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Long listening to a variety of recordings from live, live in a studio to plain studio work caused much walking up and down between couch and front wall while turning the left-of-center cubes counter-clockwise and the rights clockwise. That finally made us happy. By turning the small cubes, it is possible to open up a resonance area. These cubes are like a giant equalizer on the wall. Instead of sliding controls up and down, you have pre-set horizontal and vertical placements while the fine tuning turns the cubes up to 180 degrees left or 180 degrees right. Turning more than 90 degrees brings the 2-holed face up to cancel more high frequencies in the effected resonance space. But be careful in the turning. This dial is very sensitive. A one-degree adjustment already makes a difference. When for instance the reproduction of an acoustic bass like Renaud Garcia Fons' Oriental Bass was to our liking, the rendition of an electronically enhanced bass on Mercan Dede's wonderful 800 caused a strong rattling in a cupboard in the adjacent room. Just turning the leftmost bottom cube a little to the right solved this and replaying the Garcia Fons tracks proved that the acoustic bass reproduction was still adequate.

Raising or lowering the central 17th sugar cube works like a master slide on the equalizer and controls much of the overall balance just like the diffuser above it. We put a pencil dot on the diffuser to indicate the wood grain. An ASI diffuser is a little sound body sandwich of two pieces of light maple with a washer of harder wood between. The body is hollowed out and a small hole connects the cavity to the outside. It is like a miniature Helmholtz resonator. Adjusting the alignment of the wood's grain left or right from straight up -- hence the dot -- focuses the image.

Putting the sugar cubes on the front wall is like preparing a traditional blank canvas for an oil painting. In painting, the raw canvas is stretched to a frame, then glue made of animal bones, honey, alum and sometimes egg yolk is applied carefully. Depending on the personal preferences of the painter, the basic color could be white or even a dark brown as was Rembrandt's favorite. We think our acoustic canvas is slightly off white.

Next to our own experience, we also heard some pretty amazing before/after results at ASI's Paris headquarters. There is a basement under the workshop that is about 28sqm and has a vaulted barrel ceiling. Before treatment, this secondary listening-room-to-be was plagued by no less than a 2-second echo after it was emptied. Even upstairs in the primary listening room, the effects of the hollow cavity beneath were clearly present. Franck then took a handful of sugar cubes and only a few resonators and started to work on the room. On our final visit, he showed us around the now finished vault and the acoustic difference was amazing. Contrary to what the hard stone walls and vaulted ceiling would suggest, the room sounded warm and just lively enough. A demonstration with a recording of large Asian drums using Music Link Conspiracy loudspeakers made it clear that literary any room can be tuned to perfection. We experienced no hint of standing waves or compression in what on first sight was clearly an acoustically awkward room. Also, the primary listening room above was back to its original acoustic condition. We also noticed that painting the sugar cubes in the same color as the wall they are attached to is no problem as long as the holes stay open. In our place, some of the sugar cubes are behind paintings on the wall which is no problem either as they "work with the air" to quote Franck.

At a budget-friendly price, the ASI sugar cubes are a very powerful room acoustic enhancer. It takes some effort to set up the grid but it gives the user unprecedented control over how the room responds as a major musical contributor.

Quality of packing: Simple and efficient.
Reusability of packing: Envelope can be reused, zipper bag too.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Very easy.
Condition of component received: 100%.
Completeness of delivery: Everything necessary.
Quality of owner's manual: Sheet includes basic setup information and diagram.
Ease of assembly: N/A.
Warranty: N/A.
Human interactions: Prompt, friendly and professional.
Global distribution: Distributors and dealers worldwide.
Pricing: Stunningly low for the results.
Final comments & suggestions: The sugar cube noise filters can transform any room's acoustics and are indispensable for any serious music lover.

Franck Tchang's email