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Like most innovative small companies, Crystal Clear Audio came into being as a result of the creative tinkering of three dedicated audiophiles who used to meet to audition their latest high-end audio find or newly designed cable or amplifier. The owner of Crystal Clear Audio, and its cable designer, was one of those excited guys in search of that sonic perfection that eludes us all.
At one of those A-B sessions, they listened to an interconnect covered in masking tape that looked anything but pretty but sounded wonderful even when compared to expensive well-known interconnects. That was the first hint of the designer potential that was eventually to result in the creation of Crystal Clear Audio Cables.
As a hobby, —with the input and suggestions of his friends—messed about, trying different wire materials, different gauges of wire, different wire geometry, different shielding materials, different connectors, all the time trying to achieve that design that would realize their goal of clean, clear, utterly transparent sound, sound that was detailed but also warm and musical. One day, feeling he was getting close to what he wanted, Mel and his friends conducted an extensive A-B with well-known, expensive high-end interconnects. To be sure they were rigorous in their listening instead of merely gathering vague impressions, they identified eight sonic characteristics and their goal for each:
In almost every sonic characteristic analyzed, Mel’s interconnect was better.
This cable was eventually to become the Crystal Standard (The very first model). At first Mel made and sold cables only to friends; then only to friends of friends. Finally he began to make them for general sale. Crystal Clear Audio was launched.
Before we explain why Crystal Clear Audio cables are in most respects and in most audio systems, superior to other interconnects far more expensive, we’d like to take a few minutes to talk about interconnect design.
Assuming that one could produce a perfect signal reproducer in every component—phono, tuner, CD player—one would still face the problem of carrying that perfect signal to the preamplifier or signal processor, and from there to the amplifier, and from the amplifier to the speakers. Since every known signal carrier has limitations, a perfect signal source would no longer be perfect when it was finally converted into sound. Since the signal would have to be transmitted through a solid—in this case a wire—the limitations of the wire would have to be acknowledged so the designer could try to overcome them.
To the fact that some materials conduct electrical signals better than others merely as a function of their molecular structure, we would have to find a way to shield the wire, first so that two wires don’t short each other out, but more importantly so that random airborne signals are not picked up, thereby degrading the signal by picking up noise. One can verify that interconnects act as a kind of antenna simply by disconnecting an incoming signal source—say from a CD player—at the source but leaving it connected to the preamp. You will find that you are picking up noise and static through your tuner from the exposed connectors through the wire. We thus need to provide adequate shielding for our wire so that we have a high signal-to-noise ratio—that is, so stray signals are not picked up and so the signal emerges from a dead quiet background.
The wire material we use also dictates how well the wire will carry the signal. We know that the molecular structure of Copper carries signals better than Aluminum and Silver better than Copper and Gold. In addition to their ability to transmit signals, materials have their own sound characteristics. For example, we could use carbon fiber, since carbon is also a very fast material, but it is also a very “dead” material—and we will hear this—just as silver is a very fast “live” material, and we will hear this too. I will have more to say about materials in the next section.
The geometry of the wire makes a difference too. All things being equal, solid wire is superior to stranded wire; round or almost round wire to ribbon wire or flat wire. Of course wire with a large circumference is superior to wire with a small circumference because wire has resistance and capacitance—a small wire more resistance than a larger one--and when we have resistance and capacitance, in a sense we have a potentiometer, and that is going to affect the signal just as placing a pot in the line affects the signal. It can roll off the top end, or it can muffle the signal. Ideally, we want a wire with no resistance and no capacitance, but there is no such wire. In addition to the circumference of the wire used, the interactions between the individual wires play a role, for example how they are run twisted or braided.
Our task as interconnect designers is to figure out the best material to use, the best size-to-cost ratio, the best geometry, the best shielding, and finally, the best means to overcome the inevitable inadequacies of the material used—in the case of Crystal Clear Audio, the SILVER.
What makes Crystal Clear interconnects superb state of the art instruments is not the solid silver wire, nor is it the high signal-to-noise ratio shielding, nor the unusual geometry, nor Mel’s secret silver wire tuning treatment: it is the sum total of all of those things.
Earlier I said that every material has its own sound characteristic.Carbon fiber, for example, is a very inert, “dead” material, one without any pronounced resonance's. As such it is a very smooth transmitter, but it also lacks the transparent sheen of a very “live” material like silver, which is, unfortunately, prone to over-bright “ringing.” Some interconnect manufacturers, aware of this impressive “liveness” on first listening, but how tiring over time listening to this ringing can be, attempt to “dampen” this ringing by encasing the wire in Teflon shielding of various thickness. Unfortunately even very thin coats of Teflon or polypropylene results in “over-damping,” and this over-damping meant to smother the ringing, impairs the very “alive” material qualities that make silver so desirable.
Many try to end the ringing by using oxygen free copper, or silver and copper, or silver-plated copper. But these compromises to overcome the ringing inherent to solid silver again impair the excellent transmission speed and clarity which led them to want to use silver in the first place.
Others try using ribbon silver or flat wire or they use complicated braided geometries, also in an attempt to dampen the ringing. All of these solutions—solutions which in a sense attempt to craft a violin with a crude wood chisel--create problems of their own.
The comparison to a violin maker is apt. That’s just how Mel thinks of himself. Just as the great violin manufacturers of old—Stradivarius and Guarnarius--soaked the wood, then sanded it, then varnished and waxed it, so Mel puts the silver through many steps designed to “tune” the silver.
Just as a violinist tunes the strings of his violin—by ear--and the violin manufacturers of old tuned the sound box of their violin, so Mel tunes his silver wire. When he’s done, he can hear the singing tone of the wire. The very best sounding silver wire is set aside for the top of the line Crystal Reference, but no silver wire is accepted unless it passes Mel’s rigorous sound test. We know it will pass yours.
Mel is so confident you will find Crystal Clear Audio Cables interconnects to be among a handful of the very best sounding cables you’ve ever heard that he invites you to compare it against any other interconnect irrespective of cost. We know you won’t be disappointed at how much money you saved.
In other words, don’t be deceived by the modest price of Crystal Clear Audio Cables interconnects. The Master Class and the Magnum Opus are superb state-of-the-art interconnects designed for audiophiles who measure excellence by the sound, not the price.
Cable's design and materials are subject to change depending on what we think sound the best in every series and models.
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