This monitor sounds bigger than it looks
BY MIKE LEVINE
ADAM HAS a reputation for making quality monitors for the pro audio market. The A3X is the smallest and most affordable model in the AX monitor line, which all use the company’s X-ART ribbon tweeters. Designed for near-field use, the A3Xs also feature 4.5-inch woofers, and dual front ports on their 10" x 6" x 7.5" enclosures. According to the manual, these monitors can be oriented either vertically or horizontally. (I oriented them vertically.)
Details ADAM did all the little things right on the A3X. The power switch and volume control are on the cabinet’s front—no need to reach around. What’s more, the volume control has a detent at 12 o’clock (0dB), making it easy to balance the pair. A tweeterlevel control on the back can boost or cut the highs by up to 4dB, should your studio acoustics require it.
The A3Xs connect to your system with either XLR or RCA cables. Using RCAs lets you access the Stereolink function, which makes one monitor’s volume control the master for the pair by connecting both left and right outputs from your audio source to one monitor, and then linking to the second monitor with another RCA cable. Once the speakers are linked, a status LED lights up on the master.
Give A Listen I tried the A3Xs in two locations in my studio: on the raised shelf of my studio desk, and on speaker stands to the left of my listening position. In both places, they were sitting on monitor isolation pads, and aimed at about ear level. I auditioned them on an assortment of musical styles, at varying volumes, and later used them in a variety of mixing situations. I found the A3Xs’ sound to be warm and detailed, but not at all fatiguing.
Due to the efficiency of their dualported cabinet design, the A3Xs put out a surprising amount of low end for their size. This response is backed up by their specs, which demonstrate that they reproduce down to 60Hz. While they won’t substitute for speakers with 8-inch drivers or an added sub (ADAM offers a compatible sub) for judging low end, they could be a quality alternate pair to switch to during mixes, or the primary speakers in a setup where space constraints make larger monitors impractical.
My only quibble with their sound was that there was perhaps a little too much boost in the lower mids. But overall, these monitors offer high quality, a small footprint, and a thoughtfully-designed feature set. The chance to acquire ADAM quality at less than $300 apiece, street price, should be a major temptation for any home studio owner.
STRENGTHS: ADAM’s A3X monitors feature solid design, reasonable pricing, and a sound bigger than their size.
LIMITATIONS: Lower midrange a bit boosted.