A few years ago I started building my home studio, and one of the first things that I needed to do was to choose a pair of monitors. They are a key element in your setup since everything you listen to plays through them. I decided to write an ADAM A3X Review since I have been using it myself.
Tracking and editing can definitely be done on headphones, and you can even start the mixing process on them. But eventually, you will need a pair of trustworthy monitors to check your music on to.
Obviously, in a small to medium size studio, space is a limitation and you might have to find a compromise between the size of your speakers and how good their frequency translation would be.
I started looking online for different options. After sorting a list with a few candidates, I decided to go to a music store to check them in person. I tried several brands, but when I heard Adam A3X I knew I had a winner.
The Adam A3X is a nicely balanced speaker in a small package
It is an active nearfield monitor. A 50 Watts RMS built-in amplifier drives a vertical two-way system with a 4.5’’ carbon fibre woofer and ribbon X-ART tweeter that gives a frequency response of 60Hz to 50kHz. The XLR and RCA inputs allow for a balance and unbalance line signal. It also has a Stereolink input and output connectors for symmetric volume control of a stereo pair from just one speaker.
The baffle of these monitors can definitely fit on any desktop and thanks to their ported design low frequencies can be well represented.
The tweeter level can be tweaked from the back of the monitor by adding or subtracting +/-4dB in level. This is meant to be used to fine-tune your speakers to the acoustics of your room.
The A3X gives plenty of flexibility in terms of setting up your listening environment
As specified earlier, balanced or unbalanced cables can be used for connecting your speakers, and the built-in amplifier has a volume knob in the front of the monitors for matching the stereo signal.
In a standard studio setup where your audio interface or console has some monitoring section, you would use the balanced XLR connection, setting the volume knobs at 0dB for optimal operation level, and control your listening level from your main volume.
But the A3X allows you to do more. If you want to control your listening volume from the speakers themself you could do it as well. Just use the Stereolink connectors available in the back of the A3X using a mono or stereo RCA cable. This setup can be considered if the balanced XLR connector can’t be used or in a consumer setup where an audio source (CD, mp3 player, or computer output) is connected directly to your monitors.
Why choose the A3X?
I have to confess that I was a bit skeptical about how good the low end would translate through the A3X due to their small size. But all my fears disappear when I listen to my reference tracks on them. The Adam’s were able to give clarity in the low frequencies without getting overcompensated or boomy. Although only getting as low as 50Hz, I would always suggest doing the final listening in a larger set of speakers (or getting a sub-woofer) that cover all the audible frequency spectrum.
Something that I was attracted to about the Adam’s monitors was their ribbon tweeters. Claiming to allow longer listening sessions with fewer signs of ear fatigue I found it very interesting especially for mixing. The result was that, even though I always try to time my listening sessions, I found myself being able to push those periods a bit further without feeling too tired. I never felt I had too much music for my system.
On the other hand, the Adams sounded a bit flattering to the ears in the middle-high frequencies. Something to have in mind when mixing but that can probably be worked around by listening to some reference tracks to get used to them.
Normally I have my pair of Adam A3X as my studio monitors, connected directly to my audio interface and they give more than enough volume when set at 0dB in the amplifier and no boost or cut on the tweeters. As my studio has grown bigger I coupled them with the monitoring section of my console and that’s when I was blown away on how loud these small speakers can sound.
Another thing in its favor is the price of the A3X. You can get a pair under £500, which makes them even more attractive, even for a studio on a budget.
Definitely the Adam speakers are a great candidate if you are looking for a small to medium size monitors. Smooth clarity, frequency response, and dynamic range.
Music Producer and Sound Engineer based in London, UK
Website: carlosbricio.com – Instagram: @cbricius – Twitter: @CBricius