|6 December 2000
Price: $422 review samples.
Manufactured by Audience
1525 Brian Place
Escondido, CA 92025-5551
If you’ve not heard of Audience Inc., that’s because they are new to the audio industry. First out of the starting gate was Audience’s famous (or infamous) Auric Illuminator optical disc resolution enhancer for CD, SACD, and DVD. That’s right, a cloth and jell combo that enhanced the performance of every format I tried it on. As embarrassed as I feel in admitting it, the stuff works. I gave it to our chief skeptic, Jim Dowd, and he gave a favorable review, with my comments following.
So what else has Audience up its sleeve that may cause heads to turn or mouths to salivate? Answer: the Audience PowerChord. Designed as a high current, low impedance cable, it compares with or surpasses the top of the heap. The PowerChord isn’t another expensive accessory. It makes whatever it’s hooked up to sound better.
Lengths begin at one foot ($329.00) and up for the purist who wants only as much as he needs to reach an outlet. The Audience PowerChord has the look, fit and feel of much pricier brands. Hubble hospital-grade receptacles seem to be the standard for manufacturers these days, however the opposite ends female Wattgate receptacle is as big around as the end that plugs into the wall. Likewise nice is the Audience’s flexibility, permitting it to snake around components without fuss or strain. No wrestling match required.
More good news: Audience stands behind their product with an unconditional lifetime warranty.
It’s been a couple of years, no more, since I converted to the “power cords make a difference” religion. I formerly believed that power cords didn’t come close to living up to their asking price and that anyone who invested five or six hundred bucks on power cords had flipped his lid — until I got my hands on Scot Hall’s Electra Glides A/C cords. They forever changed my perception of what these wires can do for one’s audio rig. They were the first power cords that changed my system’s performance as much as any component I’d ever auditioned. When Harmonic Tech launched their company a short time after, I was enthralled over what their Ohno casting A/C devices did to my system’s overall performance. I purchased HT’s entire line in the belief that the sum surpasses its parts.
Well, as we all know, technology waits for no one: the upstarts at Analysis Plus Inc. surpassed HT’s cables. However, the HT power cords remained since AP did not yet produce power cords. (Word is they’re on the way.) I was eager to audition other brands, and upon completion of the Auric Illuminator review earlier this year, I was pleased to learn that John McDonald, Audience’s president, guru and chief motivator, was willing to send me his new line of A/C accessories. I welcomed their arrival. Audience produces an entire line of product; speakers, line conditioners and I look forward to hearing their new speakers at this upcoming 2001 CES. I understand their Au24 Interconnects and speaker cables, using OHNO single crystal, are something special. Henry Wilkenson has them and will report on them shortly.
The Talon Khoruses are still taking me places I’ve never been in terms of musicality and neutrality. In short, they’re still improving while I’m improving the electronics around them. I’ve not been this pleased by any product in some time. The Audience PowerChords have helped me in this regard. I replaced the HT cables with a total of five Audience PowerChord six-footers at both Bel Canto Evo amplifiers and my front end consisting of the Sony SCD-1 SACD player, Tact Audio’s 2.2 Room Corrector/preamp and finally the I-can’t-live-without, Ortho Spectrum’s Analogue Reconstructor 2000 — quite an ear opening experience!
After about a 200 hours break-in, the bass seemed more powerfully pronounced without becoming bloated or overdone. It just became tighter, tauter and richer. Imaging seemed to get just a bit tighter while overall the system sounded quieter and on some CDs faster, especially noticeable in the transients.
No question, things improved
Track one, “Georgia On My Mind” from A vocal tribute to Ben Webster by the sultry Jacintha (Groove Note GRV-2001-2), had a more articulate bass line. Jacintha sounded as if she took a few steps forward in a truer, more three-dimensional soundstage. Now if I were to guess what these cables are doing, I’d suggest that they quiet the system. Overtones sound more apparent.
Bud Powell’s A Portrait of Thelonious (Columbia 65187), sounded notably improved, particularly in the airiness surrounding those plinkity keys that made Monk’s music so satisfying. The Audience PowerChord allowed me greater access to Powell’s interpretation. It would be difficult if not impossible to find a pianist better suited to draw a musical portrait of Thelonious Monk. These A/C cables in some small way make this more obvious.
Micro as well as macro dynamics improved slightly, but not as much as the improvement in the bass region. The PowerChords did manage to bring out a smile as I listened to “All Blues” from bassist Stanley Clarke & Friends Live At The Greek (Epic 57506). Talk about getting busy! Here’s a standard Miles Davis number performed by a powerful collaboration featuring friends like the gifted musicians Larry Carlton on acoustic and electric guitar, Billy Cobham on drums and percussion, and Najee on tenor saxophone. Whew! Talk about a workout! These brothers get nice and nasty and do not let up as they provide one incredible solo performance after another. If you don’t have this CD, you ought to add it to your collection because it will definitely test a system’s dynamics. With the PowerChords, a live recording became even livelier. The audience was more in evidence and again, I perceived the PowerChords providing a silence, a removal of background noise. Larry Carlton’s guitar solo, for example, had more ‘twang,’ making his instrument sound more electronic, which I’m certain was his intention.
Isn’t that what we’re all after?
If you’re of the opinion power cords cannot make a difference (and very possibly a huge one) in the overall performance of your playback system, you’re kidding yourself. The Audience PowerChord certainly improved mine, and in a way that more than justifies the asking price, I would recommend them for systems in need of a good boost of bass kick, dynamics, and silence. Before going out and replacing that amplifier, preamp or speaker system, give the Audience PowerChord a listen. You’ll thank me.
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