Background to the ART Tweeter’s Development
In 1999, the world of Pro Audio was about to welcome a newcomer into the fold,
offering a new take on Professional sound monitoring, particuarly in studio environments.
Adam Audio was founded in Berlin, Germany by physicist Klaus Heinz and Roland Stenz, an electrical engineer who had formed this new company on the basis of their exciting development; the A.R.T (Accelerating Ribbon Technology) Tweeter. It sound rather esoteric, and probably is, but the effect is to take the quality of sound output from monitor tweeters to a new level.
As an aside, if you’re wondering what I mean by ‘tweeter’, it’s the small speaker cone that handles high frequency sounds and is usually found near the top of a speaker unit (the large cone beneath it is the woofer and handles low frequencies i.e. bass).
This new tweeter and as it happens, Adam Audio itself, was based on the invention of the “Air Motion Transformer” by Oscar Heil from the 1960’s.
Heil’s transformer was designed to work in a very different way to that of existing
electrodynamic systems such as moving coil or electrostatic speakers, moving air in an augmented, semi-perpendicular motion. This air is then fed through a folded material constructed around aluminium supporting “struts”, contained within an intense magnetic field.
What’s Clever about the ART?
In the ART tweeter, a folded ribbon design is used which can move air 4 times faster than the actual folds themselves are moving, producing phenomenally quick transient response with extremely low distortion. By allowing air to move in a more natural, quicker way ADAM had created a fresh tweeter design to complement the advances in driver technology available on the market today, with new materials like rare-earth magnets and super strong magnet foils.
After extensive testing in their factory in Berlin, the final ART design was complete.
Interestingly, these original models were constructed individually by hand and, to date, they still are. This highlights another difference in company ethic from today’s mass
produced approach to product construction.
When launched, the newly designed tweeter, which pushed new realms of innovation, was received with some astonishment in pro audio circles and was to become the embodiment of what ADAM are now known for; clean, natural, detailed response.
Where did Adam Audio go Next?
Having established a respected grounding in the Pro Audio Market with their “P” & “S” series monitors, (most notably the S3A monitor becoming the choice of many top studios worldwide for nearfield monitoring), Adam launched the A7 model.
This became an instant hit as an “affordable” active monitor offering a professional, accurate solution for home/project studios gaining them over 2 dozen rave reviews worldwide.
With this success, Adam didn’t stop there, they continued to innovate.
10 years after their conception, Adam built upon the success of their ART Tweeter, with the invention of the X-ART (eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology) design.
By totally redesigning their ART system, Adam has improved response now boasting 4dB higher efficiency and a capability of reproducing frequencies accurately up to 50kHz. By pleating their ribbon tweeter, they have increased the surface area available for it to perform, actually building into a 3-dimensional design – something standard dome (fabric or metal) just cannot physically achieve. This results in higher, controlled output with a larger dispersion area for sound to be projected. In general terms, more sound, more detail and wider projection.
To finally realise and power this new advancement in tweeter design, Adam also developed a custom A/B amplifier with an impressive bandwidth of up to 300kHz allowing their new design to truly perform to it’s intended potential.
A third unique design concept employed by Adam was instrumental in allowing them to create what many studio managers regard as a demonstably superior performing monitor. This was “Impulse Coupling” (IC).
This is a method in construction which greatly improves the way drivers are connected to the surrounding wooden cabinet. This works on the principle devised by Sir Isaac Newton “action = reaction” where the forces created by a moving driver are transferred through to the surrounding wooden cabinet. Having an extremely stiff connection between components and casing results in maximum transference of energy (or sound) with minimal loss of clarity and detail.
With this new line of developments, Adam totally redesigned their range of monitors to include this major advancement in technology. Thus the “AX” and “SX” range was born.
This advancement in their range was met with exceptionally positive response from it’s already loyal userbase.
The widely regarded as classic, S3a Monitor received an update, transforming into the S3X, offering tighter deeper bass response, and taking advantage of the X-ART system for delicate, more revealing highs.
To put the industry standing of this company into perspective, the update to their now-legendary A7 studio monitor, with the announcement of the A7X, won Adam the Sound on Sound Best Monitor Award for 2 years running (Sound on Sound is the recording industry’s leading trade publication).
Broadening Access to X-ART Technology
In 2012 Adam added to their line of Pro Monitoring with a totally new series; the F Range.
This was introduced to sit below the AX series as a more affordable entry point into the professional world of Adam Monitors. A 7” and 5” version is available, along with a matched active subwoofer. The X-ART tweeter is still employed by these models, and share the same ADAM character of sound. Now even more people, from a broader range of backgrounds can experience the benefits of Adam monitoring in their audio productions.
By initially developing a new approach to monitor design and then steadily building upon it with innovations in every part of the signal and soundwave path, the Adam company has established a reputation for being less of a product marketing business and more of a cutting-edge research house. That’s quite an achievement in an industry typified by swathes of never-ending ‘new’ products.
By Andy Atkins
Andy writes about music gear a lot – whether it’s amps for gigging guitarists or pro studio gear. He’s been writing professionally on the subject for over 5 years and has written for many of the major names in the UK and is widely published. As he can still lift a PA speaker, he continues to gig occasionally.