Editor’s Pick: Audience forte Products Deliver Surprising Results

The Calif.-based audio manufacturer Audience’s line of forte power products are well built and can be used as step-up solutions over OEM devices.

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Editor’s Pick: Audience forte Products Deliver Surprising Results

Inducing as much noise as possible the pedalboard on the left was connected to a Bogner Atma amplifier, and used with a single-coil P90 Gibson SG Jr guitar, to see what type of performance benefits Audience's forte V8 (pictured) and powerChords provide users.

Without getting too far out on the audiophile limb, the Calif.-based consumer audio company Audience has one of the most diverse product lines in the consumer audio market. 

The company offers products that include everything from speakers, and power conditioners, to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts and cables. Side stepping the excessive pricing of many audiophile cabling and power products, the Audience forte series of products provide users with a step up in build quality and performance without the hefty audiophile price tag. 

Sending me a few of its forte f3 powerChords, and its forte V8 Powerstrip, I tried these products out with an audio system and my at-home guitar rig. 

Quality of Audience forte Products Apparent in Construction and Performance

I will be completely honest: I find it difficult to evaluate power and cabling products using typical consumer electronics, including items like amplifiers, receivers and source components. Modern electronics are generally so well engineered that trying to hear a tenth, hundredth or thousandth percentage increase or decrease in distortion in a product is impossible in my opinion. 

There are things that you can possibly hear however during very stringent listening sessions. Those things include dynamics, and maybe the perceived noise floor and weight/power of the audio. 

With that being said I find trying power products with guitar gear more of an extreme test in terms of line noise and other factors that improved power can provide to an audio system.  So, I hooked up the forte power products in two systems. The first system is a standard audio system that included Sonus faber speakers and a hybrid tube integrated amplifier. The second system is a guitar rig. With the guitar I wanted to induce as much noise as I could so I plugged a Gibson SG Jr with a single P90 single-coil pickup into a pedalboard that included a bunch of overdrive, delay and modulation pedals into a Bogner Atma amplifier. 

To try the systems, I used the Audience forte powerChords and then I went either directly into a wall socket. Then I plugged both systems into the forte V8 power unit for direct comparisons. With the consumer audio system, I thought the differences were slight. The amplifier may have felt smoother and refined, with a little less strain and compression. 

Moving onto the guitar rig, however, it was quite a different story. 

Single-coil pickup guitars are famous for their noise and over the years lots of products have been developed in the musical instrument industry in an attempt to eliminate the noise these pickups are sensitive to, which includes 60Hz hum from lighting. Throw in a bunch of pedals, which could degrade the sound even further and an amp that’s capable of high-gain and it is a recipe for sonic disaster.  To my surprise the Audience forte products lowered the noise floor slightly, but what got me really excited was the level of dynamics the products delivered. 

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To try the systems, I used the Audience forte powerChords and then I went either directly into a wall socket. Then I plugged both systems into the forte V8 power unit for direct comparisons. With the consumer audio system, I thought the differences were slight. The amplifier may have felt smoother and refined, with a little less strain and compression. 

Moving onto the guitar rig, however, it was quite a different story. 

Single-coil pickup guitars are famous for their noise and over the years lots of products have been developed in the musical instrument industry in an attempt to eliminate the noise these pickups are sensitive to, which includes 60Hz hum from lighting. Throw in a bunch of pedals, which could degrade the sound even further and an amp that’s capable of high-gain and it is a recipe for sonic disaster. To my surprise, the Audience forte products lowered the noise floor slightly, but what got me really excited was the level of dynamics the products delivered. 

Both the clean and dirty sounds were louder and punchier than simply plugging into my wall receptacle. Micro dynamics were more dramatic and sustain—the true secret to the tones of classic rock icons such as Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young and Jimmy Page were much improved.  

To verify what I heard, I ran back through the comparisons, and the results were the same. 

I will never claim to be an engineer, but my guess is the forte products’ impact on the guitar equipment was noticeable because there is less filtering and an overall more streamlined circuit design with a guitar amp—even with a product like the Bogner Atma, which has switches for solid state and tube rectifier modes, and the ability to gain through its “60s,” “70s” and 80s” modes. 

I did notice improvements with the consumer audio system, but as I had said it wasn’t as dramatic. With all of that out of the way the point I am getting to is yes … in my experience with the Audience forte products, they did offer an upgrade in performance. The levels of performance may depend on several factors, but all I can say is that if someone is interested in the performance the Audience forte products can deliver, try the products for yourself and to arrive at your own conclusions.

One more thing I will point out is that Audience makes no claims the forte V8 power unit provides surge protection so my advice would be to buy a product that includes surge protection in tandem with the forte V8. Audience offers a range of power products to choose from, or if you are more comfortable with a specific power protection product, go ahead and use it use along with the Audience forte V8 and powerChords to get the desired performance results. 

  • MSRP for the forte powerChords start $199
  • MSRP for the forte V8 is $895

About the Author

Robert Archer
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Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

ARTICLE TOPICS:

Audio/VideoCablingEnergy/Power

ARTICLE TAGS:

Audiophile