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The Adept Response aR12 AC Conditioner

 

August 2006


  


I’ve had plenty of AC line enhancers over the years but only a few have successfully provided the improvements claimed by their manufacturers. Many audiophiles I know tell me of products that had absolutely no sonic impact in my system but worked wonders in theirs. If I were to move away from the big city lights and all its AC pollution, I might discover a logical explanation of these differences. We all know that if there’s no noise on the incoming power line to contaminate our beloved systems, then why bother with some expensive external box? But that’s a big “if.” Here in Grunge City, NJ, a mere five miles from lower Manhattan, it’s a mere pipedream. As a matter of fact, if I sit quietly late at night, you can literally hear the noise coming right out of the walls. And this in a home with a dedicated audio room, new 200 amp service, all new wiring and already boasting one of the best AC conditioners in the world. The AC conditioners I presently endorse do wonders at trapping the grunge, grit and glare and I take my hat off to them. AC conditioners are as welcome in these parts as mosquito repellent at a Fourth of July picnic.

Needless to say, I welcomed the opportunity to review the Audience Adept Response AC Conditioner. Not in expectation of a potential replacement for what already was doing a handsome job, but as an opportunity to see and hear a new way to accomplish the desired end, using a different approach.

$3800! Wow! I remember thinking that that’s a lot of money for an AC line conditioner without history or reputation. But knowing the folks behind the Adept Response did reassure me that they knew what they were doing, and that they would not sell a product at this price if it didn’t work as advertised. I wondered if any beta testers had tried the Adept Response in one of those towns resembling the old television show Gunsmoke? Surprisingly, the answer I got was a resounding “Yes!” John McDonald, the man behind Audience, stated that they tried these devices in all sorts of environments, and the expected sonic improvements were found in every case.

Just because this is their first AC product doesn’t mean that Audience is new to the game. Audience is also the maker of the legendary AuriCap capacitor. (Some time back I was told to get myself a pair of AuriCap capacitors to swap into the output stage of my Tact 2150 digital amplifiers. The word was these capacitors would enhance the sound of this already overachieving design. It was true: the AuriCaps elevated the sound of this amplifier to another level, with a greater sense of ease and musical flow.)

The Adept Response is an attractive unit that looks better in a system rack than behind it on the floor, with its grained and satin anodized aluminum face ala Jeff Rowland, its glowing digital voltage readout and on/off throw switch. It is actually better looking than a lot of amplifiers I’ve seen! The rear panel has 12 individually isolated and filtered Hubbell power receptacles, twice the number of my reference unit, and as we know, there’s no such thing as too many AC receptacles. Audience, who make a very fine cable themselves, equip the Adept Response with their own 10AWG AC cord, terminated with (20A) Neutrik Powercon and (15A) Marinco connectors. The Audience website states: “The state of the art inductive components used in the Adept Response power conditioner add no significant series resistance. This maintains a low impedance power path to your playback system. Also, the Adept Response performs partial power factor correction. This helps restore natural dynamics by bringing the AC voltage and current into a better phase relationship allowing a more efficient transfer of power. With the Adept Response as your power conditioner all aspects of the audio/video performance are greatly improved. Your playback system will no longer be starved of clean high quality power. The result is realistic, beautiful audio and stunning video resolution.

And once you hear this product in your system, I don’t think you’ll regard the above claims as the usual marketing hype. I can neither deny nor confirm the technical claims that McDonald and his public relations team make, but clearly something special happens with the Adept Response that I’ve not encountered before in a dedicated AC line conditioner. When I ask McDonald et al what “state of the art” inductive components are used in the Adept Response, I get the usual “we can’t say” reply. So, though I may not know the technical aspects of this design, I do know the sonic results.

Jazz great Joe Williams (the legendary crooner of the Count Basie big band), puts it all up for grabs on Here’s To Life [Telarc CD83357]. Backed by the Robert Farnon orchestra, featuring strings, woodwinds and harp, the result is a moving and memorable recording. Most incredible, however, is the voice of Joe Williams. Williams’ rendition of Here’s To Life, that the late, great Shirley Horn immortalized and made her own, isn’t too shabby either. With the Adept Response in circuit, one gets the sense that an incandescent light was shone on this recording. The Adept Response provides instruments a light that is closer to the live event. No one appears hidden or tucked away at the rear of the stage which is the usual case. In addition, slightly hidden upper frequencies opened up considerably, presenting instruments in larger soundfield. This Telarc disc really illustrates these qualities, because Williams has a very deep voice that’s contrasted against woodwinds and strings, difficult for any system to reproduce when played at live levels. Yet with the Adept Response, this song sounded as wide open and honest as I’ve heard, with very little hardness. (I’ve found playing a system loud produces a very slight hardness no matter what AC conditioner is used).

Another beauty is Rebecca Parris’ My Foolish Heart CD [Koch 7887] where Parris’ rendition of that jazz standard and George Mesterhazy’s wonderful piano accompaniment make this, along with Kurt Elling's, one of my favorite versions. The beautiful thing about the Adept Response is that there’s no editorializing of the voice or piano (one can never really know for sure unless they were at the recording session). But strictly in audiophile terms, there’s a noticeable reduction in noise in the high-frequencies that allows one to hear further up the scale. The sonic result presents Parris at her artistic best.

David Chesky called me one day during his recent "Chesky New York Sessions" SACD recordings to tell me Billy Drummond is recording with the David Hazletine and George Mraz Trio at the acoustically famous St. Peter's Church. It’s always exciting for me visiting the Village in lower Manhattan in late spring, but to go and hear a live recording while shooting the breeze with David Chesky and gang...now that’s a triple treat. I was excited to hear this new Chesky recording entitled Manhattan (due for release later this month) because I know Billy Drummond and how crazy he is about cymbals specifically and how they're mic'd particulalrly (the way we are about audio). He’s a collector and owns some of the most sought after cymbals on earth. In addition he's an audiophile too with a serious setup of his own. I was certain, if Billy had his way, there would be special attention paid by Nick Prout, Chesky’s recording guru as to how his cymbals are mic'd.  I got a copy of the disc (compliments of Chesky) and some weeks later, after his hectic schedule, Drummond stopped over to listen to it on my system. He stated, and I quote “I’ve never heard my cymbals reproduced to this degree. Never!” Obviously, Billy was proud of the unique mic technique Chesky employs regularly that gives Chesky Records its distinct and superior sound quality (Of course, I was summoned back for more Chesky New York sessions later with such greats like Jimmy Cobb, Cedar Walton, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton and Javon Jackson. Cedar Walton just purchased an entire Conrad Johnson system. Meanwhile Javon Jackson, best friend and neighbor of Billy Drummond, is figuring how much to invest in his next rig. After hangin' with Drummond and obviously bitten by the audiobug, all I can say is buckle up tight Javon, for you're going on an audiophile journey."). 



For me, nothing better illustrates the rightness a setup than an audition by a world-class musician who brings his own master recording (of his own work) to hear how closely it matches the studio performance. And I had the pleasure of a visit by jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, Jon Faddis, for a listening session using his (since released) CD, Teranga [Koch 9969]. Got to take my hat off to Faddis because, not only does he care about the efforts that went into recording this disc correctly, he also possesses those special audiophile appreciations (of space, depth, tonal accuracy, and detail without etch). Faddis, another avid audiophile himself, loved what the system sounded like before we put on his house master, though thought it a tad warm in the lower octaves, but mentioned “the sense of freedom, the sense of rightness gives this a very high goose-bump factor.”

I take my hat off to the quality of this Koch recording and the liberty Faddis was given to get it right. I am not sure what other systems Jon Faddis may have auditioned but he qualified the reproduction of his master as “state of the art.” Certainly, Jon was impressed by the DALI Megalines, the awe-inspiring hi-rez playback of the Behold amplifiers and the super delicate Sunny Cable Supreme system. Little did he know however of the sonic attributes the Audience Adept Response brought to his ever-so tender phrasings on this, his newest CD.

To a casual visitor it is easy to give credit to the electronics and loudspeakers because they’re right out in the open. But I’ve learned what an important tool the Adept Response line conditioner is tucked away unobtrusively in my EquaRack Shelfless rack. When Teranga was released in May of this year, Faddis personally thanked me on the CD. I was flattered that he remembered our shared audiophile experience enough to publicly thank me. But honestly, I know who really deserves thanks: folks like John McDonald who toil to make things work beyond “as advertised”.
                 
I can say with certainty the Adept Response is among the elite of AC conditioners, and if you’ve not tried one, or haven’t had much success with other brands, then you need to give Audience a call. Pricey, yeah, but it more than makes up for it by offering your entire rig, up to 12 devices, the opportunity to benefit. And in a big rig such as mine, the benefits were well received. This product has been through the ringer in terms of comparisons by three different reviewers and the only results thus far have been three Most Wanted Component Awards! Need I say more?

Clement Perry

                             _______________


Follow-up: Greg Petan
“Yo G, what’s up?” a nearly too smooth sounding Clement Perry calling with the excitement of a new find showing on his voice. It is right at this point were I should hang up the phone with out pause, for if I stay on the line, I’m doomed. The ensuing conversation will no doubt cost me serious money. But being positively hopeless when it
comes to the promise of better sound, I am powerless. Clement begins to fill me in on a new power conditioner from Audience, the Adept Response. I know Clement has had several different units in and out of his system over the last few years so I knew his enthusiasm was based on a pretty sound foundation of experience. My faith in our mutual set of sonic priorities and ultimate system goals was cold comfort up against the rather steep $3800 asking price. If there is any doubt as to what happens next however, refer to the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

The Adept Response replaces the Shunyata model 8 that had been is
service for the better part of the last two years. Mind you, I was in
no way dissatisfied with its performance. At its price point, I could
not expect more from a power conditioner. Once all the AC powercords were wrestled back into place and the components were powered up, the effects were at once and impossible to ignore. With the Talon Firebirds to the recently reviewed Focus Master II speakers, the Grypon Encore amp and Mikado CD player, the Boz digital amplifiers and Tact's 2.2X preamp all called into service, instruments gained a level of texture, dynamics and harmonic truth. The upright bass on Tommy Flanagan’s “Nights at the Vanguard” (Uptown-UPCD2729) was revealed to have a great feel of organic texture. Resonant wood, string and flesh was far more convincing. This applies to all frequency related textures. Violins, voice, horns, crashing cymbals all become more believable, and complex. With this lower noise floor, dynamic shading improves as well. The ebb and flow of all musical passages take on greater meaning. Treble textures benefit greatly, loosing whatever grit or edge resulting in flattening, harshness and glare. There really is no part of the sonic picture that the Adept Response does not improve upon. Clement's review covers these points in great detail.

Along with the Adept Response came a compliment of Au24 speaker wire, and interconnects and a couple of umbilical AC powercords that fit between the Boz amplifier section and it’s control module. What struck me after letting them burn in for 75 hours or so was the sense of balance and even-handedness they possess. They are not the equals of my Virtual Dynamics Revelation in any particular area as the Revelation is nearly 5 times as expensive so any real comparison is totally inappropriate. I only bring this up to illustrate that when the Audience cables are in the system, I am still able to really enjoy the
music despite the intellectual recognition that my reference wire
passes along more information. To sum up the sound of the wire in a
couple of simple words, smooth, full bodied, even handed, and lively
fills the bill. These wires remind me of some other components I have
owned as well as auditioned that succeed by way of what they do,
leaving any short comings on the periphery of the critical mine field.

I have also been using these wires in my bedroom system that includes the Talon Kite monitor, the Parasound P3 preamp and the A23 amp and a Sony DVD player. I have to say, moving up from the Cardas Hexlink, an older less expensive option, was a very worthwhile move. I’m sure the Audience wire would shine in a system some were between my nearly 100K reference rig and this entry level high-end set up as well. Though I have only so much gear to use them with, I can confidently recommend trying them out with whatever components you may have. As this is a follow up to Clement’s review and not a full on dive into the Adept Response and Au24 wire, I urge you further investigate these products. They will not disappoint.

                               __________________

 

Key Kim adds a second motion...

I have to concur with Clement Perry’s full review of the Audience Adept Response line conditioner. It’s a genuinely special AC conditioner to my ears as well. At $3800 the asking price is rather steep, but once you hear this product in your system I don’t think the cost will be an issue.

I’ll skip the intro and get right to it.

Having 12 rather than my older AC conditioner’s 6 o has made my life much easier (I had to use another line conditioner to power up the rest of my system). The Adept Response replaced my former reference which I owned for the better part of 3 years. As good as it performed the Audience Adept Response simply took my system up another sonic notch or two.

What struck me right away, less than one hour burn-in, was the overall feel of my system taking on a smoother, sweeter character. This was especially so with string textures which benefited greatly; losing any ever-so slight hardness or any grainy feel. All are presented more organically and shall I state most importantly—my system sounded as though it was passing more resolution. Without doubt, I value the various sonic improvements the Adept Response brings, but more importantly I like the way they improved my system’s overall presentation. This AC line conditioner also provides the blackest background I have ever experienced along with the lowest noise floor I’ve encountered to date. Listening to one of my favorites, Lindsay's Haydn String Quartet in D, Op.64 N0.5 “Lark”, (ASV CDDCA 1084), was a special experience. The performance sounded more natural and less hyped in the upper frequencies. Thus, the resonant quality of the strings was ever more convincing. The clarity, separation, focus and delineation of individual instruments were equally impressive.

Similarly, Tartini’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra D major (HMC 901548) with Roel Dieltiens on Cello and Chiara Banchini conducting the Ensemble 415, performed with superb midrange clarity and bass quality. The Cello and the rest of the strings were vivid and realistic and the organic textures made the performance sound more live than I am accustomed to. The Adept Response also provides greater transparency revealing more information and reaching down further into the lowest bass octaves, offering plenty of satisfying, non-mechanical resonant wood from the cello. It was simply “music to my ears”; but isn’t that what it’s all about? Listening to all kinds of music via the Adept Response was a sonic treat.

Hats off to the team at the Audience, for they’ve created something special, a reference quality AC line conditioner. Clearly, anyone in the market for high-end line conditioning ought to give this company’s flagship product a try. 

                                  __________________

 

Features:
*Main power cable included: Standard 6 ft. 10 AWG powerChord by Audience
with Neutrik 20A PowerCon® and Marinco power connectors
*Low resistance, heavy duty magnetic circuit breaker power switch
* No high resistance type series inductors
* Ultra-high efficiency filter components on every outlet
* All hand wired; no printed circuit boards
* Double filtering between outlets for maximum component to component isolation
* Dynamic range performance maximized by partial power factor correction
* Entire audio and/or video system can be powered by a single Adept Response power conditioner
* Audience Auricap High Resolution Capacitors used exclusively in filter sections
* Digital incoming voltage readout on front panel
* Entire electrical circuitry cryogenically treated

Specifications

Current/Voltage: 15A or 20A/120V, 220V, 230V, 240V
Power Outlets: 12 Hubbell high conductivity power receptacles
Satellite/Cable TV: Ground loop isolation transformer for hum reduction
Indicator: Front panel digital LED incoming voltage readout
Chassis: Heavy duty, rack-mountable
Dimensions: 19”W x 5.0”H x 9.0”D
Weight: 15.0 lbs./6.82kg. not including powerChord
16.4 lbs./7.45kg. including powerChord
Finish: Grained and satin anodized aluminum Silver or Black

Price: $3,800.00 (may vary according to country)

Address:
Audience, LLC
1525 Brian Place
Escondido, CA 92025
Website: www.Audience-av.com
Email: John@audience-av.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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