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MSRP:$349; Street:$249.99

By Jon Chappell, Harmony Central Senior Editor

Adam is a well-known name in high-end audio, with their A and AX Series speakers found in many pro studios. But  Adam’s technology and commitment to quality can be found in their other product lines too, which is good news for project studio owners and audio aficionados of more modest means or scaled-down needs. adam\_audio\_f5\_front\_web.jpgThe F Series is a two-way active monitor system that currently comes in two models: the F5 and the F7, both of which can be matched to the SubF subwoofer, in situations where increased bass response is required. Except for size, the F7 and F5 are equivalent in terms of technology and features. I got a chance to review a pair of F5s.

Overview

The F5 bi-amped active-electronics monitor comprises a cabinet that measures 11.5" x 7.5" x 9", housing a 5-inch woofer and a 3-inch tweeter. The cabinet construction is professional and attractive, with a couple of nice touches that enhance sound production, including chamfered edges and a slightly-flared front-facing port. The F5’s tweeter features Adam’s 4:1-geared Air Motion Transformer (AMT) technology and folded-membrane construction for handling the high end.

Features

The back panel is where most of the functionality and features of the F5 reside.adaf5\_rearweb.jpg Input connections can be accommodated by a quarter-inch TRS/XLR Combi jack (for balanced or unbalanced signals) or by unbalanced RCA jacks. You can plug cables into both the combi and RCA jacks simultaneously, but the RCA jacks will take precedence. This allows you to use more than one source at a time while keeping cable plugging to a minimum.

Also on the back panel are the controls that help shape the sound. There are two shelving EQ trim pots, at 300 Hz and 5 kHz, respectively, and a level control that tops out at a healthy +6dB. An 80Hz high-pass filter switch can be engaged for when the F5 is used as a satellite in conjunction with a subwoofer. Wall-mount collars, a 220V/115V switch, and a rocker power switch round out the controls on the F5’s rear panel.

The well-written owner's manual provides many tips and suggestions on how to set up the F5s for a variety of situations: stereo, surround sound, vertical as well as horizontal orientation, optimal listening angles, etc.

In Use

I used my F5 pair in a stereo configuration, without a subwoofer. Most of my testing was done using the combi-jack connection, because I was interested in testing these speakers in a recording environment, rather than a hi-fi one. I ran a variety of program material through the speakers, including acoustic string band instrumentals, classical ensembles, techno music, and a variety of high-resolution, 24-bit, two-track stereo audio. And just for fun, I listened to several binaural recordings and was very impressed with the F5’s imaging capabilities. The so-called “ 3-D” of binaural recordings is supposed to work best with headphones, but the F5s proved more than up to the task of re-creating the effect.

Conclusions

Where the F5s really shined was in dealing with mixed down stereo material. Though you certainly wouldn't mistake these speakers for the full-throated results found inhigher-end Adam models, the F5’s crisp sound and fidelity more than surpassed expectations - especially when considering their under-$250 price point. I would not hesitate to use the F5s to mix multi-track recordings down to MP3's or even to CDs or high-res recordings in many situations. What struck me most about the F5s was not their technical precision -- though they certainly exhibited plenty of that -- but the pleasant listening experience they created in such a variety of settings. If you are looking for a quality playback system in a set of smaller speakers that won't break the bank, the F5s will be right at home in your project studio or multimedia workstation.

1 comment
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philippe75r  |  September 10, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Thanks Jon for the review! You did say that you were listening to various musics but I would have appreciated to get more details about it like we can find in this complementary review of F5 such as: presence of winds on this track, reaction to kick drums and basses...

Anyway, thanks for this article!

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