Safety check: X-ray checked at IMEC. It's what a much delayed unopened Dutch carton said on a lime-green sticker. Whatever it signified, the cables had cleared customs. Unpacking them revealed no muss, no fuss, no cuss but modest diameters, quality connectors, hard-wearing jackets and enough flexibility to turn into orange-size loops. Whilst the carton hoofed it into the storage stable, the cables hustled upstairs into my second system. Crystal Cable out, Grimm Audio in. Press 'play'. Set to endless repeat. Exit to let marinate for a few hours.

Good stewing company were a Soundaware A280 SD card transport, COS Engineering D1 DAC, Nagra Classic preamp and Bakoon AMP-13. Speakers were from Grimm neighbors Acelec, super tweeters by Franck Tchang, subwoofer by Zu Audio. Power filter from Puritan Audio Labs. Speaker cables and digital coax from Black Cat Cables. Power cords from Crystal Cable and LessLoss. Effective voodoo from LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Hifistay Stella60 decoupling footers beneath stands, Franck Tchang static cables on Bakoon. Polyglot hifi from China, France, Great Britain, Holland, Lithuania, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the US. Assorted jackets for mild room treatment. Room ~4x6m. Time for a break!

Viva la différence. Versus our CrystalConnect Ultra—which 14 years ago already commanded $3'250/1m/pr—I heard it. Had our system played more or less neutral before? We know this to be a meaningless and unanswerable question. Let's deal with 'what'. The difference wasn't on amplitude. It implied no more or less bass, mids or treble. It didn't play tone control. It affected gestalt or feel. Enter the polarity of damped/fluid and its taut/relaxed shadow. The 6 x costlier silver/gold leashes had the sound a bit more on the front foot of leading edges. That gave a small nod to crispness. The black-sleeved Dutchies shifted some weight onto the rear foot of trailing edges. It gave a small nod to elasticity. Emphasis on small.

Were one to start with the Grimm cables as familiar baseline, switching to the Crystal variants would get a bit more clipped, punctual and firm/hard. Were one to live with those until they became the new normal, moving to Grimm would make the sound a bit more redolent, free, decay-rich, soft, fluid and fluffy. Think of this like a small shift in wind direction. It doesn't at all change the scenery.