Audience aR6-T4 Power Conditioner
The opportunity to review new models of familiar equipment is similar to catching up with an old friend. I have enjoyed, owned and respected Audience cables and conditioners since the original Adept Response was released and the "Original" powerChord first hit the proverbial scene. The Au24 power cables were the epitome of neutrality and their speaker wire and interconnects magically conveyed the full auditory picture in an inconceivably thin cable that defied logic and belied current trends of bigger must be better cable etiologies. Even then, the Adept Response conditioner was something special and established itself as a premier product with few equals. Over time, the "Original" powerChord grew into the Au24, which then matured into the Au24s, Au24se, Au24se-i and now the Au24sx series of power cables and audio cables; not to mention their new reference level frontRow series.
The Adept Response implemented Aura-T Teflon caps and added
the "T" to the aR designation, and then continued to grow through several
additional models to come to the current aR-T4 designation. "aR" clearly short
for Adept Response. The following # is simply the number of outlets (aR2, aR6,
aR12). The "T" as I mentioned is for the Teflon caps. And the "4" is a
designation of its model generation. I was sent two aR6-T4's with both the
standard SE-i master powerChord as well as the upgraded reference level frontRow
I will quote John McDonald, the owner of Audience, in his
explanation of the current advancements implemented in the T4:
The premium duplex receptacle option has been upgraded to
the new Audience Hidden Treasure outlets. The Hidden Treasure duplex outlet is a
product that was released early in 2019. At $199 retail, we believe that they
represent the very best AC power receptacles bar none. Compared to the premium
outlets that were previously used in Audience conditioners, the Hidden Treasure
duplexes offer a near quantum leap in performance. They are notably quieter,
revealing, dynamic and analog sounding.
Audience EHVP (extreme high voltage process) is a
proprietary treatment application of nearly 1 million volts at specific pulse
modulations, frequencies, and amplitudes. The EHVP is applied to every component
including wire, buss bars, filter capacitors, breaker, and AC outlets. The EHVP
results in a notably more transparent and dynamic sound with improved
Audience proprietary Teflon filter capacitors have been
redesigned, providing a more transparent, authoritative and coherent sound."
I had requested two aR6-T4's to allow me the flexibility of running the conditioners in multiple configurations; isolated conditioned power to each monoblock to determine how they sounded with amplifiers, one in the front end rack on the side of my listening room and one up front for the amps, and two on the sides conditioning my analog and digital separately. My room was built ground up and has two isolated dedicated 30 Ampere outlets for mono-blocks up front, a single 20 Ampere isolated circuit up front for preamps or sources, and three isolated 20 Ampere circuits on the side of the room behind the front end rack to offer accessory, analog, and digital isolated circuits.
I will admit I spent more of the review period with the frontRow power cords in place ($6300 optional upgrade), but I used the standard SE-i enough to get a solid feel for what the aR can do without spending on the upgraded frontRow cord. For the sake of this review, we shall assume that the reader believes, as I do, that upgrading your AC infrastructure, cables and conditioning can and does make a significant improvement in the overall performance of one's audio system and is worth the investment.
I typically describe the enclosure, but not much to describe here. It's a well-made metal rectangle with identification of make and model on the front and six well-made AC sockets on the back, which hold anything you plug into them like vise grips. A standard locking AC receptacle connects the master AC cable securely, and there is a nifty double lever type magnetic circuit breaker with a very cool palpable magnetic flip to separate the current flow. It's quite heavy and stays put, even with heavy power cords plugged in around back. The T4 utilizes Au4SX internal power wiring, Aura-TR Teflon Capacitors, state of the art inductors, their top-level Hidden Treasure Duplex outlets, Double filtering between outlets, all Cryogenically treated, and finally treated with an ultra-high voltage process.
The challenge of a power conditioner is to provide a low impedance power path while implementing wide bandwidth noise reduction, and simultaneously protecting from high voltage surges and power spikes from the friendly neighborhood inconsistent power plant or random lightning strike; in simple terms: do no harm, remove the grunge and don't limit current. There are no MOV's (Metal Oxide Varistor) used in the aR6-T4. Audience states they use, "a non-wearing type high voltage transient suppression system." The implementation of a magnetic breaker instead of a standard thermal breaker also results in improved dynamics by avoiding the increase in resistance as power demand increases common to thermal circuit breakers. In the Adept Response each outlet is separately filtered, and each outlet is isolated from all other outlets, not just each duplex.
There are effectively six discrete and isolated filter sections in the aR6-T4. Although there are no officially designated High Current, Analog or Digital receptacles, they do recommend that higher power components are plugged into the duplex nearest the incoming power, and that front-end gear is plugged to the right side. So, all that technical jargon suggests the guys at Audience either wield a serious vocabulary of hyperbole or they know what they are doing; and I am leaning heavily towards the later....
What I can say with confidence is that the conditioner (and cable) affect no tonal change, nor does it affect color saturation or presentation of harmonic structure. The most immediate recognized delta was in noise-floor, which dropped out beneath itself. Picture yourself standing on a black floor where you truly can't tell if you are falling at a constant velocity or immobile. There became a more natural presentation and transparency that lacked without the T4 in place. The speed of transients and dynamic impact were noticeably improved as well, making overall scale that much greater from top to bottom.
Extremes of frequency response seam to peak out of their hidey holes as the noise floor descends into the void; like a mouse peeking out from around the corner when the scent of the cat has waned. And both micro and macro detail is improved, more textured and better defined. Again, this entire presentation is so natural it's as if it was meant to be this way. And when it's gone you notice its absence and longingly reminisce.
Regarding moving them around, a few points became obvious. The aR6-T4 does not current limit, and my amplifiers enjoyed the lower noise floor without neutering dynamics. I have never before been able to run my amplifiers through any power conditioner and liked the results; so, this is quite a statement! I found this more the case running mono blocks than my stereo integrated, which also benefited from a blacker noise floor and the other benefits I mentioned, but did lose a touch of dynamics, punch and soundstage dimensionality when run through the Adept Response as opposed to direct into the wall – a tradeoff I would have to listen long and hard to decide which way to go.
All low current gear benefited from what the T4 offered. I preferred the additional isolation of dedicated separate analog and digital conditioners over plugging all into one, but that separation was almost identically offset by using the upgraded frontRow master power cord in place of the SE-i in a single unit. The frontRow gave me more... Darker darks, bigger bigs, wider stage (and deeper), more overall dynamics, and mass. If price is no object, the upgrade is a no brainer. If it is, start with the SE-i (pictured below) and audition an upgrade later on (pictured above) to see if the improvement is worth the investment to you; I believe it will be.
I have never, ever been disappointed by an Audience product and this time was no exception. I am sad to see them go. My budget is tight currently, so I didn't even allow myself the opportunity to consider buying them. Would I if I could have? Yes. I would have kept both and the frontRow powerChord. I would also have liked to try a full loom of the frontRow to see how much bigger and better things could have gotten, but isn't that always true of this hobby? Audience nailed it, again! As Yoda would say, "Surprised, I am not."
As an aside, my comparisons were made between no conditioning
and use of the Audience review samples. I did not compare to any other
conditioning equipment nor will I offer any comparison here, other than to say
this. In my experience, the Audience, Shunyata, and Audioquest power conditioners
represent the pinnacle (without looking at conditioners that cost more than most
cars, or high current balanced systems requiring custom professional AC wiring)
of what is currently available.
Since I have not A/B'd any of the current reference models I can only say for certain that they are different flavors of exceptional performance and any of the three will result in a dramatic leap forward in performance. Audience makes a truly exceptional product, and they keep advancing their techniques and technology. To not consider and audition a T4 Adept Response when looking for a reference conditioner would be foolish, and to make the investment would be a guaranteed improvement in your system, regardless of its level. Try without hesitation, buy with confidence and sigh with enjoyment at the results!
Yes "Leave It" (90125, Rhino Atlantic, XWAR21829F96, FLAC 96kHz/24-bit)
Oscar Peterson Trio's You Look Good To Me (We Get Requests, Verve, XVRJ8606D64, DSD single rate 2.8MHz/64fs)
Count Basie Live at the Sands (Mobile Fidelity, Reprise Records, 9362-45946-2, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
Mussorgsky Night On Bald Mountain: Tuileries (Russian Showpieces, Sony Classical, B000003FMY, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Hugh Masekela Coal Train (Stimela) (Jive Africa, Jive, JVD-0330B, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Dave Brubeck "Take Five" (Time Out, Analogue Productions, XAPJ8192D64, DSD single rate 2.8MHz, 64fs)
Eric Clapton "Tears In Heaven" (Unplugged, Reprise Records, 945024-2, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Frank Sinatra "The Lady Is A Tramp" (57-In Concert, DCC, UCDCC 101, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Rimsky Korsakov "Dance of the Tumblers" (The Snow Maiden, IMP Digital, B075DHQ1NH, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Alison Krauss "Down to the River to Pray" (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Mercury Records, WAV 96kHz/24bit)
Mussorgsky "Dance of the Persian Slaves" (Khovanshchina, Act IV, Pentatone, FLAC 96kHz/24-bit)
Shelby Lynn "You Don't Have to Say you Love Me" (Just a Little Lovin', Lost Highway Records, FLAC 192kHz,24-bit)
Asgard (Thor: Dark World, Universal, B00FXH21M0, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
Saint Saens' Danse Macabre (Witches' Brew, Blue Moon Imports, B0098YTXAC, 44.1kHz/16-bit)
David Bowie "Ziggy Stardust" (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Rhino/Parlophone, B0106UFG1G, 44.1KHz/16-bit)
Digital Source: Laufer Teknik Memory Player MP64, Light Harmonic Davinci 3, NAIM Uniti Star
Pre-Amplification: Lamm Industries L2 Reference Preamplifier
Amplification: Lamm Industries ML2 SET monoblocks, Manley Neo-Classic 500 monoblocks
Integrated Amplification: Dartzeel CTH-8550 model two, Absolare Signature Integrated, GrandiNote Essenza Integrated, Octave V80SE with Super Black Box Integrated, Musical Fidelity TriVista Integrated, NAIM Uniti Star
Speakers: Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate, Laufer Teknik The Note, Zu Audio Druid Mark V, Elac UniFi B5, pair of Vandersteen Sub Three w/M7-HPB
AC Power: Dedicated Square D 125 amp panel w/10 gauge runs to each outlet, Furutech GTX-D-NCF Rhodium outlets, dedicated circuits for each outlet, Environmental Protection EP-2750 ground filter on each circuit, EP-2050 surge protection/waveform correction
Power Conditioning: Shunyata D6000, Richard Gray 400S, Torus RM20BAL
Rack and Shelf Support: Adona SR4 & Nemisis ALGC racks, Symposium Ultra shelves, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+ doublestacks, HRS Nimbus, Shun Mook Giant Diamond Resonator, IsoAcoustics Gaia 1 & 2, IsoAcoustics Orea Bourdeaux
Digital: Light Harmonic Lightspeed 20G USB, AudioQuest Diamond 0.75m RJ/E Ethernet, Diamond USB A-B 5m ,Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB, Empirical Audio 1.0m S/PDIF, Speaker - Crystal Cable Absolute Dream 2.0m (spade to banana), AudioQuest William Tell Ag 8' (banana to banana), Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval 2.0m (spade to spade)
Power: Shunyata Z-Tron NR 15 amp, Shunyata Z-Tron NR 20 amp, Enklein DAVID 15 amp, Clarus Power Hi-Current 15 amp (12')
Acoustics: Dedicated room, Vicoustics, GIK, Acoustic Wings, Auralex
Room: 15' 1" wide x 18'5" long x 9' 2" high
LP cleaning machine: VPI
1) Plug directly into the wall and do not require a power cord and,
2) There is one filter section serving both receptacles in the duplex whereas in the larger conditioners each receptacle is separately filtered and isolated for all other receptacles. The 2p models are housed in a sturdy plastic chassis whereas the larger models are housed in high quality aluminum chassis.
Available in 120V and 240V. The voltage can be changed at the factory for a nominal fee. Optional breaker values are 15A or 20A.
For those current owner of Audience Adept Response products, existing versions of the aR6 power conditioners can be upgraded with the new Hidden Treasure duplexes and high voltage treatment for only $1000, representing two or the three new technologies in the T4.
Retail prices of the T4 models (standard with powerChord SE-i
Optional 6ft. 10AWG Au24 SE powerChord $1735