A Willing Audience
Talk about an eye (and ear) catcher. Dominating the Wyndham’s Rope roomall the conference rooms have cute nautical namesand set up by Bill Gibson of Jacksonville-based House of Stereo, loomed Audience's ClairAudient LSA 16+16 line source loudspeaker ($54,000/pair). A one-way bi-pole, it uses an identical array of 16 Audience A3-S 3" drivers in the front and back, and boasts an impressive 99dB sensitivity. With its line-source array, it should image well anywhere in the room, and can be driven to a continuous and deafening 129dB.
Using a highly modified Denon 3930 CD player (not for sale), Adept Response aR6-T (4600) and aR12-T ($8000) power conditioners, Au24 powerChords ($2200), and Au24e interconnects, I heard the system with two very different amplification set-ups. The first, using the Audience Wavemaster buffered autoformer preamp ($13,000) and prototype Wavepower class-D power amp (probably around $6000), blew my mind with its huge, set-back soundstage; compelling airiness and sense of acoustic space; clarity of focus; and full-range sound. Having heard far too many gray, lifeless, and monochromatic class-D amplifiers, the Wavepower/LSA 16+16 combo blew me away with its full-range sound.
The contrast to the Balanced Audio Technology REX linestage preamp ($20,000) and REX Power monoblock power amps ($30,000/pair), allied with the VK-D5 SE CD player, could not have been greater. As might be expected, the BAT amplifications was harmonically richer and even more tonally compelling. But its more forward presentation had less focus and clarity, and lacked the ultimate sense of acoustic space that the Audience amps transmitted.
If I have time (hah!), I'd love to return to this system on the last day of the Show, when everything has settled in. Meanwhile, I have the photo that John Atkinson snapped of me and Audience President/CEO John McDonald, (left) to remind me of the experience.