As little as five years ago few audiophiles would be caught using “pro gear” in their home systems. Back then, so long ago, there was a clear ergonomic divide between home consumer and studio/professional gear. But with the growth of computer-based audio, the differences between home audio and studio audio have diminished to the point where the category of “prosumer” that encompasses both pro and home gear seems more appropriate. Hobbyists and pros alike now use very similar components for recording and for playback.
The ADAM ARTist 5 powered monitors ($1200/pair) stand as a prime example of current generation prosumer gear. Priced so they are affordable both for budding young engineers and beginning audiophiles, the self-powered ARTist 5 speakers may be as close as you can get to “reference quality” sound for money.
The ARTist 5’s use ADAM’s X-Art tweeter, which is a direct technological descendent of Dr. Oskar Heil’s famous Air Motion Transformer-type tweeter. According to ADAM’s co-founder, Klaus Heinz, “For more than 30 years I had been intrigued by Oskar Heil's invention. However, I always thought that the huge magnetic structures in front of the diaphragm might discolor the sound and would lead to narrow dispersion patterns. Using new materials like neodymium magnets and Capton (by DuPont) diaphragm materials combined with new geometries I succeeded in designing a tweeter that improved both the electro-acoustic behavior and the measurement data of the original construction.”
All ADAM speakers, from their smallest to their most expensive, use their X-ART tweeter. It’s the most compact and efficient ribbon tweeter ever made. It uses a membrane with a lamella or plate-like structure made up of folds. These folds move with alternating current to squeeze air in and out. Other driver technologies, whether they’re dynamic or electrostatic, use a pistonic action, which at best is capable of only a 1:1 ratio of air movement. The X-ART driver effectively multiplies air velocity with a 4:1 ratio: that is, air moves in and out of the tweeter four times faster than the folds of the driver themselves are moving. The X-ART physical design also reduces break-up modes and dynamic limitations compared to conventional tweeters. Its dynamic behavior is enhanced by 2.5 times as much actual sound radiating area for its size than any other tweeter design. The X-ART also has thermal power handling capabilities up to three times greater than those of conventional dome tweeters. According to ADAM, “Here is a completely new transducer that has no weaknesses in terms of operation, compatibility, reliability or other electro-acoustic specifications.” Fore more information on the X-ART tweeter, click here.
So, in theory the X-ART tweeter seems perfect. But the trick is how to combine it with other drivers to assemble a complete speaker system. ADAM has developed a midrange version of the X-ART tweeter, but many of their speakers, including the ARTist 5, use a more conventional dynamic midrange/woofer driver in a ported cabinet. So, the question becomes, “How well does the speaker perform as a whole unit?”
Accessories (What’s In the Box)
Click here to access ADAM product literature for the ARTist 5.
Since the ADAM ARTist 5 is a powered speaker, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ve matched it with the “right” amplifier; the correct amps are already installed inside the speaker itself. All you need are input sources such as your MP3 player or computer. Like most powered speakers, the ADAM ARTist 5’s have analog inputs. There’s one stereo minijack input on the front next to the on/off and volume controls, as well as an single-ended RCA, balanced XLR, and RCA “Stereolink” inputs on the rear of the speaker. The Stereolink connection permits you to connect the ARTist 5 speakers so that one speaker’s volume control can adjust the levels for both speakers.