I wanted to share an honest review of the Adam Audio A77X vs the Yamaha HS8s. To be clear, i am not some self claimed Audio expert and do not have amazing speaker measuring equipment etc. Just a pair of ears, 35years of musical studio experience and an opinion.
I have owned the HS8s for 5 + years now and love them. They have given me hours and hours of studio time and I love their response, bass is deep and solid, mids and tops well presented. They have served me well. These are pre Crimson days and so my experience of releasing material to the masses was limited. The first release I did was in 2015 and when I hear back the mix and mastering quality it is somewhat embarrassing to hear. But hey, as independent artists we are typically the mix engineer, the mastering engineer, the musicians, the song writers, producers, marketeers and sweep the floor! so being awesome at everything can be elusive.
Now that Crimson has momentum, a following (of sorts) and an album in production i started to develop the studio. Adding room treatment such as bass traps, reflection points, acoustic treatment and diffusers really did make a difference to what we could hear in the mix, however something was nagging at me. Are we still missing that killer mix and master? Is the EQ perfect? Is the vocal in the ‘pocket’? Is the tonal bass line being lost. How does this all sound on a phone?? Before people start saying mastering is an art and should be outsourced etc…we have paid for external Mastering (Abbey Road Studios) and have invested in Ozone 9 for home mastering. The results of that were surprisingly similar… Mind you, if the mix was bad in the first place? Whats the saying ‘you cant polish a turd’. The HS8s are work horses for sure, but you have to think that they aren’t everything. With the wide array of Studio monitors available on the market I started doing my research based on a budget of £1500 (i paid £600 for the pair of HS8s).
I wanted to find 3 ways or 2.5s to really capture the music we create. I am old school so love to think of each speaker doing its thing and not having to do everything. The mids and lows being separated really should give clarity and definition. i looked at various options – KS Digital, Neumans (price!!!) and the Adams. I had read much about the A77X and really weighed up the pros n cons vs the KS Digital C88s. Ironically, i read a post from another musician who jumped from the HS8s to the A77X and that was it. Right, decision made take the plunge.
Got a good bundle deal, carefully placed the A (L) speaker and B (R) speakers on their stands. The A and B denotes the position of the woofers. These speakers are designed to lay Horizontally and the position of the Low Woofer is now on the outside of the listener. The ribbon twitter and Mids are now closest to the listener. I had read much about the Ribbon Tweeters and pretty much the ‘industry’ saying ‘yep, they are pretty clear, loud and basically perfect’.
I run in the studio a Soundcraft UI21R mixing desk which also doubles as our sound card. (Thats a whole different blog!) The UI24 gives me 5 Aux Pairs meaning I can run A, B & C Monitors along with 2 Headphone mixes. We now have the A77X Pair, HS8s Pair and NOC NS2s. The NOCS are a small set of Bluetooth speakers wired in to give us that real life speaker feel to flick between mixes.
For our test, the first songs loaded up was productions of our albums already in the works. I am very familiar with the music, the stereo imaging, the mix, EQ etc etc. Instantly, the Adams playback was noticeably different. Better clarity, more definition, a stunning stereo image and oh my noticeable issues with the mix! Is that a compressor I can hear now? What is that rumble? Is that a midrange distortion on the bass line? Damn!
We then (by this point I had been joined by Wendy wondering what all the fuss was about) started to listen to reference music. Angel by Massive Attack is a beautifully created piece of music. That bass line, the clarity of 808s and the various sound effects… We sat transfixed listening to a song we both knew so well to hear all sorts of new parts. With ordinary speakers they are lost but with these speakers the track was alive. Track after track revealed new parts you miss with ordinary speakers..
The Adams have not let me down at all and yes its early days but already the mixes we are working and flicking between As, Bs and then the NOC Cs is helping. With the Adams you can really define the mid range EQ, hear and see what instruments let that particular drop in EQ and remedy it. The Highs are just so clear and not in anyway fatiguing. The bass is solid, deep and really well controlled.
For anyone thinking about an upgrade from the HS8s (which are a fine speaker)… consider the A77X. They are a step up and will make a difference to your work and mix.
Thanks for reading !