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Audience Adept Response aR1p Power Conditioner Review

Jack Roberts finds out what a $495 power conditioner can do

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Audience Adept Response aR1p High Resolution Power Conditioner

Description

The Audience adept Response aR12 twelve-outlet power conditioner has to be one of the most positively reviewed power conditioners ever. I have not read a review of the aR12 that didn’t say it was simply unbelievable. The only problem was that it cost nearly $4,000 dollars.

Along comes the aR1p, at only $495. It only has one outlet and just plugs straight into your wall outlet, but it is very versatile and can sound as good the aR12. According to Audience, “The aR1p is designed just like the renowned twelve outlet Adept Response, aR12. 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.”

Without a doubt, the aR1p power conditioner is very useful for mono block amplifiers, receivers, video projectors and video displays. It simply plugs directly into a wall or outlet requiring no power cord. The addition of a simple high quality multi outlet power distribution system, such as the one from “Cable Pro” that plugs into the aR1p, can provide power conditioning for an entire audio or video system. I ended up using the $350, CablePro Noisetrapper Revelation II 8-outlet Power Strip.

According to Audience:

“The aR1p Adept Response provides surge suppression up to 20,000 amps. Whereas surge suppression devices like the ubiquitous MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) are sacrificial devices and wear out over time, the aR1p surge suppression does not deteriorate. We have also found that MOV devices introduce grudge to audio and video signal. The surge suppression in the aR1p is entirely silent. The aR1p employs wide bandwidth RF filtration. By reducing power line noise interference the Adept Response provides a lower noise floor and blacker background, resulting in a higher resolution audio/video presentation.”

One of Audience’s main goals is to create a low-impedance power path to your equipment. Another goal is to use the highest quality passive parts so as not to add any noise of their own to the signal path. It seems to me there are couple of inherit values in the aR1p over even it’s more expensive multiple units. For example, it has to help by not having a switch, or cord. Also, it seems an advantage to me to be able to run all the digital from one wall outlet behind the right speaker and all the analogue from one outlet behind the left speaker. I may be wrong, but this seems to me to give even less chance of the digital dirtying up the rest of the sound.

What Does It Do For The Sound?

I’m not new to power conditioners. In fact, I can’t remember when I wasn’t concerned about clean power. My wife used to kid me, she would tell others, “I love to listen late at night when the good power came out to play.” Thus, I have owned many power cords and conditioners from Isoclean, Richard Grey’s Power Stations, PS Audio Power Plants, the Hydra, Ensemble’s Isolators, and my favorite until now, the JC Audio ISO’s. I’ve also owned that many or more power cords. I just want to say that nothing in my experience with power conditioning prepared me for the Audience aR1p.

First, let’s talk about self-noise. Most of the conditioners listed above make some noise. My favorites, the Ensemble and the JC Audio ISO’s, could hum loud if the electricity coming in was much below normal. Likewise, the Power Plants made there own noise. The aR1ps make no noise, none, not one iota, you get the point: they are quiet. Not only are they quiet, but everything I plugged into them was quiet.

When I unpack the Audience shipment, I found two aR1p’s. I immediately plugged one into the wall and plugged my digital source into it. I was not prepared for the improvement. I would have sworn someone had put a much more expensive DAC into my system. It just sounded less digital.

I called John McDonald of Audience to see if he could send me one of the multiple outlet units. John shocked me. He suggested I call Ted Paisley in Texas and get one of his multiple outlet boxes. He said it was what he was using. So I took one of the aR1ps and plugged the digital into it. The other aR1p ended up with the CablePro Noisetrapper Revelation II 8-outlet Power Strip plugged into it and the rest of the system plugged into the CablePro. Now, for $1,350, I had my whole system hooked up to Audience Adept Response High Resolution Power Conditioners with the digital separated from everything else; what a bargain!

Since I’ve been reviewing, I’ve begun to grasp what kind improvement comes with what kind of equipment. One of the shocks has been how small the improvements are between digital equipment. Cable really does sound different but rarely are the differences huge; I did say rarely. Turntables and arms sound very different, and cartridges even more so. Tube amps can make or break the sound. I know a lot of people try to do without preamps, and so did I for several years; but the more I try different equipment, it seems to me that an active preamp is the heart and soul of a great system.

The whole previous paragraph was to enable me to say that, in my experiences, while power conditioners are important and I think everybody needs one, I had found the difference between one good unit and another to be rather small. So there was no way I could have been prepared for the difference the aR1ps made. The difference was as big as the difference between two preamps. It seemed to make everything in the system sound better.

In fact, the aR1p’s make a fundamental difference. They improve the overall transparency and clarity of the sound. They provide a fundamental increase in definition. Yet, they do this without adding a trace of brightness or any sense of an etched coloration. They in no way inhibit dynamics or micro-dynamics; they do nothing to obscure the natural rhythm and pace of the performances. What the aR1p’s do is simple; they just made everything sound more like music and less like recordings.

What I hear is more layering and more tonal nuances than before I plug everything into the aR1p. The leading edge is better defined but more natural at the same time. The soundstage is more three-dimensional. Transients are faster, dynamic are much more dramatic; microdynamics are just superb, low-level resolution is improved, as is the ambience if it is on the recording.

My WGA Ikonoklast Model 3s are amazing at low volumes, but the insertion of the aR1p into the system was astonishing as it augmented their ability to play articulately at low volumes. This quietness is what prevails throughout the system with the aR1ps installed.

I believe once you hear these differences in your system, like me, you will not be able to imagine living without them. Per John McDonald, “Audience uses proprietary state-of-the-art inductors that do not exhibit any significant series resistance common to inductive components.” Just like with the Murata super tweeter, I have no idea why the aR1p’s work, but I sure wouldn’t want to live without either of them.

When you take the aR1p out of your system, the first thing you will notice is that things seem a little blurred. The top-end and the midrange are so clear and so defined with the aR1p that things seem just a little fuzzy and dirty without them in your system. I think this explains things better than just saying, “they give you more transparency and definition.” It’s kind of like the difference between a really good TV and an HDTV.

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