October 05, 2009
| by Robert Archer
Adam Audio, which made its reputation in professional audio, comes into the consumer audio category with the A5 active monitor (Price: $800/pair).
This small speaker features the company’s ART tweeter along with a 5.5-inch woofer. Powering these drivers is a 2 x 25-watt amplifier.
I recently used a pair of A5s, which are equipped with both RCA and XLR inputs, in various situations. They’re easy to set up, space-friendly and transparent-sounding.
I set them up with Cambridge Audio‘s DAC Magic USB DAC unit connected to a Mac G4 Powerbook running iTunes, an Olive Media Opus wireless music system and used them in a PC-based digital workstation recording project.
Starting with iTunes, I found the speakers to deliver lots of resolution with uncompressed music from Dave Mathews, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Lisa Loeb. Most surprising in this application was the speaker’s upper-frequency extension and smooth tweeter performance.
Compressed AAC music sounded pretty good, too, and one of the nice attributes of the Adam speakers is that it didn’t sound too analytical playing back these low-resolution files.
Sparkling Upper Midrange
Listening to FLAC-encoded files like the Eagles’ “Hotel California” with the Olive my ears focused on the sparkle of the system’s upper midrange and treble regions with subtle details like the harmonic overtones the acoustic guitar body imparted on the song’s opening B minor chord.
My last test scenario with the speaker was to use it for some desktop recording. For this application I wrote a quick song based in the key of A, and with the help of my friends Chris Maggio and Mike Blewitt of Sarrin Music we created a multi-tracked song that was recorded, mixed and mastered with the A5s.
The song features a summed mix of Marshall, Peavey and Mesa Boogie amplifiers, as well as some Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster and Kramer Baretta guitars to create a tonally diverse, layered sound that’s designed to make a simple song rich and complex.
This process highlighted the A5’s solid imaging capabilities. With the speakers toed-in slightly, for example, we were able to hone in on a pinch harmonic in the first verse and miscellaneous overdubs that were panned across the left and right channels in the second verse.
With the A5s we were also able to balance the tones of these distinct amps and guitars, as well as narrow down specific elements of the drum and bass tracks, which included the EQ and reverb elements on the snare drum, which were tweaked to add space and impact within the mix.
Overall, I found the speakers to be value-minded, versatile products. I am curious to hear the rest of the company’s line. These are very good speakers, and if the A5s are any indication of the rest, Adam Audio has some other great options.
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.