Recording - September 2014 - 48

&

ADAM Audio
A5X Active Monitors
A beloved design plus an improved tweeter
equals a must-hear small monitor

...where we bring you follow-up articles
with application hints and upgrade news
about gear already reviewed in Recording

The A5X has a slightly larger woofer-the chart says 5.5", my
measurements put it closer to 5" but still larger than the A5's. As
with the tweeter, A5X's woofer is a new design, a carbon/
Rohacell/glass fiber cone that's no longer covered by a grille as
on the A5. These redesigns lead to a frequency response that's
slightly extended at the low end and massively extended at the
high end: 50 Hz-50 kHz vs. the A5's 55 Hz-35 kHz. Also significant is the A5X's greatly increased amplification power-

by Mike Metlay

ADAM Audio is a German firm that makes
active monitors for everything from very small
desktop systems to main rooms in studios,
combining various combinations of lowfrequency drivers with the Accelerating
Ribbon Technology (ART) folded-ribbon tweeters that are its trademark. Other companies
offer monitors with folded-ribbon tweeters,
which somewhat mimic the function of human
vocal cords in the way that they move air, but
it was ADAM Audio that firmly established
the folded-ribbon tweeter as a technological
contender in the world of studio monitoring.
Back in August 2009, I reviewed the
ADAM Audio A5, a small monitor pitched for
studio and multimedia use, and I was very
impressed by its lovely and strongly believable
presentation throughout the audio spectrum,
with the only caveat being that a 5" speaker
doesn't provide the low end you'll get from a
larger woofer. At the time I wasn't very familiar with how folded-ribbon tweeters sounded, so the
clarity and extension of the A5's ribbon was a real revelation to me
and I quickly fell in love with them as reliable and predictable monitors for use in the very near field. To this day, the A5 speakers live
and work in my office studio at Music Maker Publications as my
small check monitors.
Some time after the release of the A5, the line was upgraded to
the new X-ART folded-ribbon tweeter, which offers higher efficiency and greater maximum SPL as well as a frequency response
extending out into the realm of the high-def. Lorenz Rychner took
the opportunity in November 2010 to review the tiny but mighty
A3X, a new monitor with a 4.5" woofer that showcased the X-ART
tweeter in the smallest feasible footprint. Lorenz, whose experience with ADAM monitors includes a number of reviews (most
recently the dual-woofer A77X in our October 2013 issue) and
many hours of listening, was blown away by the sheer size of the
great sound the little A3X provided.
We've recently reviewed the very affordable F5 and F7 monitors from ADAM (January 2013), but in the months after the
A77X review I got an itch to hear for myself the differences
between the original A5 and the new A5X, which was still a vital
element of ADAM's AX Range. Were the differences significant?
What could readers look forward to in the upgraded monitor?
Specs and features
One glance at the spec chart tells us that the A5X is more than
"an A5 with a new tweeter.". At just under 15 lbs. each and measuring 11 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches, the A5X is noticeably beefier than the
A5, and offers heavier performance to go with its larger size.
48

RECORDING September 2014

75 Watts for the woofer and 50 Watts for the tweeter vs. the
25W/driver of the A5.
The A5X retains the A5's sensible and functional array of
controls. On the front panel, under the woofer and between
the front-firing ports, are a volume knob and power switch,
along with LED indicators for power on and Stereo Link active.
Major points for having these controls in the front!
The rear panel also has recessed and click-detented trimpots
for frequency tweaks: ±4 dB of tweeter gain and ±6 dB of high
and low shelving EQ to adjust for awkward rooms and placements. These room EQ bands are much more aggressive than the
A5's, with corner frequencies of 300 Hz and 5 kHz vs. the original's 150 Hz and 6 kHz. The provided chart shows the low EQ
as being more of a broad peaking EQ than a conventional shelf.
The A5X can take balanced signals on XLR or unbalanced
on RCA; power is provided via conventional IEC cabling. The
Stereo Link function, which allows one speaker's volume control to alter both speaker levels at once, uses RCA connections
and won't work with balanced inputs; I did little with it other
than to verify that it works.
In session
After a day or two of loud music to break in the woofers, I
worked with the A5X for a few weeks of listening and tracking/
mixing, both in my "worst case" listening setup and in a more traditional small-studio nearfield placement. I did a fair bit of twiddling
with the low and high EQ shelves, and ended up following
ADAM's advice to not use them unless there was a clear benefit.



Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
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