Audience, LLC was founded in 1977 by both John McDonald (current President/CEO) and the late Richard Smith. It is based out of San Marcos California about a forty minute drive south of Disneyland not far off of highway I-5. The company first became known for making cables, optical disk resolution enhancement (the Auric Illuminator) and high resolution capacitors. Very recently they have expanded into the highly competitive loudspeaker and power conditioning market. Today's review will center on one such conditioner, the aR2p-T. Having had the pleasure of previously experiencing Audience loudspeaker cables and interconnects in my own system I can attest to the fact that while not concerning themselves about adorning them with elaborate coverings to look larger or especially fancy, they nevertheless perform as advertised. In fact all three lines of Audience loudspeaker and interconnects cables are refreshingly pencil thin.
During the initial phase in product development, Audience takes little consideration at looking toward the end price of the unit until the design is completed. Instead the main focus is on producing an item designed to do its job properly with pricing to be determined afterward and based primarily on cost. So what we have here, with the aR2p-T as with other designs from Audience, is a product created to perform as intended rather than to fit a certain budget. No cost cuttings here just decide what it takes to build it right and then complete it. This is a concept that is definitely to my liking. Strong proof that Audience believes in what they sell and is seeking to build a strong client base with positive customer support can be found by looking at their warranties. All Audience cables have an unconditional lifetime warranty with power conditioners having a full ten year warranty. This is a very strong stand taken by the company and one definitely worth pondering when you are deciding from whom to purchase your next product.
Now back to the aR2p-T. Let us first start out with a little history beginning with the aR1p. This original model was a one outlet version that plugged directly into the wall without the need for any power cords, just like this current production unit. What is nice about that is all the extra money you save by not purchasing another high-end power cord in order to get the best results from your new purchase. A short while later, and in order to accommodate a new magnetic breaker switch, a larger enclosure was used and hence the model aR2p was born. Given the larger box the aR2p also was able to take advantage of the famous Auricap capacitors to further help improve the sound. Today's model the aR2p-T however is further differentiated by using the even much larger state of the art Aura-Teflon capacitors (used exclusively in the filter sections) to help improve dynamics, bass response and to lower the noise floor even more than did the aR2p. Looking to their website for a little more information about these Teflon capacitors I found the following statement:
This is a strong statement coming on the coat tails of such excellent reviews concerning the Auricap capacitors and had thusly sparked my interest to try the new aR2p-T in my own audio system. The aR2p-T, like its predecessors the aR2-p and aR1-p, uses premium high quality parts throughout and is hand built without the use of circuit boards or clip on connections. With the aR2p-T you have two Hubbell high conductivity power receptacles and a Marinco high conductivity power plug all placed inside of a smooth white plastic enclosure with a nice high tech look to it. To further enhance performance the entire electrical circuit is cryogenically treated. In addition it is said to provide surge suppression up to 20,000 Amperes. The recommended break in period is a minimum of 300 and possibly up to 700 hours. During this period it is said it would be best to run an appliance of as high a current draw as possible through it.
Running music through the aR2p-T is not necessary however you might do so anyway while you are waiting for it to rack up the hours in an effort to sound its best for you. Then again for best effect you could simply leave it plugged into the wall socket all by itself. I choose the route of running an appliance through it continuously for a few weeks thereby pilling up the hours rather quickly. Being the curious one, as is my trademark, it was immediately plugged into my system right after being delivered to my house. Hey I had to make sure it was a working unit after all otherwise what good would it do to break it in. Besides I was like a kid with a new toy and could not wait to try it out. As soon as music started to play I could hear the difference the aR2p-T was making, and liked it immediately without any break in having been allowed yet. There was a nice detailed texture to the sound that had escaped my system before but now could be heard quite distinctly. Initially for the review mono block amplifiers were run through a power strip and then into one socket of the aR2p-T, later a CD player was added to the second outlet. Since having previously promised John McDonald to give it a good three hundred plus hours of break in time before taking notes for this review. I initially resisted the temptation to do much critical listening before that. If however you were to ask how it sound right out of the box let it be known that even my first impressions were notably. Then after two hundred hours music sounded even better yet. Finally, three hundred forty five hours later, it appeared to be broken in enough for this reviewer to engage in some serious listening sessions. Now here is where the fun truly began.
During one passage with the piano playing in the forefront one can hear the soft whispering of notes coming from the clarinet playing quietly but quite distinctly in the background. Low level details were never lost with the Teflon capacitors as songs heard before now appeared fresh and more "alive" than ever. While always saddened when the time comes to leave this marvelous CD behind there was one more song to enjoy before having to do so. "My One and Only Love" with Yo-Yo MA on cello and Joshua Redman playing tenor saxophone is certainly not one to miss. The slow rhythmic melody of the saxophone coupled with the soulful texture of the cello makes this a romantic musical episode with a small club type sound. Music from both cello and saxophone are conveyed with great detail and clarity. This wonderful performance is captured in all its glory by the ability of the aR2p-T to display each instrument almost as unrestricted and unconstrained as a live event would sound.
When you buy the aR2p-T you may want to consider this CD a matching component and relax as track after track is revealed for you by this amazing product designed and built by the incredibly talented people at Audience. Luckily I have a universal player that allows me to enjoy the next album with the DVD Audio performance of the Eagles Hotel California [Pandor Productions, LTD 60509-09]. "Pretty Maids All In A Row" gives us a powerful drum presence throughout that is never overpowering yet sounds clear and forceful with a feeling of rightness to it. Again bass is strong, yet correct, when listening to "Try and Love Again" (from the same CD). Imagery is excellent with Glenn Frey on lead guitar as Joe Walsh plays his Gretsch guitar while accompanied by the singing of Randy Meisner whose voice never seemed to get confused amidst the other performers within the soundscape. Individuals could be heard without an overlapping of each other's space which provided one with the ability to thoroughly enjoy each performer's talents while still listening to the music as a whole.
Plus CD Player With The aR2p-T
Neil Young's Prairie Wind [Reprise 49593-2] was next to step up to the plate. Here with "Falling Off The Face Of The Earth" the sound of fingers sliding across guitar strings was more prominent than usual. Neil Young's voice sounded fuller yet when it rose to hit those higher notes the aR2p-T had no problem at all following him right up that high pitched path. Soundscape remained wide yet deep as the illusion of height was also good. In fact it was hard for me to tell that it was the Klipschorn's that were playing as music never sounded as though emanating from the corners of the room. The soundscape presenting itself about three to four feet in front of the corner placed loudspeakers making for a full soundscape deep into my room. All said the image presented was much better than before when there was no aR2p-T in the room. With "This Old Guitar", a kind of slow paced song, there was a feeling of warmth and tenderness while he sang about history he shared with a certain special guitar. Then moving onto "He Was The King", a song about Elvis, the layering of the vocals was nicely portrayed and the harmonica had a correct tone about it. Harmonica's can sound edgy when played back on digital equipment, but not while the aR2p-T was there to ensure that music projected the correct sonic signature. As before images were detailed within the vast soundscape as musicians stood out as individuals playing within a band without a smearing effect to cause confusion within the performance. The aR2p-T took hold of the recordings and gave a uniquely natural feel to them that was both welcomed and appreciated by those who came by my house to hear. Quite impressive indeed.
Then again you could always plug a power strip or two directly into the aR2p-T in order to take advantage of using it with multiple components depending on your systems needs and if you have a digital, analog or digital/analog setup. The aR2p-T did a lot for my system. The soundstage width and depth increased, as vocals were clearer and there was an added silence around instruments and performers. The timbre of instruments was more correct and subtle details were easily heard as low level retrieval excelled. The aR2p-T helped my equipment get out of the way of the recording as it let the performance stand on its own merit to convey the true essence of the musical event at hand. What more could you ask for! These are one of those components that make you think, not if I should purchase one, but rather how many or what model (aR2p-T, aR6-T or aR12-T) should I sign up for. Isn't it nice to have so many options, thanks to all the good people at Audience for bringing us a top notch product this was certainly a job well done.
Monarchy Audio Class A Amplifiers
Samsung HD-841 CD/SACD/DVD Audio universal player
Oracle Delphi MK 1 turntable (with custom made phono interconnects), Grace 707 tonearm, Denon-301 MKII Moving Coil cartridge
Whest PhonoStage.20+MsU.20 power supply
Acoustic Revive RPT-2 Ultimate Power Distributor
PS Audio power port receptacle
Two Blue Circle Audio Mk III power line conditioners
Interconnects: PS Audio xStream Resolution Transcendent cables (two pairs, CD player to preamplifier, preamplifier to amplifiers)
Loudspeaker cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA with Kimber Kable 4TC jumper cables
Power Cords: Tek Line PC-8 Signature (2), Monarchy Audio AC-1 (2)
Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack
Voice: (800) 565-4390