Audience Adept Response aR1p Line Conditioner

Equipment report
AC conditioners
Audience Adept Response
Audience Adept Response aR1p Line Conditioner

The way I see it AC line conditioning is a key building block for any high-end audio system. However, it would likely be the last item on my checklist of purchases—not because it matters least, but rather because of its system-wide impact. Just like you wouldn’t place a maraschino cherry in a bowl before the banana split, you’d want to fully assess your entire system’s performance— weaknesses as well as strengths—to better put yourself in a position to identify a line conditioner’s impact.

That said, I welcomed the opportunity to listen to the Audience Adept Response aR1p—a compact, single-outlet transient suppressor and RF/EMI filter based on the twelve-outlet flagship technology of the Adept aR12. It can be used alone or with a power strip for multiple components. In the latter case, however, it won’t provide isolation between components, like the heavy-duty aR12. It’s a sturdy little box (roughly 6" high and 2" deep) designed for wall, floor, or ceiling outlets, and is supplied with a ceiling-mount bracket. It has a footer at the opposite end of its hospital-grade plug for stability. It’s been designed for individual components like a receiver, CD player, integrated amplifier, power amplifier, or video monitor. And its small size allows it to be used in custom-install situations—a ceiling outlet for a video projector, for example.

When it was used with a superb CD player like the Simaudio Moon Super Nova or the Sony DVP-9000ES (for SACD), the results were interesting and, at times, impressive. The Audience doesn’t change a system’s inherent tonality. But it does impart a sweeter character to the sound and smoothes its edges slightly in an almost analoglike way. However, it primarily concentrates its strengths in the realm of soundstaging and most particularly in the enhancement of dimensionality and depth. On a great orchestral recording like the finale of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto [DG-SACD], it seems to peer more deeply into the orchestra’s interior, revealing details and increasing transparency. The unit seems to extend the back wall of the hall even farther back. And then it fills this new space with an extra helping of reverberant air. Norah Jones’ “Sinking Fast” [Not Too Late, Blue Note] is a song that gives up inner details grudgingly. But the resolving power of the Audience unit clearly digs deep to expose the lowest-level information about the tapped percussion and the nearly buried-in-the-mix, flat-picked mandolin. The widely panned backup voices are more bloom-filled, and their separation on the stage is widened. And then there’s Billy Joel’s penny-whistle soloing during “Rosalinda’s Eyes” [52nd Street, Columbia]. With the Adept Response aR1p I was better able to follow this delicate filigree right into the song’s fade-out. In the past I’ve lost track of it altogether.

I’m less sanguine about running a current-hungry device like the Plinius 9100 integrated amplifier with this particular Adept Response conditioner. Generally, I felt that transients were not as quick or responsive, and dynamics, like the attack off of Mutter’s bow during the Tchaikovsky, failed to surprise my ear as they often do when I’m running power straight from the outlet.