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Audience adeptResponse aR6 Power Conditioner Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Article Index
Audience adeptResponse aR6 Power Conditioner Review
Conclusion and Interview

ImageThe product category of power conditioners is one that often stirs debate, for and against, in the audiophile community. Some argue that a properly designed power supply needs no additional components to perform well, while others believe that the quality of delivered AC determines the quality of the audio performance.  I have heard some audiophiles proclaim a conditioner is an indispensable piece of gear, and others claim it makes their systems sound worse. What makes this review interesting is that I have no experience with conditioners. I normally plug my tube amp directly into a high quality AC receptacle, and my preamp and sources into a passive power strip free of any surge protecting devices or fuses. So I am calling this the “clean slate” review.

To greatly simplify for the sake of everyone, a power conditioner is an electrical device that provides "clean" power to sensitive electronic equipment. A typical power conditioner for high end audio components commonly provides surge protection as well as noise filtering. Most people are familiar with surge protectors, which protect against damage due to sudden spikes in the electrical current that can occur for a variety of reasons. While surge protectors safeguard equipment, a power conditioner “cleans” the signal, eliminating anomalies that can compromise performance. I should note that it is a little known fact that power conditioning devices are used in a variety of areas outside of high end audio.  Sensitive scientific and medical equipment, mission critical computing environments, and data centers are routinely partnered with devices that deliver consistent, clean, and reliable power.

Adept front

One can then theorize that scientists, bankers, and medical professionals would not allocate resources to such products if they did not work as advertised. One can also argue, and I believe correctly so, that  a high resolution, state of the art audio component is also a delicate instrument that requires considerable attention to set up and high quality AC power to perform at its very best. I might add that some designers, like those at DNM, Siltech, and others have opted to remove power quality from the equation by using battery power instead of traditional power supplies.

The power conditioner under review here is the Audience adeptResponse aR6 Passive Power Conditioner, which retails for $3100. There is also a premium version available for $5000, which includes Aura-TO High Resolution Teflon Capacitors, which Audience says is a significant upgrade. My review sample was the standard adeptResponse, and it came in a very attractive black finish.  It is also available in silver. The build quality is what I have come to expect from Audience after reviewing their marvelous ClairAudient 2+2 monitors, and their excellent Au24e cables.

The aR6 is equipped with 6 individually isolated and double filtered Hubbell outlets, and a heavy duty magnetic circuit breaker power switch. According to Audience,  the adeptResponse performs partial power factor correction which enhances natural dynamics by bringing the AC voltage and current into a better phase relationship, resulting in a more efficient transfer of power. The unit is capable of delivering 1800 watts continuously, and even double that for short periods.  A six foot Audience powerChord e with Neutrik PowerCon® and Wattgate power connectors is supplied.  Lastly, the entire electrical circuitry is cryogenically treated. See my interview with John McDonald of Audience at the conclusion of the review for a more in depth technical discussion.

adept back

Set Up & Listening:

After checking the manual for tips, I was up and running in five minutes. Amplification is plugged in closest to the incoming power, followed by preamps, then sources. I started off plugging in the my tubed preamp, CD player, and its external power supply into the adeptResponse, leaving my Audio Research tube amp plugged into the wall as usual. I did this so I could evaluate any changes in presentation in stages. To keep things consistent, I also used Audience power cords throughout.

The first thing that I noticed, and it was immediate and as clear as day, was the reduction in sibilance, and high frequencies that were much smoother and more natural. It was one of the most obvious and distinct changes I have ever heard in my system with the addition of any accessory, bar none. Although calling the adeptResponse an accessory may be misplaced, as it is really a world class component in and of itself. I listened for several days running to make sure I was not imagining things, and sure enough, the purity of the treble presentation remained, and only improved as the adeptResponse started to break in, which Audience says can take around 50 hours.

After a few days I then plugged in my Audio Research 6550 based 55 wpc tube amp in to the unit, but with a bit of trepidation. I have always heard chatter that tube amps don’t “like” power conditioners.  And indeed, Audio Research generally recommends plugging their amps directly into the wall on a dedicated line. Well, to my surprise, the quality I heard from plugging the preamp and source in to the adeptResponse were only magnified, and then some. But there was more. I heard additional layers of music, depth, and yet even smoother highs. In a word, everything was better. Bass was tighter, and mids were even more liquid. I felt the adeptResponse was allowing my amp to shine and made its strengths even more pronounced.  It reminded me of the day I first heard the amp at my local dealer, and thinking back, I now remember it was plugged into a conditioner.


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