In their gloss white incarnation the Adams are smart little boxes. A slight bevel on the front and side edges makes them look neat and may mean they’re less likely to get damaged in the rough and tumble of an office desk. The grilles attach magnetically, which is tidy, though the volume control, 3.5mm input and power switch make the front look quite “busy”. The gloss finish isn’t entirely smooth, so the boxes are a bit less reflective than high gloss would be, which IMO is no bad thing for a desktop.
I have them running via USB from my Windows PC playing ALAC files and using their internal DAC. The L and R are identical, and either can act as master. The speakers connected to one another by a single RCA. There are two “stereolink” sockets on rear for this purpose, input and output, and you connect the output of the master, but oddly not to the “stereolink” input of slave, rather to its standard RCA input. I had to put in a call to dealer to sort this out, as the speakers didn’t come with instructions and the links to the instruction manual on the Adam website seem to be dead.
The SQ is very impressive for the price (£549 new for a pair; the ones I have are £450 ex-dem). In what follows I’m going to be a bit critical, but I do really think these are excellent at their price point and small format.
It’s a cohesive and dynamic sound with tight and controlled bass, although to me the bass doesn’t seem very tuneful. In fact they’re slightly bass heavy, in a rather German way. I grant this may be because of where I’ve sat them on the bookshelf which could give rise to a bit of boom from their rear slot port. (My SFs also have a slot port, but it’s at the front of the box, and they don’t boom at all). I’ll try them in free space on a desk later. It’ll also be interesting to hear them close up: at the moment they’re 6ft away.
They certainly resolve lots of detail and give a clear window on the structure of the music, and they retain this insightfulness even at low volumes. I tried them briefly at high volume and they’re very impressive.
The treble is nicely controlled and generally transparent, just a little bit grainy, so that e.g. hi-hats can seem a tad woolly. In fact there’s a slight roughness right across the freq range, most noticeably with vocals and acoustic instruments (esp. piano) around the 1KHz to 4KHz range. This causes a bit of muddiness with vocals; that’s one of the main differences from the SFs which are clearer and more airy.
In fact the SFs are, as you’d expect given the price difference, more transparent and purer in all departments, without the slightest roughness. They’re on the end of much more expensive electronics though. I wouldn’t say the Adams have a colder or drier sound; just not as clear.
But they do seem remarkable value and quality for £550 new, considering the package includes amps and DAC. A more appropriate comparison would be Q Acoustics Concept 20. I’d also be interested to compare them with the Neat Iotas I have downstairs: I reckon the Iotas’ treble is cleaner, but they’re £700 a pair.
What classical music are you listening to?
Interesting, not quite what I might have expected.
For what it is worth I like the bass shelving controls that are on the larger models, very useful for tailoring the response to the room, I usually end up with a degree of bass cut.
I find the midrange to be one of their strong points, but then I do not have a pair of Fabers on hand........
Love to hear what you make of the comparisons with the other speakers you mention.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
I have the Adams and the SF system running exactly in parallel, i.e. playing the same files at the same time, switching between the two. Interesting. I can't do the same comparison with the Iotas as they're mounted high up on the wall in my dining room. I mentioned the Q Acoustics speculatively as a possible comparison, but I don't actually have a pair.
I agree the mid-range of the Adams is excellent, though as I said, I find a slight roughness there. Again quite speculatively, I think this may be more down to the electronics than the speakers. Upstream of the SFs is an MDAC modded by John Westlake. It's a thing of beauty. The output is heavily biased to Class A, and through my Hifiman planar 'phones it's quite extraordinary. Tough competition.
So the Adams have done jolly well. I'll decide tomorrow whether they're keepers.
In that comparison I assume you are running both via the MDAC, is that the case?
Sorry to be a pain and keep quizzing you, but you are doing a few things that I would love to be able to do. While I do not for one instance miss being a dealer, I do miss some of the 'perks' of the job......
No worries at all. I like being asked to think about what I'm doing. I'm learning ... slowly.
The Adams are using their own internal DAC straight from a PC via USB, which is how I'll use them in my office. The other system is:
Sonos ZP90 (modded clock and PSU) --> MDAC (Lakewest level 3 "Toy" upgrade)* --> Cyrus X Power --> SF Venere 1.5.
I could feed the Adams from the MDAC; might try that over the weekend.
You're welcome to come round and play with the kit any time. I'm in W4.
* this is one of the mods done by John Westlake under his (soon-to-be) Westlake brand.
Interesting write up. Thanks for posting.
I'm keen to hear how they'll sound from the MDAC.
PC > AVI Neutron Five 2.1
Sony NWZ-A847 64GB Walkman > Westone UM3x
Would be interesting to see how they fare driven from the MDAC, I doubt the onboard usb dac is asyncronous, might be a noise issue mucking up the midrange.
Back in the day, when you listened to your system and it sounded like there was muck on your stylus, 999 times out of 1000 there was muck on your stylus.
With digital you really just don't know, on another thread I said I was sure that my Macbook via optical sounded better than via Airplay, Chebby (for it was he) suggested that on his system their was no difference.
That got me delving deep into my software and system preferences to try and make sure it is not my software and the way it is set up that is causing the problem, takes a while, I am no computer expert.
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