Listeners keyed into how music progresses across time—its extremes are metronomic versus gushing—would find Crystal farther left on that axis, Grimm more right. Listeners keyed into textural firmness would find the Crystal more grippy, the Grimm gentler. Those who focus on apparent control would call the Crystal stronger, the Grimm easier. Shifting between the two wasn't very pronounced. Still it was clear and clearly repeatable. Neither presented as less lucid. Just as small differences of air moisture don't impact our vision, these cable swaps didn't affect subjective transparency or low-signal magnification. That's why I call them gestalt or feel based.

As a mild offset, a lazier approach would want to call each cable neutral and probably not be far off. But how could 'neutral' and even slightly 'different' coexist? I'd be far keener to shift focus on price. Now we realize that for six times less, the Grimm Audio SQM performed on the same high resolution level as the CrystalConnect Ultra, with just a small perspective shift on how transients versus decays were weighted. It also managed locking WBT RCA over Crystal's looser non-locking Furutech. In my book, far lower pricing and enhanced functionality alone won the day. That I also found the sound even more appealing tied up my subjective assessment with a very personal bow.

The moral of today's story? It might just be that shopping cables with the right pro-based company can save big. What makes a pro company right? Perhaps one that doesn't just measure but listens close enough to acknowledge break-in and directionality. Grimm Audio's SQM is no tall or scary tale from the brothers Jacob Ludwig Karl and Wilhelm Carl. It's a very tall performer not in the imaginary world of unlimited funds but in the real world where €475 for a 1-meter cable is still serious coin. Two pointy ears up!