Adam Audio S3H Active Studio Monitor
The S3H builds on the successes of ADAM Audio’s most popular studio monitors, the S3A and S3X-H, and, like its predecessors, sets new standards in terms of technical innovation and design.
The dual 7-inch bass drivers, powered by a 500 W Class D amplifier, offer flawless reproduction of frequencies all the way down to 30 Hz. ADAM Audio’s newly developed DCH, a 4-inch hybrid dome/cone mid-range driver, is powered by a 300 W Class D amplifier and handles audio above 250 Hz and below 3 kHz, its leading-edge hybrid design offering the sonic advantages of both cone and soft-dome drivers in a single, one-piece unit. Frequencies above 3 kHz are routed to the innovative combination of the S-ART treble driver (each handmade at ADAM Audio’s Berlin factory), the new precision HPS waveguide, and a 50 W Class A/B amplifier. The result of all this innovation is a beautifully transparent three-dimensional soundscape, with an extensive sweet spot.
The S Series’ custom-designed DSP optimizes the loudspeaker crossovers to create linear responses for the entire range, as well as providing user equalization and in-room tuning/voicing functions. A unique feature of the S3H’s DSP options is a built-in factory EQ preset that emulates the response of ADAM Audio’s legendary S3A monitor. The DSP also handles the limiter-based high-frequency driver protection, processes the signals from the AES3 digital inputs, and will in time facilitate various expansion options. Software updates can be carried out with ease via the associated USB port, which also allows users to connect computers and control the speakers’ DSP functions via a software front-end.
With its massively powerful amplification and three-way design (optimally configured for use horizontally), the S3H was conceived as a midfield monitor but can be employed equally well in more compact listening environments. As with all ADAM Audio designs, the sound is punchy but musical, with crystal-clear reproduction of the all-important mid-range.
The S3H’s wide-ranging frequency response, its power amps’ instantly available, plentiful headroom, and the lack of need for additional subwoofers should appeal to any audio professional looking for a stand-alone, full-frequency active solution for their recording studio, one which provides equally detailed audio information at any volume setting, loud or quiet. Whatever your preferred output level, the S3H’s vibrant authenticity is a spur to creativity for producers, engineers and musicians everywhere, and its sound remains remarkably unfatiguing, even when working uninterrupted for extended periods.
State of the Art Technology
ADAM Audio monitors have earned a worldwide reputation as the preeminent tool for sound engineers based on technological innovations that we’ve established in the field of loudspeaker technology.
ELE Bass Driver
The S Series ELE bass driver (short for Extended Linear Excursion) is a custom design created especially for and in parallel with the S Series cabinet and bass-reflex system. Realized by an ingenious combination of human engineering skills and the latest computer modelling techniques, it guarantees accurate audio reproduction at an extremely high-resolution thanks to the precision-designed relationship between its low weight, optimized inner damping and highly rigid honeycomb cone, in conjunction with a basket which has been developed to eliminate unwanted resonance and distortion. The result is a bass driver that offers audio professionals clarity and transparency hitherto inexperienced in low-frequency audio reproduction, operating with great precision even at high sound pressure levels.
Another notable feature of the ELE driver is its mechanical suspension, which operates optimally even over large excursions in either direction, allowing bass frequencies to be reproduced without distortion at high SPLs. Low-frequency energy is not limited as it is on similar systems, and the dynamics of the original audio are preserved in full. ‘Softer’, less highly tensioned driver suspensions may allow uncontrolled displacement at high SPLs. The highly tensioned linear S Series suspension system, by contrast, dampens the movements of the membrane at high output levels in a controlled manner and returns it to its rest position. The suspension is extremely robust and ensures distortion-free reproduction across the entire audible frequency spectrum.
The newly created long-throw speaker surround was also carefully engineered to be considerably more resilient than competing modern designs. This greatly increases the maximum possible excursion of the driver membrane, improving dynamic range and reducing distortion.
Finally, the loudspeaker basket is anodized by means of a specially optimized process during manufacture: the material’s black finish absorbs heat and provides another means by which the driver is kept cool.
DCH Midrange Driver
The 100mm (4 inches) mid-range driver, newly designed by ADAM Audio’s engineering department for the S Series, is a hybrid design: part cone and part dome driver. The extremely rigid one-piece drive element combines the clean decay characteristic and linear frequency response of a dome driver with the high excursion advantages of a cone driver, audibly improving transparency in the critical mid-range and producing excellent, distortion-free reproduction at high output levels. In conjunction with the high-quality S Series suspension, which properly controls large-scale excursions, the wobble is completely excluded. In addition, the DCH’s output extends down an octave further than competing mid-range drivers (as far as 200 Hz), ensuring a clean and consistent dispersion without tonal colouration.
The DCH is manufactured using a specially laminated carbon composite material and its domed form renders it very stable. It behaves like a piston up to 8 kHz (one and a half octaves beyond its operational frequency response), does not produce unwanted vibrations and does not deform, even at high output levels. Unwanted ringing and resonances, of the kind, that obscure sonic detail and produce listening fatigue, are almost completely excluded, and reproduction remains extremely clean across the driver’s entire operating frequency range.
The robust construction of the DCH also allows it to be placed nearer to the S-ART treble driver. Together, the pair act as a more coherent sound source for the all-important mid-range information, making overall dispersion wider, more consistent and more accurate. Several features resembling those from the ELE bass driver also appear on the DCH, suitably adapted, such as the linear magnet assembly and suspension and damping systems, vented pole piece, the heat-dissipating chassis/basket, and the large 65 mm (2.5 inches) voice coil. There are a few differences: for instance, the mid-range driver surround is manufactured from a specially formulated foam material. As with the low-frequency driver, fine, highly dynamic details are reproduced without colouration or filtering.
The HPS (High-frequency Propagation System) waveguide was initially designed at ADAM Audio for the S-ART tweeter of the S Series range with the aid of the latest computer modelling techniques. It hones the dispersion of the speakers to an even, uniform consistency, broad on the horizontal axis but tightly focused in the vertical plane. This minimizes potentially distracting reflections from the horizontal surfaces of significant studio furniture (for example mixing consoles), ensures that imaging remains constant, and creates a large, well-controlled and stable ‘sweet spot’, even at high output levels.
The U-ART tweeter as used in the T Series is fitted to a precision waveguide with the same dispersion-control attributes as the HPS waveguide used in ADAM Audio’s flagship S Series studio monitors.
High-Performance DSP Module
The high-performance DSP engine was developed especially for the S Series and implements perfectly tuned crossovers, guaranteeing optimal frequency response, and a dynamic range greater than that offered by traditional analogue crossovers, with no loss of resolution.
The DSP engine developed for the S Series provides users of all models in the range with a comprehensive array of options for in-room optimization. The intuitive OLED display allows control over the overall level, two parametric shelving filters (one for the bass, the other for the highs) as well as six further fully parametric EQs with variable Q that may be assigned to boost or cut level at specific frequencies.
Five memories are also provided to store voicing presets. On most S Series models, the first two of these are supplied by ADAM and are non-editable; the first is known as ‘Pure’ and is the factory default tuning, with extremely accurate frequency response. The second is a dynamic, natural-sounding response curve of ADAM’s own design, which is known as UNR (the Uniform Natural Response). The remaining three memories are available to store users’ own personal voicing presets. Only on the new S3H is the situation slightly different; as on the rest of the S Series range, the non-editable Pure and UNR settings occupy the first two presets, but only the final two are available for user presets. The third memory on the S3H is a further non-editable option designed to emulate the sound of what is possibly ADAM’s best-known monitor, the highly regarded S3A.
The DSP also offers limiter-based protection, AES3 digital inputs, and connectors for future expansion options. A USB connector allows software upgrades and facilitates connection to computer-based editing software, so that voicing adjustments or preset selection can be carried out without the need to access the rear panel of your monitors – a useful option if they are soffit-mounted.
SMA – Symmetrical Magnet Assembly
The newly developed magnet assembly in the bass driver, which ADAM Audio has named the SMA (Symmetrical Magnet Assembly), extends the maximum possible excursion of the electromagnetic voice coil by a factor of three compared to previous designs. The greatly extended travel ensures that the membrane operates in a linear fashion over a relatively large distance, displaces a greater volume of air, and is capable of higher maximum output. The design allows the driver to accurately reproduce low-frequency signals without distortion, even when called upon to produce extremely large excursions. An ingenious built-in ventilation system also prevents warming of the large, custom-designed voice coils, and thus reduces the effects of power compression below the threshold of audibility. As voice coils warm, their ohmic resistance changes, damping and dynamic range are reduced, operational parameters change, and low frequencies are no longer reproduced cleanly. These unwanted effects are avoided in ADAM Audio’s new design.
The carefully engineered construction makes use of materials designed to encourage heat dissipation, and also keeps unwanted air turbulence and compression out of the magnet assembly, minimizing distortion.
The SMA also features several other innovations developed by ADAM Audio, especially for the S Series: An elongated pole piece is employed in the low-frequency driver, extending beyond the magnet assembly to widen the reach of the resulting magnetic field and also to render it symmetrical. This keeps the driver’s performance linear and reduces distortion in the output to a minimum. The magnet assembly operates over a larger journey than other comparable low-frequency drivers, allowing the voice coil much greater scope for downward motion and preventing it from being damaged at high output levels. The pole piece is also vented to encourage ventilation and maintain constant pressure in the magnet assembly. To reduce turbulence and air noise, the venting is aerodynamically rounded.
The S2V, S3H and S3V parabolic pole pieces prevent unwanted modulation of the driver’s magnetic field, drastically reducing non-linear second-order distortion, while demodulation rings help the magnetic field remain symmetrical and also minimize non-linear third-order distortion.
The largest S Series models, the S5H and S5V, have an additional refinement: another magnet of opposing polarity is situated on top of the elongated pole piece to further streamline the magnetic field lines and render them symmetrical. This ensures that the movement of the voice coil remains linear and keeps distortion to a minimum, even at high listening levels.
S Series Amplifiers
The low- and mid-range drivers on the S Series are powered by distortion-free Class-D ICE power amplifiers. Over 90 per cent efficient, these designs waste considerably less energy, are much more robust and offer a longer working life than traditional Class A/B amplification. However, the latter can offer more bandwidth and tonal advantages in some cases when amplifying HF audio for reproduction by a tweeter. For this reason, ADAM has developed a special 50W, low-noise Class A/B power amp, which operates in a linear fashion up to 300kHz, to drive the tweeter on the S2V, S3H and S3V. By contrast, the S5H and S5V use the very latest generation of extremely powerful Class-D ICE-Power amplifiers to drive their S-ARTs.
The carefully thought-out combination of appropriate amplifier technology with the highly efficient ADAM ribbon tweeter design is one of the contributory factors behind the highly accurate, effortless-sounding high end of the S Series. Great care has also been taken over the physical design. On all but the S2V, the smallest speaker in the S Series, the power amps are mounted in a discrete amplifier chamber within the speaker housing, protecting the system from any air leakage.
S Series Bass Reflex System
The S Series bass reflex tubes have been aerodynamically redesigned with optimal rounding to minimize signal losses and colouration due to air friction and turbulence, especially at the front-panel ports, and incorporate additional anti-resonance technology in their port designs to keep pipe-related tonal colouration to a minimum.
S Series Cabinets
While the imposing, robust construction of the S Series cabinets visually evokes ADAM’s background in industrial engineering, the aesthetics are rooted in practical considerations. The cabinets are solidly constructed from thick, vibration-resistant material to reduce unwanted resonance and colouration, even at high listening levels. The design also features large-radiused rounded edges, which help to minimize unwanted edge-diffraction effects. The robust finish affords the speakers extra protection from the stresses and strains (or stains) of daily life in a recording studio.
S-ART – High-Frequency Driver
All the models in the S Series employ the latest iteration of ADAM’s world-famous X-ART tweeter design, each handmade in Berlin as with all previous ADAM products. For the new range, the manufacturing process for each tweeter has been undertaken to an even higher standard of precision, with a more stringent post-factory testing regime – hence the new designation S-ART. The driver’s legendarily precise transient response and its ability to reproduce the finest of high-end details, free of distortion and with natural-sounding dynamics, are the cornerstones of ADAM Audio’s worldwide reputation as a leading manufacturer of indispensable audio equipment – tools that every professional should own.
S-ART tweeter, handmade in Berlin and manufactured to the tightest tolerances in ADAM Audio’s history
- Allows longer operation with fewer signs of fatigue
- Their breakup is prevented by the folded diaphragms, distortions are effectively reduced to a minimum
- Advanced dynamic range due to acoustically effective diaphragm surface that is 2.5 times bigger (compared to a classic tweeter according to the piston principle)
The air velocity ratio of 4:1 during the sound generation by folded S-ART membrane
- Direct, fast response in the high range even with complex transients
Newly designed HPS waveguide, milled from a solid block of aluminium
- Makes dispersion more consistent and imaging more stable over a wider area
- Reduction of early reflections on the surfaces of, e.g. mixing consoles, desks, etc.
New midrange driver with a one-piece hybrid dome/cone (DCH) design
- Offering the sonic advantages of both driver types, with minimal partial resonances
- Partly responsible for the excellent mid-range dispersion characteristics of the S Series, due to improved integration with the treble driver
Custom-built Extended Linear Excursion (ELE) bass drivers
- Accurate audio reproduction at an extremely high resolution thanks to the precision-designed relationship between its low weight, optimized inner damping and highly rigid HexaCone membrane, in conjunction with a basket which has been developed to eliminate unwanted resonance and distortion
Custom-designed Symmetrical Magnet Assembly (SMA)
- Allows the voice coil a maximum excursion three times greater than that offered by previous designs, with an extended, symmetrical magnetic field ensuring linear, low-distortion operation
- Power compression effects are prevented by an intelligent self-cooling system
Horizontal 3-way system with 2 x 7″ woofers and 1 x 4″ DCH midrange
- Very high resolution of the stereo image
Spacious bass reflex ports on the front
- Bass reproduction with very low compression
- Allows positioning close to walls
Highly efficient PWM ICE Power amplifiers for the woofers and midrange driver coupled with an A/B amplifier for S-ART tweeter
- Low-distortion amplification at both low and high volume levels
Linear frequency response of 30 Hz to 50 kHz (-20 dB)
- Unbiased reproduction in a wide frequency band
Maximum peak sound pressure per pair in 1 m ≥ 126 dB
- Powerful, compression-free sound reproduction even at very high sound levels
Custom DSP engine
- Perfect crossovers for optimal frequency response and maximum dynamic range
- EQ options and presets for in-room optimization
- Limiter-based amp protection, AES3 digital inputs and board connectors for future expansion options, together with a USB connector for software upgrades and computer-based control
Analogue XLR input
- Optimized for balanced line signals
Acoustically optimized and weightily constructed cabinets
- Reduction of susceptibility to vibrations and unwanted edge-diffraction effect
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