The Definitive Adam Audio T5V Review
Adam Audio bring their renowned technology and sound to the home recording studio
Reviewed by: Paul Narang
Review date: Feb 2023
Adam Audio T5V Review
Clear precise sound
Sparkling highs and impressive lows
|Power LED at rear
Adam Audio T5V Review
Adam Audio are renowned for their precise and detailed studio monitors. The T5Vs are no exception, offering startlingly clear and detailed sound at a budget price. With a 5 inch woofer and a compact housing, they’re a fantastic option for any small studio.
What are they?
Adam Audio are known in the music industry as manufacturers of some of the best studio monitors on the market. But until now, they’ve been out of reach for most home studio owners due to the prohibitive price point.
Enter the new T series, which bring the trademark Adam sound and innovative technology to the entry-level market. Adam Audio’s T5Vs are small two-way nearfield budget monitors designed specifically for smaller rooms.
If you’re just starting out in music production, a laptop, an interface and decent pair of headphones might be all you need. But headphones have their limitations, especially when mixing the lower bass frequencies. This is where a trustworthy pair of monitors becomes an essential tool in getting an accurate sound.
The Adam Audio T5V offer excellent value for anyone transitioning from headphones, or buying their fist pair of studio monitors. The U-Art ribbon tweeters are based on the same technology used in the more upmarket A and S ranges, and offer a similarly sparkly and detailed sound.
Despite the T5V’s compact size, the low end is surprisingly effective. And the overall their sound is extremely detailed and clear.
Let’s see how they perform in this Adam Audio T5V review.
In the box
The Adam T5V studio monitors are sold singly, not as a pair. Each one arrived in a well padded cardboard box. There’s no included audio cables, which is common practice for professional studio monitors.
- Mains cable
- Operating manual
Adam Audio T5V Controls
The front of the monitor has a clean, uncluttered design, and so you’ll find all of the controls on the back panel. There you will find a
- power switch
- volume control
- high and low frequency switches
- input sensitivity switch
With active monitors like the T5V’s, the volume control isn’t used like a conventional volume knob on a hifi system. The volume is turned up and down from your computer or mixer, and the control on the studio monitor is used to balance the relative levels of each speaker. This is for getting the optimum stereo image when the monitors are placed in an asymmetrical room.
High frequency switch
This is a high shelf equalisation filter which affects the higher frequencies above 5kHz. This is a similar range to the treble setting on a hifi. There’s three settings:
- 0dB has no effect
If your monitors are placed well (see below), and your room is reasonably symmetrical, it’s best to leave the high frequency switch on 0dB for a flat response.
- +2dB boosts the high frequencies
If you have a lot of acoustic treatment targeting only the higher frequencies (eg foam panels), rather than the bass frequencies, you might need to switch on the +2dB to compensate.
-2dB cuts the high frequencies
Use this setting if your listening environment has too many reflective surfaces, and is causing the T5Vs to sound too bright.
Low frequency switch
This is a low shelf equalisation filter which affects the lower frequencies below 300 Hz, similar to the bass control on a hifi. There’s three settings:
- +2 dB exaggerates the bass
If you play back some reference tracks you’re already familiar with, and notice the bass is getting lost, try implementing the +2dB setting
- -2 dB reduces the bass
As the speakers are rear ported, there’s a risk they become too boomy when placed against a wall. Engaging the -2db cut will help to counteract this.
- 0dB has no affect
Every environment is different, so it’s best to put the monitors in place without any switches activated at first. After some hours of listening, and once you’re familiar with the sound, see what the eq settings sound good.
Input sensitivity switch
The input sensitivity switch toggles between +4db and -10db.
Set it to +4db when using the balanced XLR input, and -10db when using the unbalanced RCA input.
Input connections on the Adam Audio T5Vs
- 2 x RCA phono inputs (unbalanced)
- 1 x XLR inputs (balanced)
Adam Audio’s T5V monitors give you the option of connecting via RCA or XLR via the rear panel. The big difference between the two is that RCA connectors are ‘unbalanced’, and the XLR inputs are ‘balanced’.
The advantage of balanced cables is their ability to counteract noise and electrical interference. This is particularly useful when running cables over longer distances, as they are more likely to pick up noise this way.
However, the RCA input can be useful in taking an output from a DJ mixer, headphone jack or any consumer level equipment.
These two types of inputs, balanced and unbalanced, carry different signal levels, so there’s an input sensitivity switch to toggle between them. The +4db setting is for when using balanced XLR cables, and -10db is for unbalanced RCA cables.
Connecting the Adam T5Vs to an audio interface
The best way to connect the Adam T5V monitors to a computer is through an audio interface. Some of the more professional interfaces have stereo XLR outputs, and for these use balanced XLR to XLR cables (shown in the diagram).
However many smaller audio interfaces don’t have XLR outputs – they have two ¼” TRS outputs instead. In this case, use a pair of balanced ¼” TRS to XLR cables.
Connecting the Adam Audio T5V without an audio interface
If you don’t have an audio interface, you can use the unbalanced RCA inputs. If the device you’re connecting to has RCA outputs, like a hifi or mixer, simply use a pair of RCA to RCA cables.
And if you want to connect the T5Vs to a phone, or headphone port on your laptop, use a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack to stereo RCA cable (shown in the diagram).
Does the Adam Audio T5V have bluetooth?
Unfortunately, the T5Vs don’t have any bluetooth connectivity. But if wireless connectivity is important for you, you can buy a bluetooth receiver, and connect it to the monitors via RCA cables.
Bear in mind though, for mixing purposes, a bluetooth stream doesn’t match the quality of using either balanced or unbalanced cables.
Adam Audio T5V – Construction and design
The Adam Audio T5V looks sleek and professional. For those familiar with Adam Audio speakers, there are many features which are instantly recognisable as signatures of the brand.
The concertina look of the U-Art tweeter is visually striking, and the appearance of the HPS waveguide (the small indented area surrounding the tweeter) is similar to more upmarket models.
The cabinet is bevelled in the upper corners, which as well as looking stylish helps to reduce unwanted room reflections. It’s coloured in sleek matte black which contrasts the natural gloss of the 5-inch polypropylene woofer.
The front of the unit is simple and clean, with only the Adam Audio logo at the bottom. The minimal design is made possible by positioning all of the controls and information on the rear.
The Adam Audio T5V is rear-ported. A port is a small hole designed to relieve air pressure from within the cabinet, which like many studio monitors, is situated on the back of the unit.
A certain amount of low frequency sound comes through the rear port, so there is the risk of too much boominess if the speaker is positioned too close to the wall. This is where the high frequency switch can be activated if there’s nowhere else to place the monitors.
One feature that baffled me was the power LED at the rear of the speaker. Surely this is taking minimal design too far? It’s just a small niggle, and overall these speakers combine stylish and practical design with an extremely high build quality.
Woofers and tweeters
The Adam Audio brand is known for its crystal clear sound. This is in no small part due to the specialised design of the tweeters in all Adam speakers. They’re capable of reproducing high frequencies with startling clarity and detail.
Previously, Adam’s patented Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter could only be found in their more upmarket monitors – the A and S series. But with the introduction of the T-series, including the T5V, they adapted the technology to create the U-ART tweeter.
All ART-type ribbon tweeters have a unique pleated diaphragm, where the folds expand and compress like a concertina in response to the audio signal. It’s a much more efficient design than conventional tweeters, and allows them to efficiently move more air.
The ribbon tweeter in the T5V is able to reproduce frequencies beyond the range of human hearing up to 25kHz.
Below the tweeter is a 5 inch woofer made from polypropylene, handling frequencies down to 45Hz.
DSP technology is used to manage the crossover frequency between the tweeter and the woofer. It’s set at 3kHz, and on careful listening, I couldn’t detect any inaccuracies at all at this point.
Together, both speakers work seamlessly to provide extremely detailed and clear reproduction across the frequency range.
Inside the Adam Audio T5V studio monitor
The Adam Audio T5Vs are active studio monitors. These means each speaker has its own amplifier built into the case. They need their own power supplies, which plug directly into the mains.
Both the woofer and the tweeter are individually powered by Class D amplifiers (20 W for tweeter, 50 W for the woofer). An advantage of the bi-amped system is being able to match each driver with the most suitable amp for optimum sound quality.
The Class D, or Pulse Width Modulation amps used in the T5Vs are highly efficient. It’s a transformerless design, meaning they don’t get too hot while running for long periods.
Height and weight
The dimensions and weight of each Adam Audio T5V is:
- Height: 11.7″ (298 mm)
- Width: 7″ (179 mm)
- Depth: 11.7″ (297mm)
- Weight: 12.6 lbs (5.7 kg)
The height and weight of the T5V is similar to other comparable 5” studio monitor speakers, with perhaps a little more depth than some.
Adam Audio T5V Frequency response
Like many Adam Audio speakers, the T5Vs offer a relatively flat frequency response, ranging from 45Hz to 25kHz. Any variation from a flat line is limited to around plus or minus 2dB, which makes them well suited to critical listening.
On listening, I detected a slight lift from the midrange upwards (above 2kHz. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as it did enable me to hear all the fine details in the higher frequency range.
If I was to be ultra critical, the lower mids where probably the weakest area, though the lower range (below 200Hz) was really impressive for such small speakers.
Overall, the Adam Audio’s T5Vs produce a clear, flat and accurate sound across the frequency spectrum, giving them the leading edge over most speakers at a similar price point.
Adam Audio T5V Waveguides
One key feature of the T5V is the HPS Waveguide. A waveguide is designed to influence how sound waves travel. It’s usually a small indented or angled section of the casing surrounding the tweeter.
As the name suggests, it literally ‘guides’ the soundwave and influences the pattern of dispersal. This can help manage room reflections, and improve the way the woofer and tweeter interact with each other.
The HPS Waveguide on the Adam Audio T5V ensures a very even dispersal of high frequency sound across the horizontal plane. In practice this gives the speakers have a wide sweet spot, and an accurate frequency response.
The wide sweet spot is useful as it means you don’t have to stick to a rigid position when mixing. It’s also crucial if you have more than one person listening to the monitors at the same time.
Where to place your Adam Audio T5V monitors
To get the best sound from your Adam Audio T5Vs, you need to think carefully about how to position them in your room.
Reference speakers like the T5Vs are usually ‘nearfield’ monitors. This means that they’re designed to be listened to at close range from a fixed position.
Monitors perform best when placed in the most symmetrical part of the room. And keep them at least 16 inches away from the wall to ensure an even bass response.
Creating a balanced stereo image
For optimum stereo imaging, place the T5V monitors with the tweeters around ear-height, pointing towards your ears. They should ideally be 3 feet in front of your listening position and around 3 feet apart from each other.
They can be placed on speaker stands of on your desktop. Use foam isolation pads to reduce resonance from the desk or the floor, and keep the bass tight and focused.
I left the T5V’s playing for a few hours to make sure they were sufficiently broke in before testing. I was immediately struck by the clarity, detail and musicality. The premium sound coming from these small budget monitors was impressive – they sound far more expensive.
The stereo image was spot on, with a wide sweet spot. I was aware of a vivid sense of the left-to-right soundstage as well as a satisfying front-to-back depth.
The sound is clear and clean, as the total harmonic distortion is rated at just 0.5% at 80Hz. There was no audible distortion even when cranking them up. But be careful, they’re loud, offering a max SPL per pair of 106dB!
Adam Audio’s T5V monitors seem to hit a balance between technical accuracy and musicality. The overall sound is flat and detailed enough to be trustworthy for analytical listening and mixing. But not at the expense of the listening experience – these are sweet sounding, highly musical monitors which are a joy to listen to.
The highs are never harsh or fatiguing, and the midrange is present with lots of detail. Whilst a 5 inch woofer can never deliver the full range of sub-frequencies, the bass on the Adam T5V is really impressive given the compact size.
Overall these budget monitors have the premium performance that you’d expect from Adam Audio. But at a fraction of the price.
Verdict: The best small monitors?
The compact size and small footprint of the Adam Audio T5V makes them ideal for smaller rooms and studios. A clear, detailed sound and flat response makes them ideal for mixing. The T5Vs are particularly impressive in the high range, but also offer a clear bass response, never becoming muddy.
With the T Series, Adam Audio have successfully adapted the innovative technology used in their premium S and A series speakers for the budget market. The result is a speaker that sounds far better than it should for the price.
If you’re building a home recording studio, and looking to invest in quality studio monitors at a budget price, Adam Audio’s T5Vs should be at the top of your list.
Need more bass?
The bass on the T5Vs sounds great, but as with any 5″ studio monitor they’ll only go so low. Depending on the kind of music you produce, you might need speakers which extend lower than 45Hz. If you need some bass extension, there are some other option from Adam.
Also in the Adam Audio T Series, is the T7V and the T8V. These speakers have the same design and features as the T5V, but with 7 and 8 inch woofers respectively. The T7V’s low range extends a bit further down to 39Hz, whilst the T8V extends even lower to 33Hz.
Another option is to extend the bass with a subwoofer. The T10S is a 10-inch SubWoofer unit designed by Adam Audio to be used with the T5V or T7V monitors.
It’s fairly compact, and extends down to a bone rattling 28Hz. This is great if you produce bass-heavy electronic genres like techno, hip hop or other types of club music.
Of course, the deeper the bass, the bigger your room needs to be if you want to have an accurate sound. Adding a subwoofer gives you options further down the line, especially if you move into a larger mixing space.
Adam Audio T5V vs KRK Rokit 5 G4
KRK’s Rokit series have long been favourites in the starter speaker market. With their distinctive bright yellow styling, the KRK Rokits are a quality, budget friendly option for the home studio. So how does KRK Rokit 5 compare to the Adam Audio T5V?
Firstly, there’s some design differences between the two. The KRKs are front-ported, meaning they’ll suffer less when placed close to a wall.
The Rokit 5s also have far more more customisable EQ options. There’s a small screen with a graphic equaliser which can also be controlled by an app. This gives them a lot of flexibility when setting them up for your room.
In terms of sound, the Rokit 5s are certainly more pronounced in the low end. This gives them a less transparent sound, sometimes getting a bit muddy in the lower mids. In the upper range they have a nice balanced sound, but they can’t compete with the high-fidelity and sparkle offered by the Adam’s U-ART ribbon tweeters.
In choosing between the two, it will depend on your needs. The KRKs are slightly cheaper and have a deep bass, so might be better suited for use with DJ decks or as bedroom speakers. But if you are looking for affordable speakers for recording and mixing, the Adam T5V is a clear winner.
Adam Audio T5V vs Yamaha HS5
Yamaha’s 8-inch HS8 monitors have long been industry standard in recording studios around the world. Yamaha introduced a smaller 5” version for the home market, complete with the signature white woofers.
These studio monitors are prized for their unforgiving frequency response which have even the best producers working hard to get a good mix. So how do they compare to the Adam Audio’s T5Vs?
Both speakers have premium sound and a high build quality. Between the two, the devil is in the details. The Yamaha HS5s have a less pronounced bottom end, as well as a reduced low range which only extends down to 54Hz (vs the Adam’s 45Hz). This means that for bass-heavy genres of music the Yamaha’s really need to be paired with a subwoofer to give a full low-range.
Another difference is that the Yamaha’s are boosted in the mids and high mids at around 1kHz. It’s this area that gives them that unforgiving (harsh!) sound which tends to highlight problematic areas in the mix. The Adam monitors, by contrast, have a smoother mid-range but more sparkle and detail in the high end thanks to the patented ribbon tweeter.
Both of these budget monitors are great options, so ultimately it will come down to personal preference. The Adam Audio T5Vs are flat enough for analytical listening whilst also sounding more musical. The extra clarity in the high end can really help with spotting sonic details, and the extra 9Hz available in the low range make a big difference to how much bass you hear.
For these reasons I would personally recommend the Adam Audio T5Vs over the Yamaha HS5s.
The Adam Audio T5Vs offer an impressively clear and detailed sound that you would normally expect from far more expensive speakers. Perfect for anyone setting up a home studio, looking to create quality mixes.