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Reviewer: Paul Candy
Source: Rotel RCD-971 as transport, Audio Zone DAC-1, PS Audio DL III DAC w/ Cullen Circuits Stage Three Mod, Pro-Ject RPM 5 turntable, Pro-Ject Speed Box, Ortofon Rondo Blue cartridge, Scheu Premier II turntable w/ Scheu Cantus tonearm & Audio-Technica AT33PTG cartridge [in for review].
Preamp/Integrated: Manley Labs Shrimp, Audio Zone AMP-1, Pro-Ject Tube Box phono stage.
Amp: Manley Labs Mahi monoblocks.
Speakers: Green Mountain Audio Callisto (on sand filled Skylan stands), Hornshoppe Horns, Duevel Planets [in for review], AV123 Strata Minis, (2) REL Q108 Mk II subwoofers.
Cables: Audience Maestro & Auditorium 23 speaker cables, Audience Maestro, JPS Labs Superconductor+ & Silver Fi interconnects, Stereovox XV2 digital.
Power Cables: Audience powerChord, Harmonic Technology AC-10 Fantasy, GutWire Power Clef², GutWire C Clef.
Stands: Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier rack.
Powerline conditioning: BPT Pure Power Center w/Wattgate 381 outlets, Bybee Quantum Purifiers and ERS cloth, GutWire MaxCon.
Sundry accessories: Grand Prix Audio APEX footers, Isoclean fuses, Caig Pro Gold, Auric Illuminator, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, dedicated AC line with Wattgate 381 outlet, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments.
Room size: 11' x18' x 8', long wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area rug, drywall over fiberglass insulation walls.
Review component retail: $495 for aR1p; $674/6' for 'e' powerChord (regular version is $509/6').

Always on the hunt for decent audio equipment at prices within reach of most punters, my attention was duly captured when I learned of Audience's new adeptResponse aR1p line conditioner. It apparently takes the same filtering capability of the considerably more expensive aR6 and aR12 conditioners and squeezes it into a small single-outlet box for a mere $495. At that price, there's no way I could turn that kind of assignment down. Furthermore, when corresponding with Audience's John McDonald, he suggested sending along a pair of his new 'e' for enhanced powerChords to compare against the regular versions I've enjoyed in my system over the last few years. Sweet.

So here goes. The aR1P is a single outlet version of the bigger multi-outlet aR12 and aR6 conditioners. It's a small plastic brick measuring 6" W x 3" H x 2" D (not including plug) and weighing 1.5lbs. There is no associated power cable or IEC power inlet. The aR1p connects directly into a wall outlet via a Marinco plug and the component's power cable connects directly into the aR1p's single Hubbell receptacle. Also included is a small bracket on the wall side of the aR1p to either brace it against your wall or to allow for ceiling mounting via a drywall anchor: an excellent idea for those with a ceiling-mounted video projector.

The aR1p also features the following:
  • Auricap high-resolution capacitors used exclusively in filter sections.
  • Low DC resistance.
  • Hand-wired with 10-gauge equivalent power wire; no printed circuit boards.
  • Non-sacrificial (i.e. no metal oxide varistors) silent high-voltage transient suppression up to 20,000 amps.
  • Non-resonant damping.
  • Entire electrical circuit cryogenically treated.

While ideally suited to supply filtered power to individual components, the a1Rp can feed an entire system when used with a good quality passive power strip such as BPT's excellent Pure Power Center. However, since my PPC has some filtering via a pair of optional Bybee filters, I instead used a home-brew power strip (essentially a gang box with 3 star-wired Pass & Seymour 5262 duplex outlets hard-wired with a 4' length of DH Labs Power Plus) for the bulk of the review and my comments reflect this arrangement. However, the positive effects of filtering were certainly enhanced with my PPC plugged into the aR1p.

The only drawback with the aR1p is that you won't gain the benefit of component isolation as offered in Audience's upscale conditioners. However, based on my experience with Blue Circle's BC6000, the alleged benefits of component isolation might be more marketing than actual fact. Having said that, you could isolate your digital and analog gear by purchasing two aR1ps and two power strips. Better yet, you could install a pair of dedicated lines right back to your service panel for even greater isolation. It's this combination of affordability and flexibility that makes the aR1p such an attractive component.

After installing the a1Rp, I left it in place for several weeks before removing it for a few days and then reinstalling and listening again for several more. I did the same with both versions of the powerChords which I connected to my Manley Labs Mahi monos. With the aR1p providing cleansed juice to my whole system, I noted a dramatically lower noise floor, greater image focus and improved sense of space between instruments. While my perception of recorded depth increased, individual performers, especially vocals, were projected more forcefully into my room. Musical pace appeared to quicken too. I did not notice any reduction in dynamics with my power amps. In fact, I noted an increase in dynamic contrasts plus an enhanced clarity and precision particularly on the leading edge of notes.

However, over time I did feel that the tonal balance of my system was ever so slightly shifted upwards. I also thought harmonic textures were truncated a tad. I noticed this particularly on piano and woodwinds. On the other hand, without the a1Rp music playback became surprisingly sluggish and murky. Instruments and voices were veiled and tended to blend together. Sometimes you just don't know how effective a component is until you remove it from your system. There was definitely a small tradeoff with the aR1p but in my system it was one I thought was worthwhile.