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December 2009
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

World Premiere!
Audience aR2p-T Power Conditioner With New Aura-Teflon Capacitors

So good you might not want to listen to your system without them.
Review By Anthony Nicosia

 

Audience aR2p-T Power Conditioner With New Aura-Teflon Capacitors

  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:

"Our legacy Auricap high resolution polypropylene capacitor has been an industry staple for many high end audio/video manufacturers and DIY enthusiasts over the past ten years. Like every product we sell, the new Aura-Teflon high-resolution capacitor is the result of our giving our engineers the time and resources to make a truly advanced product. After years of refinement, we feel that the new cost no object Aura-Teflon is simply the most resolute and transparent capacitor ever engineered."

 

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.

 

Yo-Yo-MA And Friends
John McDonald and I had been emailing each other long before discussing the review of the aR2p-T. It was during one of those conversations that I mentioned he should hear Yo-Yo MA's CD entitled Songs of Joy & Peace [Sony Classical 88697-24414-2]. Since then it appears that he too is also a big fan of this recording featuring not only Yo-Yo-MA but many other world class performers as well. Therefore I thought it fitting to use this CD as a part of the review. On the opening tract of "Dona Novis Pacem (Give Us Peace with counterpoint) the aR2p-T gives us a glimpse of what is to come with its intricate detailing of bow and cello as Yo-Yo-MA plays against a silent uninterrupted background. Here one can understand why he is truly one of the most revered modern day cellists in recent memory and can lay claim to being a true virtuoso. With the aR2p-T one hears a sense of depth within his performance as you hear sounds deep inside the cello. The aR2p-T did an excellent job of filling in both back and front of the soundscape as notes poured forth filling up my room. On the song "Improvisation on Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) we are treated to the clarinet of Paquito D'Rivera with Alon Yavnai on piano. As both piano and clarinet quickly ran through musical scales the aR2p-T never stalled or faltered but rather framed each musician's individual performance within their own envelope of a silent background giving each their own separate space within the soundscape.

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.

 

Klipschorn Plus CD Player With The aR2p-T
Whereas before both mono block amplifiers were run into the aR2p-T via one power strip, now the CD player was plugged into the previously unused second socket. To top this change off I added a pair of Klipsch Klipschorn (1989 version with the AK-2 crossover) loudspeakers, replacing the Legacy Focus 20/20's. The CD player then transformed into one with a much higher quality presentation to it. Never before had my Klipschorns sounded so good. They had always had a slight shrill sound in the upper regions that one might expect from a horn design. I had contemplated making some changes to the crossover and perhaps the tweeter as well, but it no longer feels necessary to do so. Rather than being the fault of those beloved loudspeakers it seems that it was not their doing after all. When Tracy Chapman, from the CD Our Bright Future (Elektra 514061-2), sang "Sing For You" there is an added honest truthfulness to her voice that gives a better presence to her song. It was more of a feeling of the singer being in the room with you rather than just coming from a recorded CD playing before you. The fact that there was more of a nice LP effect to the digital sound allowed me to easily loose myself within each song. As the CD played on music filled my room with razor sharp images giving way to an immense soundscape. "Save Us All" is a song which needs the proper pacing to sound right as a slow prodding style just would not do it justice. Not to worry though with the aR2p-T in place all was well. One could hear even the softest of sounds coming from the guitar strings as details were ruthlessly revealed due to the Aura-Teflon capacitors.

 

Audience aR2p-T Power Conditioner With New Aura-Teflon Capacitors

 

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.

 

Conclusion
There is something you should be warned about right up front. Unless you are willing to make a purchase be careful about auditioning the aR2p-T. These new Aura-Teflon capacitors from Audience are so good you might not want to listen to your system without having them placed somewhere in the loop. I certainly did not as I bought the review sample rather than send it back. Folks this is the real deal here. So if you have a high resolution system and want to elevate it just that much further then step right up. The aR2p-T is one of the champions at low level retrieval and should help improve overall performance within your existing system. The increase in clarity and natural sounding timbre with both music and vocals was very addictive. They are certainly something one would be hard pressed to want to do without after having listened to them for a while in your own audio system. If you have a need for more inputs, but still want the Aura-Teflon capacitors, just step up to the model aR6-T (six outlet version) or perhaps the aR12-T (twelve outlet version). Both of these models also come minus the "T" at the end but then you do not get the Teflon capacitors. The difference, beside the amount of outlets, is that these models offer component to component isolation and the aR2p-T does not. They are however considerably more money so maybe one or even two aR2p-T's for different components might be another way for you to go.

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.

 

The Listening Environment
The review room is eighteen feet eight inches long by thirteen feet wide with the loudspeakers and equipment kept on the short wall. The cathedral ceiling starts at eight feet and sloops up-wards to thirteen feet at its peak in the middle spanning across the short length of the room for the full thirteen feet width. The hardwood floor has a nine by six foot oriental rug lying down the long ways facing toward the system placed dead center in between, yet not under, the listener and the review equipment The room has no doors but there are two openings. One opening is in front of the right loudspeaker giving access to the hallway while the other is behind the listening position which opens to a formal dining area. The room is treated with three floor standing acoustical panels, one behind each loudspeaker and one in front of the fireplace (although I have been known to move them), while all audio equipment is located in a Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack against and in the middle of the short wall. I have two power conditioners which plug into a PS Audio Power Port receptacle located behind the audio rack. I also use two Blue Circle Audio MKIII Power Line Pillows one on each of two outlets on the long walls next to and behind each loudspeaker. The loudspeakers are located about six feet seven inches from the rear wall measured to their front panel and twenty one inches from the rooms side walls to the middle of their front panels. The loudspeakers are placed twelve feet apart forming a triangle with the listening position that is also angled at twelve feet from the center of the front of each loudspeaker to the center of the listening position. In the corner of each short wall behind them are a pair of Klipsch Klipschorn loudspeakers which are also sometimes used when reviewing audio gear. If the Klipsch loudspeakers are in use I would then reposition the three acoustical panels to slightly behind the listening position one to the left, the other to the right with the third being placed in the opening leading to the hallway just right of the right loudspeaker.

 

Review Equipment
Placette Passive Preamplifier

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

 

My Ratings
Please take into consideration that the equipment under review is being measured in my room, with my equipment and heard through my ears. As always you should be the final judge as to what works for you in your environment and measured against what traits you value most. The following was how I rated the equipment based on a rating system that does not take in to consideration the cost of the product, until the very last question, "Value For The Money". Before that all products are rated against others in its category, regardless of financial considerations with a highest rating of 5.

 

 

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear  
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Power filtration device
Power Connectors: High conductivity US power receptacle and plug
Current / Voltage:15A/120V
Dimensions: 3.56 x 6.31 x 3.56 (WxHxD in inches)
Weight: 1.8 Lbs.
Price: $1600

 

Company Information
Audience
120 N. Pacific Street #K-9
San Marcos, CA 92069

Voice: (800) 565-4390
Fax: (760) 720-9544
Website: www.audience-av.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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