The Audience AR1p is a GREAT product, and not "just for the price," but ESPECIALLY considering the price. I've had several of the "Big Boys" including Shunyata, PS Audio, Tice. The Audience was the FIRST one where I didn't have to strain to hear it. I was reluctant to purchase it, but thought, what the h***, it's only $500. I find it is easier if you play POOR recordings, and not the good ones, because you don't need to strain when a poor recording shows improvement, whereas with the better ones, you say, "oh yeah, I hear more harmonics, and I can hear inner detail on the flute," etc.
The Audience seems to remove grain in the same way that older Avalon designs remove it: not just the proverbial "blacker background" which is easier than implied here (just try some Versalab rollerblocks on one pair of interconnects), but a sense of "continousness": the feeling that all the instruments are in a living, BREATHING, space all at the same time. No "materialization" of one section, such as violins, and then a disappearace as the brass or cellos come in. Nope, the space sounds alive, as in Saturday broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera, and, for those who haven't heard it on a decent system, this is the difference between hi fi and real life. Once you hear a broadcast from the Met, you understand the concept of continuousness. One feels the air on the stage and the slightest low-level sound consistently "floating" out of your speakers. The AR1p is admirable at recreating that sensation. Even if you have merely an "okay" system, you will hear it. (I'm using ASL's cheap little 30-watt class A integrated, and it's no great shakes at low level detail, trust me. But tonight, for the first time, playing a poor recording of Peer Gynt, I could hear floor sounds, sounds outside the hall. I looked like a dog cocking his head to the side when he sees/hears something odd.)
If you have a good system, you'll doubt your ears -- for a few minutes. Trust me, this isn't hype. Besides, Audience gives you 30 days to try it out, and I tell you that as a new customer. I've had mine for 3 days, and I'm keeping it. Try it!