I have been loaned the Adam A5x from a friend (who, like me, also owns Mordaunt Short Performance 6, as well as several Stax stuffs), and, given the buzz around active speakers, I wanted to give my opinionated take on them. I have been listening to them for a couple of weeks, and feel like I could do a mini-review about them.
The review will be willingly critical, because of a premise: I could hardly find any criticism or insightful impressions on the Adam’s, and I approached them with quite high expectations given such context.
The Adam are active monitors costing about 650-700 Euro, they are easy to setup and don’t require separate amplification (or even dac’s, if one wanted to go straight from computer).
In short, I think they sound similar to a not properly amped Sennheiser HD650. The Adam A5x are like hot thick chocolate. They are dark, bassy. They don’t have any room problems, which is a good advantage. The tone is full, slightly too dark to be considered natural, but still pleasant.
Like thick chocolate, unfortunately, they are very blurry. They offer almost no spatial detail. They also have a slight, weird tin can echo, a resonance coming from the inside chassis.
I think they are overpriced. I also think that buying them could make sense for a person who’d just like to plug them to their laptop and forget about headaches (or sound-bsessiveness) associated to choosing other components (DAC, external amplification).
I initially hoped for them to be a kind of natural sounding device for an easy listening, but personally I cannot get over their defects. They are not just ‘nearfield monitors’ with a thick sound and without ‘amazing imaging’. They do have weird overtones, and when listening to them I can’t shave off the thought of how much they cost, for the poorly detailed sound they provide.
There are several much better options among nearfield speakers (desktop or bookshelf) if taking the time to select things better. Leema Xero would come to mind, as a first example.
One could argue that these are active. I agree, and as said, I wanted to sound a bit ‘jerky’ in this review on purpose. These monitors do make something right, the tone is good overall, and they are a good starting point for learning. Spending that amount of money wouldn’t automatically warrant people from getting, for example, a speaker completely off tonally, and this doesn’t happen here.
But still, I wanted to make a necessary counter-opinion for people who could have expected too much from these.