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When I thanked Franck, for at his expense facilitating this second view at his products in our pages -- it's not a burden we usually like to place on a manufacturer -- he surprised me. "With great pleasure. You are the first editor to have the courage to write about the resonator in the fridge. XX is scared to death to talk about it. YY is still trying to figure out how to write this thing. And the French guys here are completely out of the loop! Maybe it's because I'm Chinese. Having grown up in Buddhist countries, I learned to live with the force, not against it. That's clearly apparent with the resonators' performance."

The man was saying that the effects of his inventions properly placed were dead obvious. Why then reluctance in the media to give 'em a whirl? What could possibly be juicier than to take an outrageous claim by the horns and debunk it in public? It'd be quite the show. Talk of the town, bright lights on the heroic dragon slayer, another con artist busted. If, on the other hand, the claims proved out -- in obvious fashion no less -- then one would have learned something even more valuable and done the audiophile community at large a great service. Either way, our gig is about reporting news. Acoustic treatments the size of the palm of your hand and just as shallow are news. A maximum of nine such devices per listening room as the recommended usage to minimally impact domestic decors - that's news. I just don't get the hesitation or reluctance. As a news hound, how could one possibly lose out? One should feel attracted to this topic like bees to honey or flies to shyte - however this story would ultimately unravel for each investigator driven by curiosity.

But back on course. The operative focus, as Franck put it, is "remembering that we're dealing with air". That puts it in place. Outside of a vacuum, air is everywhere. Every oxygen molecule is connected to every other oxygen molecule on the planet. It's the biggest circle jerk around. It immediately explains why resonators must have effects when placed outside the room. If you've ever dealt with acoustical consultant firms like Rives Audio on how to sound proof a room such that you can crank the shit out of your stereo while your toddler sleeps peacefully in the adjacent room, you already know how involved and expensive the cure can become. For starters, you must truly cut off any and all air exchange between that room and the rest of the home. Aircon ducts and heating vents, door and ceiling joists, door floor clearance and key holes, panel seams, in-ceiling light cans, electrical conduits - the list of sonic escape routes one must seal off tends to be a lot longer than apparent at first. Remember also that most seemingly solid walls are in fact quite lossy and permeable, especially at low frequencies where the bass could be louder outside than inside the room.

The moment you think air exchange where an entire building is submerged in, permeated and surrounded by air (except under the foundation of course), the picture begins to focus. That's how these resonators defy distance. They're equalizing the ocean of air that surround us, rechanneling certain turbulences, sync'ing up patterns. If you've got a massive geometry-induced pressure zone outside your house for example -- an area where gusty winds get trapped to apply structural pressure -- relieving this pressure must have an audible effect inside. It's all connected. The mind cracker is simply the clash of scale. Big pressure, tiny devices. LF issues, HF solution. That's where the mind hangs up. We've become conditioned to equate acoustic treatments with <300Hz attacks. That means bass traps. It means huge Helmholz resonators as notch filters. It means giant absorbers and diffusors. Time and again we've been told that low frequencies require large devices to counteract. That's why Rives developed an elaborate in-ceiling address. The ceiling tends to be the biggest blank surface in a room. If high enough, you can hang in a faux ceiling and hide your monster traps in-between.

That'd be assuming of course that the resonators are LF notch filters. They're patently not. They operate exclusively in the overtone range like a tinker bell in a Christmas tree. The operative three words remain free air exchange. Sound propagates on air molecules and air is everywhere. Something so basic suddenly has implications that don't seem quite so basic. That's why our two words have suddenly grown to three.

Think about it. If you sound proof a room by sealing it shut, you increase its internal air pressures the moment music starts. You're effectively making the room smaller than it was before. That compounds the issue. It's out of phase with Franck's views. His isn't a brute force approach. It isn't about dominating and straight-jacketing nature. It's about helping
acoustical energies flow again. It's about dissipating clusters so that like water which always finds its own level, air pressures level out and equalize. This is a franck response: "I view my room as a bass guitar body, the resonators like strings and the air movement as the player's hand." According to him and how far I can follow thus far, excess LF energy gets converted to HF radiation by making his resonators work. Work means getting them to oscillate. These devices are passive. They're not perpetuum mobiles. To keep ringing, the resonators must continue to consume acoustical energy in their environment. However, they're not drains. Energy isn't killed by absorption or damping (actually, heat conversion to be technically correct). Acoustic System simply upsamples energy from lower to higher octaves. Bass energy enters the resonators. They oscillate. The resonator in turn puts out harmonics. LF goes in, HF comes out. That seems terribly oversimplified of course. Doubters will point at the fixed resonant frequency of the tiny oscillator and wonder how things add up.

Regardless, the goal is to disarm LF pressure zones. Their deleterious damping on the natural propagation of treble data, air in audiophile speak, gets lifted. Some acoustic equilibrium is restored. The exact metallurgical composition and density of the metal alloys determines decay times and exact energetic conversion potential. Here's another Franckish aphorism: "If you need to break the air in a balloon, use a needle, not a hammer." Tchang views his resonators as needles that puncture pressure zones with minimal effort and maximum efficiency (whereas conventional absorption devices become hammers that add to the mess we're trying to clean up).

More Franck speak: "Against the force, create another force. Reusing the force for its own benefit is key." Sounds like Aikido where an attack isn't blocked but redirected to where it won't do harm - except to the attacker if you're violent or in real danger. "The resonators transform air (noise) into tension. Without this process, our bodies will absorb the tension. I think you will know what I mean by now." I was very curious about these sonic effects on the nervous system. My wife and I have a dedicated meditation room for our formal practice. We view meditation as a process of conducting and magnifying higher energies which then create a shift of perception in consciousness. Anything that could facilitate faster or more powerful access by minimizing disturbances or blocks would be very welcome. Creating peaceful space using Feng Shui is already part of our vocabulary. These resonators seem like another tool from that same tool box. Ivette's very excited - and mostly not about the audio applications. Granted, this isn't the sort of thing you expect to read about in a magazine called The Perfect Sound or Ultimate Stereo. Which is exactly why our publication's name lacks any tie-in with audio. We do get to talk about other stuff as well.

What kind of correlation would develop between cost and effect of applying these resonators? Let's face it, these devices aren't exactly cheap, especially the more precious metal variants. But then, the above Rives installation wasn't cheap either. It definitely altered the acoustics - I heard it. But not many melomanes are prepared to uglify their rooms accordingly. Nor am I suggesting that Franck Tchang's system does the same thing. It appears to be the exact inverse in fact. Actual comparisons would involve erecting two identical rooms on a soundstage, then outfitting one with traditional traps, absorbers and diffusors, the other with Franck's thingmalings. Not a likely happening, not my focus today.

Now enter psychoacoustics or simply, how, even with our eyes closed, we perceive surrounding space. Our brain processes treble data of direct and reflected sounds. It uses the arrival time differentials to assess our body's position in three-dimensional space in relation to boundaries perceived by reflections. If one sets up HF emitters in a listening space whose customary first reflections as dictated by loudspeaker position have imprinted themselves on our ear/brain mechanism, imagine what'll happen when you set up fake first reflection points aka Franck Tchang resonators. As far as our bio computer is concerned, this new harmonic data gets processed just like real reflections. The result is that we'll hallucinate a different space than we're actually in. Franck calls it virtual space. It's about moving walls where our auditory perception is concerned. Audiophiles know perfectly well how it's the harmonic spray of recorded instruments reflecting off venue boundaries that are primarily responsible for the subjective illusion of hearing/seeing an acoustic other than the one of the room we're actually in. It's called hearing the recorded ambience.

It's readily intuitive that mapping out space with harmonic emitters sets up a fake ambience; that placing resonators higher or lower and exactly where will shift these vectors. Our perception of where we seem to be in relation to the sonic playback events will change. Our hearing apparatus gets fooled to hear spatial boundaries not where they actually are. Our eyes meanwhile aren't fooled and only notice the position of some tiny gizmos has changed. It'll be interesting to see how much larger my virtual listening space can be made to seem than its physical dimensions enforce; how the listener's subjective position relative to the soundstage can be altered.

Concluding conceptual introductions, it seems fair to say that the resonators serve two primary discrete while interlinked purposes. They're supposed to shift the audible balance of darkness and light -- as bass and treble energies -- by releasing certain pressure zones that are claimed to suppress the free propagation of original harmonic content. They also introduce secondary harmonic content (i.e. not on the recording) which, via deliberate though experimental placement of the emitters, can be used to define a virtual space and enhance the audio experience. Additional benefits reported by present users, especially inner city dwellers, include a systematic lowering of the ambient noise floor, i.e. serious attenuation of outside noises. Beyond these areas are additional -- possibly psychosomatic -- effects of enhanced well-being and better sleep as a result of lowered audible pollution. This points at non-audio uses by vibrationally tuning environments such that occupants simply feel more comfortable spending time in them.

And, you've got to keep an open mind as a comprehensive Acoustic System room tuning will involve placing some devices outside the room to seriously challenge your belief system. Franck doesn't pretend to really having invented anything. He prefers to call it a discovery which well preceded his subsequent attempts at understanding what was going on. He by now has much empirical data that help him apply his devices for the desired effects. In other words, his is a results-oriented discipline whose evolution co-developed an emerging viewpoint. Like Shaolin Kung Fu, the underlying perspective views things energetically. Chi, hara, conducting gravity, making organs smile - these are all core constituents of Eastern martial arts but I doubt Western science has yet found ways to measure them. Acupuncture works too but raises eyebrows with the hard-core test bench - um, microscope contingent. You see where this is going. Adds Franck, "I'm a very curious guy who needs to know how far a thing can go. I recognized a basic problem and made a tool to solve it, at least partially. When I made the first resonator, it was only for myself because my expensive audio system sounded like shit."

"I never had any commercial notions. I was very happy listening to just one silver resonator for six months. Then my curiosity awoke. I'm a jeweler and gold smith by trade so I made a gold, a gold special and a basic resonator, listening with one of them installed at a time. Then I made a big mistake. Platinum. I could never go back. Then I began to apply all of them together, trying to find the right positions, thinking deeply as to why and how this should work. Simultaneously, this same audio system began to sound beautiful. My friend told me to go commercial and I was tired of the diamond trade so I tried to get some French dealers or audiophiles interested. Nobody was. I went to the German show. In the first year, nobody even wanted to shake my hand. Do you know the dead fish handshake?"

"Except for one guy. Thomas Fast took a risk. Now he's very happy and three years later, everyone wants to shake my hand. I'm still fascinated by how these small simple devices can solve problems that the most sophisticated electronics won't but it was a really painstaking process to work out, to acquire the solid knowledge to make the best tool. I tried every size, every mixture, every position everywhere, to observe the performance permutations and not claim victory at the first shot. I made sure that every parameter resulted in harmonic harmony. And I've hit a brickwall. Up until now, I haven't been able to find the sixth resonator. Every time I tried, I was wrong. Perhaps it doesn't exist. Perhaps the five I have are the maximum. I'm the kind of person who thinks that I'm planting a tree today and maybe I don't have enough time to see it grow big enough for the next generation but I'll do what I can to help it develop to maturity." While I await delivery, you may enjoy reading this preliminary test report wherein the French Pro Links company was asked to measure and verify the operation of the resonators.