There are already quite a few reviews of Crystal Cables’ Absolute Dream floating round. It’s an astonishing cable, at an astonishing price, in part because it raises the metallurgy stakes. Absolute Dream uses an all new monocrystal silver solid-core conductor wrapped in twin sheaths of Kapton and PEEK and then wrapped in a braid of both silver-plated monocrystal copper and gold-plated monocrystal silver to make up each conductor in the cable, and then housed in a translucent jacket, all wrapped up with the highest grade connectors and an elegant lozenge ID tag. Put this in the sort of presentation case you might get on a bottle of Louis XIII and the result is an expensive process, and a very expensive cable. Most of the reviews thus far have concentrated on the signal, loudspeaker and power cords (for good reason… they are incredible in their own right). But I thought I’d paint a target on myself and discuss the undiscussable first – the sound of the Absolute Dream USB cable.
The reason for this is simple and two-fold. As said earlier, no-one’s covered the USB end. But also, USB is one of the few cables that is almost universally considered to step outside of the whole ‘cable family’ affair; it doesn’t seem so tied to the sound of the complete system and even those who follow the family ethos often end up with a USB cable from a different brand (and all too often, a no-brand USB). This gives us an opportunity to study the performance of the complete Absolute Dream concept qua concept, and the chance to evaluate the performance in the context of how it performs on its own. The one difficulty here is matching products; there are many USB-supporting DACs on the market, but precious few that cost more than the cable itself. The wry humour of such a situation aside, in fact this only poses an intellectual problem rather than a physical one, and the Wadia 121 did sterling (silver) service as converter du jour, despite costing about a fifth of the cost of the USB cable it worked with. For this paring, the rest of the system comprised the Edge G3 integrated amplifier, a pair of Raidho C-1.1 loudspeakers and Cardas Clear cables as comparison USB, as well as for interconnect, loudspeaker and power duties. A top of the line AudioQuest Diamond USB – complete with 72v battery powered Dielectric-Bias System – and Nordost’s Blue Heaven USB were drafted in for comparison duties.