Though they can be pricey, good monitors are critical to any studio setup. John Pickford finds that ADAM’s T5V’s might be the perfect budget solution…
Price £299 (pair)
Contact ADAM Audio
T5V key features:
- Bespoke U-ART accelerated ribbon tweeter
- HPS waveguard
- 5’’ polypropylene woofer
- Rear firing bass port
- Treble and bass filters
- Cumulated amplifier power RMS 70 watts
- Frequency response 45Hz – 25kHz
- Maximum SPL per pair @1m > 106dB
An accurate monitoring system is crucial when perfecting your sounds and, as we always advise, buy the best you can afford. Unfortunately, not everyone has deep enough pockets for the four-figure sums many monitors cost. ADAM Audio has addressed this issue with their T Series, comprising the T7V and its smaller sibling the T5V, the most affordable monitor the company offers.
You could be forgiven for thinking a sub-£300 monitor must be severely compromised, however ADAM has been in the professional monitoring business long enough to incorporate trickle-down technology from their top-line models; their proprietary HPS waveguard used here, for example, behaves the same as that used for their flagship S Series.
Measuring 298mm x 179mm x 297mm (HWD) and featuring a 127mm (5”) lightweight polypropylene woofer, the T5V is designed for smaller rooms, though the rear firing port makes near to rear wall positioning less than ideal.
This bass reflex port helps the unit achieve a low frequency of 45Hz and I found the monitors need at least 400mm clearance to prevent an overblown bass response. Should you need to place them closer, a low-shelf filter offers 2dB of cut or boost, while a similar +/- 2dB shelf is provided for the high end.
Anyone for t?
ADAM has created a new version of their Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter for the T Series. It’s made from a pleated polyamide film, drawing air into and then out of its folds as it expands and contracts in response to the inputted audio signal. This design is incredibly efficient, producing four times the air movement than a piston-based design found in conventional dome tweeters.
The 48mm (1.9’’) unit extends to an impressive 25kHz, while the aforementioned waveguard ensures excellent treble dispersion, minimising unwanted reflections and creating a stable stereo image within a wide sweet spot.
Like the vast majority of studio monitors, the T5V is an active design with bespoke on-board amplifiers. Each driver has its own Class D amplifier, pumping 50 watts into the woofer and 20 watts into the tweeter. Class D is sometimes mistakenly thought of simply as a digital amplifier, however that’s not the case here.
The PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) amps in ADAM monitors are switching types utilising power transistors, however their high efficiency means they run much cooler than standard Class A/B solid-state designs, negating the need for heat-sinks.
Level controls on the back panel are provided to adjust volume via continuously variable pots. Indented pots would be better for precise volume settings and I found their proximity to the LF filter switch made them prone to accidental knocks.
The bevelled front baffle is not only visually attractive, making a refreshing change from the numerous four-square designs out there, but also acoustically optimised to reduce unwanted cabinet reflections. The rear panel hosts the aforementioned bass reflex port, level and filter controls as well as XLR, phono and power sockets.
The last detail
Straight out of the box, the T5Vs sounded impressive enough, albeit a little tight, however after a few hours being fed my burn-in CD of wideband tones they started representing the songs nicely. Beginning with some of my favourite test tracks, it was clear these monitors perform well above their price point, revealing low-level detail in David Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes many inferior designs mask.
The fulsome bottom end is quite remarkable for the cabinet size and while sub-sonics are out of the question (although they can be used with ADAM’s subwoofers), bass instruments were portrayed convincingly and tunefully.
The bass line on the Beatles’ Penny Lane, a recording I know intimately, contains subtle nuances many speaker systems fail to resolve, however the T5Vs revealed every last detail, including a single low bass note from a bowed double bass that often defeats monitors with much larger woofers.
The top-end is no less impressive, sounding fast, crisp and extended. Transient response is excellent, with no blurring of leading edges on vigorously strummed acoustic guitars, while cymbals are reproduced accurately without obscuring harmonic overtones.
This was demonstrated when replaying some recent mixes, including an Acid Folk-inspired project comprising acoustic guitar (6 and 12 string), fiddle, acoustic bass and percussion. Electronica courtesy of 1970s Krautrock-influenced Beak> demonstrated the T5Vs’ superb timing abilities with absolute precision, the metronomic beats sounding neither forced nor sluggish.
Do I really need this?
Getting your monitoring right is paramount in any music making environment. The trickle down technology from ADAM’s top models ensures the T5Vs offer exceptional insight into your sounds and mixes at a price previously unheard of in pro-audio. Equally at home in world-class studios and beginners’ home set-ups, these monitors set a new, extremely high standard in budget monitoring.
Their small footprint makes them easy to place, while their diminutive dimensions belie their massive sonic capabilities. Prospective buyers should not worry they are compromising on sound by spending so little – the T5Vs are true giant killers.A brilliant addition to the world of studio monitoring, future classic status is assured.
Unlike some designs that take a warts ’n’ all view on accuracy and transparency, these monitors’ broad mid-range and treble is noticeably sweet without sounding bright or hyped, as do many budget loudspeakers.
Speech and vocals – the acid test for any monitor – sound natural and truthful albeit with a smidgen of sugarcoating. Only here did the T5Vs deviate from the current trend for stark, brutal honesty, displaying a musical heart without sacrificing detail retrieval.
This is in no small part due to their imaging capabilities; the T5Vs’ soundstaging is exceptional. Stereo imaging is spot-on, with performers perfectly placed within the soundstage and front to back imaging is no less awe-inspiring, presenting a cavernously deep setting with beautifully atmospheric ambient cues.
Here, the HPS waveguard really shows its worth. Mixing in mono (as I always begin my mixes) presented a solid, stable central image, while moving my head up and down the vertical plane revealed no phase issues whatsoever.
Dynamic expression – the ability to hear subtle changes in level of individual instruments within a mix – is quite remarkable for a monitor of this size. Their ability to go from quiet to loud during musical crescendos can be dramatic.
The T5Vs greatly impressed all who heard them and while they aren’t the last word in unvarnished, ruthless transparency, the T5Vs are accurate and neutral enough to richly deserve their professional studio monitor status.
In practise, the T5Vs slotted in with our (vastly more expensive) ATC monitoring system seamlessly, something that can’t be said of several more pricey units I’ve auditioned. A comparison with our classic Yamaha NS10M nearfield monitors revealed the ubiquitous passive boxes to be lean and shouty.
The ADAM T5Vs are astonishingly good monitors which are destined for widespread use – both as nearfields in professional studios and as sole monitors in smaller rooms. They are among the best four-figure mini-monitors on the market, yet they – incredibly – cost just shy of £300.
Two-way active nearfield monitors featuring JBL’s acclaimed Image Control Waveguard technology to add depth to the sound. Excellent clarity and imaging are among the monitor’s strong points, while they represent great value for money.
Alpha Range £400 – £510
Astounding clarity, accuracy and tremendous audio quality for the price are assets that Focal’s Alpha series have in common with ADAM’s T5Vs. We were so impressed with them that we gifted them our Gear of the Year award.