By WL Low
These ASI Liveline Reference series cables by Franck Tchang are so new that there’s virtually no photo of them on the Internet. Franck reckons that these are the best cables he has made to date, and claims that it’s a breakthrough in alloy metallurgy that made it possible.
There’s a whole set including the speaker cables in CMY Audio & Visual showroom. Only the power cords are not available. Franck says the latest Liveline Reference alloy metallurgy doesn’t represent a significant enough jump in performance of the power cord to justify a “Reference” series moniker. So the standard Liveline power cords will have to do for now, that is if you’re thinking of a full “Reference” cable set.
We all know by now that Franck is an avid bass guitar man, and he jams in his neighbourhood pub often. Franck certainly knows and uses “live” sound as reference. His Liveline cables have always reflected that aspect of a musical performance – the transient rise and fall speed and the dynamics of a “live” jam session in full blast. His Liveline cables have always offered all these qualities in spades. However to some in the audiophile community, the standard Liveline cables may not be refined and exquisite enough for their tastes. I’ve always considered Franck’s Liveline cable to represent great value for money,in sound per dollar terms.
|The rather lightweight ASI Liveline Reference is easy to cable dress, but it is best to bend them gently.|
The new Liveline Reference cables are wrapped in conservative black nylon-like jacket, terminated at both ends with Neutrik XLR plugs of the latest design, with grey protective heat shrinks over them. I was warned by John Yew (big boss of CMY Audio & Visual) not to make aggressive bends with the cables as they are rather brittle, due to the sectional splicing/joint construction methods used by Franck. The review sample which is 1.5 meters long has five sections. You can feel the sectional joints as you squeeze the wire gently and slide your fingers along the length of the cable. Gentle bends are certainly the way to go. Other than that, there are no other unwieldy aspects of handling the Franck Tchang cable.
The sound of the Liveline Reference very much builds on the family characteristics of its lesser siblings, which are big and bold on dynamics, super fast transient response, tonally rich and great sound staging and imaging fireworks. There’s more “air”, more “acoustic spatial atmosphere” (especially with “live” recordings), more refined, smoother top end and warmer mid bass. Don’t get me wrong, on the whole, I”d still rate this as a rather neutral cable, but within the context of comparison against the standard Liveline, the Reference is really easier to match, system synergy wise. More forgiving perhaps?
Indeed, the Reference would not punish you for playing poorly-recorded music, as they would with less than high-quality upmarket equipment. The Reference will show up the lesser quality front-end if that is the case in your system, but does so sympathetically. The Reference will be at their best when they are partnered with the best.
If there’s an area where the Liveline Reference seemed totally similar to the regular Joe version it is the bass, which is fast, taut and dynamic, but not too extended towards the bottom end. It’s a highly transparent cable, but then again so is the regular Liveline, I cannot recall if there’s an advantage in this area unless I can compared them side by side. More importantly, despite all the obvious speed and dynamic qualities of this cable, there’s a quiet effortlessness that exist within the music, an inner calmness if you will, that”s missing with the junior Liveline.
Like all other cables that go by the “Reference” or “Signature” moniker these days, this Liveline is certainly not cheap, they cost RM9,600 per pair to be exact. Then again there will always be other more exotically priced cables in the market, but in terms of “lively musical” performance, Franck Tchang”s ASI Liveline Reference is hard to beat.
Acoustic System International products are sold by CMY Audio & Visual, contact John at 03-21439206.