ADAM Audio T8V
Crystal clarity and gutsy lows characterise ADAM Audio’s new addition to its budget-friendly T Series.
Active Eight-Inch Studio Monitors
Every couple of years I visit the optometrist for an eye test. I’ll try my best to read tiny letters in a mirror; inevitably discover that my prescription has changed; and order a new pair of glasses in the hope of clearer vision.
Firing up a new pair of studio monitors is a similar feeling to getting a new pair of glasses. The sensation of sitting between a fine pair of monitors and hearing a dense mix being teased apart into its constituent components is similar to seeing the world a little more clearly than before. I find this analogy a useful mental starting point when reviewing studio monitors – a good monitor will offer new clarity and insight into music I may be already familiar with.
BIG BOYS’ TOYS
The ADAM Audio name carries a certain prestige in monitor land. We’ve all seen the futuristic AX Series monitors or formidable S Series main monitors in upmarket studios. ADAM Audio’s T Series monitors released in 2018 are a more financially viable product family within the brand. It consists of the T5V and T7V, the T10S subwoofer released in 2019, and now the eight-inch T8V. Being relatively unexposed to the world of ADAM Audio monitoring, I was excited to hear the T8V when it arrived for review.
The nearly 10kg T8V has a big, authoritative physical presence with mostly squared-off edges — no Genelec or KRK-esque curves here. In fact, besides the pop of orange from the U-ART 1.9-inch ribbon tweeter designating its ADAM Audio DNA, it’s an unadorned exterior with a matte black finish. I was surprised not to see a power indicator LED on the front making the bedtime power down easy to forget.
As for inputs, you get the usual balanced TRS, balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connections. A slide switch activates the RCA input, so if you won’t be using it, leave this off and save yourself a smidge of summing noise. A gain knob and switchable +4/-10dB input sensitivity round out the T8V’s control options. You won’t find any onboard EQ presets to compensate for speaker positioning as is common on many monitors today.
ADAM Audio has included the HPS waveguide (high-frequency propagation system) in the T Series which is also found on the flagship S Series. Framing the ribbon tweeter, the square-ish waveguide disperses treble broadly on the horizontal plane but keeps vertical dispersion narrow to minimise reflections off horizontal surfaces like desks or consoles. Powering the T8V is efficient Class D amplification supplying 70W to the woofer and 20W to the tweeter. A DSP controlled crossover splits the drivers at 2.6kHz.
Sonically, the T8Vs are a beautiful balance of accuracy and fun. The U-ART ribbon tweeters are a delight to listen to. They won’t thrill you with spicy tops but rather present treble in a flat and transparent fashion that induces little fatigue over long listening sessions. Mid frequencies are equally smooth, if not very mildly underrepresented. Switches on the rear allow a 2dB shelf boost or cut of the high and low frequencies. I was most impressed with the T8V’s performance in the lows. The rear-ported bass is bold, powerful and oh-so-clean — the kind of low end that thoroughly satisfies your need for it without so much that you feel like accuracy has been forfeited. ADAM Audio explicitly recommends the T8V for bass heavy material like hip hop, dance, dub and EDM, and it’s easy to hear why.
The T8V presents music with an immersive panoramic depth but also a tight cohesion at all playback levels. Bare tracks with a piano and vocal pulled me deep into the song’s atmosphere, with tiny details like the piano hammers and pedal creaks gloriously audible. Complex mixes don’t phase the T8V either, with full-range music from electronic to pop surgically diffracted into its components. Vocals rush at you from centre stage with such presence that you can almost reach out and grab the track. The HPS waveguide supplies a surprisingly wide listening sweetspot both horizontally and vertically. Sitting with my ears just below tweeter height about a metre away yielded the cleanest spatial image for me.
NEED TO KNOW
Going back and forth between a few other monitoring options, the power and clarity of the ADAM Audio T8V is undeniable. Regardless of size, some monitors feel like they’re breaking a sweat when playing back bass-heavy or dense material. With the T8V there is no sense of the monitors ‘trying’ — there’s an oomph in the way these loudspeakers present sound that just feels so easy and effortless. And that, in turn, translates to a sense of transparency when mixing. You’ll know when you begin mixing a song on them and, soon enough, it’s as if the T8Vs disappear; it’s just you and the music.
One thing to note: putting the T8V in a small or untreated room will severely hamper its performance. You wouldn’t put a big dog in a tiny backyard, and similarly a powerful monitor needs a spacious (or at least properly treated) room. Because the T8Vs are capable of such gutsy sound, they’ll easily be suffocated if mounted right next to walls or ceilings. Flutter echo and standing waves from bare parallel opposing walls will muddy their spatial imaging and low end clarity will vanish in a tight space. Give them breathing room and hear them shine.
What about value? Are the T8Vs a no-brainer purchase in the $1k-per-pair pricepoint?
A quick Google search will reveal a number of respectable eight-inch contestants for a similar cost as the ADAM Audio T8Vs. In my opinion, the T8V is the perfect choice for those who can put the pair in a large treated room and who regularly mix busy or bassy material — be it EDM or post production. They’re a fabulous monitor with a desirable combination of transparency, detail, punch and precision. A five year warranty sweetens the deal for any purchase.