listen to them, we do not think about the "sound" but about "performance". These are synonyms, which are cast in this role also by me, here, however, they have a different meaning. The performance I'm talking about is what the musicians wanted to convey, what the sound engineer and producer wanted to do with it, and the publisher tried to deliver using a specific medium. The Ultimate Dream focuses on the emotions at the very beginning of this chain, bringing the sound closer, increasing the volume of the sounds, smoothing out all the elements that could hinder it. It is a brilliantly fast sound, but with a "twist" in the form of focusing the listener's attention on a dense and strong midrange. Although so different from Siltech and all other cables I know, it builds a world that is an "ultimate" and a finite one. Use it to connect components in your system and it will stop you quest, your search for a better sound. If that's what you are looking for it, the GOLD Fingerprint award will gain another meaning - the "golden" award for "golden" sound.
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