- Written by Brian Alvarez
- Published on 19 September 2012
The Adam Audio ARTist 6 Active Speakers In Use
I started by listening to the ARTist 6 with music being fed by my Audiolab 8200CDQ acting as both pre-amp and DAC. Initial impressions were very good. The bass coming from such slim towers was impressive. As any small speaker relying on ports for additional bass output the lower frequencies at times sounded a bit monotone. During most music bass was taut and tuneful, only when asked to dig very deep did the bass blur into single notes. It's not objectionable and it was s easy to tune out. Bass performance was as well as most lower end subwoofers which is a huge compliment for such a compact speaker. Bass quantity and quality is good enough in small to medium rooms as to put into question the need for a subwoofer if you're not building a 5.1 system. One might actually be able to live with a pure 5.0 or 2.0 system in an apartment or other listening space where excessive bass could travel through walls and disturb others.
At the other end of the frequency spectrum we have effortless levels of detail and complete lack of harshness and fatigue from the X-ART tweeter. The X-ART tweeters are closer in tonality to a fabric tweeter, smooth, subtle, but with considerably extended frequency response more commonly associated with metal domes.. The more you listen the more one appreciates the sophisticated performance of the X-ART tweeter. These are tweeters which will never fatigue or sound harsh. At extremely loud levels when the bass limits of the speaker are exceeded and the mid-range becomes honky and harsh, the tweeters simply shrug off any attempts to deliver anything other than a refined and delicate performance.
Music listening was superb. Tossing everything from Dub Step tracks by Rusko to mellower music from Morcheeba and a lot in between, the listening experience was extremely rewarding. The ARTIst 6 will never be the speaker to physically feel your music. Instead the ARTist 6 is refined and neutral, a speaker that flows forth music into the room with class. Relaxed but not cool in tonality, with an overwhelming sense of sophistication that match their looks. Dynamics are limited for sure but not in an objectionable way as many small speakers can be. If you like to listen at low to moderate levels you'll never be left wanting.
Dynamics became much less of an issue with all speakers crossed over for use with my dual subwoofers. During movie watching that refined sound brought forth immense levels of detail which benefited more subtle mixes such as Lost In Translation. The spatial cues of various spaces beamed through with an incredibly realistic sound field.
Scenes in the elevator of the Park Hyatt hotel are especially wonderful tests of how good an ambient sound field a speaker package can generate. Subtly portraying those delicate mix details is not easy and few speaker packages I've heard do it so well without using identical speakers for each position (as my set up is normally run).
Action movies will never be experienced at movie theater levels of bombastic excitement, no speaker package this small could ever hope to do so. Instead one is treated to a deft, refined experience high on detail, speed and sophistication. Late night listening at low levels is an especially rewarding experience. Nothing is lost by turning the volume down. Low level listening becomes an extremely intimate and rich experience. In both music and movies the ARTist speakers are for those who prefer lower volumes or live in dwellings that prevent high sound levels.
Panning of effects from speaker to speaker is not as smooth compared to using identical speakers but is better than most packages. Integration between the ARTist 6 and the surround channels was particularly good. The ARTist 6H used as a center channel did collapse the front sound stage compared to using three identical speakers but it performed better than most center channels. Dialogue was clear both on and off axis without a trace of box coloration or overly emphasized upper mid-bass.
Having five slim speakers, each with their own amps, driven by a pre-amp, all these factors added up to spectacular imaging. Action, dialogue, and effects are placed with robotic precision. This level of imaging has not been achieved at this price level by any combination of passive speakers and multi-channel amplifiers I've heard so far.