Audience Earns my Applause

One of the high points of my time blogging the first Stereophile-sponsored Axpona Show in Jacksonville was hearing the Audience ClairAudient 16+16 loudspeakers and meeting John McDonald. This time, John went from extremely large to relatively small. Instead of the 16+16 or 8+8, he brought his smallest loudspeakers, the Audience ClairAudient 2+2 ($5000/pair), augmented by a prototype ClairAudient subwoofer ($5000).

Looking at their size and frequency response, and the small size of the room, I decided to take a listen to smaller-scaled music. First up was the Bobo Stenson Trio on ECM playing “Send in the Clowns.” The sound of the piano was absolutely gorgeous. Strangely, soprano Elly Ameling's voice was a little covered, but the midrange of the piano accompanying her was once again gorgeous. At higher volumes, the system overloaded the room, resulting in some grain and distortion; turned down just a notch, the sound was excellent.

Doing the honors, in addition to the loudspeakers, were Audience's prototype Wavepower class-D monoblocks ($7000 each), Wavemaster buffered passive preamp ($13,000), a highly modified Denon 3930 player, and Audience aR6-TS power conditioner ($5000), AV24 power cords and AV24e interconnects and speaker cables ($2200/6ft).

To demonstrate one of the Audience ClairAudient line's strong points, which creates a "sweet space rather than a sweet spot," John asked me to sit way against one of the sidewalls. The coherence of the soundstage image and the depth remained, with voice and piano floating in space. As impressive a phenomenon as the sound was lovely.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

My comments should not be interpreted to imply that Audience loudspeakers cannot handle high volumes. They most certainly can. The problem in this case, as in many rooms, was the size of the room. You can play only so loud in a small room before wall reflections begin to induce distortion. When John McDonald first set up the 2+2s, he was getting an unnaturally dark sound due to some low frequency standing waves. At least he had the presence of mind to shift his speakers to a different position. If only more exhibitors had done the same. Please refer to my detailed comments on electrical and acoustic problems at the Hilton, which are contained on the second page of my final blog (top of page 1). This blog was written before I began to have a handle on what was coloring sound in so many rooms.

Thomas's picture

This room actually sounded pretty good , but was awful at decent to high volumes , though in my opinion it sounded like the speakers were distorting or popping in a way.