Interview with John McDonald of Audience

What made you move into audio business?

It was pretty much fate. I didn’t go looking for it; it came looking for me. My partner, who has deceased, was a great designer and asked me to join him to run Audience for his products.

Do you consider yourself an audiophile?

I suppose that is true. I surely enjoy a great audio system that allows for the reproduction of the original music.

Do you have any one in audio business thats inspired you (or still does)?

Not particularly. The accurate reproduction of music inspires me greatly.

There is kind of ongoing hunt after high priced cable manufacturers. They like to propagate that there is no difference in audio cables. How do you see this?

I see two sides to this story. First, I agree with those hunters to a great extent. I.e. there are too many rip off cable manufacturers charging crazy prices. On the other side, some of these hunters say that cables don’t make a difference and they prove it with measurements. However, they forget to use the most advanced instruments on the planet, their ears.

What and why make all the difference in audio cables?

I can not speak for everyone. We focus on low mass and low eddy current and high quality copper designs. The problem with the large cables is high mass and high eddy current flow ruin the sound in many ways.

What is secret of technology behind your cables?

Low mass, low eddy currents, proper design, high grade materials, and quality craftsmanship.

Why power chords for 500$? People and also audiophiles seems not educated about this enough and most of the time just pass the quick judgment. What is the difference between cheap industrial power cord and quality audiophile cord?

The same as I stated for cables. To become educated, one must try a high quality power cord and listen for themselves. The problem in our industry is that all power cords produce a different sound. However, different is not necessarily correct. Consequently there are many power cords on the market that change the sound for the worse. It is too easy to put a label of some wire and charge hundreds of dollars. However, like high end cables, if done correctly high quality power cords make a huge improvement in the reproduction of sound and video. For Audience, we use standard mark up for all Audience products. If the price comes out to $500, that is what we charge.

Why did you bring power conditioner into your line of products. Was there demand for them, lack of quality ones or did you simply offer something unique?

We started making power conditioners for ourselves to use at audio shows where the power is terrible. We had no intention of producing power conditioners to sell. However, many associates would bring their power conditioners to us to try in our system. Every time, we thought we would rather not use a power conditioner because of the detrimental effects they have on the sound. After hearing so many bad power conditioners we came to realize that we had something special. Then we let a few knowledgeable friends try the Audience power conditioner and they would not return them. They just said how much do I pay you for this wonderful product. So we decided to start manufacturing the adeptResponse line of conditioners.

We all have experienced more quality of reproduction in the late night listening. Power conditioners brings the same and better performance to our listening. Can you tell us more ?

There are two things at play, I presume. At night there is less going on in the power grid to dirty up the power lines and draw on the power. Also, I think our minds are more relaxed and focused in the evening.

Will budget system also gain in quality while using power chords and conditioners, or you have to own higher priced playback system?

Budget systems definitely gain by using a good power cord.

Auricap and AuraTeflon capacitors are well knows in high-end audio and DIY circles. Can you tell us more about them?

We have been designing and manufacturing audio grade capacitors since the 70s; the Siderealkap was our first design. Most of the reasons that Auricaps and Aura-Teflon capacitors perform so well is proprietary. In short, we pay close attention to the details and quality of materials and construction. These high resolution capacitors are also used world wide by top brand audio manufacturers like Plinius and many others.

ClairAudient LSA 16 Loudspeaker is an unique approach. Why did you choose such an design, practically without the crossover?

Crossovers are the number one culprit in loudspeaker design. They cause phase and other problems and they are placed in the frequency range that our hearing is most sensitive to. The intention with the ClairAudient design was to design a loudspeaker that did not work around design limitations like crossovers; we wanted to not have the limitation in the first place. The ClairAudient LSA is the result of over 15 years of design effort, to get it right. Once you get used to the purity of not having a crossover you will hear the defects in every loudspeaker that employ them.

What is the price barrier in high end audio cables industry that you think is too high?

I think the price barrier is only based on the budget of the music lover.

What kind of system do you use for reference listening?

My system is almost 100% Audience products. We also have pre and power amplifiers that are in the prototype stage. Even the Denon 3910 player is highly modified by Audience. Eventually, Audience will offer complete audio systems.

What music do you put on at the end of the day?

Mostly good jazz. However, I also enjoy rock and classical and good female vocals.

Can you please describe your home system?

My home system is the Audience reference system. It comprises of all Au24 cables and Audience powerChords, Audience pre amps and power amplifiers, Audience modified Denon 3910 and the ClairAudient LSA 16 loudspeakers and sub.

What product you are most proud of?

The ClairAudient loudspeakers for sure.

How do you see high end audio today?

It is well and alive, especially in world of two channel. I think home theater has a way to go to be truly high end quality.

Do you see increase in demanding products you offer or a decline?

There is an increase in demand of Audience products. I can not speak for other brands; however I think the home theater industry has temporarily taken a lot of the business from two channel, especially in the US.

Can you reveal any forthcoming product? Do you work on something special?

We are always working on new products. The Audience mono block amplifiers and pre-amplifiers are forthcoming and are very special.

Is there a cost no object dream product that you hold in you secret vault?

All Audience products are designed to be the very best that we can make. They are all dream products to our estimation. Cost is really second to design. For example, I believe that the Audience Au24 cables are the best that money can buy; however they are by far not the most expensive cables. The ClairAudient loudspeakers, on the other hand, are quite expensive.

Where do you see audience in future?

I see Audience making complete and ultimate audio systems. One ultimate system from one manufacturer.

Any last thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for reading this interview and best of luck in your pursuit for ultimate musical experiences.

You can check more about Audience at their site:

Mono & Stereo, Matej Isak