When it come to the power conditioner there are mixed emotions and quite few camps. Some would say that there is no need for one, others will say that they're having already quality built in power conditioner inside of their amps and there are those who cannot live without one.
I think every audiophile experienced the night listening "phenomena" at least once. You might think that this is merely a psychological factor, that at night everything is slowed down and you quickly fall into alpha state of mind, like when watching television. But heck no. All the improvements that you'll hear at late hours are mostly associated with better and cleaner electricity. I remember the numerous times of listening to my EL34 and 300B tube amps and there were constant flow of different interferences that could bring my listening experience to the annoying level. But when i put my favorite music on late at night, this was sometimes drastically changed. Well with transistor powered amplifiers the noise levels are easier to handle, but there are other advantages as well when dealing with quality power handling.
So this short intro is leading into reasoning why and if we actually need power conditioner.
John Mcdonald kindly provided their well known Adept Response aR6 for testing. Audience is very well known for their high quality manufacturing. I would say they're one of those audio companies that still produce high quality products and working hard to deserve their reputation. And they believe in what they do. In this world of what quickly becoming a race for a bigger and better marketing rather than producing high quality components they are exemplary. You can check more insights into company history and philosophy in my interview with John Mcdonald here: http://www.monoandstereo.com/2008/01/interviews-with-john-mcdonalds-of.html
Adept Response aR-6 is a very well thought out product. Even from specification you'll quickly understand that they incorporated a lot of knowledge and experience into this power conditioner. The review sample is in silver satonized aluminium finish. It gives the kind of future-retro style that would esthetically suit most systems and even the design purist. For those of you who are bond to black color, "no problemo", it's also optional. Front plate is rounded on the edges and it gives a beautifully curve feeling.
On the front site there is a small blue diode that show that Adept is operating. On the left side of the back you're welcomed with the huge and sturdy female power inputs. There is enough space to connect even the thickest power cables. On the right side there is main power input that connect your Response to the nearest "power plant" and an on-off switch. It would be easier to have on off switch on the front side, but i guess that done to retain the optimal coherence between connections. Main power cord 10 AWG that comes with package and it's detachable. It is plugged in via Neutrik 20A Powercon and Marinco power connector on the other side.
I know from my past experiences that good products need a fair time for review. You cannot just throw the component into your system and draw conclusions. It takes some time to give a fair review. There is always changes in your experience that you can hear instant. But i prefer to put new audio component into my system and live with it for a while. Then after few weeks of getting used to it, i go back and remove it from the audio chain. You'll know the difference, the lack or the gain quickly when you start listening into well known environment again.
I know that Burmester team did good job with the power section of my Burmester 051. But they also provide their own power conditioner. So there should be a potential gain in adding one into a system.
Audience Adept Response is marketed as high power conditioner with power factor correction, RF/Noise Filtering and Transient Suppression. Optimally designed power conditioner shouldn't limit dynamics in your audio chain. Power must respond quickly and as the musical material demand conditioner must be able to deliver it instantly. There should be no reserve when playing the subtle tones, attacks or transients.
Adept Response is using few unique approaches and selected materials to provide "natural flow of the music." We can go into technical essay here, but what mostly interest audiophiles are results.
I can say that even at first listening i noticed that level of noise was decreased. Burmester 051 is quiet by it's nature and my Sonus Faber Memento's with 87Db sensitivity aren't really as loud like some high efficient speakers. But the difference is there. I believe that for tube amp and high efficient speaker lovers the difference in nose level would be beneficial the most. For satisfying listening of classical or acoustical recordings low level of noise is a must. And don't forget the turntable. Adding the phono preamp and specially a tube one, demands a sophisticated power section and clean quality electricity.
When unplugging aR6 from my system there were some other differences I would like to talk about. Response brought quite some benefits into listening. My integrated Burmester 051 is designed really well and I never had any problems with it. But i can spot the differences which are also linked to the quality of power. Without Adept in the power chain, I was quickly aware of the associated with the problems of power and electrical interferences during my daytime listening.
My favorite acoustical recordings seems to loose a bit of the touch. The depth and dynamic of notes was little less obvious. Drum crescendos was softer and with less audible attack. I could sense at the first listening minutes that Miles mute trumpet and Coltrane saxophone was not as present and "airy" as i recalled it from past two months. The peak of the iceberg was kind of gone :).
I love to test every component with really great live recordings of well known Slovenian audiophile and real music enthusiast Iztok Zupan. He captured some of really magical moments with well known jazz legends in specific acoustical surroundings. When you want to test the quality of your speakers, specially the mid-range, you should try his sax church recordings.
I was missing quite some things in the absence of aR6. From dynamics, depth, sound-stage was more narrow and attack of instruments was noticeably softer. But please do mind that on the grand scale these are "big and small" differences. With the budget system you'll spot all mentioned but not as much with the refined, quality and well thought audio system.
Audience Adept Response aR6 should be more than satisfying to any stereo music lover. I can only highly recommend it to anyone who is pursuing the high end reproduction system. 2800 dollars is a lot of money. But when you're building the high end system you don't want to save with quality power handling. It's a building block of high quality playback system. If you cannot afford it a the start, get you speakers, amplifiers and cables first. Then try to put a quality power conditioner into the rig. I think you'll love the difference. Do not make a mistake and avoid power conditioner. Specially the one that is built so well as Adept Response.