Franc Audio Accessories
aweł Skulimowski, the owner of Franc Audio Accessories, is one of three people I know personally, next to Mr Władysław Skrzypczak (Pro Audio Bono) and Janusz Rogoż (Rogoz Audio), who has been for years consequently developing his ideas in regard to vibration damping and also – which is important – a successful one. The brand is highly acclaimed not only in Poland but also abroad. And this guy has his vision of brand's development and his own approach to the topic of vibration damping.
The Franc Audio Accessories emerged on audiophiles' radars in 2008, from the very beginning with a refined product - Ceramic Disc anti-vibration feet, which, after introducing various variants, were re-named to Classic. Perfectly made, well packed, they changed the sound of the devices and speakers placed on them and it was surely a desired kind of change. I quickly became an owner of three sets and since then I have been using them as a decoupling elements for my CD player, preamplifier and for the various devices I have tested over the years. To say that I used them with no less than 200 different products would be quite conservative. And they never let me down.
A natural way for company's evolution was to develop anti-vibration platforms, which we reviewed once with the Krakow Sonic Society. After a few amendments these found their way to some very expensive systems, and the Polish distributor of Soulution brand used them at exhibitions under 701 power amps. And since company already offered platforms, why not a whole rack? That's how the Wood Block Rack came to life, combining the advantages of several Ceramic Disc feet, the Slim and Fat Wood Block platforms, and the specially designed frame for them. And finally, it was time for OEM production, providing specifically for this occasion developed Tablette feet, used, for example, for Amare Musica products such as Diamond Tube DAC DSD .
Modular, or how I put a rack together
It is seems obvious that Paweł Skulimowski intended his products to music lovers who could afford to spend a lot of money on audio. But a time came to create some more “for the people”. To do that Paweł came up with an idea of a modular rack that could be used also by beginning audiophiles and which - importantly - could grow with them or their systems. The concept itself is not new, let us remind you that the same is behind the Rogoz Audio 5SMX12/BBS rack, but for some reasons this one is particularly interesting.
The Modular system is supposed to be as cheap as possible, to be delivered to a customer packed in a flat box, that reminded me of IKEA furniture boxes, and to be simple to put assembly. I mentioned the name of the Swedish manufacturer, who changed the way we think about furniture, on purpose and expect its appearance a few more times in this test. And indeed - the courier brought to the 3rd floor a medium-sized package without much sweat. Inside the box there was a smaller size box, say, an extra large pizza - say, five of them stacked on top of each other. Inside I found carefully placed elements: at the bottom three shelves, and on top of them feet and bolts together with elements to fix shelves. The ordered rack was to consist of three levels.
The Modular's design is pretty simple. One can start one's adventure with it with a classic anti-vibration platform, eg for an amplifier. Its base is a board of varnished MDF, to which in the four corners we screw up the aluminum booms. Each of them are screwed together with two screws, pulled through the board and reinforced from the top with an aluminum pad. The nuts visible from the bottom are covered with rubber "cups". In the other end the booms feature a drilled hole which is put over a screw screwed to the bottom foot. This is an anti-vibration foot, consisting of an aluminum cylinder and Tablette pads. The latter are adjustable which allows to level the rack. In the milled hole of the foot one presses a rubber ring, which decouples the two elements. From the top the boom is fixed with a knurled nut. A cork insert is placed between the nut and the boom.
The whole operation takes about 20-25 minutes and one has a lot of fun (or curses as hell) same as with IKEA products. With the kit one receives an illustrative drawing from which most of the necessary actions can be deduced, but a more detailed instruction could be useful. The set includes an Allen key and a wrench. One has to use both of them to tighten the bolts properly, as the stability of the rack will depend on it. The basic platform consists of 57 elements - 14 for each corner plus a top. This basic top has a company logo attached.
If one wishes to extend the platform to a small rack, four aluminum legs need to be tighten from the top, and four booms and board – the process is the same as with a platform assembly. Between the legs and the booms there are rubber rings, pressed into the milled groove. The crimped screws, previously bolted to the platform, now serve to close the table from above. The table can have two, three, or even four shelves. It can also be extended to the side so that we can place two devices side by side.
Paweł Skulimowski during Audio Video Show 2016, and behind him you can see the first version of the Modular rack; an interesting fact - Paweł designed his tattoos himself…
The goal was straightforward: I wanted to make something visually simple and not as expensive as my current exclusive Wood Block line. This didn't mean though, that it was supposed to be something "Made in China". I guess everyone knows that it's not what I do in Franc Audio Accessories ...
In Modular I used materials and technical solutions, of which I am sure they work, that proved themselves (in my other products) and that were highly acclaimed by many reviewers and a whole lot of customers in Poland and abroad. I used, for example, ceramic Tablette feet, which are, for example, a direct insulator of shelves in my top Wood Block Rack and in all Wood Block platforms. So I didn't go cheap here. As for the quality of the above mentioned "Tablettes" - just have a look at my website to the OEM tab and check the constantly expanding list of companies that use them for their devices.
The shelves are made of lacquered MDF, CNC machined. The same applies to all other elements of the rack. I spent a lot of time refining isolation aspects and finish, so all screws are hidden from an eye so that the rack looks clean and neat. I think I did a good job :) Due to the CNC machining of the shelves, however, I had to narrow down the color pallet, so for now, available finishes include black mat shelves + black frame and white mat shelves + black frame, but it is possible that some other color versions will be added in the future.
The Modular line is designed for people who are not quite sure how many audio devices their system will include and / or who do not want to spend large sum on a dedicated rack with a specific, limited space, which may become insufficient at some point. The Modular and its modular design hopefully will allow me to reach to the customers who, without having to spend large sum of money on a dedicated rack at the beginning of their audiophile adventure, will be able to afford to buy only one platform (or rack) for a start and expand it later with additional elements. If / when a need appears (and money allows) they will be able to buy net elements and build next level(s) going either up or adding another platform/rack next to the one already in use.
The first impression
Assembling the rack should not cause any major difficulties. Although, as usual with IKEA furniture, I did not look too closely to the instructions, because I "knew better" and initially I fixed the legs upside down so I had to disassemble the whole shelf and start again. The assembled rack looks very nice, because it does not dominate the room, and yet it inspires confidence. Its stability depends on several factors. The first is the height - the higher it is, the less stability it offers. The second factor is the force with which we screw the booms to the shelf.
However, even with two shelves tightened really well, this is not a super-rigid construction, mainly because shelves are parts of it. Despite this, the three-level rack had no problem supporting the, weighing 41 kg, Kronos Pro Ltd turntable.
Looking at the Modular you can see a huge potential in it. It is not expensive and everyone can afford it, expanding it as needs grow. It looks really nice so it shall fit into a classic room, with a TV, coach and so on. And last but not least, I see in it an incredible upgrade potential. If they are well thought out and logically explained, it will be possible to improve this rack each time when user shall decide that "time is right".
I have some ideas. The first one concerns booms - they can be replaced in the future with a “cross”, that would connect the corner pillars, thus adding more rigidity to the whole rack. The platform could be screwed to the cross. Another improvement could be a better platform, eg Slim. And finally, the platform could be decoupled from the cross with the next set of "Tablettes". These are ideas that came to my mind within just five minutes and I am sure that, after a deeper analysis, they could be still improved significantly.
After I wrote this text Paweł sent me a message confirming my intuition:
I already started to think about upgrades. One would have to unscrew four (outer) screws from each board and from the bottom one would put in new, slightly longer ones, that would stick out on top. Then “rubber” nuts would be screwed on these screws and additional shelve would be put on top.
Let's say, however, that already in its basic form the Modular makes an excellent impression, especially when we take into account its price and I would not be surprised if, after assembling it and placing the system on it the owner would not even bother to think about any upgrades.
The rack stood near my right loudspeaker (Harbeth M40.1), so in a not quite optimal position. But such is life ... On the table I placed the Kronos turntable. After assembly, I compared the sound of my Ancient Audio AIR V-edition CD Player placed on the top of the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition table and then on the top of the Modular rack. Under the player I used a set of Ceramic Disc feet - a separate set for the Pagode and a separate one for the Modular. For the Player I used the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version (Polish) power cable, and the 1,8m long Acoustic Revive SPC3.0 Triple-C FM interconnects.
Recordings used for the test (a selection)
Japanese issues available at
The differences between the tables are clear. Of course, I'm talking about changes in the sound they introduce. Hearing what I can hear, over and over again, with one product after the other, I am amazed by the ignorance of those who negate the impact on the performance of audio devices of what they are placed on. Mostly they are dabblers, but often also people with technical education, who are smart people but with a "book" approach encoded in their brains (sorry for the simplification). By a “book” approach I mean a very basic one. The problem is that there is little or nothing about audio products in these "books". And if anything can be found than this is only a partial knowledge, selective, not covering the results of observations from the last dozen or so years.
The sound we get with the Modular shelf has a “low center of gravity”. The average bass is strong, energetic and it sets the sound in the lower part of the band. Compared to the Pagode rack, the phantom images are less focused, the attack of the sound is not so accurate and the bass not so well differentiated. The foreground is no so well-defined either. It does not differ from all other racks and platforms I listened to in my system. The Pagode has always been one step or sometimes a few steps ahead of them.
Taking the price into consideration, we can see, however, that it is a rack that does not quench the energy of the presentation and at the same time it presents upper midrange is a slightly milder way. So it avoids the common problem of heavy racks - the choking of the energy - but also the light ones, which have their own resonances located high, which brighten the midrange, and often also the treble. The Modular never did it, either with the Kronos turntable or the Ancient Audio player. It rather made sound even richer, denser. It was especially obvious with vocals, for example on the NOVI Singers album, which was recently released in Japan in K2HD Pro Mastering format.
The voices sounded rich, full, they were dense and big in volume. Same happened with instruments such as Sonny Rollins' saxophone and Fausto Mesolelle's classic guitar. All that was in the foreground had a slightly blurred attack. I base that on the comparison of Pawel's and Pagode racks, but not only on that. This is a feature of light audio furniture, most often those with undampened shelves of MDF. That, paying as much as we pay for such products, can not be solved. We can later minimize this using anti-vibration feet under the products, and even additional platforms, but the shelf itself for this kind of money can not deliver a better performance.
All the more so I need to emphasize that the Modular does not go in that direction too far. At the same time it colors the sound to a much smaller degree than even solid, classic shelves eg book ones. We get a low bass and a mild treble. However, the clear advantage is the midrange spacial presentation. This rack allows user to appreciate the events in the back of the soundstage. These are quite resolving and clear. The insight into the back of the stage seems exceptionally natural, providing many spatial impressions that usually vanish covered with a cacophony of "effects."
The Modular has been designed as a system for beginner music lovers and audiophiles, but also those who want something more than an IKEA shelf. Not that I have anything against the latter, it works in 99% of cases, but audiophiles are after this last percent. The shelving system is simple in design, but offers a wide range of "interpretations" depending on our requirements and expectations. The table is precisely and nicely made and it looks great when assembled. I think this is just the beginning of Paweł Skulimowski's adventure with the Modular. RED Fingerprint.
- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4
- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One