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Crystal Cable → CRYSTALCONNECT → CRYSTALCONNECT by Crystal Cable →
Crystal Cable
Or the story of some company

Edisonweg 8



pictures Birgit Hammer-Sommer | Wojciech Pacuła | Crystal Cable

No 219

August 1, 2022

CRYSTAL CABLE is a brand that that was a part of International Audio Holding B.V. It was established in 2004 as an off-spin of the Siltech company, but in a short time it became an equivalent partner in the holding company. Its shareholder are GABI VAN DER KLEIJ-RYNVELD and the designer EDWIN VAN DER KLEY RYNVELD. We talk to Gabi at the company's headquarters in April 2022.

HEN I LEARNT ABOUT THE CRYSTAL CABLE company several years ago, it had the "face" of Gabi van der Kleij-Rynveld for me. And not only for me. Over time, the International Audio Holding, which includes the Siltech and CrystalConnect brands (I’ll tell you more about the name in a moment), became the face of this brand for the whole world. That was a simple outcome of IAH's marketing strategy, in which an important element was to emphasize the distinctiveness of its two constituent brands. For many years, Gabi and her husband remained the couple called "Mrs. Crystal Cable" and "Mr. Siltech". This was mainly justified by the appearance of the cables. Crystal Cable products were delicate, had sophisticated packaging and looked like jewelry, while Siltech ones were large, heavy, often really bulky, and thus very "macho".

⸜ Gabi van der Kleij-Rynveld with her favourite „tool” – a piano

Those who do not know her should learn that Gabi is a professional concert pianist of Hungarian descent and has performed in famous concert halls around the world since she was nine years old. At home, she has a beautiful Bösendorfer piano which she still regularly plays. Later in life, while raising five children, Gabi ran sales and marketing at IAH, the company behind the Siltech and Crystal Cable/CrystalConnect brands. And it was Gabi, in 2004, who founded Crystal Cable. As we once read in a press release, she is married to the CEO of IAH, Edwin Rynveld, "sharing a love and passion for creating and listening to music." Their two sons, Viktor (COO) and Peter (sales manager), represent the second generation in this family business.

After about 15 years of building both brands and creating a network of industry friends, Gabi left the company at the end of 2019 and "went on a well-deserved vacation," right after celebrating the company’s anniversary and releasing a grand anniversary catalog. This came as a shock to us all. After all, the head of Crystal Cable was not only the "face" of IAH for us, but also its heart. Robert Winterhoff was then appointed CEO and introduced many changes in a short time, including the Crystal Cable brand name, which has since been called CrystalConnect.

It's fair to say that we showed a fair amount of common sense in reacting to Gabi's departure in disbelief, because less than two years later Winterhoff disappeared from the company. While sitting with Gabi and Edwin at the Hard Rock Café at the market square in Cracow three years later, I asked them what all of that had been for and what had happened in the first place. They sat thoughtfully for a moment, probably wondering how to provide me with an honest answer and at the same time not to cross certain boundaries. Appointing Winterhoff as the CEO was a mistake, indeed – one of the few mistakes Gabi and Edwin have made in their careers.

And they wanted, Edwin told me, to do well. Since the company had grown significantly and the outlook for the future was even better, they decided to do what one does in such situations, i.e. hire a professional, a specialist in management. As it turned out, not only did the introduction of corporate thinking into the family business cause problems, but Winterhoff himself turned out to be a completely different person than Mr. and Mrs. Rynveld had imagined. As a result of the friction and diverging visions of the company, Gabi – not wanting to be a burden to the brand – took a back seat and left the company.

However, the conversation in Kraków took place almost two years after her return and much had been straightened out by then. The new name, however, has remained and the problem will have to be dealt with in the future. Today, the brand is promoted as CrystalConnect by Crystal Cable. And it is an extremely interesting brand. For years, it had been perceived by hardcore audiophiles as "less serious" due to being very "feminine". This partly resulted from the aforementioned marketing strategy and partly from a lack of deeper understanding of the web of connections between Siltech and CrystalConnect.

I have to admit that even though I have been using the Absolute Dream interconnect in my tests for six or seven years (!), I had had no idea what it all really looks like. Now I know more and better – not everything and not completely, but I have – as it seems to me – much better understanding. Alongside knowledge, my respect for the CrystalConnect brand has grown even bigger. Put simply, what I have heard over the years in my system has found a basis in facts. And fact number one is that there really is no such thing as separate Siltech and CrystalConnect companies. By all means, they are two separate brands and Gabi and Edwin have a stake in each, but I'm talking about something else here, i.e. their technological and technical identity.

⸜ Gabi with the author

I have to admit that even though I have been using the Absolute Dream interconnect in my tests for six or seven years (!), I had had no idea what it all really looks like. Now I know more and better – not everything and not completely, but I have – as it seems to me – much better understanding. Alongside knowledge, my respect for the CrystalConnect brand has grown even bigger. Put simply, what I have heard over the years in my system has found a basis in facts. And fact number one is that there really is no such thing as separate Siltech and CrystalConnect companies. By all means, they are two separate brands and Gabi and Edwin have a stake in each, but I'm talking about something else here, i.e. their technological and technical identity.

Both are the result of Edwin's work and the implementation of his ideas. The products of both are created in the same research department and manufactured using the same production line. Both are, finally, made by the same people. So, no other manufacturer would bother themselves like that, but would simplify everything by offering Siltech and CrystalConnect products under one brand, in different series. The Rynvelds, however, are different than "everyone else." They have gone down a more difficult path, but one that is clearer for their customers.

The thing is that, several years ago, Edwin wanted to try a completely different cable design with a different set of techniques, and thus different measurable values and a different sound. It wasn't that Gabi thought she wanted jewelry cables and Edwin designed them for her. It was the exact opposite. He designed completely different cables, identical in quality to the Siltech ones, which turned out to be much more delicate in design and simply prettier than the Siltechs. Gabi decided to add something to the mix and not only did she participate in the listening sessions and had the final say in them, but also came up with the right “frames” for them. This is how the Crystal Cable (today: CrystalConnect) brand was born.

How do I know all this? Gabi and I had been planning an interview for several months and we even did it twice. However, for technical reasons (my fault), nothing was left of it. "Three times lucky," I thought, and when Dirk Sommer suggested that we go together to the IAH headquarters to present Edwin with the overdue STATEMENT in High Fidelity 2021 (German Edition) award for the Classic Series, I agreed – despite the fact that I do not visit manufacturers, either due to lack of time or because of the marketing and promotional character of such trips, which I do not like and which bores me.

The trip to Elst in the Netherlands, where the IAH's headquarters and factory are located, was thus my fourth such visit in my twenty years as an audio journalist. You can find the report from the award presentation HERE. It was there, after a great listening session in the room where all the prototypes are tested, where Dirk and I listened to a set of Art Series cables and Arabesque series speakers – it was great sound! There I listened to the story that Gabi had promised me almost a year earlier. Let me invite you to read about it!


WE STARTED THE INTERVIEW by discussing the best date for our meeting with the Krakow Sonic Society.

Then, Gabi proceeded to ask me the first question

WOJCIECH PACUŁA It’s been such a long time since you returned to Crystal…
GABI VAN DER KLEIJ-RYNVELD It’s been a year now, or actually a little more. We did the CrystalConnect by Crystal Cable and now, after kind of pushing the market, our customers, distributors, the press and marketers, we are going back – in the opposite direction. We are going back with all our cable products. We have been Crystal Cable by CrystalConnect.

⸜ Both Siltech and Crystal Cable cables are manufactured in the same, small factory

WP It was confusing…
GABI Indeed. And the explanation was also confusing, because it went like this: Crystal now also makes loudspeakers, electronics and portable cables, so it is confusing that a Crystal speaker is called Arabesque by Crystal Cable. So, now we will call it CrystalConnect, which is ok for the speaker. But why do you not call cables “cables”? Cables are cables. Last but not least, there was the Munich client we had to supply with logos, etc., for a catalogue. They came with that strange logo of CrystalConnect. And they asked us: “OK, what is this company? People really don’t know – they have known Crystal Cable for many years and this is something new.” So, they wanted us to pay a double fee, as they regarded it as another company.

Anyway, CrystalConnect doesn’t mean anything to people. Nobody knows what its logo means, either. And now, when we are going back to Crystal Cable, we will keep the new logo. What we want now is this: here you can see a tulip and this is a tuning fork. This is a little bit Dutch, we can play with the colours (red, white, blue), we can make animations… Because when the logo was originally made, nobody explained what it means. When you see it, you really can’t tell. So, this is what we have decided to do: keep this logo for Crystal Cable and, for certain things (like the speakers), we can put the words “by CrystalConnect” underneath or we can call the speakers Arabesque by CrystalConnect – that’s perfectly understandable. However, renaming a cable and putting it under the CrystalConnect brand was unexplainable. So, that’s the new thing and it’s good for Nautilus, because they can start anew and skip all the CrystalConnect confusion.

WP Now that you’ve been back for over a year, is this the same company that it was when you left it?
GABI It’s the same again. We had a tough year – we didn’t want the same shocking negative news – like the renaming to CrystalConnect, which caused some confusion on the market. We decided not to shock anyone again with such news by going back. In such a case, you would have to provide them with a negative explanation. We did have a difficult year with the former CEO, but we learnt a lot from it and nobody thinks about it anymore, so we are back stronger than before.

⸜ Cable winding machine for both Siltech and Crystal Cable

So, the first thing was that we added Crystal Cable to CrystalConnect and it was very important for us not to lose the rights on the brand name. We put back the domain name, because it was that weird crystal/ or .org, or something. And that was really dangerous, as there is another company called Crystal Audio in the UK, making speakers. So, people were really confused – they did not know if it was a website of the cable manufacturer, or perhaps the same company as Crystal Audio. Therefore, we put the domain name back immediately. We decided to do it slowly and without a lot of noise, scandals or shocking news.

WP Is the Art series your idea?
GABI It was not my idea, but, as you know, Edwin will never allow a new series to be introduced if he is not confident about the quality, so the bad thing was that they launched it into the market too fast after the Dream series. You have The Ultimate Dream, which is an amazing cable, and we had customers who made orders for a whole loom of cables, and, before they got their orders, having already paid for them, in the meantime the previous CEO decided that there would be no more Dream series or Crystal Cable. We changed everything and discontinued the Ultimate, so we had to work a lot to bring those people back to the Crystal Cable brand. 2021, however, was a perfect year.

WP Were the handwritten cards inside the boxes your idea?
GABI The thing was that we had to change the packaging as well, because it is a very nice box on the outside, but there was nothing inside. It was a plain empty box and we put very expensive, very sensitive and fragile products inside. It especially refers to barrels – if you just put them inside without any protection, they get scratched and the connectors come close to each other So, if people pay a fortune for a cable, they expecting something, some kind of an un-boxing experience. So, we have made an inlay. Similar to the Siltech ones, but smaller and more artistic, with a place for the cards, and we have branding with the new logo, which we have tried to explain (and with the new changes it will be completely explained), as well as some protection. We attach art cards, because the cables are named after great painters, but nobody knows why – no explanation had been provided. Therefore, we are writing a brochure to explain the story behind the whole series. So, the cards are coming, we also have some branding on the protective cover, and now it makes sense. So, the connection between music, art and engineering is especially important here.

The main thing is, and that is one of the main differences between Crystal Cable and Siltech, that we do not do any things as artists, but we get inspiration from artists. So, when I came back to the company and heard about the new series, I started reading and making some connections. If you read the quotes, Monet says, for example: “I like to paint like a bird is singing” – a beautiful analogy. Then I read letters from Vincent van Gogh to his brother. He was a little bit crazy, but had these genius ideas, so he compared moving his brush against the canvas to moving the bow of a violin – beautiful! You don’t need more than that. Da Vinci calls the art of painting “the sister of music”. Use those quotes, use the connections!

⸜ Wiktor de Leeuw, dealing with the organization of work in the factory, in front of the oven used to “burn-in” the cables.

WP You told me before that there is some kind of a connection between the names and the sound of these cables.
GABI Not the names, but the painters’ styles. It’s like Monet, for example. Monet was an impressionist. His style is light, he used soft colours… So, that’s the first step in the Art series. We then use two monocrystal conductors, representative of the excellent newest technology. It is the lightest not in sound, but in terms of the first step. If we look at Van Gogh, if you know his paintings, he always used a lot of paint. He is always robust and has a very special style. So, that’s the second level – using four of the same conductors and different connectors. We also try to please the eye, not only the ear and there’s always a lot of testing, also listening tests.

WP But it’s technical, basically, right?
GABI It is. And that’s the beautiful thing that you combine listening, music, pleasing the eye – art, painting – and engineering, technology. And that’s the basis of all our products. So, Da Vinci, the top cable, uses six of the conductors, all coaxial. Everybody knows that da Vinci was the Renaissance man, he did everything: music, philosophy, painting, sculptures… Now we have not only audible differences between the three models, but also measurable ones (2-4-6 conductors). These are also explainable and that’s basically the common sense in everything we do. It’s not voodoo. When we want to change any single connector, we listen to a new one first for many hours, to choose the right one.

WP How do you choose what is right for Siltech cables and for Crystal cables, respectively?
GABI That is one step before. The basic difference is that the philosophy of Crystal is to go as far as you can, explore the limits of getting smaller, lighter and more flexible, but keep the technical specifications, sound and the story. Siltech is our first brand and next year we’ll be celebrating its 40th anniversary. It has always been the best, most impressive, most beautifully made, most masculine and heavy product. Then we decided to launch Crystal – it was a big challenge, because…

⸜ Worker finishes assembling Crystal Cable.

WP Let me ask you another question here – why did you decide to start Crystal?
GABI It was because we had the technology. Edwin is always looking for new things and his mind never stops, so, while inventing new Siltech models, he discovered he could obtain similar results, both in terms of technology and sound, in a much smaller and more flexible jacket. We first discussed the new invention with Siltech distributors. Basically, everybody was astonished, but nobody dared to go for the new model. They said that the well-known high-end Siltech cables are big and impressive, even masculine, and that nobody would believe that a 0.5 mm conductor does the same things as its big brothers.

WP Everything is made by the same people, right?
GABI Not only by the same people, but from the same quality materials, with different construction and different insulation. So, when we decided to try… Actually, we didn’t decide, as we were disappointed that our partners did not believe in this concept. So, Silver went on with their own generation 5 of the silver-gold alloy conductors, around the year 2000. This was also silver-gold, but we discovered how to make it in a very slim version, but it was not the same as the G5 because of the construction.

All Crystal cables are coaxial, that’s the biggest difference. Siltech cables are always twisted. The fact that Crystal cables are coaxial also makes the sound– its speed, dynamics, character and colour – different. So, that was disappointing. Then we had our youngest child and after that we started thinking. I thought it was such a beautiful concept that it was a pity to give it up, or throw it away. And I decided to set up a new brand. As I am always structured in these things, I thought to myself that I would give myself a year and, if nothing came out of it, we would go further with Siltech. At the end of that year, we had 27 distributors.

WP So, what changed?
GABI We approached different companies to do the distribution. The biggest challenge was to find matching brands. It was difficult in the first year. I was a woman in the industry in the early 2000s, which is still uncommon, but the good thing was and still is that after the 18 years we have been on the market, the brand is still very exceptional. We have had some problems with fake or copy products, but not too many, because this technology is very difficult to hide. You can fake big cables really easily – you put different materials and different conductors in the same impressive big, dark, heavy jacket. But the technology we use for Crystal is very difficult to imitate.

⸜ A listening room where all Crystal Cable and Siltech prototypes are listened. Beautiful Crystal Cable Arabesque speakers in the front, and a new version of the Siltech flagship in the back.

WP How has the technology changed? When you come up with a new technology, is it first made for Siltech and then for Crystal Cable – sorry, CrystalConnect…?
GABI No, it’s completely different. So, when this very first idea came from Edwin, it was a variation of Siltech conductors. And then we started the new brand – it was a new development. You know, metallurgy is always driven by ideas and technology, and what we need it for. So, the engineering team (now we have four engineers, it’s not only Edwin) decides and tells the metallurgists what conductor to make and how. So, now we have different conductors for the two brands and also the sound is very different.

The biggest difference is, of course, the appearance. The second most important difference is that Crystal cables are very easy to work with, very flexible and thin. You can put them in a tube, in a wall, under the carpet if you need to – but they are also really beautiful to look at, so it’s a great difference. That’s why our target customers, distributors and dealers differ so much. However, the sonic difference is also very clear.

Most feedback we get is that Crystal cables are neutral, very detailed, fast and very dynamic, and help your system get together. So, most people call them “forgiving”. If your system lacks anything or has some problems, or errors, the power of the cables provides some homogenous unity, bringing the system together, and that’s something really important. The cables are also musical, because with the speed of the coaxial construction you get more air and space in the music, so the main thing is they are not competing with each other.

Siltech cables have their own advantages – they are actually the best among traditional-looking cables. There have always been twisted pairs – they are still twisted, but not only pairs – now we have different constructions. There’s always more in one jacket and they give a beautiful huge image, a lot of detail, high frequencies – but, because of the technology, they are almost revealing. If the system lacks anything, you will be able to find the errors with Siltech cables easily, which is also positive. So, the biggest thing is that some people use these two cable brands in one system. And that’s very funny, as with Siltech cables you identify the things to correct, while with Crystal cables you bring the system together. They belong to one family, like we are a family.

WP I assume you are happy you’re back
GABI Of course, my mission has not been accomplished yet and it’s still going on.

⸜ Almost the entire Siltech / Crystal Cable team, in front of the company's headquarters.

WP So, what is your mission?
GABI My mission is to put music first in audio – not equipment and not the acoustics in your room, but the main thing we are all looking for. This comes from my past, of course. We’re heading in the right direction, but it’s still in progress. You know, hi-fi shows, talks, discussions – they are still about technology and equipment, which are also very important. The second part of the mission is to make people realize that a cable is not an accessory, but an equal part of your system. And many people always use the cliché example – a cable is like the tyres of your car. It’s okay and it’s a very masculine example, but I prefer the metaphor of an orchestra or a jazz band. If we have 80 people in an orchestra and one plays false, the whole image, the whole music will be destroyed. If one of the tiniest cables in your system is wrong, the other components will not be able to give their best performance.

WP So, music first!
GABI Music first and cables as an equal system component.

WP Thank you for nice meeting!
GABI I thank you too and cheers for all “High Fidelity” readers!


Complementary to this interview article on SILTECH, by Dirk Sommer, can be found on the magazine website HERE.