Officially, Audience has a two-and-a-half-decade-long history of building exceptional products of high build quality that perform (almost uniformly) above their price class. As a manufacturer of a complete lineup of exemplary audio products, from single-driver, full-range, crossoverless loudspeakers, to reference-grade cables, to world-class passive power conditioners (the subject of today’s treatment), Audience can trace its genesis back to the early 1970s. In fact, if we had Sherman and Mr. Peabody’s abilities to set the WABAC machine to travel back in time to visit southern California in 1972, we might be able to witness the serendipitous convocation of two like-minded individuals, one John McDonald, then a local businessman and music lover, and the late Richard Smith (an interview HERE), a forward-thinking designer and audiophile.
The two soon discovered that they both shared an immense passion for music as well as the art of reproducing recorded music. That common love of music and its reproduction, still the underlying motivation behind all Audience products to this day, led to the founding of not just one, but of two companies.
The first was Sidereal Akustic Audio Systems, Inc., founded in 1979. Both founders shared a similar vision, one of realizing a uniquely different approach to loudspeakers. However, all I’ve been able to learn about that work was that considerable time was spent developing something called the Model 4 loudspeaker throughout the early 80s. Though John McDonald left “Sidereal” in 1986, the two chose to join forces again in 1997, and with the addition of my late friend, engineer Roger Sheker, (who passed away in early 2016 – a remembrance HERE), the company we now know as Audience was officially launched.
From its very inception, Audience’s primary goal continued to be the realization of a full-range loudspeaker, employing only full-range drivers, without separate tweeters, woofers, or crossovers. I was privileged to hear the first version of the prototypical speaker that would become the ClairAudient series of speakers in January of 2006, at CES. But it was 2009 when Audience officially unveiled its first production version of its visionary loudspeaker, the ClairAudient 16.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few of their products including their wide range of audio cables – including interconnects, power, speaker, USB, CAT7, and SATA cables, several speakers from the ClairAudient series, their optical disc enhancer, and their simply splendid adeptResponse passive power conditioners, many of which STILL contribute significantly to my current reference and office systems.
But to the point of today’s matter, I have been using whatever the current variant of their adeptResponse-12 has been since January 2005, right after its introduction. And for clarity, the number in the model’s name describes the number of AC outlets that it offers. That original aR12 was such an exceptional performer that besides earning a permanent place in my reference system, it earned my Positive Feedback Writer’s Choice award that same year.
Immediately before the arrival of the updated $11,400 T4, I’d been using the 2018 iteration, the aR12-TSSOX, which I wrote about for the abso!ute sound that same year, as it had handily improved upon the performance of the previous version, the TS. By that time, I was continually met with, and surprised by, the degree of enhancement each newer model brought, as every newer iteration I auditioned improved upon its predecessor’s performance by a perceptible margin.
Each aR12-T4 chassis is seventeen inches wide, by five-and-one-quarter inches tall, by eleven-and-one-half inches deep, and may be optionally configured to accommodate rack mounting. Weighing a svelte fifteen pounds, you may choose a distinctive grained and satin anodized aluminum finish in either silver or black. And each one is warranted for ten years against any factory defect!
The adeptResponse’s gorgeously finished and appointed front panel features an exceptionally low resistance, heavy-duty magnetic circuit breaker as a power switch, along with a blue LED voltage meter to track the incoming AC supply voltage, and its filter section features the use of new, proprietary Audience developed, high-resolution Teflon® capacitors. To realize these superior capacitors, Audience really had to task their supplier. Working together, they have redesigned all their filter capacitors to have a bold new shape; they were redesigned to accomplish a one-to-one ratio of width to length. John McDonald feels that the combination of both the quality of these new Aura-TR Teflon® capacitors, utilizing this new one-to-one physical shape, render a clearer and more dynamic sonic result than they have previously been able to realize.
They also feature Audience’s internally developed high-definition, cryogenically treated, copper-core, rhodium-plated “Hidden Treasure” duplex outlets. Further, each of those duplexes is individually filtered with high efficiency/low impedance filter components, while each outlet enjoys double filtering, affording the maximum component to component isolation they can provide. The ground plane is realized using star ground wiring, and each unit is wired throughout using their Au24 SX OCC internal power wiring.
Each aR12-T4 includes a 1.75m Audience 10 AWG forte f5 powerChord with locking Neutrik 20A Powercon® connection. But I took advantage of the upgrade path, opting for the six-foot 10AWG frontRow powerChord from their flagship series of AC cables. This option adds $6,300 (instead of $6,700 if purchased separately), adding slightly over half-again the cost of the aR12-T4. But this was clearly the logical choice for my application, as I have adopted these frontRow series of powerChords as my reference AC cords throughout my entire system, from sources to amplification. As such, I saw no reason to take a step backward in performance in this regard when adding this new and superlative conditioner, as it powers my entire rack of gear.
I felt it was not only worth the additional cost, but essential to getting the absolute best from the aR12-T4. This entire series of world-class frontRow cables uses a vast, interrelated system of proven, applied technologies during their manufacture, resulting in a process that Audience has coined MORRE, for Musically Optimized Reduction of Resistive Energy.
This unique Audience process takes into consideration every aspect of these powerChords fabrication, from the conductive materials, dielectrics, connections and terminations, through signal directionality and cable geometries, all applied to manipulate resistance, capacitance, and inductance, to remove or reduce any impediments to signals coursing through them. It includes their approach to resonant frequency damping, as well as deep cryogenic treatments, an extreme high voltage treatment process, and further post-production processes, including testing and burn-in. If you are interested, you may delve more deeply into the MORRE process at the Audience website, HERE.
Installation is a snap. Once positioned, with the adeptResponse and all components powered off, start to plug each of your components into the adeptResponse in the following order. Your power amp/s and external power supplies should be plugged into the receptacles nearest to the incoming power line, followed by your linestage or preamplifier, then followed by all your other front-end components. DACs and other digital components should be plugged in farthest from the power entry point. Once everything is connected, power on the aR12-T4, then your components.
Given my experiences with Teflon® components, I knew to expect that the forming time would be something on the order of at least four hundred hours. To maximize the efficiency of running in this new adeptResponse, before replacing my active aR12-TSSOX with this new aR12-T4, I connected it to a spare AC socket for a full two weeks. While this process would clearly have no impact on the break-in of the individual Hidden Treasure outlets, it still made sense given the known lengthy forming time for Teflon®.
But once the new aR12-T4 was dropped into place and everything was powered back up (the entire swapping process took me less than ten minutes), there was no question that it was delivering distinct and apparent sonic advances.
Wow! The notably quieter, purer backdrop of stillness and silence from which all other sounds were now permitted to originate “from” really took me by surprise. While I had grown accustomed to, and dependent upon, the remarkable degree of “starkness” or “blackness” so effectively delivered by the TSOXX, I had to admit that I was now being treated to an entirely new, relevantly improved level of “nothingness” from which all things musical could now be regenerated within.
This obviously more effective amelioration of background spurious noise, hash, and grain that one is typically subjected to with untreated AC lines, contributes to both an enhanced portrayal of spatial relationships, and elevates dynamic expressiveness, including both contrast and scale on the macro level, as well as greater subtlety in nuances and shading of events unfolding down close to the noise floor in the micro realm..
I was also treated to its keener sense of organicness, an attribute that affords augmented neutrality and naturalness to musical tone and texture. Among the newly elevated attributes, the sonic envelope had developed a creamier, lusher feeling of texture, and was now capable of realizing even more complexly textured timbre, of both fundamentals and overtones.
While this tonal richness was enhanced broadband, it was especially notable from the lower midrange through the lower treble regions in my system, imparting instruments of all manner, stringed, brass, woodwind, skinned, even human voices, with a more “corporal” character, revealing more distinct and faithful instrumental body and bloom. Further, this more unmistakable, overwhelming honesty of timbre imbues the entire musical gestalt with an inescapable sense of ease and warmth, a delicate coherence, a lucid dimensionality, and a tangible presence.
As I just touched upon, the improvements wrought to broadband pitch definition, especially from the subsonic realm (~15-16 Hz) on up through the lower midrange, result in an enhanced degree of coherence and cohesiveness. The elevated clarity the T4 delivers not only adds to the revelation of more intricate musical detail, such as the resolution of individual voices of backing vocalists or massed strings, but it conveys yet another level of authenticity to the dimensionality found in layer upon layer of soundstaging and imaging cues. This finer resolution adds to the overall transparency of your musical sources.
In closing, I must tip my hat to John and the entire Audience team yet again, as the aR12-T4 has significantly raised an already exceedingly high bar of performance in this category that much higher! In a nutshell, I find the adeptResponse T4 to be notably quieter, more dynamic, more resolute, and to offer improved dimensional and spatial performance over its remarkable predecessor.
I urge you to find a way to experience the seductive effects this remarkable passive conditioner can bring to your system. Truthfully, I simply cannot imagine my system without its significant contributions. If you value your music anywhere near as much as I do, I suspect that once you have heard what it can do for your rig, there is very little chance that you would choose to listen without it. Most enthusiastically recommended.
Links to reviews of earlier aR12s
Audience adeptResponse 12 T – Positive Feedback Issue 39 Sept/Oct 2008
Audience adeptRespons 12-TS – Positive Feedback Issue 57 Sept/Oct 2011
Audience adeptResponse 12-TSSOX – the absolute sound Issue 268, Dec 2016
Audience aR12-T4 passive power Conditioner:
Retail: $11,400 (MSRP, includes as standard the Audience 1.75m forte f5 powerChord)
Audience frontRow powerChord:
Retail: $6,300 when purchased with the aR12-T4 ($6700 when purchased separately)
Manufacturer’s Website: https://audience-av.com
Address: 120 N. Pacific St., K-9, San Marcos, CA 92069
Phone: (760) 500-1837