You can read more reviews like this, along with Tony’s productions at his personal site -> Tony Long Music.
ADAM A7X PROFESSIONAL POWERED STUDIO MONITORS - INTRODUCTION
I have never done a studio monitor review before, but I was interested to find out why a surprising amount of people were recommending Adam A7X studio monitors. In fact, it is hard to find a bad word about them and the readers of Sound On Sound magazine have voted them the best studio monitors of 2011 and 2012.
Adam Professional Audio is a German company, based in Berlin, with distributors all over the world. The UK base is in London - Adam Audio UK Ltd. They already had a very successful product in the A7, and last year they decided to upgrade their A-range. I have never heard an A7 so I cannot compare the two, but I do know that you do not get prestigious awards from Sound On Sound two years in succession unless you have something very special.
ADAM A7X - A TREAT OUT OF THE BOX
As you remove the solid, heavy speaker from its excellent supportive and protective packaging and unwrap it, you immediately feel that you would be proud to have something looking this good in your studio. I admit, looks are not everything, but it is most certainly a good starting point.
Looking at it from the front, as well as its sexy black satin finish, you have the X-ART Tweeter (apparently the 'X' stands for 'extended frequency response' and ART stand for 'Accelerating Ribbon Technology'), a newly designed 7" midwoofer and a control panel between two bass ports, housing an On/Off switch and a Volume control dial. In my opinion that is the best place for them; in easy reach and sight.
ADAM A7X - AROUND THE BACK
The connections on the back of the A7X are basically in three sections: inputs, controls and power. The input section has an unbalanced RCA and a balanced XLR connection. The controls are for the tweeter level and high and low shelf filters and are finely adjusted with a screwdriver. The power section has a power input and a voltage selector.
ADAM A7X - AMPS, DRIVERS FREQUENCIES AND SUBS
There are two built-in amplifiers in the A7X and in relation to their previous model (the Adam A7), they have now doubled the output power. You get a 50 Watts Class A/B amplifier to drive that lovely X-ART tweeter and a 100W PWM amplifier for that outstanding 7 inch mid and bass frequency woofer. Both of these amplifiers can handle peak levels 50% above their nominal rating. As I said earlier, a lot has been upgraded and that also includes the redesigned drivers.
The incredible feature here is Adam's X-ART tweeter. It is a folded-ribbon tweeter design but the ribbon membrane is not flat, it is corrugated. Adam tells us that the X-ART principle is the ability to move the air in a 4:1 ratio and increase the acoustically effective area of the diaphragm by a factor of more than 2.5 times. This gives you a higher dynamic output with extremely wide dispersion, greater efficient cooling and frequencies up to 50 kHz. When you think about the fact that the average human can only hear frequencies up to 20 kHz, this is well above the normal hearing range! This headroom provides for a much more detailed sound.
I may be wrong, but my understanding of this is that if you had a sound that contained frequencies of up to say 25 kHz and you played it through speakers that could only handle frequencies up to 20 kHz, then regardless of your hearing capabilities, the sound would not appear as detailed as the speaker would not be playing the 'whole' sound. The makeup of the sound and harmonic content would be different to when it is played on a set of Adam A7Xs, which are able to take that frequency and play the whole sound, despite the fact that you don't hear anything above 20 kHz. Right or wrong, I am sure this will make for an interesting debate down the pub.
The low frequency goes down as far as 42 Hz, which again, is amazing for a speaker of this size. In general, humans are able to hear frequencies as low as 20 Hz, so this is where the discussion takes on the form of whether a subwoofer is needed. However, there is a pleasing warmth about the low end of the A7X and bass drums sound tight and punchy. The fact that these monitors separate the frequencies extremely well, meant that anything I played did not sound muddy in any way... in fact it was quite the opposite.
As a nearfield monitor and considering the range that these speakers cover, I think that in some setups you could get away with not having a subwoofer with the A7Xs but personally, I would probably still have one. I think that once you've had a subwoofer, you would not want to be without one again!
I set the A7Xs up with my sub and the whole package sounded awesome! Don't get me wrong, the A7Xs have a great low frequency sound and if you have a small home studio, they will sound great without a sub. If you want to adjust the low frequencies, in the 'Control' panel at the rear of the monitor, there's a shelving filter that operates below 300Hz. As all rooms are different, you can adjust this to your personal taste to compensate for the decisions you make on positioning your monitors in your room. I did not like this at first but this form of adjustment means that you can carry out the task more precisely.
To adjust the high end, there is a volume control, which has a range of -2 dB to +2 dB, coupled with a shelving filter for frequencies above 5kHz. Both of these shelving filters have a range of -6 dB to +6 dB.
ADAM A7X - IN USE
I carried out a few tests, firstly by connecting up a Roland GAIA, which has a great sonic range. Everything sounded superb, with lots of detail. The A7Xs were very crisp and had clear high frequencies as well as handling whatever sub-frequencies I tried.
The low end sounds very natural and it did not distort at all during my testing, despite some of the strange and extreme editing I was putting the GAIA through. However, I have to say though it was in the mid-range that I thought that the A7Xs excelled.
This is just what you want from a nearfield monitor. The mids were very accurate and revealing in my opinion. As I ran an auto-panned arpeggiated sweeping filtered sound, I could clearly hear all the small nuances of the sound, as if they were in a space of their own. Everything in the sound separated, giving you an almost three-dimensional experience.
Vocals seemed a good idea for testing next, so I played some familiar CDs and also some recently recorded vocals on Sonar X1. With the CDs, I really noticed the punch of certain sounds, the crack of the snare beats and warmth of the bass drum. The vocals clearly cut through the mix with a lot of space and I have to admit, on some of my favourite tracks, I started to hear some things that I am sure I had not heard before.
Perhaps it was the fact that there is no colouration from these monitors and they sound very different (as they should) from a hi-fi speaker. I am also sure that the extended frequency range of the X-ART tweeter was really making the difference. Also, the A7Xs made everything seemed wider in my opinion!
The DAW test was certainly the ultimate experiment to find how they would affect what I hear, especially from a mixing point of view, and vocals are always the most important and the most difficult to mix. Although I would really have liked more time to test this, I was still very aware of what I said earlier about how things seemed to be in their own space. Also, the Adam A7X speakers are not very forgiving and highlighted areas in my existing mix that needed work as well as bringing to my attention some vocal performance weaknesses. I also feel sure that they will assist in my decision making of where I place tracks/instruments in the stereo field.
ADAM A7X - SPECIFICATIONS
These are the main specifications:
• Mid-Woofer: 7" Carbon/Rohacell/Glass Fiber Cone with a 1.5" voice coil
• Tweeter: 4" X-ART built-in PWM amplifier
• Mid-Woofer Amp - 100W RMS / 150W built-in A/B amplifier
• Tweeter Amp - 50W RMS / 75W
• Frequency Response - 42 Hz - 50 kHz
• Long Term Output: >= 106 dB Max, >=114 dB Peak
• Crossover Frequencies: 2500 Hz
• Input Impedance: 30 kOhm
• Weight: 20.3 lb (9.2 kg)
• Input Connectors: XLR / RCA Magnetically Shielded
• Dimension (H x W x D): 13.5" (337 mm) x 8" (201 mm) x 11" (280 mm)
• Warranty: 5 Years
ADAM A7X - SUMMARY
At the end of the day, choosing a set of monitors is a very personal thing. I think that the best environment to test monitors is in your own studio because this is where you do most of your listening. Your ears will instantly know if a familiar track sounds more detailed as a result of the monitors you have just installed. Unfortunately, you cannot easily do this and have, say, five pairs of different monitors on loan to test. Therefore, you have to make do with hearing them in a shop (where you can hear some comparisons), research online and to some extent, trust the professionals with their recommendations. With the Adam A7X monitors, as I said at the start, you do not get SOS awards lightly, so you could go out and buy these with confidence. Whether you would prefer, for example, a pair of Genelic 8030As is simply personal choice.
I personally loved the A7X monitors from the minute I took them out of the box! They are very accurate and have a flat response, a lovely detailed sound and they will not break the bank, but should provide you with an accurate mix. At the end of the day, that is what you want, isn't it?
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