Well, time to bump this thread again and take a few more whacks at the deceased equine carcass
I decided to go with the cumulative wisdom of this community and exercise a bit more patience. That plus a polite, but terse, interchange with RAL about the possibility of a dispute resulted in a constructive dialog and the delivery of the long-awaited Holy Grail of HDMI cables.
Brad is, indeed, a one-man operation, so one has to be willing to cut him some slack as well as to allow for some idiosyncrasies, I guess.
That said … yes, the RAL cable bested the WW Plat Starlight 7 in my setup. Like most improvements at this level of performance, I would not classify the differences as “jaw-dropping” or “night and day,” but they were clearly audible. I could easily live with either cable, but better is better and the costs are roughly equivalent.
I would describe the “sound” as being similar to what you hear when noise levels in other bits of your system are reduced. More detail is apparent farther back in the recesses of the soundstage, and separation and definition in general are improved, albeit at the expense of a bit more “analytical” (but not annoying) quality to the overall sound. The WW sounded “warmer” to my ears but slightly less detailed. But note that this was after only 100 hours of pink noise conditioning of the RAL, so some further change in character would not be a surprise.
No issues with the quality of the terminations. They seemed to be solid and have adequate “grip” when plugged into the Matrix and DSD, but are not the equal of the jewelry at the ends of the WW Platinum.
So - long story short - happy ending, but be prepared to potentially wait up to 8-10 weeks for things to come together depending on what’s in inventory.