ADAM Audio is yet another newer boutique European (German) audio company that produces a variety of Mid/Hi-Fi speakers and other ancillary audio products. The A3X is currently their smallest powered monitor.
They don’t specify the cabinet material but it looks like ~3/4 inch MDF with a matte black all around and including the front baffle. Save for the slight contour on the upper front corners it looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill cabinet design.
Beyond that, though, the design of this speaker is interesting and comparatively unique. The port is double front firing, which mainly serves to make it easier to place in a near/mid-field setting since you don’t have to worry about giving it room to breathe in the back. Between them you have a nicely situated and aesthetic volume balance knob and a power switch with a little green LED indicator light.
The tweeter is definitely the defining trait of ADAM’s powered monitor speakers, a so called X-ART which is their proprietary ribbon tweeter design. While most entry level speakers have simple soft dome tweeters rarely bigger than one inch, the X-ART ribbon tweeter has a much larger surface area of nearly two inches, and would expand even more if theoretically unfolded. Ribbon tweeters are a newer technology but have particular propensity to give a lot of range while staying very flat, which is especially important for a monitor speaker that’s actually being used in a studio setting. While most tweeters are lucky to top out at 25k+ Hz, this tweeter can get all the way up to 50k Hz, and while that might seem pointless since humans can only actually hear up to ~20k Hz or so, it means that it will have extra range going the other way, and most importantly will be very consistent across the important ~3k-20k Hz range.
The driver is a 4.5 inch woven carbon fiber cone with a soft rubber dust cap, which is a fairly standard design choice on budget speakers and likely in part why the price of the A3X is able to stay relatively competitive. A well built cloth/fiber driver can certainly sound great, especially in this case when the tweeter can cover such a large range and let the woofer really focus on the midrange. The response floor is 60 Hz which is pretty middle of the road for a 2-way bookshelf speaker, but fairly decent for something as small as the A3X. You’ll probably need a subwoofer, as you generally do with any small bookshelf speaker, to get maximal bass.
For inputs you have standard RCA and XLR, as well as a nifty stereo link inputs which makes it easy to turn these standalone monitors into a left/right pair with the ability to control both from one as you would with conventional parent/child powered speakers. Keep in mind they’re individually amped and will still need to each be plugged in separately. Also on the back there’s an additional EQ knob to adjust the tweeter volume to help balance the sound if you feel the need to. There’s no 3.5 mm jack, so switching to headphones might be a little more cumbersome if you wish to be able to.
Each speaker has a dual class A/B amplifier and very decent power handling, the quoted max SPL is 106 dB @ 1/m, which is very loud for a speaker as small as the A3X is. Despite being designed to be nearfield monitors these could certainly get loud enough to fill just about any non-large room.
As we’ve already alluded to, the A3X is impressively small and light for an independent powered speaker with the specs it has. They’re a bit tall at 10 inches, but are merely 6 by 7 inches on the bottom, and only 10 pounds each. The front firing ports also help with placement since they can be pushed flush to any back surface.
ADAM has an extendable and transferable five year warranty on all its speakers that includes powered components, and this is the best warranty we’ve yet to see for powered/active speakers. They do require that you register your product within two years of purchase to get the extended (from 2 years) 5 year warranty, something to be aware of.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
The A3X is a very nice looking speaker with impressive range and power for how small and easy to place it is. Probably the nicest tweeter we’ve seen on a budget-tier speaker. The stereo link is also nice, since turning individual monitors into a functioning pair is sometimes not the easiest thing to do. Also a five year warranty on a powered speaker is amazing, the best we’ve yet to see. Really the only reservation is that these run comparatively expensive to other popular and comparable powered monitors like JBL, Yamaha, etc. Decent prices and availability is still somewhat inconsistent from these various boutique European dealers (unless you happen to live in Germany in this case) as compared to more popular brands with established US or Chinese production. If you like the compactness, sound, and can get these for a competitive price, then we’d say go ahead and pull the trigger. Otherwise, a lot of US customers will find better value with larger brands, especially if you don’t mind a monitor speaker being bigger and heavier. Check out the links below for some such alternative recommendations.