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ADAM P33A Powered Monitor

ADAM studio monitors are designed to be a no-compromise speaker intended for engineers and producers interested in the truest possible reproduction of their recordings. The first time I heard ADAM speakers was at an AES show several years ago.

Fast FactsApplications: Studio, project studio, broadcast, post production

Key Features: Three-way; twin 7-inch Nomex cone woofers; Accelerated Ribbon Technology tweeter; three 100W onboard amplifiers

Price: $3,200 per pair

Contact: ADAM Audio USA at 805-413-1133, studio monitors are designed to be a no-compromise speaker intended for engineers and producers interested in the truest possible reproduction of their recordings. The first time I heard ADAM speakers was at an AES show several years ago. The thing that impressed me the most about the demonstration was that it included both good and bad sounding recording with the purpose of showing the accuracy of ADAM monitors. Unfortunately, there are several popular monitors out there that make pretty much everything sound good; perhaps a good thing for a music enthusiast but not a good thing for a producer or engineer. The ADAM monitors reveal the true sound of a recording; good recordings sound good and bad sounding recordings sound bad. This is exactly what you need when mixing an album.

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The $3,200/pair P33A is a three-way active bass reflex speaker and is an excellent choice for engineers and producers who want the advantages of ADAM’s unique mirrored S3A design at a lower price point. Like the S3A, one woofer acts as a full-range driver while the second woofer reproduces only the frequencies below 150 Hz. This unique approach essentially doubles the area and power of the woofer when responding to lower frequencies, resulting in exceptional low-end reproduction without compromising the midrange performance.

The P33A is a shielded, triamped (with three 100W amplifiers) box that delivers exceptional dynamic performance. The P33As are designed to work either horizontally or vertically. For proper performance, the full-range woofers should be mirror images of each other. I used the speakers in several different control rooms and in most cases preferred the horizontal placement although there were a couple of scenarios where vertical placement provided better monitoring. The speaker, which has a frequency response of 34 Hz – 35 kHz, has a 7-inch (182 mm) Nomex cone woofer and an A.R.T. (Accelerated Ribbon Technology) tweeter.

The unique A.R.T. tweeter design is based on the original works of Dr. Oskar Heil, who invented the “Air Motion Transformer” in 1972. Typically, loudspeaker drive units, whether they are voice coil-driven, electrostatics, piezos or magnetostatics, act like a piston, moving air in a 1:1 ratio. The A.R.T. design incorporates a membrane consisting of a lamella-like folded diaphragm whose single folds move according to the alternate current, thus squeezing air in and out. This design achieves a 4:1 velocity transformation between the driving diaphragm and the driven air. This means the air moves in and out four times faster than the folds are moving. The A.R.T. tweeters have an above average efficiency of ~93 dB/W/m, a perfectly linear impedance of 3.2 ± 0.05 ohms, and an equally perfect phase response of ± 1 degree within the used bandwidth.

The P33A weighs 34 pounds and is 20 inches (500mm) wide x 9 inches (230mm) high x 11 inches (280mm) deep. A green LED, mounted in the ribbon tweeter baffle, illuminates to verify that the power is on and the speakers are active. Located on the rear panel of the speaker is a power switch, a balanced female XLR input and four recessed continuous trim pots for input gain, high and low room EQ, and an additional high-gain control. The input trim pot offers ±10 dB of boost or cut, useful for matching amp outputs and L/R alignment. The high-gain trim pot controls the overall tweeter level providing ±4 dB of gain change. Two shelving EQ controls provide ±3 dB gain change for shelving points starting at 150 Hz (low) and 6 kHz (high).

In Use

I’ve been a fan of ADAM monitors since mixing a concert DVD for the band Mercy Me on a set of S3As nearly two years ago so I couldn’t wait to give the P33s a listen. I set the P33As up and found them to sound great with all of the controls set to flat. I used the monitors nonstop for two weeks while tracking, overdubbing and mixing an EP for Washington D.C.-based Hotspur and I found them to have fabulous imaging and definition and to be some of the least fatiguing speakers that I have encountered. The sound of the tweeter is unlike any other monitors that I’ve heard (except for other ADAM monitors) and to some this might be described as an acquired taste.

The monitors are plenty loud for rock star playback levels when the band comes into the control room to listen down to their take and I found that there was plenty of low-end punch and oomph without the use of a sub in most control rooms.

The P33As provide a noticeably wider and deeper sweet spot than most monitors making the typically cramped sweet spot a bit more comfortable. Although the sweet spot was wider when using the monitors in the horizontal position than in the vertical position, the vertically placed monitors still had far better imaging than most studio monitors.

While the low frequency clarity of the P33As is good, it is somewhat lacking in comparison to the S3As. I hate to compare the two because the S3A is substantially more money ($5,350 per pair) so it should sound better but that was the one thing that I missed in working with the P33As in comparison to the S3As.


Anyone looking for an exceptional sounding, robust, powered closefield monitor should give the P33As an audition.