ADAM ARTist 3 Desktop Speakers

Some audio professionals and audiophiles have a mild contempt for each other. OK, maybe contempt is too strong a word, but there's a certain, er, distance between the two camps. The engineers are put off by audiophiles' fascination with cables and overpriced tweaks; and some engineers are deaf to audiophiles very real concerns about the declining sound quality standards of contemporary recordings. The divisions run deep, so very few companies serve both communities, but when I hear about a manufacturer that caters to pros and 'philes I'm always curious to see what's up.

Adam Audio was founded by physicist Klaus Heinz and electrical engineer Roland Stenz, in Berlin in 1999. Advanced Dynamic Audio Monitors may have started as a pro sound company, but now also makes audiophile speakers. To get a handle on the Adam Audio sound I started with the ARTist 3, a compact desktop monitor.

Squeezing air
Klaus Heinz met Dr. Oskar Heil in 1982, a few years after the good doctor caused quite a stir with his then radically new Air Motion Transformer (AMT) drivers. Heinz continued to develop and refine Heil's driver, which he now calls X-ART (eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology). Instead of vibrating back and forth like other tweeters the X-ART's "pleated" diaphragm compresses and expands with the audio signal. Air is drawn in and squeezed out, "like the bellows of an accordion," and the tweeter's response extends to 50kHz! The X-ART has a much larger radiating surface area than a conventional dome tweeter, which is one of the reasons why it produces less distortion than dome tweeters. Unlike Emotiva and GoldenEar Technology's similar looking tweeters sourced from Chinese manufacturers, Adam Audio designs and hand builds its own tweeters in its Berlin factory.

The ARTist 3 is Adam's smallest speaker, it has a 4-inch carbon-fiber woofer and an X-ART tweeter. The speakers sell for $800 a pair (the next model up, the ARTist 5, goes for $1,200 a pair). The ARTist 3 is a bi-amped design, and each speaker has separate 25 watt Class A/B amps for the woofer and tweeter. The ARTist 3 is available in high gloss black and white finishes. They come with grilles, but I never took them out of the box.

Connectivity options are broader than what you get with most desktop speakers, there's RCA, XLR, and a USB 1.1 port that feeds a 48-kHz/16-bit DAC on the back panel, plus a 3.5 mm input upfront. The rear panel has a tweeter level control, and a slotted port near the top of the rear panel. Each speaker has a volume control, but you can tie two ARTist 3s together via the included "Stereo Link" cable, that allows you to control both speakers with one volume control. I used the ARTist 3 as a desktop monitor, with my Halide DAC HD inline from my Mac Mini computer, but I can't see why they couldn't be used as hi-fi speakers in very small rooms. The speakers can be oriented vertically or horizontally.

Adam Audio
(516) 681 0690 (in U.S.)

donunus's picture

I am loving these pro audio/audiophile desktop speaker hybrids. They really make things easy for non-audiophiles to get started in getting great sound out of the box.

Now I am wishing someone makes a self powered harbeth monitor :) I really dig the sound of those speakers. Not that I don't like Adam or emotiva, its just that I haven't heard their signature yet for me to just go out buying them without auditioning.

talyz's picture

Have you heard of or heard the Blue Sky eXo2s? They're active 2.1 speakers for pro audio at home. Compared to most 2.1 systems for home use, the satellites are quite big allowing for a lower crossover between them and the sub and both the satellites and the sub are sealed - also (unfortunately) quite rare for a 2.1 system. To me they sound very flat and accurate in the time domain, but I haven't seen any measurements to confirm this.

I think they would be perfect for anyone who wants a small, active full-range speaker system at home.

Merck's picture

I agree with you dononus. I don't own a speaker setup at the moment. Only a simple headphone setup. As much as I would love to upgrade to a home theater room with thousands of dollars worth of equipment its just not going to be the next step for me. A desktop setup like the one reviewed here would be much more likely which is perfect since almost all of my music is from a computer source. One of the many things I really enjoy about this site is the variety of equipment reviewed outside of headphones. Perhaps I'll get a home theater room one day but I will have a fun journey before I arrive at that avenue.

Rex's picture

I've been thinking for some time that you could get a lot of good sound out of studio monitors without paying for "hifi nonsense". In particular I like the fact that they are small and include (hopefully) complementary amplification. Also they are easy to feed with a good DAC and lossless material from a computer.

But I can't figure one thing out. Is it a big deal that they are near fields? Even with a sub?

I'm looking forward to seeing more monitor reviews. Focals perhaps? Kudos for having a great site!

will65's picture

The only price I can find is $1,000 per pair and you say in the review that they're $800 per pair. Where did you find them for $800 per pair?