John McDonald, co founder of Audience, is one of audio’s good guys. Affable, conscientious, and a fine designer. The latter highlighted by the continuously fine reviews his products receive in the top audio publications.
Based in San Diego, Audience has been on the scene for twelve years. They have just released a set of high value components and also produce speakers. Cables are in the mix, too, but it is a power conditioner, the smallest of their very highly regarded line, that is the subject of audition today.
The Adept Response aR1p High Resolution Power Conditioner (small box, big name!), is a quality product. And the size of the one outlet design is definitely not in relation to positive effect. The dimensions are 6”W x 3”H x 2”D (not including plug) and it weighs a mere 1.5 lbs. The casing is a very solid black plastic. Price: USD$495.00.
My unit was broken in, but I plugged it in and listened casually for at least fifty hours before serious auditioning began. Audience suggests a significant break in until its potential is realized.
There are a lot of words written about the effects (or lack thereof) of this type of product. Science suggests very good reasons for conditioners to do as advertised. A pure, clean signal is what amplifiers, preamps, electronics of all types love. Conditioners, done right, help in this regard.
My experiences with power conditioners have been varied. I live in a suburb of Toronto where the city is bland but the power clean. Very clean. No brown outs, no RF and definitely no power failures. Clean, Canadian living! That said, I have used power conditoners from Chang Lightspeed, Blue Circle, Audio Power, MIT and now Audience in my system. Even with Ontario Hydro, three made a difference and two less so. In fact the two that showed little effect actually robbed the sound of energy, depth, and colour. Essence gone. I use an Audio Power at present and it does a fine job of cleaning and stabilizing the power. Blacker blacks, viels lifted, you know the drill. The same effect was heard from the Audience. And best of all, the aR1p did not rob any power from my amplifiers, tube or solid state. A big plus.
I was bragging before about the cleanliness of our hydro. So why bother with my reference Audio Power? It was interesting to guage the differences between unconditioned and Audienced! Much of the same effect was heard with the Audio Power. Images were more stable and the soundstage more transparent. The images had less bloom, fewer unwanted artifacts.
It was interesting to hear the same pleasant effect from the Audience whether plugged right into the wall, conditioning the power amplifier, or in a power strip with CD and preamp in the strip. Either way, the sound was blacker than black with a very clear soundstage and the aforementioned lack of bloom (maybe we’ll call it bulge as bloom has a pleasant connotation).
Let’s be frank here. The best conditioners, like the Adept Response from Audience, offer the audiophile an honest product that does what it advertises. But with a well regulated system, boasting synergy, a treated room, stable power, and one where the audiophile has spent time and money to get things just the way they want, will they hear more of the music? Yes. Lots more? No. But enough to warrant an investment in clean power. That said, I did hear an MIT conditioner once do wonders at a local stereo shop. The speakers were Numan, the electronics Rega. The store was dirty and the neighborhood worse. But what a difference the MIT made. Everything snapped into focus. More like cheese cloth lifted from the sound rather than a diaphanous veil! You may have the same power problems. If so, the Audience aR1p will be manna from heaven.
For $495, you’ll get the same conditioning as the much more expensive, twelve outlet aR12. And if you do the power strip ‘cheat’, you’ll still get the same positive effect but no ‘component to component isolation featured in multi-outlet Adept Response conditioners.’
There is no scrimping in parts or expertise. The website posts ‘a power handling of 120VAC, 15 AMP, 50-60 Hz, 1800 watts and 220VAC – 240VAC, 15 AMP, 50-60 Hz, 3300 watts. Connections include a high conductivity US power receptacle (Hubbell) and Marinco power plug. In addition to Hubbell and Marinco parts, Audience adds Auricap hi res caps and hand wires with ten gauge wire. No printed circuit boards are used. The electrical circuit is said to have been cryogenically treated and the dynamic range performance is maximized by extremely low DC resistance.’ Further, ‘It is hand built without the use of circuit boards or clip on connections. It is built only with premium quality high current components throughout.’
I enjoyed the aR1p best with my Audio Research VT110 tube power amplifier plugged directly into it. The sound through my fabaudio Model 1s and Lenehan ML1s was consistent. Less bloat, better specificity. Subtle. Very subtle, but it was there. For some fun, my wife helped me with some of the much-discussed ABX testing! I did miss one or two switches, but could hear the differences consistently, especially with the improved clarity of the mid bass of the fabs and the slightly better bass extension of the Lenehan monitors. For these benefits alone, the aR1p is worth its reasonable asking price. It’s a serious, effective, inexpensive upgrade for those of us with stable power, and for those with RF and hash aplenty, a little box from audio heaven.
Further information: Audience