ADAM Audio makes great monitors, we all know that, but how about equally great headphones? We get intimate with the new SP-5s…
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Audio Studio Pro SP-5 key features:
- Closed-back circumaural headphones
- Driver size: 40mm
- Additional technologies: S-LOGIC Plus yields ‘a natural, three-dimensional sound’ and ‘safe, fatigue-free listening’; ULE-Technology (Ultra Low Emission) reduces magnetic-field emissions
- Frequency response: 8Hz to 38kHz
- Impedance (ohms): 70
- Cables: coiled (3m) and straight (1.2m)
- Plugs: 1/4″ (coiled), 1/8″ (straight)
- Weight (kg): 0.29
Over recent issues, it’s fair to say that we’ve tested our fair share of ‘different’ headphones, from the out-and-out sleek design of Blue’s Sadie headphone face-huggers to the in-ear-yet-on-ear Nuraphones (headphones that talk to you and adjust their response according to your hearing). There have been other novelty acts, including a slew of Bluetooth sets, and it’s fair to say that there’s been a stream of fancy and unusual marketing angles shouting: “Look at me!” rather than, perhaps: “Listen to me!” Very little, of late, has been about studio practicality and sound quality over fancy gimmicks (and aliens). That’s all changing here, though, with the Studio Pro SP-5s from Adam Audio. So, a company more renowned for its incredible loudspeakers is heading into the more intimate industry of headphones, with some help from Ultrasone along the way. And it’s all about the sound.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some additional tech in there, too. Ultrasone’s S-Logic Plus technology is there to add extra listening dimensions while also decreasing ear fatigue, and the ULE-Technology aims to reduce low-frequency magnetic radiation.
But the SP-5s are really all about the sound and, with that in mind, it’s clear that the designers have put sound over looks – these aren’t going to win any fashion battles with hipper street headphones. But actually, that reassures me. The best studio monitors tend to be the least extravagant in design, after all.
First impressions sound-wise, compared to our reference headphones, were of accuracy – perhaps the kind of shocking flat experience you get from listening to decent monitors after a more coloured set (my cheaper reference headphones are perhaps a little too coloured, it seems). After extended listening – and you can do extended listening with the lightweight, low-fatiguing S-Logic along with a good level of comfort – I realised it was accuracy I was getting. Not great for enjoying MP3s, I can tell you, but great for picking out the good, bad and ugly parts of a mix – which is what they’re designed for. The SP-5s are also incredibly light and flexible and hug your head well, offering decent isolation.
The wide space is also impressive and I was able to pinpoint very specific movement across the stereo image, while also enjoying a delightful and full response across the frequency spectrum. Here, the SP-5s really did come into their own, being equally as good as my £2,000-plus monitors for mix placement and width.
These aren’t the prettiest headphones out there nor the cheapest, so if you’re all about being seen out with the latest brands, you’ve come to the wrong place. What they do deliver is a rich mix experience and, in a sea of gimmicky releases this year, stand out as offering a straight-up and sensible experience – your mix laid bare for you to fix – which is all you need from great headphones.
DT 1990 €599
These offer top comfort, vibe and accuracy. The Adams are on par on all three fronts, but the DTs do have velvet pads!
For the ultimate in accuracy – so long as you don’t mind spending big – then these AKGs will deliver incredible transparency. Just don’t blame us if you don’t like any imperfections they reveal in your mixes…
+ Fantastically detailed and immersive frequency response
+ But not too flat and wearing, with enough vibe
+ Lightweight and comfortable
+ Good price, considering the quality
– Some might consider the price tag excessive (although good monitors cost more)
– If you put looks before sound, look away
A genuine alternative to good monitors, the SP-5s really do offer a great and intimate mix experience.