Crystal Cable system

Integrated amplifiers,
AC power cords,
Loudspeaker cables,

The Minissimo doesn’t stop there. There’s an uprated model called the Minissimo Diamond. Crystal Cable and SEAS developed a diamond tweeter design that improved high-frequency performance over the standard Minissimo while retaining in-phase output across both drivers. This loudspeaker is further improved by pair-matching the bass units, adding custom-designed capacitors in the crossover, adding bi-wire terminals, reworking the cabinet damping, and rewiring the internals with the firm’s top Absolute Dream cables.

There is also a top-plate baffle and mass-loading device specifically for the Minissimo and Minissimo Diamond. Called the Scala (after the opera house, of course) its 3D shape is machined from a solid billet of aluminum. The staircase shape is modelled once again using COMSOL physics. Its acoustic behaviour is also modelled carefully to further improve the sound of Minissimo series speakers, by extending the baffle and thereby moving the baffle step further from the tweeter. This is a potential add-on at any time, to either Minissimo model, and in listening it definitely justified its place in the system.

The last component in the chain was the Submissimo subwoofer. Featuring horizontally opposed 330mm drivers are arranged in a force-cancelling configuration, each driven by its own independent power amplifier. Rather than using electronic equalization to extend low-frequencies, it compensates for non-linearities and variations in the drivers themselves. The enclosure itself is a curved wall composite construction, designed to absorb and dissipate the drivers’ unwanted mechanical output before it can feed back into the acoustic output, distorting timing, pitch, and textural information in the process. This also makes the top-plate inert, allowing a pair of Submissimos to take over the role of loudspeaker stands. We could only muster one.

We started the listening session with Crystal Cable’s lone ‘off-the-reel’ Special series cables, in loudspeaker, interconnect, and power cord form. They use high-purity silver-gold alloy and silver-plated oxygen-free copper conductors, and although Crystal Cable provides the hardware, this is designed to be finished in store. At Special level, with the standard loudspeaker and no subwoofer in the mix, the system had an extremely light touch; not lightweight, but deft and delicate. It’s very audiophile, but ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ played by Allan Taylor [Hotels and Dreamers, Stockfisch], gave the perfect example of what this system does best. Just him, his guitar, and a slide Dobro. OK, this can sound impressive played through a clock radio, but what the Crystal system does is make it musically communicative. Extremely musically communicative. It has surprising bass too, for small instruments played through small loudspeakers, to the point where you think at least one of those small things is a lot bigger in reality. But it’s the musicality that makes it score so highly. It’s clear this system is not simply a technical exercise, but a set of devices born out of sheer passion for music. Normally that would sound trite, but with Gabi Rijnveld’s child prodigy musical background, it rings true.

It’s strange that a system that is designed as a platform to show up changes in cables is so comfortable playing with the company’s entry-level cables. The sound has dynamic range, energy, flow, and is extremely musical (that word again... get used to it). And yet, it’s more than that. It’s a system that invites you to listen to a really diverse range of pieces of music, like ‘Adios Amigo’ by Jim Reeves [RCA single]. Because it’s a great record, Jim Reeves has a lovely voice, and a friend probably buried his father’s horse to the song once upon a time. It’s that sort of system. You’d expect it to be more overtly resolving of difference.

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