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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 2000P/5000S; Opera Audio Reference 2.2 Linear; Raysonic CD128 [on extended loan]
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright SWL 9.0SE; Music First Audio Passive Magnetic; Bel Canto Design PRe3; Wyetech Labs Jade; Supratek Cabernet Dual [on loan from owner]; Melody HiFi I2A3 [on extended loan]
EQ: Rane PEQ55 active merely below 40Hz
Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; Yamamoto A-08S; FirstWatt F3 & F1; Bel Canto e.One S300; Eastern Electric M-520; Yamamoto HA-02
Headphones: AKG K-1000 w. hardwired Stefan AudioArt harness; audio-technica W-1000
Speakers: Zu Cable Definition Pro in custom lacquer; Anthony Gallo Acoustics Ref 3.1; Mark & Daniel Ruby with Omni Harmonizer
Cables: Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable, Zu Cable Varial, Gede, Libtech and Ibis; Stealth Audio Cable Indra, MetaCarbon & NanoFiber [on extended loan]; SilverFi interconnects; Crystal Cable Ultra complete wire loom [on extended loan]; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer
Stands: 1 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular five-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Extreme SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 9' h in short-wall setup, with openly adjoining 15' x 35' living room
Review Component Retail: In euros - Basic 200; Silver 375; Gold and Special Gold 925; Platinum 1,695. Contact for exact pricing due to fluctuations in the material's market price.
|Franck Tchang of Acoustic System Int'l has played the guitar forever. He is fascinated by harmonics, tone, modes and composition. He's also a trained and practicing goldsmith. Add those two passions and you arrive at his mindboggling acoustic resonators. Those are tiny metal bowls riding atop a trident cradle whose shaft is embedded in a grain-oriented, well seasoned soft or hard Maple wood sliver, with the bowls made from copper, silver, gold or Platinum alloys like Japanese or Tibetan singing bowls, winged protrusions added like an inverted Wagner warrior helmet. Once I tell you that these devices alter a home's acoustic ambience regardless of whether you listen to music or not -- Caelin Gabriel of Shunyata Research has used 'em in his meditation room for years and Franck just tuned a Yoga teacher's professional facility in Paris-- you'll appreciate how the concept that underlies these patented inventions is a bit different from classic textbooks on acoustics.
If you've ever played a system loud enough to get slightly noxious -- not because your ears clipped but because the pressure build-up in the room made you feel like swimming through molasses -- you're already keyed in to what the resonators address. All enclosed living spaces are filled with air. Once agitated by sounds, they create unequalized pressure zones. In Franck's view, pressure equates to damping. Lower frequencies will overdamp higher frequencies. When finer energies cannot expand freely because of interference from longer wavelengths, compression occurs. That's equivalent to acoustic stresses. Simultaneously, the low frequencies create resonances. Those alter tonalities depending on the physical construction of the room.
According to the inventor -- though he speaks 7 languages, English isn't his first so certain terms may not be the precise equivalents of his mother tongue -- his resonators decompress air pressures zones to act as acoustic equalizers. The density of his alloys is given as 10.5 for the silver and basic cups, 15.5 for the gold and gold special versions and 21 for the Platinum. Higher density translates to "higher tension, less pressure". By activating the passive resonators through air excitation in a room -- this needn't be done by loudspeakers but could be from refrigerators, air conditioners, heaters, traffic noise and all the other constituent of the background din that so plagues modern city civilization -- the damping factors for different frequencies are altered and some of the excess energy in the room is neutralized.
The resonators also become focal points for intense overtone radiation. That is denser at their points of origin than in the surrounding air. As directional organs, our ears key into these radiation sources and our acoustic perception of the space we're in is altered. Again, no music needs to be played to sense this spatial overlay. Speech will do, or the sound of our own foot fall. Being completely passive, the resonators can only be activated by received energy. As HF modulators, a full-range input obviously isn't needed. Franck Tchang has used a spectrum analyzer to corroborate this action up to 3GHz. By affecting the ordinary acoustic damping through adding parallel values from the resonators, original HF content reappears. It becomes audible again and rebalanced against the LF energies. Treble decays improve and the subjective impression of audible space deepens. The resonators equalize air pressure differentials and can be installed in a fridge, mailbox or outside a room. Distance will not affect their efficaciousness. That's quite a fatal blow to common sense but there it is according to the maestro. Franck has treated recording studios, performance venues, bars, living spaces and entire buildings. His demand as an expert tuning maestro is growing. That brings to mind Combak Corp.'s Kiuchi-San who enjoys a similar reputation in Japan.
Wannabe rocking chair engineers naturally cry voodoo while viewing Tchang's devices from a safe distance. They'll chuckle over how easily audiophiles are bamboozled by strangeness in their search for holy grails. Publishers are scared to broach the subject lest they look idiotic. It's far safer to wait and board the band wagon when the throngs behind it have gotten long. Ex-NSA scientists like Caelin Gabriel meanwhile enjoy the technology and its benefits quietly. While their exact workings may be klaussified -- a humorous bow to Audio Ayslum's resident witch hunter Klaus -- the results of these resonators are an open book to anyone curious enough to let personal experience be their guide. With Marja & Henk's earlier review as starting point (mandatory reading - the link opens in a new window so you can return to this text afterwards), recent experiences in Hong Kong provided the needed follow-up impetus to get serious about this fascinating subject myself. I contacted Franck today to request a sample set of resonators for personal experimentation in Cyprus. Think virtual space kit.
Meanwhile, our tireless Dutchies have helped organize a public demonstration for Mr. Tchang in Holland. It educated local audiophiles about these devices when applied and explained by the master. Our writers' subsequent visits to Acoustic System's Paris headquarters -- reciprocated by Franck who personally tuned their Rotterdam listening room -- have compounded matters. This warrants an in-depth follow up article. It'll report on the event and everything Marja & Henk have learned since they spent more quality time with Franck. Just as they did with the Nanotech Nespa, I'm merely following in their footsteps. I'll board their train to go along for the ride. The motto is, three commentators are better than two. Stay tuned never quite had this ring. One thing is already clear. Just as his firm's name Acoustic System implies, Franck's devices rely on a novel way to view and understand room acoustics. Only when that particular view is adopted will head sense arise - if you find that mandatory before embracing efficacious solutions that seemingly operate outside the accepted norm for now.
As for me, I intend to avail myself of Franck's offer to answer whatever questions arise as I begin to apply these resonators to my room to experience the journey from before to after first-hand. In Hong Kong, I was presented with fait accompli scenarios. This disabled true appreciation for the magnitude of transformation that the resonators rendered. Life is good on planet audio. There are mysteries to pursue, horizons to expand, sacred cows to poke, piles of dung to step into. Did I mention that Franck also makes component footers, platforms and audio racks? And that he is the codesigner of the Consensus Audio speakers? When this man refers to acoustic system, he's quite serious. He asked how many rooms my house had, how many hallways. Then it dawned on me that he was about to treat my entire dwelling. Did he need a sketched blueprint for that to formulate his plan of attack? No, just a mock up of the listening room. We'd fix that first, then address the rest of the house since anything done in the other rooms would affect the listening room and the permutations thereafter would be rather endless.
This kind of perspective puts one in a Feng Shui kind of mind, doesn't it? Acupuncture for acoustical energy flow. Viewing everything as fluidly interconnected. Setting up emitters of higher vibrations -- harmonics -- to counter-balance density and dissipate congestion. Having to consider things as a whole. As I began to think about the resonators in this fashion, something inside began to click, not in any kind of systematic empirical fashion but rather, in an intuitively sympathetic one. The kind that views human beings as temporary energetic standing waves pretending to be matter only (and what is matter but oscillating atoms of mostly empty space)? The kind that realizes that thoughts are things, with very real effects on physical matter - like our own bodies for example.
Franck would be engaged in remote healing of sorts. Based on the room sketch I submitted, I expected a starting pattern recommendation to apply his resonators. I'd then have to experiment and report back with as much feedback as possible to provide the master tuner with the information he needed to make subsequent recommendations, learn from my reactions to them and help me find my way through this unfamiliar terrain. Hell, I might even have to learn what to listen for, hone my sensitivity in areas I'd not paid sufficient attention to until now. At least that's what I imagined or wondered about. Let's find out what really transpires, shall we? Theory and imagination are poor substitutes for actual experience and hard results. Whether I'll understand what's going on is an entirely different matter altogether.