Upgrading the monitors here at the Grey Brick Recording Studio has been on the to do list for a while. Up until now I have been working on my trusty Mackie MR8 MKIIs, and while they have served me very well for years I started to notice their limitations. When I moved the studio down here to San Diego, one of my main goals was to improve the accuracy of my monitoring. My first focus in the new studio was to invest a lot into the acoustics of my control room by building more effective bass traps and adding more broadband absorption and diffusion, since it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure the room sounds good before investing a lot into monitors themselves. Working on the room greatly improved the sound of my monitors but it also started to reveal some of their shortcomings. Once I finished treating the new room I realized that I had invested three times the amount my Mackies are worth on the acoustics, so I thought maybe it was finally time to upgrade.
The main things I was looking for in a new set of monitors was a more full and accurate bass, and smoother less harsh upper mids and highs. I narrowed my search down to two pairs: Dynaudio BM5 mkIIIs and Adam A7Xs. I demoed the Dynaudios at a store here in San diego, and while I was very impressed with the bass, I felt like there was something missing and a little empty in the mids. I also felt like the high end might be a little grating after long hours of use. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the Adams A7Xs personally, but I got a very good recommendation for them from another engineer I used to work with who uses them in his personal studio. So after crossing the Dynaudios off my list I decided to go with the Adams.
After working on the Adams A7Xs for a couple weeks now, I can say that they are awesome and I am very satisfied. The bass is indeed much fuller and more even than on the old Mackies. The front ports on the Adam A7Xs really help move a lot more air, and I think that having the ports on the front of the speaker rather than in the rear (like the Mackie MR8 MKIIs) helps to keep the bass more even throughout the room by avoiding putting as much bass energy in the corners. I was also pleasantly surprised at how smooth the high end is. Adam uses a unique ribbon tweeter design that allows their speakers to reproduce extremely high frequencies. Because of this, I assumed that the A7Xs might be pretty bright, but instead I found that the high end is very pleasing. Another side effect of the smoothness in the highs is the Adam A7Xs have a lower apparent volume than the Mackie MR8 MKIIs did. If I set both sets of speakers to a level of about 85 decibels with a sound pressure meter the Adams just feel a little quieter and less in-your-face. This is great because it means that they seem to fatigue my ears significantly less after a full day of mixing than my old Mackies did. Finally, the new monitors have a much better transient response. Everything just sounds a little bit sharper and more clearly defined.
As a result of upgrading the monitors in the recording studio, my mixes have been translating significantly better outside of the room here at the Grey Brick. This means my mixes sound more consistent across more playback systems in different settings. The new speakers help me get better results and make mixing more enjoyable. Overall I am very happy with the upgrade.