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The manufacturers cater to the audio enthusiast and often feel the need for reviews. For the consumer, it is practically impossible to assess cables based on their contribution in their own system. A dealer is not able to supply the customer with a wide enough variety of truly different makes and types to guarantee a satisfying match. A customer relies here greatly on the statements made by reviewers online or in print. That this in most cases leads not to everlasting bliss is evidenced by the many ads in the various online audio classifieds. Customers seem unhappy with many cables and cable makers seem to agree as they release new 'n' improved models at a stunning clip. In the middle of this are the reviewers who express their own findings. This has to raise more than one question.

We have fallen prey to this 'system' too. We have auditioned and reviewed more than a few handfuls of cables over the years. We have listened, swapped, listened, switched and listened over and over again to many kinds of interconnects. Be it ordinary copper, OFC, endless Nines in silver with gold, carbon, mono-crystalline or amorphous, they all dropped by. With each cable, there were certain qualities which appealed, others that didn't. With only a few pairs had we outright negative reactions but those cables really stood out. All others were, as already stated, variations on a theme. For our private use, we settled on amorphous metals as the most pleasing solution to our ears. What we use is either very costly or not commercially available. Still, they are variations on a theme and we have been comparing some of these variations.

What happens though when one ditches the 10 commandments, gives the cable status quo the stiff middle finger and starts innovating audio interconnects from ground zero? Well, for now the earth shakes. Not in literal form but under our metaphorical audio-related feet it did.

Let's start at the beginning. We are dealing here with Franck Tchang, former jeweler, now musician and until recently, master of the air. His Acoustic System resonators have transformed many listening environments around the world with their ability to linearize compression sectors in a room. His pressure-to-tension transformation employing various metals' resonant characteristics may be hard to grasp but it works and more and more acceptance thereof -- reluctant or not -- is becoming evident.

Another out-of-the-box project followed with the Tango loudspeaker above. A full review of these remarkable speakers is planned. For now we'll simply mention that these speakers use zero internal damping while decompression is accomplished either via tiny drilled holes or acoustic resonators in strategic places. The combination of radical solutions makes this 5-driver 3-way system sound as coherent as a single-driver widebander.

While demonstrating at the Munich High End show this May, Franck also snuck in his latest project during a few sessions. This project is the Liveline interconnect. While having occupied the back of his head for a long time, Munich hosted the first public sightings.

We had heard the Tango speakers on several occasions at Franck's Paris atelier and had a pretty good notion of their capabilities. In Munich, we first listened to some Larry Carlton with Robben Ford Live in Tokyo [335 Records] before the Liveline got swapped in. The impact was beyond expectation. Instead of better definition, some smoothing or emphasis here or there, there was a more profound change. The musicality changed in ways not easily analyzed so for the time being, we just let the music soothe us before the demo at a live fortissimo level had to be stopped. Some other visitors to the Fast Audio room wanted to listen to a classical piece. The impression of what we experienced kept recurring like an ear worm over the next few weeks during which we e-mailed with Franck to get an idea of what he had accomplished - and how.

The prototype cable we listened to in Munich [above] was based on two principles. First, Franck used two different conductor materials. He ran copper for the hot line and silver for the return. That's a bit unconventional. Instead of insisting on symmetry, Franck went asymmetrical with an alternating current signal. The termination too was different. The cable in Munich had a multitude of tiny ends of gold, silver and platinum in a distinct sequence which was soldered in series to the ends of the conductor. The sequence on either end was different as were the hot and return conductors. It took Franck many hours of experimentations to hit on the proper sequence. These special tails are then soldered into an RCA plug. In Munich those were WBTs but Franck was not happy with them. At the show, he ordered some alternatives from Furutech and Neutrik.

Towards the beginning of July, Frank reported that the Liveline Project had concluded, that he was ready for production and that we should lend an ear as soon as possible. We set a date and drove down to Paris as we routinely do with high expectations. The experience of the Munich demo still troubled us. When we arrived at ASI headquarters, Franck was already in the doorway and quickly led us to his listening room with his familiar setup - the Tango D loudspeakers in stunning rosewood, the huge Karan 1200 amps, the big Kuzma turntable and toward the back in ASI racks, the dCS Scarlatti combo, an AMR CD-77 and the Karan preamp. We listened a little to Michel Jonasz La Fabuleuse Histoire du Mr. Swing, a live album with ultra-low and powerful bass which makes or breaks not only systems but also rooms if the acoustics are mediocre. After grand crèmes with warm croissants at the café at the end of Franck's street, it then became time for some serious listening.