Lyrics by Andy Lloyd-Russell
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Be able to tout technological innovation and redefine the term industry standard in the world of professional studio monitors, all eyes (or more accurately, ears) are transfixed when a company releases a new line of products. Earlier this year, ADAM Audio did just that with its new line of A-Series studio monitors, replacing the popular AX family of monitors. But as well as directly replacing their predecessors, the new A-Series range also includes a few exciting additional models, one being the ADAM Audio A44H.
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The new five-member monitor family offers a healthy dose of two- and three-way designs, covering all the bases, from compact, vertically oriented near-fields to beastly three-way powerhouses – offering solutions from the smallest of home studios, to commercial large spaces and immersive audio systems. The A44H sits right in the middle of all these options, being a rather flexible option, capable of handling multiple surveillance tasks.
The ADAM Audio A44H is a two-way powered studio monitor, with a familiar 19-inch width and compact overall profile, being noticeably shallower in height compared to other horizontally oriented monitors available.
Two 4″ Multi-Layer Mineral (MLM) woofers (composed of six layers) take care of the low frequencies. Their Class-D PWM amplifier arrives with a peak (10% THD, limiter off) of 110W and RMS (1% THD , limiter disabled) of 90 W. Solid performance at all levels.
The A44H of course proudly encompasses ADAM Audio’s prized X-ART tweeter, handcrafted in Berlin. The tweeter has an equivalent diameter of 2 inches and is surrounded by a high frequency propagation waveguide, providing more precise and even dispersion, this being 120 degrees horizontal and 70 degrees vertical . The tweeter module itself is rotatable 90 or 180 degrees. Yes, this means that the ADAM Audio A44H is not limited to its default horizontal orientation and can also be positioned vertically, which depending on the space or application is a big plus, without running into the issues usual acoustics that redirection can invite without a rotating waveguide.
The tweeter amplifier is a Class A/B type, operating at a peak (10% THD, limiter off) of 20W and RMS (1% THD, limiter off) 15W. The crossover frequency is 2.4 kHz. The overall performance and frequency response of the A44H is solid, with a nominal frequency response of 49Hz-41kHz at -3dB and 46Hz-45kHz at -6dB, with a maximum SPL at 1m per speaker of 110dB (noise IEC weighted) and 103 dB SPL (sinusoidal burst).
On the connector side, the inputs on the rear panel are either XLR (balanced) or RCA (unbalanced). The input level can be adjusted from 0dB positioned at noon on the wheel located on the rear panel, up to -12dB and +12dB. My only criticism here is that the dial isn’t stepped, which I’m always a fan of for these kinds of critical controls, for more precise matching, but that’s not a deal breaker. As expected, the A44Hs come with a solid five-year warranty (when registered) for peace of mind.
Throughout the new A-Series range, some rather handy voicing options are included which can be selected via the rear panel knob. These voicings are pure – a more linear response curve and UNR (Uniform Natural Response) – a more colorful voice, which will be recognizable to those familiar with older ADAM Audio monitors, including the trusted AX series. Finally, the Job the voice uses the ADAM Audio A Controlwhich can be used in Advanced or Sonarworks SoundID Reference modes. All of these sound options give users a wealth of scope to customize their monitors, from subtle tuning to more refined tuning via Sonarworks SoundID, which is impressive integration and processing under the hood, to say the least.
Part adaptation toggles are also included on the rear panel, ideal for quick and efficient adjustments. Four Named Groups bass, desk, presence, and triple can be fine tuned between -1dB and -4dB or +1.5dB depending on the frequency band, giving plenty of fine tuning if required.
While these settings are certainly useful for those who use their monitors in a single space, being able to tweak that environment slightly, having these adjustable settings available for those who continually work in unfamiliar environments will likely be a welcome feature. A comprehensive user manual section provides useful settings for typical part locations, which is a great starting point.
As I had been when reviewing the A7V model, I was eager to test the A44Hs with some familiar reference material, as well as log in and get them to work on a mix.
Given the 19-inch width, the A44Hs didn’t feel bulky or overwhelming, but rather compact, comfortable, and easy to place. Their lower profile is impressive, especially with the dual 4-inch woofers and dual-sided flare port in the front. These monitors watch the business.
After turning them on, the now familiar boot sequence kicked in, with the front LED light changing from amber to green. Putting on familiar hardware, I was immediately impressed with the punch of the A44Hs. Tight, defined and not overworked. Turning them up (not quite 11) really got the woofers going and the dual design really came into its own. In quieter tests, detail and clarity were well retained, with the high-mids and high-end really enhanced by the X-ART tweeter. Silky smooth and not at all tiring.
When it came to a Pro Tools session, I immediately found mixing decisions quick, easy, and consistent. Monitoring at different volumes again allowed for instant feedback and direction, without too much doubt. Throwing on my familiar headphones as a benchmark check confirmed this, and I was able to build a cohesive mix fairly quickly given that they weren’t my usual set of monitors. I found the clarity in the midrange particularly appealing, helping to sculpt the space for guitar and vocals and letting me know where I needed to spend more or less time tweaking. The detail in the high end was wonderful for determining reverb decay and delay times, as well as modulation. I didn’t find the A44Hs to be overpowering in all parts of the frequency spectrum, nor overdriven, nor undercooked – overall an honest representation of the source material.
A lasting impression
Given its unique profile and quite striking appearance, the ADAM Audio A44H is sure to turn heads. They certainly did that for me when setting them up for review. Their slender height will no doubt make them an attractive option for multi-channel or immersive setups (it’s almost born to be placed as a center channel), and it’s clear the engineering assistants at their Berlin headquarters have given this some serious thought.
Not only a pleasant monitor to listen to, but above all informative. The ADAM Audio A44H monitors indeed perform superbly in the studio, delivering the level of detail, clarity and honesty expected of an ADAM Audio studio monitor. I would happily spend countless hours on these monitors without even thinking about it. A great new monitor and an exciting new range.
Visit ADAM Audio to find out more. For local inquiries, contact Focusrite Australia.