As part of my latest round of studio upgrades, I decided it was time to upgrade my KRK RP5 monitors to something a little more high end. With a budget of around €1,000, I went in search of what options were available in that price range, and which ones represented the best bang for buck.
Unfortunately, I live nowhere near any audio stores where I can try out different models, so I asked my fellow composers on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions, and visited a couple of composer forums to see what others were using. After a number of different suggestions including the Dynaudio BM5As and Genelec 8030As, I finally settled on a set of Adam A7xs as they had the best review ratings on a wide range of sites, were right on the tip of my budget and came highly recommended from a number of friends.
The A7xs use something called ART (Accelerating Ribbon Technology) for the tweeters – basically the tweeter is a folded ribbon instead of a small cone like you’d normally see and apparently, is what gives the monitors their clarity. Honestly, I don’t understand the technology behind it as it goes a little bit over my head, but I can attest that high frequencies do sound lighter, smoother and more natural.
The A7xs have a seven inch mid/bass driver which is fairly hefty and has a frequency response of 42Hz to 50Hz according to the documentation. With a peak output of 114dB, the monitors can pretty much nearly make your ears bleed if needs be! Below the driver are two bass ports which seem to be similar to those on other monitors.
Due to my room setup, I’m forced to have to place my monitors with their rear pointing into corners. I’ve recently bought a pair of huge HOFA bass traps to help with this, but luckily the A7xs also come with high and low shelving filters on the back of them to allow you to make some adjustments based on your room layout – a feature which was missing the KRKs, but I didn’t expect from them based on their price range.
The Sound of the A7x
So! What do they sound like? In a word…incredible. Going from my KRKs to these is like going from watching TV on an old CRT screen, to watching TV on a huge LED screen – the difference is just staggering. I write a lot of piano music and always noticed my mixes sounded a little “dull” when I listened back to them again on a normal speaker system (but fine on the KRKs), yet now I can hear everything in the mix.
Its a kind of weird sensation to be honest – like being slightly hard of hearing for a number of years, then you can finally hear things a lot more clearly. When I’m writing any type of music now, I’m able to hear everything in the mix incredibly clearly – smooth highs, and a more rounded low end (instead of a pretty boomy low end on the KRKs)
When I was reading through reviews of the the A7xs online, I noticed a number of people saying they made the mix a lot more “three-dimensional”. This is actually a really good way of describing their sound – everything just seems to stand out by itself and come across more clearly in the mix. They seem to provide more depth and clarity when you’re listening, – more “truth” I guess. They allow you to hear the “true” sound you’re producing as their frequency response is flat throughout.
Of all of the thousands of dollars I have spent on hardware and software over the past couple of years, I can certainly say that the Adam A7x‘s have been the best investment I’ve made so far. They’ve helped me to better understand my sound, fix problems any mixing problems I come across before I get to the mastering stage and *hopefully* give my music a better overall sound.
The only downsides I’ve experienced with the A7xs are that they only go down to 42Hz, but thats all I’ll ever need to be honest – especially for near fields. Also, if I was to be really pernickity, their “matt” paint finish seems to absorb finger smudges really easily, which are a little difficult to get off – but no biggy!
Comparison – Adam A7x vs KRK RP5
- The KRKs seemed to always add a lot of extra bass, leading me to take some of the bass out of the final mix (stupidly!). The A7xs seem to have a more flat response in the low frequencies meaning a more balanced mix.
- A7xs are nearly twice the size of the RP5s and use an XLR input rather than normal jack input like the RP5s.
- The A7xs use ART ribbon tweeters instead of normal cone tweeters like on the RP5s – which is apparently what gives them the cleaner high ends.
- The A7xs just seem to provide so much more detail than the RP5s.
- The RP5s have no shelving filter to allow compensation for speaker placement in a room – the A7xs do.
- The A7xs are about 3 times the price of the KRK RP5s – but their sound is in a completely different ballpark.