AF’s Weblog

February 1, 2011

ADAM A3X Review

An ADAM speaker for under $300? Yes, what used to be a dream is now reality thanks to the small A3X equipped with a 4.5″ woofer and the German manufacturer’s famous ribbon tweeter. Does it have everything a big speaker has?

With the launch of the new AX Series, which replaced the previous budget A Series, ADAM extended its range adding two new speaker sizes: the big A8X with an 8.5″ woofer (tested by MattKorma) and the small A3X we want to review today. Considering the very affordable price of the speaker (less than $300 on the street) the question arises of whether the A3X is worthy of its family or not. Let’s have a closer look…

ADAM A3X

We were surprised by the size of the speaker when we unpacked it. With its extremely compact dimensions (10″ x 6″ x 7.5″), the A3X can find a place in every home studio. However, it’s slightly bigger than another speaker we tested not so long ago, the Focal CMS 40. On the other hand, it is a bit lighter, which will be an advantage for mobile home studio owners with fragile shoulders. Its design is no surprise, the speaker looks like all its bigger brothers: anthracite finish, two bass reflex ports, woofer without protection grill, and the famous X-ART ribbon tweeter. It’s the ADAM mini-me! The manufacturing quality is flawless and the speaker seems quite rugged. However, you’ll have to protect the woofer during transportation because it has no protection grill. For the lows it uses a 4.5″ carbon fiber woofer, unlike the A5/7/8X that use carbon/Rohacell/glass fiber low-frequency drivers. On the other hand, the ribbon tweeter seems to be exactly the same as the high-frequency drivers used on the other speakers in the series, which is very good news!

Inside the speaker cabinet you’ll find two 25-watt (RMS) A/B amplifiers. The speaker is not magnetically shielded so watch out if you still use an old CRT monitor.

The power switch is on the front panel (way more practical than on the rear), as well as the volume control. You can link the volume control of the two speakers so that you can set the volume of both with only one control. Very useful.

On the rear panel you have a balanced XLR input plus an unbalanced RCA input. No 1/4″ TRS jacks… The settings allow you to adjust the gain of the tweeter (-/+4dB) and nothing more. The A3X provides no additional acoustic adjustment possibilities, which would come in very handy. The very low price of the speaker has an impact on some details, like this one: don’t expect miracles! The crossover frequency is set at 2.8 kHz and the input accepts signal levels up to +14dB (input sensitivity).

Now, let’s listen to it…

Conclusion

Owning a pair of ADAMs for less than $600 is now possible and, trust us, the small A3X are surprising. The low-frequency response is very powerful, considering their size, and the X-ART tweeter produces a very detailed sound. The German manufacturer seems to not have compromised the manufacturing quality when lowering the price. Plus, the speakers have some very practical details like the front power switch and the stereo link function. We can express our reservations about the accuracy of the low-frequency range, which is a bit imprecise, and the weak mid range (compared to the high-frequencies). Moreover, the lack of real acoustic correction options doesn’t allow the user to compensate these disadvantages. With a very attractive value for money, we strongly recommend these speakers to all home studio owners and music fans who want high-quality equipment but have a limited budget. Just take the few flaws of the A3X into account to avoid unpleasant surprises when mixing. Nevertheless, the ADAM A3X is without a doubt the best compact speaker in this price range.

Advantages:

  • Value for money
  • X-ART tweeter
  • Detailed high-frequency response
  • Powerful low-frequency response
  • Construction quality
  • Stereo link

Drawbacks:

  • Almost no acoustic correction possible
  • A bit of masking in the low end, and the mids are a bit weak

To read the full detailed article see:  Adam A3X Review

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September 14, 2010

Adam A8X Active Monitor Review

It has become a yearly tradition for the German manufacturer ADAM AUDIO to launch a brand new product for the Musikmesse trade show in Frankfurt (Germany). Trade shows are meant for that, aren’t they? This year was no exception for the trendy loudspeaker manufacturer. The proof is the new active studio monitor speaker A8X that complements the already comprehensive AX range.

A Brief Reminder

If case you don’t know (or you haven’t read our previous ADAM S3X-H Review), ADAM AUDIO has earned itself a solid reputation in the professional loudspeaker market over the years, thanks to its active studio monitors with ribbon tweeters. This technology — developed and patented by the German manufacturer under the name ART (Active Ribbon Technology) — allowed for the development of several speaker ranges, including the famous “S Series” that became very successful very quickly.

Adam A8X

In 2006, the manufacturer introduced a new series that included two compact and affordable active monitor speakers: the A5 and A7. Conceived for very diverse situations, from studio and home studio mixing to small multimedia applications, these speakers have been praised by sound engineers, musicians and producers all over the world. Actually, as soon as they hit the stores, both compact monitor speakers received excellent comments from the specialized press and almost every professional. It was due to the fact that this new product range created a new market segment that combined professional manufacturing and performance with compact dimensions and a very attractive price.

Last year, ADAM AUDIO presented an evolution of its ART technology — the X-ART technology, which still includes folded ribbons as high-frequency transducers. This tweeter development brings new improvements in terms of frequency response and output level. Just like the SX series, the tweeters included in the X series provide a frequency response up to 50 kHz (@ -3 dB) and a level increase of 4 dB compared with the old ART technology tweeters.

Considering the frequency range of the human ear, you’ll probably think this extended frequency response is only a marketing gimmick to sell more based on a technical feat. However, in practice it provides the speaker with a much more linear phase response over the audible frequency range, since it offsets phase errors to the limits of the loudspeaker’s frequency response…

Obviously, ADAM AUDIO upgraded this year its famous A5 and A7 models to the X series, which resulted in the A5X and A7X models. Both models are in the exact same market segment as their predecessors in terms of dimensions and price. However, in order to cover an even wider application range, ADAM AUDIO decided to offer two new loudspeaker models called A3X and A8X. While the A3X is an entry-level model, the goal of the A8X is to open the midfield monitor speaker market to the AX series.

And it’s good so because I have a weakness for high-end products, as you may have already noticed…

Out of the Box

Adam A8X

It will take you no time to understand the position of the A8X in the AX range considering its “impressive” dimensions: 15.5″ x 10″ x 12.5″ (H x W x D)! The overall design — which recalls the previous A series — and the black/gray finish is similar for the whole AX series and it gives the speakers a modern and rugged look. On the front side, the upper corners are slanted in order to minimize reflections on the cabinet.

The A8X weights 28.7 lb.(!), including the X-ART ribbon tweeter and a 8.5″ mid-woofer mounted in a newly developed cabinet that features two bass reflex ports to enhance the lows… While the A8X tweeter is the same transducer as in the top SX series, the woofer is slightly different. Unlike the HexaCone material used for the SX series, the AX woofers are made out of a carbon/Rohacell (structural foam)/glass fiber combination. But don’t worry about the response quality of the woofer! On the front side, right between the two bass reflex ports, you’ll find a control panel with an on/off switch and a main volume control ranging from -∞ to +14 dB. Like the older A5 and A7, the front side of the cabinet is still sleek and simple.

Adam A8X

When it comes to amplification, the A8X benefits from the same improvements as all other X models: The X-ART tweeter is driven by its own class AB amp that delivers 50 watts RMS. The very low distortion of the power amp, as well as its extended frequency response up to 300 kHz, ought to optimize the precision and performance of the tweeter. The woofer is driven by a 150-watt PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) amp. The crossover frequency is set at 2.5 kHz. The frequency response of the monitor ranges from 38 Hz to 50 kHz (at +/-3 dB) and it produces up to 112 dB SPL (120 dB peak). It can be very loud!

The rear side of the speaker hosts the connections and other settings. On the upper left corner you have balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs to connect a +4 dBu source signal (a mixer, a summing amp, a monitoring controller, etc.) or a -10 dBV signal source (CD player, etc.). Well done!

Like all ADAM monitors, the A8X also provides several valuable settings. First of all, you have trim pots that control a pair of shelving filters to adjust the frequency bands above 5 kHz and under 300 Hz (+/-6 dB). A third control adjusts the gain of the tweeter (+/-4 dB) to balance the high-frequency range against the overall volume of the speaker. Last but not least, on the rear panel is also the power outlet with a 110/230V switch.

Now let’s plug the speaker in!…

Conclusion

Upgrading the already very successful A series was no easy task for the German manufacturer. But once again, we have to acknowledge that ADAM AUDIO successfully took up the challenge with this A8X monitor — the flagship of the new AX series.

It’s true that the development of the new X-ART tweeter was the starting point of this evolution. but the improvements in the overall sound go way beyond the tweeter performance. The precision on the low-frequency range and the stereo imaging are important features that make this new series a success. The A8X is not an update of an existing product, but it features the same assets as its predecessors and siblings, and its performance is comparable to much more expensive mid-field monitors…

Announced at $899, the A8X will seduce the masses effortlessly!!

Advantages:

  • Big sounding low frequencies considering the size of the speaker
  • Accurate frequency response
  • Stereo imaging
  • Control panel
  • Price!!!!

Drawback:

  • Lack of “bite” in the mid range

To read the full detailed article see:  Adam A8X Review

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