As a reviewer of hifi gear, I have an unquenchable thirst for the new. If I didn’t, this would be a terrible job but as it stands, I thank my fortunate stars most days because I look forward to getting into the Barn and getting to work.
But having a hifi that’s in near constant rotation makes me crave the familiar as well. This is where the reviewer’s reference system comes into play. You can read all about my hifi, but I want to talk about the ADAM A3X Active Studio Monitors that have been living on my desktop for 10 years. Ten years. That’s nearly forever in hifi years.
ADAM Audio is based in Berlin, Germany and they’ve been making speakers designed for the Professional Audio market since 1999.
The development of the X-ART (eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology) tweeter based on the 1960’s invention of the Air Motion Transformer by Oskar Heil was largely responsible for the company’s founding. Producing sound not with a piston-like diaphragm as is done in most of the loudspeakers that are on the market, but using a pleated diaphragm that is capable of moving the air 4 times faster than the folds themselves are moving was the appealing idea behind it all. The achieved results were intriguing and gave ample reason for moving forward.
The ADAM A3X that I own, I bought the review pair, sit on ISO Stands from ISOAcoustics, which I consider to be an integral aspect of the A3X’s overall performance. The X-ART tweeters in the nearfield are a thing of beauty and infinite delight as they release sound waves into the air as if they are an extension of my ears—when properly set up, there’s a near mechanical connection between the A3X and my hearing apparatus. The 4.5 “ Carbon Fiber Woofer blends perfectly with the X-ART tweeter, keeping pace and character with each other for a seamless musical picture.
The X-ART tweeters and woofers get their own 25W Class A/B amplifiers which is more than enough juice on a desktop. While the A3X offer front-mounted volume controls on both speakers, I control volume in Roon.
This is possible because I use an AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt to feed the ADAMs.
The DragonFly is plugged into an AudioQuest Jitterbug FMJ which is plugged into my iMac. Coming out of the DragonFly, is an AudioQuest Hard Mini / RCA Adaptor out of which a pair of AQ Red River Interconnects connect to each ADAM. I will note that any DragonFly can also double as a portable headphone amp/DAC when you’re on the go.
Around back also sits a Tweeter Level dial to dial-in that X-ART to your liking, RCA and XLR inputs, and Stereolink In/Out if you want to control both speaker’s volume using one speaker’s volume control. It’s no exaggeration to say that my A3X have seen near daily use since they arrived, and have remained powered on and ready for action for 10 years. A decade.
I’m waxing nostalgic about my ADAM A3Xs because they have been replaced by the new, and upcoming, ADAM A Series:
There are a number of changes in the new A Series, let’s call them improvements, that include a rotatable HPS waveguide for the X-ART tweeter that allow you lay the A4V and A7V on their sides, Multi-Layer Mineral Woofers, but of greater interest are a number of DSP-based controls that allow for voicing the speaker’s sound to taste plus automated room correction, through the use of ADAM’s A Control App and the Sonarworks desktop-based app respectively.
For some users the backplate options might not offer enough choice and precision. Using A Control you can dial in exact tunings over six bands of parametric equalization and low and high shelf filters. Each filter band can be freely adjusted for gain, frequency and Q value to give the user complete freedom in perfecting the sound of the loudspeaker in the room.
A Control facilitates our collaboration with industry leaders Sonarworks. Using the SoundID Reference option, calibration curves generated by the Sonarworks application can be imported into A Control and pushed directly to an embedded platform on A Series monitors. When this option is enabled, the calibration is happening directly on the monitor and thus no additional VSTs or software applications are required. It also means you are hearing calibrated audio regardless of your sound source.
The new ADAM A Series is comprised of five models (from left)—the A4V, A7V, A44H atop the A77H and A8H.
Gone from the A Series are the Stereolink connectors found in the old (sniffle) AX Series but we now have a host of Room Adaptation and Voicing controls around back along with XLR and RCA inputs. The Ethernet Remote Control input is to allow for use with Sonarworks and ADAM’s A Control App to further fine tune their sound and in room performance. Inside, the woofers in the A Series are now powered by Class D amps, while the X-Art tweeters still get Class A/B power.
Yes, I’m torn. The reviewer in me would love to get my ears on the new ADAM A4V, while my craving for the familiar whispers in my ear like that X-ART tweeter—don’t go…
But it seems like ADAM Audio knows a thing or two about nostalgia [footnote 1], as they’ve included a voicing in the A Series, the UNR option (Uniform Natural Response) on the back panel, that mimics the sound of the old AX Series. The best of both worlds?
The ADAM A Series will be available beginning next month, with prices starting at $499.99/each for the ADAM A4V.
Company Website: ADAM Audio
- I’m joking about nostalgia, at least when it comes to ADAM’s motives. I’d imagine that in the pro world, having the option of hearing things through the voice of your old monitors on your new monitors is a handy option.