Jun 16

INTRODUCTING ADAM A77X PROFESSIONAL 3-WAY ACTIVE STUDIO MONITORS

Following on from my review of the outstanding award-winning Adam A7X monitors, I now have a pair of the massive A77X monitors to put some serious sounds through and test their performance. These speakers were announced at Musikmesse 2011 and round off Adam’s AX series. They still utilises the X-Art Tweeter with the extended frequency response. So why the number 77 you may ask? Well Adam have put two seven inch speakers in these monitors and designed them to be set up horizontally instead of vertically. 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.

WHAT IS IN THE BOX?

It is a reasonably heavy box with excellent packaging. Inside you will find two large and thick, solid dense foam pieces that fully protects them. There is just the mains lead and a thin 32 Page Operation Manual (only 16 English pages – so not much to read) in the box. As you take this black professional looking speaker out of the box, you know you have something special. Each speaker weighs 28.2 lbs. which is 12.8 kg. Their size is 9.5″ (235 mm) high x 21″ (530 mm) wide x 11″ (280 mm) deep. Yes its looks are similar to the A7X but it has two Woofers instead of one. This gives it a greater professional look and will look superb in any studio with its size, colour, shape and features. If the sound matches the look then I am hooked.

TWO AMPLIFIERS

With two of these in your Studio, you certainly will have enough power with 500 Watts. There are two bass / midwoofers which are driven by 100 Watt PWM amplifiers (100 Watt RMS / 150 Watt Music), whilst a 50 Watt A/B amplifier drive that lovely X-ART tweeter (50 Watt RMS / 75 Watt Music). All of these amplifiers can handle peak levels of 50 % above their nominal rating. I like the sensible idea of having the power switch at the front of the speaker but this also has a control for the volume.

WOOFERS AND TWEETERS

With each cabinet having two seven inch woofers as well as the tweeter, the design of these has to be careful considered to avoid interference between them. Adam decided to have both of the woofers dealing with the low end up to 400kHz, whilst only one of them handling the Mid-Frequencies. This is quite apparent when you play music through them and watch the cones vibrate differently. I like the sound of this, especially as the range covers 38 Hz – 50 kHz. This hopefully will provide better dynamics. Overall you are going to get a little bit more low-end in relation to the A7Xs which had a fantastic range of 42 Hz – 50 kHz. As you can see the X-Art tweeter with its extended frequency response takes the highs right up to 50 kHz. 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.

CONNECTIONS

Making your connections is very important before you switch on and in the case of these Monitors you need to check that when you buy them you have a Speaker A and a Speaker B as it is quite easy to think that they are all the same. You will see a sticker on the side of the box that says for example “Adam A77X Speaker A”. It is also on the back of the speaker. The reason for the A and B is that A is the Left Speaker and B is the Right. You need to set them up this way else the Stereo Imaging will not be right.

Around the back of the A77X, the panel has connections for both Balanced XLR and Unbalanced RCA. I think this is sensible thinking to cater for setups ranging from home to mid-sized professional Studios. There is a Gain control for the high frequencies (with plus or minus 4dB). As a nice addition you also get two Shelf Filters (with plus or minus 6dB) for the high frequencies (5kHz) and low frequencies (400 Hz). You can adjust the Shelving filters to your personal taste to suit both the room and the positioning your monitors. These are adjusted with a screwdriver giving you precise adjustment.

CARRY OUT THE A77X SOUND TESTS

I decided to carry out the same test that I did on the A7Xs. Unfortunately I did not have the two to compare so I am relying on my memory. I started off again by connecting a Roland GAIA which really has the sonic range. I was aware that everything sounded superb with lots of detail as it did before, but there was noticeably a lot more power and the bottom end was just great with no distortion and vey natural sounding. I had an Arpeggiated bass line going that sounded quite tight and pleasantly solid, just the type of sound quality I wanted from a driving bass line. It was not at all boomy and what I really liked was the way I could clearly hear the three oscillators of the Roland Gaia and their subtle differences auto-panning across the Stereo field.

I next tried playing some Dance /Trance and Electro tracks from a CD. I could not fault the low-end, bass and bass drum which had great power and presence. The bright Synth sounds sounded crystal clear through the X-Art Tweeter. It was only in the mid-range that I felt I wanted a tiny bit more, but I think I was completely fooled by how good everything sounded so detailed in the top and bottom. I tend to forget sometimes when I am listening through Studio Monitors that I strive for it to be what I want it to sound like but really; the idea of them is that that they reveal to me all the areas that I need to hear in order to mix correctly. These really made me want to start going through my CD collection and made such a refreshing change to listening to mp3s. I also tried some Progressive Rock and it reminded me of the difference between listening to it on a quality hi-fi on Vinyl and the digital CDs of today. This sounded so good bringing out things I did not know were there, I almost believed I was listening to Vinyl.

I then pulled out some old Vocal recordings that I did with Sonar 8. Interestingly, I did not like them as I thought I did previously and they did not sit well in the mix. As I remember, this was not the case with my old monitors, which failed to highlight these issues as much as the A77Xs had done. I am sure I would have definitely made different mixing decisions if I had the Adam monitors in place at that time and I felt confident that the Adam’s would have yielded better results. I did however find that the rest of my tracks sounded more detailed and open.

Lastly, I thought I could try the iPad as there were mp3’s, synths, samples and drum machines. They all sounded fantastic, the sound was wide and spacious. I tried such an assortment of Apps which included the Animoog, Yamaha Tenori-On, Korg iKaossilator, Native Instruments iMachine, Beat Machine, African Drums, Electro Beats, Sunrizer Synth, Morphwiz, Synth Tronica, Crystal Synth and Geo Synth. I experimented with different volume levels and frequencies to cover sound from down in your boots to as high as the mountains but it all performed admirably with no distortion but punchy and crisp. I was particularly impressed also with how good it sounded at a very low volume. Normally you would lose some detail but it just all seemed perfectly there with low volume. At the other extreme they can go very loud and still remain clear.

OTHER FEATURE SPECIFICATIONS

Here are just a few facts for you experienced technical folk to ponder over and compare with other makes and models:- THD 90dB/1m > 100 Hz: =0.5 %, Long term output: =114 dB, Max. peak: =122 dB, Crossover frequencies: 400 / 3000 Hz and Input impedance: 30 KOhm.

CONCLUSION

In relation to my previous review of the A7X, I ask myself are two speakers better than one? My answer is yes. I think Adam have gone a stage further with the A77X and I can’t find any negatives, it is all good. I do like the extra power, dynamics, detail and improved low end. Adam state that they have achieved higher compression-free maximum sound pressure levels and I agree with this statement. I thought that they felt very comfortable working with them even after long periods at a time. Some people describe Ribbon tweeters to sound a bit harsh. I would not say that of the Adam X-Art but if I were to have the A7X alongside the A77X, I am sure I would find that the A77X high frequencies are smoother. I am not sure how Adam have integrated the X-Art tweeter into A77X differently from the A7X but I do prefer it and it seems to sit better in the sound as a whole and you can really hear separation of instruments well.

I was also surprised and pleased that they did highlight weaknesses in my mixes, which after all, is what good studio monitoring is all about. I do like their looks with a sleek black professional finish and styled corners, which are sloped. You cannot help notice (apart from the Twin Woofers) that there are also two large bass ports and these certainly account for the improved lower frequencies. Adam has done extremely well in dealing with any colouration that this type of design would produce. They come with a five year warranty like the rest of the Adam’s family and I don’t think it will be very long before we are all referring to them as the award-winning A77Xs. I think you seriously need to try out a pair of these today, I am glad I have.

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Absolute Music

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