ONLINE - ISSUE 19
An Interview with Richard Smith of Audience
Richard Smith (left) and John McDonald (right) of Audience (Photo courtesy of Greg Weaver)
Terry Rossen: Why and when did you get started in this business? What did you see was wrong with the other designs that were already out there and why are your designs better? What makes your design better or how does it fix what was wrong with other existing design characteristics?
Richard Smith: Audience LLC was founded in 1997 by John McDonald and me, Richard Smith. John is CEO and handles most of the business details. I am Director of Product Development. My responsibilities include planning, supervising or designing new products. Audience LLC was originally formed to manufacture loudspeaker systems. We started out selling Auricap capacitors, Audience cables and the Auric Illuminator optical disc treatment. I have been professionally involved in the audio business since 1970. During that period I worked at high-end audio retail sales, designed loudspeakers and capacitors and provided high-end audio product modification services. While performing modification/upgrade services it became apparent that many high end products were not designed as well as we expected. There were weaknesses in existing products for many reasons including cost cutting or simply poor design. We also learned what works and what doesn't. Over time it became apparent that our in house designs were superior mainly because we aimed for the best performance solution rather a price point. This led to forming Audience LLC. We started with a line of cables, high-resolution capacitors and the Auric Illuminator optical disc resolution enhancement. Our current product lineup includes the new Adept Response high resolution power conditioner. We are also involved in developing an innovative loudspeaker design.
Terry Rossen: What separates your products and designs from the other competition?
Richard Smith: The Adept Response power conditioner was brought to market because our modification experience brought the weaknesses of existing products to light. We have been making power conditioners for Audience in-house use for over 5 years. The power conditioners we were making proved audibly superior to those available every time we compared. Upon realizing this we decided to take the design even further and develop it as an Audience product. The Adept Response power conditioner is designed with each power outlet individually filtered and isolated from all other outlets. All component parts were chosen or designed to perform at the highest level without the restriction of designing to a price point. The result is a power conditioner which performs audibly better than the competition and allows an entire system to gain the benefits.
Terry Rossen: Why did you choose the materials that you use in your designs?
Richard Smith: The materials used in Audience products are chosen for their suitability to a particular design based on electrical, mechanical and cosmetic properties.
Terry Rossen: How many products do you manufacture? What are their sonic characteristics or how would you characterize your products?
Richard Smith: Audience produces three cable lines, the Auricap high resolution capacitors, Auric Illuminator optical disc resolution enhancement and the Adept Response power conditioner.
Audience products are designed for accurate, high resolution performance with special attention to time domain performance. The idea that musical reproduction is different from accuracy is a misunderstanding. Euphonic reproduction may be pleasant in some cases but this is a sound effect or coloration. Coloration, even when pleasant becomes tiring during extended listening. What could be more musical than the original performance? Therefore, the most musical audio products are designed to bring you as close to the original performance as possible.
Terry Rossen: Why do we need another high-end AC power conditioner manufacturer?
Richard Smith: The most important reason is the incredible performance improvement made possible using the Adept Response high resolution power conditioner. Even though it is new to the market many customers have already reported to us "the Adept Response is the biggest improvement any single component has ever made to my system."
There are technical reasons as well. Before we started manufacturing the Adept Response we found the available power conditioners to be lacking in key areas. One example would be the use of MOV's. The coloration produced by MOV's is unacceptable in a high-end power conditioner. Another shortcoming is current limiting components such as high DC resistance, high impedance inductive elements and thermal circuit breakers. The DCR through the Adept Response is nearly immeasurable. Also, most power conditioners use only one or two sets of filters which are shared by every outlet. Each outlet on the Adept Response is separately filtered. This means each outlet is isolated from any other outlet by double filtration. This double isolation prevents noise and crosstalk between system components and improves overall performance.