ADAM Audio has carved a niche as a music industry leader in innovation and craftsmanship. Founded in Berlin in 1999, the company has been at the forefront of developing, manufacturing and distributing high-quality loudspeakers.
ADAM Audio’s commitment to constant improvement led to the creation of the A-series, a significant upgrade from the older AX-series. The A-series offers improved sound dispersion characteristics, lower distortion, and higher efficiency using modern materials such as multi-layered mineral stone fiber. The latest technological improvement is integrating the new A Control software with its onboard DSP.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the ADAM Audio A8H studio monitor, a 3-way studio monitor that is part of this innovative A-series. With its sophisticated design, groundbreaking features, and a price point that commands respect, the ADAM Audio A8H is a formidable contender in the high-end audio market. But does it truly live up to the hype? Is it the ultimate solution for critical listening and mixing?
Join us as we delve into the intricate details in this ADAM Audio A8H review, and determine whether it merits its place in the pantheon of elite studio monitors.
At a Glance
The ADAM Audio A8H is a 3-way studio monitor that’s a feast for both the eyes and ears. Its robust design and high-quality build make it a center of attention in any professional or home studio setup.
The sound quality is top-notch, offering an extremely flat frequency response, a highly detailed and powerful sound dispersed over a wide space. The A8H’s innovative features, like the onboard DSP (digital signal processor) and A Control software, set it apart from the competition.
However, the price tag might make you think twice. At a hefty US$1,499.99 per piece, it’s a significant investment. But if you’re ready to level up your audio experience and have the budget, the ADAM Audio A8H could be the studio monitor you’ve been waiting for.
Design and Build Quality
This incredible 3-way studio monitor is a blend of aesthetic design and fantastic build quality, not made to look inconspicuous. Its robust and elegant look commands attention, making it a centerpiece of a professional studio setup.
I’m really impressed that the ADAM Audio A8H studio monitor has been given a new makeover. It looks distinctively different from the older A8X, featuring a newly added mid-range driver beside the iconic X-ART tweeter. Even the tweeter’s rotatable HPS waveguide appears to have been redesigned with a more curved structure.
By default, it appears to be designed for horizontal placement, but you can also orient the monitor vertically. Just remember to rotate the waveguide of the X-ART tweeter.
The large front-firing circular bass ports of the old A8X have also been replaced with a single sleek triangular port with rounded edges. The unique off-centered positions of the drivers and bass port give the new ADAM Audio A8H studio monitor a sophisticated asymmetrical look that is incredibly modern and sleek.
The ADAM Audio A8H boasts a robust MDF cabinet enveloped in a high-quality vinyl wrap. The painted MDF front baffle, featuring the unique chamfered edge reminiscent of the old AX series, adds a touch of nostalgia to the modern design and also aids in reducing diffraction. The cabinet walls are thicker than standard, designed to minimize vibrations throughout the structure.
The ADAM Audio A8H is arguably one of the best studio monitors for critical listening and mixing. It boasts an ultra-flat frequency response with a highly accurate audio representation across its full frequency range, delivering a powerful performance of clear, detailed, and balanced sound. The A8H also excels at lower volumes, maintaining its clarity and detail without the need for excessive volume.
Despite being a 3-way speaker with three drivers, the ADAM Audio A8H manages to sound incredibly coherent, as if all the sound is emanating from a single point source. You can hear every instrument and vocal note distinctly defined and beautifully rendered in an impressively wide soundstage. Also, the phantom center does not shift when you move around the room, maintaining a fixed sweet spot.
The low-end frequencies of the ADAM Audio A8H are tight and extended, reaching down to an impressive 31Hz, providing a full range that is adequate for discerning low-end nuances. The strong and punchy bass response is so good that you won’t even need a separate subwoofer.
This impressive bass sound is largely due to ADAM Audio’s latest innovative Multi-Layer Mineral (MLM) woofer technology. The MLM woofers are made from layers of mineral stone fibers baked together to create a lightweight but very stable and rigid material that produces an extremely clean response.
Each cone in the woofer is specifically designed with its own mineral composition, layering, and shape. By combining this special cone material with an underhung magnet system inside the voice coil and front-firing bass ports, the A8H’s MLM woofers can produce a high output of sound with little distortion.
But it’s not all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble (sorry, I was compelled to say that). The top end of the A8H studio monitor also is pristine and effortless, courtesy of the famous German precision X-ART tweeter, a unique technology that uses a pleated diaphragm folded by hand to move air and create sound.
This design allows the tweeter to produce sound more efficiently and with less distortion, resulting in clear and detailed top end. The pleated design also increases the diaphragm’s acoustically active area, leading to higher dynamic output and wider dispersion of sound.
The X-ART tweeter is paired with a High-frequency Propagation System (HPS) waveguide, a special design that helps control the dispersion of sound in space and helps to reduce unwanted vibrations or resonances, contributing to the overall clarity of the sound.
One of the unique features of the HPS waveguide is that it can be rotated by removing it with an Allen wrench. This means that you can change the orientation of the studio monitor from vertical to horizontal, or vice versa, and maintain the optimal dispersion of sound from the tweeter.
The mid-range is the A8H’s crowning glory. As YouTuber Colt Capperrune puts it, “The magic is in the midrange.” It’s articulate, unveiling details in the sound that may have previously gone unnoticed. The midrange drivers give the midrange tones a balanced and neutral sound, giving instruments a full-bodied sound.
This is largely due to the newly added midrange driver adapted from the ADAM Audio Dome Cone Hybrid midrange driver used by the high-end S-series speakers. This midrange driver utilizes the same Multi-Layer Mineral stone fiber material as the woofer.
While most 2-way studio monitors have their crossover frequencies around 1.8 to 2kHz, where the crucial midrange information lies, the A8H’s midrange driver shifts the crossover frequency to 3kHz.
The result is a controlled sound with a flat frequency response that is as smooth as silk, and as detailed as a high-resolution image. Even the older A8X model, with its crossover frequency at 2.3kHz, cannot match the midrange clarity of the ADAM Audio A8H studio monitor.
Rear Panel Connections
Starting at the rear panel of the ADAM Audio A8H are the standard XLR balanced audio input option and an unbalanced RCA connection point. There’s also an Input Select button next to these connections to toggle between them. A green indicator LED lets you know which option you have selected, and this applies to the rest of the controls at the rear panel.
Besides those analog inputs, there’s also an Ethernet port labeled ‘Remote Control,’ which goes to show how far ADAM Audio has come technologically. The Ethernet port allows you to hook up the A8H to your PC to access the A Control software, which we will get to shortly.
One thing to note is that the only accessory provided is a power cable. Hence, you will need to get the XLR and ethernet cable separately.
Rear Panel Controls
Room Adaptation Settings
Right out of the box, the ADAM Audio A8H offers straightforward customization options. The 4-band EQ for Room Adaptation settings can be easily adjusted using the provided buttons, allowing for quick compensation for acoustic issues that may arise from speaker placement and various room types.
For instance, if the A8H is placed against a wall, this might lead to a strong bass buildup, necessitating a reduction in the bass settings. Conversely, if the A8H is placed on a desk, desk reflections might occur, requiring the use of the Desk filter in the Room Adaptation settings.
There is also a volume dial for making adjustments depending on the intensity of the incoming signal level. If you’re connecting your computer to the A8H speakers through a quality audio interface that delivers a line-level signal, you can likely leave the volume dial at the 0 dB mark or adjust it downwards.
However, the signal may be weaker if you’re directly connecting your computer to the monitors using a headphone jack-to-RCA cable. In this case, you’ll likely need to increase the volume dial to achieve an audible signal.
There is a button to toggle the ‘Voicing’ profiles, which are the signature tunings of the A series speakers from ADAM Audio. There are three ‘Voicings’ to choose from – Pure, UNR (Uniform Natural Response), and Ext. Each has its unique flavor that can significantly enhance your listening experience.
First up, we have ‘Pure.’ As the name suggests, this is the most accurate and neutral-sounding option. It’s like the ‘flat’ setting on your graphic equalizer, giving you an honest representation of your audio. It’s perfect for those who want to hear all the details in their mix without coloration. And if you need to make slight adjustments, you can do so using the Room Adaptation settings.
Next, we have ‘UNR’ or ‘Uniform Natural Response.’ This is ADAM Audio’s signature sound that offers a dynamic, natural-sounding response curve. It’s like listening to high-end consumer speakers, providing a more colorful response that lets you enjoy the music more immersively.
Last, we have ‘Ext’ Voicing, which lets you calibrate a 6 EQ band setting using the A Control software or utilize Sonarwork’s SoundID Reference app. But more about that in the next section.
A Control Software
Real-time Remote Control
The ADAM Audio A8H studio monitors have an onboard DSP (digital signal processor) that allows you to control the monitors in real-time using the A Control software.
This software can be connected to the monitor’s ethernet connection port mentioned earlier, allowing you to change the settings remotely from your listening position. This means you don’t have to reach behind the rear panel arduously whenever you want to make a change to the settings.
The changes are implemented in real-time; you can even observe the green LED indicators shifting positions, whether you’re modifying the Voicing profiles or Room Adaptation settings.
The A Control software offers advanced correction options beyond the 4-EQ band Room Adaptation options, providing more choice and precision.
You can dial in exact tunings over six bands of parametric equalization with low and high-shelf filters. Each filter band can be freely adjusted for gain, frequency, and Q value, giving you complete freedom in perfecting the sound of the loudspeaker in your room.
Automated Room Correction with SoundID Reference
The A8H’s A Control software integrates seamlessly with Sonarworks’ SoundID Reference software. This innovative feature allows you to use a Sonarworks measurement microphone to measure the frequency response of the ADAM Audio A8H in your room, generate a customized calibration curve, and run them directly on your A8H monitors to compensate for imperfect room acoustics.
Typically, the SoundID Reference application needs to run in the background of your PC or as a plugin in a DAW to benefit from the calibration. However, the calibration file can be exported from the SoundID Reference software and imported into A8H’s DSP through the A Control software.
This means that even when A Control is not running, the calibration file will remain on the studio monitor’s DSP, allowing you to continue to benefit from the studio monitor’s optimized tuning. This ensures that you are always hearing calibrated audio, providing a consistent listening experience.
Moreover, ADAM Audio and Sonarworks are offering an extended 60-day SoundID Reference trial for A Series customers. However, the Sonarworks measurement microphone has to be purchased separately.
If you’re looking for a top-notch 3-way studio monitor that combines aesthetic design, fantastic build quality, and exceptional sound performance over a wide frequency range, the ADAM Audio A8H is a strong contender.
Its innovative features, such as the onboard DSP, A Control software, and audio calibration through SoundID Reference, make it a standout choice for any professional studio setup.
However, the one factor that might make you reconsider this choice is its price. These are expensive monitors at a hefty US$1,499.99 per piece; the total comes to a whopping three grand! At this price point, you could set up a Dolby 7.1 surround sound system with KRK studio monitors and a subwoofer, and still have enough left to buy a smart television! Talk about sacrificing a home theatre system for a pair of high-end studio monitors!
One thing is for sure – the ADAM Audio A8H is worth every penny if you can afford it; the immaculate sound alone justifies its price. So, if you’re ready to take your audio experience to the next level, the A8H might just be the studio monitor you’ve been waiting for.
However, if you are looking for alternative options, we have a good article recommending other top-notch studio monitors for critical listening.
- Power Configuration: Tri-amped
- LF Driver Size: 8″ woofer
- LF Driver Type: Multi-Layer Mineral Fiber
- MF Driver Size: 3.5″ river
- MF Driver Type: Dome Cone Hybrid, Multi-Layer Mineral Fiber Cone
- HF Driver Type: Rotatable X-ART with HPS Waveguide
- Total Power: 340W
- LF Driver Power Amp: 250W
- MF Driver Power Amp: 70W
- HF Driver Power Amp: 20W
- Frequency Response: 34Hz-41kHz (-3dB), 31Hz-45kHz (-6dB)
- Crossover Frequency: 400 Hz, 3.0 kHz
- Maximum Peak SPL @ 1m: 105dB (sine bursts), 116dB (IEC-weighted noise)
- Connection Types: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA, 1 x RJ45 for ethernet cable
- Weight: 13.6 kg (30 lb)
- 8″ Multi-Layer Mineral woofer with a large front-firing port for a strong and bassy response
- 3.5-inch Multi-Layer Mineral mid-range driver for a full-bodied sound
- Hand-folded X-ART tweeter for crisp and natural high-ends
- Rotatable tweeter waveguide for different speaker orientation
- 4-band Room Adaptation settings for quick EQ adjustments
- 6-band parametric equalization for more granular control
- 3 unique Voicing Profiles for flat or colored response
- Integration with Sonorworks SoundID Reference with set-and-forget style calibrated audio
- Onboard DSP integrated with A Control software for remotely adjusting speaker settings and storing calibrated audio
- 5-year warranty
ADAM Audio A8H