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The system sounds excellent in general, but there are a few things working against it. First, there is an HDTV, a Cable Box/DVR, DVD player, and a pair of Bang & Olufsen active speakers on the same line, and they without a doubt dump grunge into the circuit. Ergonomics and space limitations rule the day. This type of setup is a prime candidate for a smartly designed, unobtrusive power conditioning product.
I simply plugged the aR2p into the Hubble wall receptacle I normally use for the system, and ran a Pangea power cord to the Noisetrapper power strip. Not wanting too many variables, except for plugging the entire system into the aR2p, everything else remained the same. One thing to keep mind is that when plugging the aR2p into a duplex wall receptacle, you will lose one of the plugs since the unit will make the other one inaccessible. One last note concerning setup: Audience says the unit improves dramatically over time once the circuitry settles in.
So now that we have all of the formalities out of the way, did plugging the system into the aR2p make an audible difference? The answer is emphatic YES. Right out of the box, as a matter of fact. It is rare that you can hear true, clearly distinguishable improvement immediately after inserting an accessory into your system, but this was the case here, very similar to what I experienced with the larger adeptResponse.
Specifically, there was an additional layer of finesse to the music and, without a doubt, a not-so-subtle layer of electronic haze was removed. Sibilants on closed-mic'd vocals were way smoother, bass was more articulate, and the music sounded bigger, with more space around performers. One can be forgiven for wondering how all of this can be accomplished just by “purifying” the power sent to various components or an entire system. See my full interview at the conclusion of the review, but as Audience's John McDonald told me when I reviewed the adeptResponse, the power IS the sound. Or, as they say, garbage in, garbage out.
The overall presentation was more relaxed, organic, and free flowing. I also noticed that I was able to keep the volume knob a few decibels lower than normal. My guess is the reduction of background noise gave the system less to compete with, which manifested itself in the system seeming to have more output.
Audiophile power conditioning products are generally categorized as accessories, but when they are as well designed and executed as Audience products, I believe they become integral parts of a high-end system. From my experience with Audience power products, they provide immediately identifiable benefits with absolutely no down side. The aR2p is well made and, for total peace of mind, Audience provides a ten-year warranty on their conditioners.
How convinced am I am that the aR2p improved my system in every way? Well, the unit is not going back to the factory, and will be a permanent upgrade for me. As a matter for fact, I plan on using a second aR2p in my Home Theater system as well. Of course, when budget allows, I am curious to see how the premium version, the aR2p-TO would perform, but the aR2p fits the bill for my current systems. At $695, the Audience aR2p, in my opinion, provides a significant upgrade, for lack of a better term, and is money well spent. Highly recommended.