(click thumbnail)I had my first experience with ADAM studio monitors several years ago during a mix session at producer/engineer Michael Wagener’s Nashville-area studio, Wireworld.
Wagener, known for constantly improving his personal arsenal of recording gear, had recently acquired a 5.1 set of S3A active midfield monitors.
I became intrigued with the ADAM brand, specifically with its signature A.R.T. (Accelerated Ribbon Technology) tweeter. I was admittedly listening to Wagener’s own tracks and mixes at his personal studio (and the man mixed “Master of Puppets,” folks); lots of monitors would sound impressive in that environment, I reasoned.
Now I fully understand what Wagener was experiencing with his S3As.
I have had ample time to evaluate the company’s latest, the far more affordable A7 closefield monitor, in my own production/critical listening environment. I have listened to my own recorded tracks and mixes, as well as other all-time favorite mixes I know intimately and/or have heard in a variety of great acoustic environments through great monitors. And I have had an impressive experience indeed.
The ADAM A7 ($999 per pair) is a two-way, ported, active studio monitor featuring the A.R.T. ribbon tweeter and a 6.5 inch mid/bass woofer. Each transducer has its own internal 50 watt RMS amplifier. Maximum power consumption of the A7 is 100 watts. Frequency response (+/- 3 dB) is 46 Hz–35 kHz, maximum SPL at 1 meter is 105 dB and the internal crossover frequency is set at 2.2 kHz. The cabinet measures 7 x 13 x 11 inches and weighs less than 22 pounds.
The front of the A7 features the centered A.R.T. tweeter directly above the also-centered woofer. A bass reflex port is below the woofer and to the bottom right. Then, to the right, is a control panel featuring a power switch, blue LED on/off/standby indicator and a handy detented volume control. (Cheers amongst the “mouse crowd” for that last one — woo-hoo!)
On the back of the A7 is the AC input, voltage selector switch, two signal input types — XLR and RCA — and a three-knob control panel. The panel offers tweeter voltage gain adjustment and two room EQs: shelving filters located at either end of the frequency, 150 Hz and 6 kHz cutoffs, respectively.
The most notable feature of the ADAM A7, as mentioned, is the A.R.T. ribbon tweeter. This, truthfully, could warrant its own article. The A.R.T. ribbon, based on the original works of Dr. Oskar Heil in 1972, moves high-frequency sound waves by the design of its folded diaphragm, essentially squeezing air in and out of the monitor.
The two DAW-based rock re-mixes I performed using the A7s — ones in which I made a few crucial EQ adjustments, mostly on vocals and acoustic string instruments, plus one “thick wall” rhythm guitar — were clear improvements on my original mixes, and took a surprisingly short period of time to complete.
Elements of the mix that had originally struck me as potential “slackers” — things that simply could have been recorded better — were more obvious than ever, and I appreciated the tip. Those mixes in the end proceeded to translate well onto every other system where I played them (and, in direct A/B comparison, better than my original mix did).
Product CapsuleADAM A7 Closefield Studio Monitors
- A.R.T. ribbon tweeter
- Accurate, non-fatiguing and pleasing performance
- Most affordable ADAM monitor available
- Versatile small size and front-panel volume control
$999 per pair
ADAM Audio | (818) 991-3800 | visit www.adam-audio.comOnce I was sold on A7 production performance, I brought out my trusty evaluation reference CD; a disc filled with music I love that also represents a few personal production standards on a variety of musical styles.
The fun began with Urge Overkill’s “Sister Havana,” which really stood tall as I listened to it three or four repeats in succession. “Sister Havana” is a great kick-drum song, and to my ears my favorite “standard” modern rock mix/production of all time. The A7s nailed it, as expected, and it was just as I had recalled it in some of the best mastering studios and tracking rooms I’ve had the opportunity to use.
Sometimes it was even better. The crisp, non-edgy, non-fatiguing and pleasant transients that the A.R.T. ribbons uniquely deliver carried the production honorably. And, despite their small size, the A7s didn’t slouch on this particular song’s full, tight/punchy and well balanced bottom end.
Yonder Mountain String Band’s “Bloody Mary Morning” and Sergio Mendes’ “Berimbau/Consolacao” next showed the fine, unique acoustic detail of these live bluegrass and Latin music performances, respectively. Banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass and fiddle — with appropriately full, round bottom end and nice string transients throughout — sounded exceptionally detailed, not hyped. On the Mendes tune, the bass-heaviest and busiest cut on the disc, the A7’s tight bass performance was controlled and lots of fun to hear.
I may have thought in this particular case for a moment or two about having a subwoofer. A sub coupled with the A7s could likely make your grandmother dance spontaneously. A sub, however, was far from necessary.
Simply said, everything I heard during my A7 evaluations seemed to be the truth and nothing but the truth. Some engineers can’t handle the truth and, most likely, they are the few who wouldn’t enjoy what the A7s have to offer anyway.
Therefore it is my opinion that constant seekers of acoustic truth who need a fairly affordable powered closefield monitor should give the ADAM A7 a try. It works well for critical listeners in a variety of differently sized control rooms, recording environments, post-production and broadcast suites, or wherever more accurate, non-fatiguing and pleasant audio is considered a virtue.