Back in 2009 I begin to use an Audience aR6-T power conditioner. The T stood for the Auri-T Teflon caps. In December of 2009, I also did a full review of the Audience Au24 powerChords. I suggest you read that review as this is more of an update on the power cables. I have used this unit and these power cables since then. Then last December I got the HB Cable Design’s PowerStar Horizon Power Distributor in for review followed by their PowerSlave Acrylic. These two units impressed me so that I thought it was time to hear Audience’s latest power conditioner, the $6,000 aR6-TSS, the subject of this review.
Between the aR-6T and the aR6-TSS was another model, the aR6-TS. The aR-6TS utilized the Auri-TO capacitors with the addition of a ground plane. The latest model, the aR6-TSS being reviewed here has been upgraded by the addition of what Audience calls a S-filter which is supposed to lower the noise floor even further. Owners of the previous units are offered an upgrade program, check with Audience for pricing for the unit you own.
The whole point of this review was to compare the new aR6-TSS to my aR-6T and to the HB Cable units. As well, I want to talk about how these power cords compare to others I have had in during the last four years. To start, we should compare price and features.
My original aR-6T has six receptacles laid out the same way as the aR6-TSS, which costs $6,150 with the addition of the Au24 powerChord. That’s $1,400 less than the aR-6TSS at $7,550 with the Au24 powerChord. The HB Cable Design’s PowerStar Horizon also has six receptacles. It cost $4,000 and with the addition of an Au24 powerChord it adds up to $6,200. Then there is the HB Cable Design’s PowerSlave Acrylic which has 8 receptacles and cost $9,200 with the Au24 powerChord. Lastly, we have the HB Cable Design’s PowerSlave Marble with 8 receptacles and costing a cool $11,200 with the same power cord. That’s $3,700 more than the aR-6T.
Before we get into the units above, let us talk about the importance of power conditioners and power cables. I’ve been aware of how much the quality of the AC power feeding your system has on its sound for years. As a young audiophile living in Texas in the 1970s, I was keenly aware that my system sounded better at night then it did in the day, and that when the temperatures would skyrocket into the high 90s and over a 100 degrees that the sound got even worse. Still, I have been amazed over the years to learn how much power cords, receptacles, and the passive parts of these products affect the sound. I no longer believe that power conditioning should be one of the least expensive parts of a system. To be honest in my system that cost just under $100K if bought new, I would not think it unreasonable to spend somewhere between 10% to 15% as the minimum you should spend on powering such a system. On less expensive systems, the percentage would be more toward the 15% mark.
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