Monday, August 8, 2011

Master of metals

Franck Tchang - the master of metals.

Franck Tchang is certainly a maverick in the hi-fi industry. Not only has he made tuning resonators with precious metals, but he has come up with a range of interconnects, speaker cables and power cords that nobody else in the world can make.

His ASI Liveline cables, which are distributed in Malaysia by CMY Sound & Vision, are all hand-made by him and nobody knows the formula but him and nobody knows how to 'solder' them but him.

It took him two years of trial and error to get the formula right.

The formula is unlike any used by other cable manufacturers and it goes against common wisdom regarding cable making.

For example, many cable manufacturers say you should not use dissimilar metals i.e. if the conductor is silver, then the plug should also be silver and the solder must also have silver.

Franck Tchang makes his cables with combinations of five metals - copper, silver, gold, red gold and platinum. These are not mixed into an alloy; they are connected in series.

For e.g. he may start off with, say, half a metre of pure solid-core copper which is then 'soldered' to a small section, perhaps 2mm long, of platinum which is then 'soldered' to the other wires made from the other metals.

The signal and return wires have the five metals connected in different sequences. The signal wire has more copper while the return has more silver. What works for interconnects does not for speaker cables or power cords.

Franck says his interconnects and speaker cables have solved the problem of phase shifts caused by crystal boundaries of metals.

"All the cable manufacturers are aware that crystal boundaries can cause phase shifts, but none of them knows how to solve the problem.

"Even solder can cause phase shifts. I connect my wires not with normal solder but with melted silver. I melt the silver and use it to connect the wires together.

"Phase shifts cause the images to move. With my cables, the images are solid and stable," he said.

"Can phase shift be measured?" I asked.

"Well, I don't know how to measure it, so I use my ears," he said.

After making his multi-metal wire, Franck then inserts it into a Teflon tube of larger diameter than the conductor so that the fit is loose because it sounds better that way.

His analogue interconnects are special as they can also be used as digital coax cables.

"Does that mean they are 75 Ohm cables?" I asked.

"Yes, the cables are already 75 Ohm. I don't need to use the special 75 Ohm plugs. I tried, but it sounded bad. So I use Neutrik connectors which I modify to make them sound better," he said.

The single-ended interconnects are directional and if the cable is reversed, out-of-phase signals can be made to be in phase.

Even his XLR interconnects can be used as AES/EBU cables and, yes, they are 110 Ohm conductors.

"Making my cables is a time-consuming process and I cannot make any mistake. I cannot make very long runs of my cables because of the different sections of metals used," he said.

He added that he can make speaker cables up to 10 metres long, interconnects up to five metres and power cords up to seven metres.

He neither braids nor twists the conductors and he does not screen his interconnects.
"They are just placed parallel to each other," he said.

Like I stated earlier, Franck makes cables like nobody else does.



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