Studio Monitors

Adam Audio A7X Review

In this review, In The Mix provides an excellent analysis of the Adam Audio A7X. The focus is on each specific component of the monitor, its performance, design and build quality. As a long-time reviewer of music studio hardware, he speaks about his experience of the A7X relative to other monitors and gives some great advice on how to setup and calibrate them.

Adam Audio A7X review summary

These are the main take-aways from In The Mix’s review:

  • The A7X is a heavy, well-constructed monitor with an industrial feel and look
  • Its X-Art tweeter has a folded design giving it a wide soundstage, fast transient response and low distortion
  • The crossover between the tweeter and woofer is smooth and seamless
  • The tweeter doesn’t make ‘hiss’ noises like many other monitors’ tweeters unless you significantly crank the gain
  • Its two front-facing bass ports provide a clear, powerful low-end
  • It has tone controls for dialling up or down the lows, highs and tweeter response; the low shelf control really demonstrates the power of the A7Xs woofer
  • Calibration, setup and room treatment is crucial for getting the most out of a pair of A7Xs
  • If you want to upgrade from lower-end studio monitors, the A7X is worth the investment

Adam Audio A7X review in full

Below you’ll find the video transcription, with a breakdown and summary for each A7X component reviewed so you can easily skim through the review.

A7X review introduction

He starts the video with a full disclaimer on how he acquired the speakers.

“If you have maybe a more affordable pair of monitors will you notice the difference with the Adam Audio A7Xs. They are a good first pair of studio monitors and have been my dream studio monitors for a long time. I’ve always wanted to put them through their paces so I’ve really given them a good test. I was actually saving up to buy a pair of these but Adam Audio sent me a pair last month very kindly. There was no pressure to make a review – I’m choosing to make this review. They’re not paying me to advertise them or say anything positive or negative about the speakers, but I still wanted to say I got these for free, just so that we’re all on the same page. So I’m gonna run down the features and let’s take a look at it.”

AX range and pricing

Next, he talks about the AX range and the A7X’s pricing.

“The A7X is the seven-inch version in the AX range, so there’s a 3 inch 5, 7 and 8 inch version all priced accordingly. This is the 7 inch version and it comes in at what I’d call the price point above your Yamaha HSs or KRK Rokits. They’re a substantial investment for your home studio bedroom studio or even a professional studio, so I want to try and help you figure out if these are a worthwhile investment for your studio.”

A7X build quality

He’s impressed with the overall build quality, describing its weight and grounding.

“Let’s start with the build quality. It is a really heavy, rugged unit. They weigh about 20 pounds for a single monitor. When a monitor is nice and heavy it usually shows that it’s gonna handle the sound well, there’s not going to be any silly resonances.”

A7X frequency response

He speaks briefly about the frequency range of the overall monitor, woofer and tweeter.

“The frequency response of the a A7X goes from 42Hz, handled by the bass ports and the woofer, all the way up to 50,000Hz, handled by the tweeter and the crossover is at 2500 Hertz. That’s the crossover between the woofer and the tweeter. I’m going to start by just looking at the tweeter because this is the real distinctive part on Adam Audio monitors.”

A7X tweeter

He gives an in depth description of the A7X’s folded ribbon tweeter, its advantages and also a mention about the upper frequency range.

“It has an X-Art tweeter and it’s a folded ribbon tweeter, so unlike a dome tweeter this is actually a folded piece. Having a ribbon tweeter has some distinct advantages over a dome. The first one is that because it’s folded, if you were to unfold it the actual area of that ribbon is much larger than the equivalent of a dome tweeter and what this means is that you can have a really great dispersion of the frequencies, so a really wide and detailed soundstage.

Secondly, because it’s folded and due to some really careful engineering, it means that the air leaving the tweeter can be moving a lot faster than the tweeter itself is moving because it sort of sucks air into all the folds. What this means is that you can have a really immense transient response, a really good dynamic range and also an extremely low distortion. Usually with the detailed tweeter they can sound quite brittle and harsh and that was what I was worried about. But like most people that have tested these, this is just a really clear and detailed tweeter that doesn’t fatigue you. When I’m doing mixing or even video production and I’m listening to these for six, seven or eight hours in a day, my ears feel absolutely fine. You’re not noticing any ringing or any pain, which is a really, really good thing.

For anyone new to pro audio, just so that you don’t get caught out by marketing, these go all the way up to 50,000Hz. Most people can’t hear above 20,000. A lot of people can’t even hear above 16,000 or 17,000, so it’s not that you’re gonna hear more in the top-end, it’s just that because this is designed so well and it’s so detailed in the area that you can hear, you’ll be getting a lot more of a detailed response.”

A7X woofer and bass ports

He explains the monitor’s performance in the crossover range between the woofer and tweeter, the build and design of woofer and bass ports, plus the benefit of front firing bass ports.

“Moving down the design we have some really nice engineered angles and it takes us to the woofer and the front firing bass ports. This is handling all the sound below 2500Hz and the crossover on these is handled really well. Often in the more budget or affordable monitors, you can almost hear the crossover range between the woofer and the tweeter. It sounds like you’re hearing a woofer and a tweeter and it’s very separated and a little bit indistinct. But with these monitors it’s a really nice smooth crossover. You’re not noticing a point where it drops off and goes from one to the other, which is really nice.

The woofer material is really stiff, it’s a sort of carbon composite so basically it’s not flapping around and doing anything silly. It’s handling itself the way you’d expect it to and the way this handles the low-end is really, really nice. 

This might be because of the front firing bass ports. The two bass ports help throw some more air and low-frequency sound at you. It’s good that they’re on the front of the monitors. For anyone who’s new to studio monitors – if they’re on the back of the monitors, often if you’re in a home studio or the speakers are close to the walls, it can cause a real muddy, indistinct bass that you may have heard on other monitors. So it’s good that the bass ports are on the front. They’re also designed really well. In some monitors, if you look into the bass ports you can see wires and stuff.

The A7Xs ports are black, they almost look like they go to infinity which is a really nice design feature. I’ve got a lot more to say about the bass on these in just a minute when I talk about setting them up and the controls, but overall I really like it.”

A7X power switch and front dials

He touches on the benefits of a front facing power switch and a slight issue he has with the gain dial.

“Moving down the last design feature on the front, the power switch is on the front which is amazing. Usually you’re sort of fumbling around the back trying to turn your monitors on. Aesthetically I don’t mind it being on the front, though maybe some people do. Overall the aesthetics have a kind of nice industrial vibe or energy. I’ve been a fan of these for years even though I didn’t have them.

My only issue with the front is the gain dial. It’s a continuously rotating dial ,so it does lock to 0dB but then there’s no other guides to let you know where you are. I would prefer that it maybe clicked for 1dB, 2dB, that sort of thing, just so you could match them precisely between both pairs. It’s a little bit annoying that it has such a smooth and slick action because in this case I would rather it just clicked and was a little bit more clunky. However, it is a really good dial, it’s built well and doesn’t feel loose.”

A7X inputs

He reviews the back of the monitor, focusing briefly first on the power cord plug and then inputs, giving some insight into the lack of ‘hissing’ from the tweeter.

“Moving around to the back of the speakers we have some inputs, tone controls and the power cords. The power cord plugs are at the bottom – really simple. In terms of inputs, there’s an unbalanced RCA input and a balanced XLR input. There’s no TRS jack input, you’ll have to get a cable with an XLR which is very common with pro monitors.

Every pair of monitors I’ve used in my room have this low level hiss that I hear from the tweeters. It’s not usually a big problem, but I always experience it. Now with the A7X I don’t hear it at all until I crank the gain all the way up and then I hear this little bit of hiss come from the tweeters. This is just excellent. I didn’t know that was really possible because even with my more expensive Dynaudios or KRKs, they all have this little hiss. This doesn’t seem to have them and that must be due to a really nice input – the electronics are good, the tweeter design is good and you’re getting this pristine quality that I hadn’t actually heard before in any sort of budget monitor up to four figures for a pair.”

A7X tone controls

He covers the high shelf, low shelf and tweeter tone controls and how they perform.

“Okay so moving over to the tone controls, this is to change the frequency balance of the speakers. We start with a high shelf so you can add or remove 6dB. You can make the speakers more smooth depending on your room or a little bit more bright. There’s a low shelf and this was really interesting. Usually on monitors when I crank the low shelf, the speaker becomes very bassy, but not very accurate. With this control, if you’re in a big boomy room you can turn the bass down and that’s great. But when you crank it all the way to like +6dB, they’re no longer the most accurate for mixing and mastering. However, sometimes in a production session, especially when you have some musicians in the studio, you just want to crank the bass and create some energy in the room. When you crank it to +6dB, it absolutely hits you in the chest, you feel the air coming out of the speakers. It’s immense, but still held together which was surprising. If you really want to hear an 808 glide under your track or you want to hear all the details between your kick and your sub, these absolutely have a ton of bass that you can add.

Finally for the tone controls we have a tweeter level. It’s similar to the high shelf but this control takes the gain of the whole tweeter and raises it or lowers it a little bit depending on your own personal preference and hearing.”

A7X setup

He speaks about the importance of correct setup, room treatment and techniques he uses to achieve optimal performance for speakers.

“There are a few things I think I need to mention that are very important. Firstly this is a pro audio piece of equipment and you have to set it up right if you’re going to invest this much into your studio. It really is a sizable chunk of money to throw at some monitors. You need to make sure you set them up right, get them up to ear height and use stands. If you’re putting them on your table, use monitor stands or something like acoustic stands, homemade stands or use floor stands. This doesn’t just make them five or ten percent better, this changes them dramatically. If I just put these monitors on my desk and press play, they sound mushy and indistinct, whereas if I put them even on cheap izo stands or even my cheap floor stands, it transforms the sound so it’s more accurate, punchy and just brilliant. It clears up all this mush in the mid-range and they start sounding the way that Adam Audio probably wanted them to sound.

Furthermore, even if you have a really dialled pair of monitors like this and a good room with loads of acoustic treatment, you’re never gonna get an accurate response from them unless you calibrate them. This applies whether you’re in an untreated bedroom or a pro studio – whichever room you’re in there’s going to be big dips, peaks, troughs in the frequency spectrum. What I do to calibrate it is I use a software called Sonar Works which comes with a microphone. The tests take about 15 to 20 minutes and it captures the frequency response of your room – all of those peaks and dips – and then it applies very careful software filters and EQs to flatten the response. You can still tailor it to add more or less bass if you want but it flattens the response out and I can’t describe how amazing this made the A7Xs sound in particular. It opened up the soundstage of the tweeter and the bass became absolutely impeccable. You could hear every single detail of the way an 808 and a kick clashed or combined. The way I describe it is an immediate bass response, which sounds a bit silly, but I’ll try to explain myself. It’s like whenever there’s an issue you just hear it immediately – you’re just hearing it the way it’s meant to be heard. If your mix is good it will sound amazing, but if your mix has issues you’re gonna hone in on them right away and you’re immediately going to be able to fix them, actually applying the skills and all the techniques that you’ve learned.”

A7X review conclusion

He ends by recommending Adam Audio A7Xs as a great upgrade option if you have lower-end monitors.

“To wrap up my thoughts about these monitors and this review – if you do have a more affordable pair of monitors such as a KRK, Yamaha or Presonus and you want to upgrade to these, you may be thinking ‘will I notice a difference?’. The answer is a straightforward yes. By investing that extra money in these you will get the return on the investment with these monitors. They really do sound good as long as you set them up right.”

Thanks to In The Mix for providing this comprehensive review!

 

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