This loudspeaker, from a well known European professional manufacturer, certainly ranks as the most expensive 2-way bookshelf model in our experience, but is immaculately finished in light Maple veneer, and of unique construction. The Compact is described by the maker as a “no-compromise small high-end loudspeaker that incorporates the revolutionary A.R.T. tweeter and a 7″ Hexa Cone woofer.” I’ll say more about these drivers and the cabinet materials and construction below.
It is the company’s first entry into the North American consumer market, and the least expensive model of a group of loudspeakers that utilize the ART tweeter designed by the famous Oskar Heil, and refined by chief Adam designer, Klaus Heinz. As noted, fit and finish are exemplary, the rear panel (as shown) indicating the high quality biwire gold plated 5-way binding posts and flawless veneered surface. The heavily braced wood cabinet is fronted by a “25mm thick Aluminum honeycomb plate with very high stiffness (Youngs Modulus). This couples the driver[s] much better to the cabinet and as a result, a much better impulse response, improved clarity and better dynamics are obtained.” This baffle is coupled to the wood cabinet through an sealing energy absorbing gasket that damps surface vibration. The Adam Compact frequency response measurements are, as they say in the news, “uneventful”, but deceptively so: because there seems to be so little going on, they indicate more than anything else, superb acoustic design. Midrange response between 150 and 1500 Hz is ruler flat, with a smooth attenuation below, down 4 dB at 100 Hz, and 7 dB at 60 Hz. This is not outstanding bass extension for a ported design, but leads to other benefits, as I’ll outline below.
Above 1.5 kHz we see a gradual downward slope to around 4 kHz that indicates a wise decision in a nearfield monitor, especially one with the kind of wide dispersion that we notice here in the off-axis measurements. It looks like there are only three curves, 0, 15, and 30 degrees off axis, but, in fact, that lowest above 5 kHz is at 60 degrees off axis, the 15 and 30 degrees curves virtually overlapping. This exceptional dispersion means that the ART tweeter puts quite a bit more top end energy into the room, not being beamy at high frequencies like dome designs. So, while the response seems to roll off in the charts, it is actually very extended and open to beyond 10 kHz, where some further rolloff is seen. In the on-axis measurements, top end response is down only down an average of about 2 1/2 dB to 10 kHz, though the Summed Axial Response (at top) does show a slightly greater slope. Believe me when I say that, in this case, the speaker is seemingly better served by the ear than the measurements. Impedance and electrical phase curves are remarkably smooth, with a minor blip to just above 30 ohms at 65 Hz, impedance staying between 6 and 10 ohms across the rest of the audio band. Phase response (below) is exceptionally smooth through crossover (1.8 kHz), indicating virtually perfect driver matching, this also clearly shown in the lack of peaks and dips in the frequency response in this region. The overall inferences to be drawn here are that the Compact monitor will behave very well in virtually any room, with very even response everywhere, and will also be easy to drive because of the lack of driver interactions normally found in most speakers because of phase anomalies. In sum, good room coupling means good sound.
And that’s what we heard from the Adam, though its bass lightness demanded a subwoofer (their SW260 is available, but probably quite a bit more pricey than some of the excellent models reviewed in these pages recently: good matches would be the Axiom EP-500 [big] or the MJ Acoustics Reference 100 [small] from Vol. 22 #3).
After all that, did it displace our reference speakers (Energy Veritas 1.8)?
Not quite: there are things that a midrange dome in particular, and a 3-way design in general can achieve that 2-ways don’t quite manage. That said, the Adam Monitor is probably better than most 3-way loudspeakers out there, and if rather expensive, really delivers a lot for the big bucks.
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