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Frederic Beudot
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: Esoteric X-03SE
Analog Source: Acoustic Solid Classic Wood, AS WTB211, Grado Reference Sonata 1, Denon DL103, Clearaudio Nano, Nagra BPS [on loan], Ray Samuel F117 [on loan]
Preamplifier: Wyred4Sound STP SE
Amplifier: Genesis Reference 360, McIntosh MA2275, Yamamoto A08s, FirstWatt F5
Speakers: FJ OMs, Rogers LS 3/5a, Zu Essence
Cables: Zu Varial, Zu Libtec, Slynkilinks RCA, Genesis Reference speaker cable [in for review]
Power Cords: Zu Mother, Zu Bok, Isotek Optimum [on loan]
Powerline conditioning: Isotek Nova [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Isolpads under electronics, ASI resonators and sugar cubes, ASI Heartsong racks
Room size: 21' x 13’ x 7.5'
Review component retail: ASI LiveLine RCA interconnect €600/1m pair, XLR interconnects €900/1m pair, power cord €800/1.8m, speaker cable pair €1.400/2.4m single wire, €2.800 biwire

ASI or Acoustic System International is Franck Tchang. At this point you have likely decided already that this review is either a waste of your time or a long-awaited peek into the latest creation from Tchang the sorcerer. Not many people in our hobby are neutral on the matter. Either you felt brave enough to give Franck's inventions a chance and have heard something (good or bad but something) to appreciate that even though inexplicable, his outré stuff makes a difference. Or, you've outright discarded the mere possibility that his tweaks could do what he claims just because they - er, couldn't possibly. In that case your opinion on Franck's cables will be set in stone and fait accompli. Bull and moo and all the rest.

For those who credit Srajan, Marja & Henk and thousands of others with giving honest feedback on their own experiences, Franck's cables might actually be his most ear-opening assaults on 'common-sense engineering' yet. I needn't go into detail on what makes 'em structurally unique. Srajan and M&H already hit all the bases in their reviews on the RCA interconnects when those first launched. The full LiveLine cable series is built upon the same concepts of using various metals in specific sequences and splices to achieve the desired sonic qualities in conjunction with ear-selected connectors that may or may not have been modified (the RCA connectors sport small holes drilled into them but I did not see any on the XLR  or power connectors; the banana connectors have them again, the spades do not).

On a more mundane note I just add that the cables are now available in variously colored sleeves—I picked black/blue to match my Zu Essence speakers but you can pick from black/red and black/gold—and that the speaker cables offer the rare flexibility of interchangeable terminations. Bananas or large spades thread on a captive post. In the spirit of keeping metal mass low in the connectors for maximized dynamics, Franck recommends the lighter bananas but those are not easy to use on the Cardas posts the Essence employs. I thus reviewed the cables with bananas on the amplifier end and spades on the speaker end. The relevant message here is that your cable box includes a full set of each to match the requirements of your gear at will. It's simple and oh-so convenient for a reviewer whose system changes all the time and fully adaptive for 'civilians'.

No need to wax further on the design. Nobody understands exactly why Franck does what he does. At times I suspect not even Frank does except empirically so let's segue straight into what the cables do. In use they are flexible but should not be bent at sharp angles to avoid eventually breaking their solid-core conductors. Otherwise they are as uneventful as cables can be.

Until you listen.

Frank and Srajan mentioned long break-in. I don't know if I agree. I certainly know that listener adjustment takes time and at least for me overwhelmed whatever transformation the cable itself was undergoing. To know what if any break-in took place, I'd have to put my hands on virgin cables now that I have acclimated to their unusual sonic signature. I will have to go with the designer's opinion on over 100 break-in hours. My own experience calls it pretty much irrelevant. Listener education takes place simultaneously and trumps subtle sonic changes over time. One of the good things about the ASI LiveLine cables is that you can pretty much treat them as one and the same when it comes to sonic characteristics. They all have a very similar effect on the sound which seems to be additive. As expected, each addition typically brings less changes than the preceding one.