ADAM Audio S3H 5/5 Review from Bonedo


 

Berlin-based loudspeaker manufacturer Adam Audio presents the S-series, a completely re-engineered flagship range of monitors for professional studios that focus on uncompromising listening.

Our test object is the active 3-way monitor S3H - a midfield monitor (also suitable for use as near-field) with a wide range of adjustable options.

The "H" in the model designates the horizontal placement of the box. The S3Hs have a ‘street’ price of more than 5000 Euro - so how did they test?

Speaker Construction

The Adam Audio S3H is an active 3-way midfield monitor, a successor to the successful S3X-H and S3A monitors. The twin 7-inch woofers, each powered by a 500-watt Class-D amplifier, are striking. 


These bass drivers benefit from the newly developed SMA and ELE technologies, which are optimised for low distortion and linear bass reproduction down to 32 Hz even at high volumes.

The newly developed 4-inch DCH mid-range driver combines the advantages of dome and cone drivers, which, according to the manufacturer, ensures distortion-free and transparent reproduction over a more-than-required bandwidth, even at high levels.

It is powered by a 300 Watt Class-D amplifier.


This tweeter technology is not entirely irresponsible for the popularity of the Berlin manufacturer.At a frequency of 3 kHz, the hand-crafted S-ART tweeter is a further development of the X-ART tweeter.

In combination with HPS precision waveguide made of aluminium (also new), it favours a homogenous, horizontally wide reproduction of high frequencies.

The tweeter is powered by a Class A/B 50 watt amplifier.

In total the S3H provides a full 1350 W (RMS).

Even the massive cabinet has undergone evolutionary changes compared to the previous models.

In order to counter edge deflections, the cabinet is significantly more rounded than in the older models S3A and S3X,

The dimensions of the potent Adam Audio Studio monitor are 280 (H) x 585 (W) x 380 (T) mm with a weight of 26.6 kg.

Processing the S3H

The eye is listening! The physical presence and impact of the timelessly noble-looking Adam Monitors is absolutely top class, which one would expect for a speaker in the 3000 Euro price range.

The design looks much more coherent and representative than the previous, horizontally-oriented monitors from Berlin, I especially like the deep black, slightly matt lacquered housing.

We also found valuable work on the back in the form of faultlessly installed connectors and a  precise adjustable rotary/push encoder for adjusting settings and DSP.

Visual control of the adjustments performed is provided by a small, but readable OLED display above the encoder.

The Adam Monitor is also a visual treat.

 Additional delivered items with the Adam Audio S3H monitor are limited to a power cable and an English-language short operating manual.

The full version is available on the homepage of Adam Audio. This is only in English and French language,  which from a German manufacturer is a pity, especially considering the complex customisation possibilities. I can imagine that some users will want a German-Language Version of the DSP board, which is mentioned in the manual, but not yet available at the time of the review,  because it is a brand new product .

Adam S3H: Connections

The power switch is located the rear side of the unit. An automatic adjustment to the regional power supply takes place via the integrated switching power supply, which accepts voltages of 100 to 240 V (AC, 50/60 Hz) for the operation of the box. Manual switching is therefore not required. A discreet, green LED above the tweeter signals that the monitor is switched on.

Both an analogue and a digital (AES3) XLR audio input socket are mounted on the rear panel, and a further AES3-Out is used to connect other monitors in stereo or surround mode, their assignment (eg left / right) in OLED Dislay By encoder. A USB port allows you to connect to a computer to make adjustments via "remote software", which will be available soon.

Furthermore, on the back is a covered slot (2x RJ45) for future extensions. 

On board DSP allows control of the S3H’s frequency response to adapt to the environment and personal listening preferences.

Low and high-shelf filters in addition to six fully parametric EQ can be adjusted in 0.5dB steps up to +/- 12dB.

With this high degree of flexibility, definitely all the needs of potential users should be more than covered!

In addition to the three non-rewritable presets "Pure" (no processing), "UNR" (uniform natural response) and "Classic", which reproduces the playback characteristics of the popular S3A monitor, two free presets are available for saving your own settings.

In Practice:

Installation / test environment

The S3H is a horizontally-positioned midfield monitor that is also suitable for use in the near field.

According to the manufacturer, an installation with a wall distance of at least 40 cm is recommended.

Behind the monitor the distance to the wall should be at least one meter.

In the test I have positioned a pair of S3H monitors in my studio away from the walls (lateral 45 cm / back wall 115 cm) on tripods with insulation pads.

The tweeters are located at ear level and the resulting stereo triangle has an edge length of about 125 cm, which corresponds approximately to the near-field positioning in which I work with my Neumann KH120.

I have positioned the monitors in a free-standing 2.5m stereo triangle in my 35 square meter living room/piano room.

I have prepared the room with various acoustic treatment by MBakustik and acoustic curtains.

I used a wide range of audio test material - third-party and  my own productions as well as various audio samples with noise generators and frequency sweeps.

Cabling was exclusively Vovox cables (link direct S XLR).

 How does the new Adam 5000 Euro class sound?

The first impression

By chance, I was speaking with a friendly mastering guru the day before the delivery of my ADAM test monitors.

His spontaneous reaction was  "Adam ... are always a bit too pointed to me”.

This prejudice prevails in some circles because of ADAM’s prominent tweeter.

I myself possess different ADAM models, including the P11A, which is actually very "crisp".

Such preconceptions are wrong with the S3H!

From the very first sound, this monitor sounds familiar, without any adjustment, over the entire bandwidth - balanced and lively without the high frequencies being overwritten in any form.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of the Adam S3H is specified at 32 Hz to 50000 Hz, which technically does not completely cover the audible or better feelable bass range.

The monitor is legitimately recommended by the manufacturer for operation without subwoofers (which often also don’t go any deeper), since frequencies below 32 Hz are rarely of practical hearing relevance and are often only detected and filtered by analyser.

Deep, uncompressed and dry low frequencies are reproduced. I also notice the wider frequency range is remarkably homogeneous, transparent and plastic, both at moderate and high volume.

I do not use the word "perfect" often, but for my ears, when the monitors are in the "Pure" mode are perfectly balanced in my studio, without additional sound adjustments.

The "UNR" and "Classic" presets have a slight focus on upper mids and highs.

With additional correction is required, an army of clean and fine-tuned filters is available for adjustments to individual hearing situations.

Pulse behaviour of the midfield box

Pulse reproduction is remarkably crisp and precise over the entire bandwidth with fast response and no noticeable ringing. Since I am also familiar with much more expensive monitors I can say with pure conscience that in this category some monitors deliver a comparable picture, a better impulse reproduction I have not heard of any speaker.

Adam S3H: Spatial illustration

The location and separation of individual events is as precise as any professional monitor of this price range.

Thanks to the very high resolution, the listener is presented all of the information in the mix in detail.

Result: A very lively depth staggering, which facilitates significant active mix assessments.

Not to complain about Adam's new speakers …

Regarding the playback characteristics, I find nothing in any way to complain about.

Even in near-field operation, no noise can be heard at full level without an applied signal, and the shielding against electromagnetic influences corresponds to the requirements for a highly professional product.

Only the horizontal positioning does not correspond to my personal ergonomic requirements in my premises, which prevents me from placing the Adam S3H monitor on top of my wish list.

However ADAM offers the vertical variant S3V, which we at Bonedo will put under the magnifying glass. Sequel follows…

Conclusion (5/5)

With the S3H, Adam Audio has done everything right!

Good sounds good, mixed errors (even those of Chuck Norris) are unflinching.

Playback characteristics are more impressive and apparent than in any known monitor of this price class (and also over it).

The comprehensive sound adjustment possibilities should really satisfy every taste and fulfil every requirement.

Anyone who is capable and willing to invest in monitors of this price class must necessarily include the Adam S3H in their choice!

PROS

  • Superior playback characteristics
  • Very extensive customisation possibilities via DSP
  • Presets for sound adjustment
  • Control by software and additional extensions planned
  • Analog and digital inputs
  • Representative appearance

CONS

  • none

By Peter Könemann 137
(Translated from German)

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