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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: APL HiFi NWO 3.0-GO; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime; Raysonic Audio CD-168
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Cabernet Dual; ModWright LS-36.5 with PS 36.5; Wyetech Labs Jade; Almarro A318B; Melody I2A3; APL Hifi UA-S1; Woo Audio Model 5; Raysonic Audio SE-20 MkII [on review[; Trafomatic Experience One [on loan]

Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; 2 x First Watt F4; Yamamoto A-08s; Fi 2A3 monos
Speakers: Zu Audio Definition Pro; DeVore Fidelity Nines; WLM Grand Viola Monitor with Duo 12; Rethm Saadhana; Zu Presence [on review]

Cables: Ocellia Silver Signature loom; Crystal Cable Ultra loom; Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable; Crystal Cable Reference power cords; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer; Stealth Audio Indra and Meta Carbon
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular 4-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option; Furutech RTP-6 on 240V line feed
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; Acoustic System Resonators and front wall sugar cube matrix
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: €599/1m/pr

The hi-end cable sector suffers a perception problem we need not spell out to agree on. You'd think with Franck Tchang's nefarious reputation for hawking can't-work overpriced voodoo gizmos -- acoustic resonators and tiny wood-cube noise filters -- he'd jump on the price-before-break wagon and take us all for a ride with his new cables. Naturally, those who know Franck better and his marvelous products from personal experience would expect the opposite. Except that what exactly this auteur might contribute to this sector would be anyone's guess: "I have been working intensely on this. I wanted to create a cable that not only would transmit electrical signal but also emotion. I don't want my brain to analyze anything when I press play, only feel captured by the music. After a lot of thinking and many trials, finally it is done."

"As I don't know how to make normal products, once again the cable has a unique design, can retail for just under 600 euros a pair and has already crushed all the 'crap' I have here (some of it 10 to 20 x as expensive). The RCA interconnect offers 180° phase inversion, very useful for some tube output components to restore absolute polarity." And no, that's far from the most wicked part. On that count, you'll decide from the following. First, recall the now accepted truism that it's not the miles of power distribution wiring that precede your wall plug which matter. It's those last few feet inside your upgraded power cords. That's what your gear "sees"; not the crap outside your house all the way back to the power utility plant.

In Franck's view, the same applies to signal cable. It's the ends that matter. During a now abandonded experiment with amorphous conductors, test bench maven Edwin van der Kley of Siltech came weirdly to much the same conclusion (unless Franck dropped a hint). Edwin got the same results as crafting a solid front-to-back run of it when his 'ordinary' cable was terminated with short pig tails of his ultra-expensive amorphous unobtainium stuff - which ultimately did prove to be unobtainium.

For Franck's purposes, ordinary solid-core copper to go the distance between the plugs is perfectly adequate. Except that his return is silver. The real peculiarity then occurs at the ends. They're discrete and multiple solid-core splices of his various acoustic resonator alloys! Their specific lengths and sequence are vital to the recipe. They're not symmetrical on each end and inverted for the return.

"Dissimilar metal junctions. Oy. Bad. And multiples of 'em on each end? Idiotic!" Detractors will have a field day while Franck inhales blissful oblivion. But I did have questions. The phase inversion seemed plain weird if taken literal - unless the man had designed a plug-in RCA connector that allowed conductor swaps. "Easy, for the inversion, just reverse the cable direction. I will finish one side red, one black so it's obvious. I found with a lot of tube components that the signal output needs to be inverted. That's not new, some manufacturers already did that with buffers. My cable is text-book phase correct but sonically, tubes often react differently so inverting my cable's directionality accounts for that." Aha. His use of the term phase inversion relates primarily to sonic effects, not exactly the customary in/out-of-phase convention. Perhaps. The cable is asymmetrical after all, like one whose shield floats on only one end. Next.

"With the metallurgy, it's a matter of density. More quantity doesn't mean more density so I need to use very little precious metals and can build this for a low price." Here we enter Franck Tchang's resonator science as it relates to material properties of certain metal formulations, specifically their resonant and damping properties. The problem with Franckenese -- the man's simple and brief explanations -- is that he's an experiential intuitive. He has learned how to manipulate acoustic phenomena using unconventional means. Now he is strategically applying those insights to new uses at an alarming rate. The world according to Franck is an oyster to be tchanged.

But there is a disconnect between his inventions' efficacy and his explanations. It all makes perfect sense to him of course. Which is all that matters to an inventor to keep creating. It simply leaves those suspecting foul play convinced that Mr. Tchang's inability to translate from Franckenese to Physics proves that he's a fraud. It doesn't. Use his products. Everyone I know who has agrees that they're the work of genius. Ask any of them to explain how they work though and you'll get daft grins and lame shoulder shrugs. For some that's enough. Others won't even go near any of it because. Needless to say, as an avid user of Acoustic System resonators and noise filters, I believe that's their loss. Yet I cannot blame people especially in the tweak and cable sector for being suspicious and slow to pull the trigger.

How about insulation? "I use an all-Teflon tube as dielectric, no PV shit so it's mostly air inside for the conductors." Why silver for the return? "Because the speed of return had to be fast. I really could hear it when I compared it to a copper return. I built the same structure, one with a copper return, the other with silver. The copper return already sounded great but with the silver return, it became live!" Hence the name Liveline. So-called common sense would allocate the expensive conductor to the
hot assuming it to be more important. Thinking outside the box helps Franck investigate uncommon sense options. His past is filled with overcoming obstacles. Born Vietnamese, he entered Laos without a penny to his name. He did the same twice more - in Japan, then France.

After a successful career in the Parisian diamond trade (his company was the first to think of and then supply the massive CarreFour Group chain with diamond jewelry), he sold his interests for very attractive 8 figures. What a change for a guy who was shipped to the South of France with a job promise only to realize that he was expected to slaughter pigs. "There was a bunch of us essentially homeless from Asia. They had paid our train fare and then trained us in the basics. When I realized what I was supposed to do, I simply refused. I just wouldn't do the work. They finally gave up and put me on another train back to Paris." Franck remembers eating and drinking free bread and water in restaurants, then refusing to order. After exhausting the saintly patience of one restaurant owner, he was finally paid to give his business to a competitor. He remembers getting work, needing daily clean clothes and the challenges to produce them as a homeless. These and other anecdotes reveal Franck Tchang to be a man of unusual resources. He's proudly self-made and patently unafraid of disaster. And the amount of interesting and influential people he knows is positively scary.

When he's not travelling, Paris is where he lives to this day. "Sunday night, a guy came by, a financing director of Warner Music France. When I let him hear the difference of my cable compared to others, his mouth fell open. When he asked me for the price, I told him. He dropped to the floor. My local dealer came to listen next. Now he is ruined for high-end cables. And now that you have seen the structure of the cable, it explains why the 180° phase inversion is possible." Franck did indeed explain the exact sequence of alloys from input to output but as his trade secret, it's not for publication. However, in a strange way, it indeed explains why the cable would have to sound different reversed. Whether that difference amounts technically to a 180° phase inversion; mimics common sonic effects of polarity inversion; or something to that general effect - that and more remains for the audition to investigate.

Franck Tchang with his speakers at Munich's HighEnd 2008 show

If you find all this hard to stomach, here's CNN with a May 21 online story: " When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught - recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help. Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said. He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet. "I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs." We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said. The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years. But Yosuke apparently wasn't keen on opening up to police officials. "I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said."

Moral of the story? If those truly curious rather than trying to pick fights showed Mr. Franck Tchang the right dose of respect and courtesy, they'd be surprised to find just how willingly he starts talking to share about what he's learned (you might even get his address in Paris for a personal visit to the mad artist's lab). If an open-minded bona fide scientist did, perhaps one day we'd get a proper Physics explanation on the natural laws that govern the Acoustic System inventions. Until then, don't expect it from us audio hacks. Our job is talking sonics, value and must-have factor. Some or none of it.