Let's use some simple steps for choosing monitors, based on how one might select a bottle of wine. Set your monitor price point (much like wine, with monitors you'll likely need to buy at least two), pair them with your space (not with your food), and maybe pick a bottle with an interesting character that suits your palette. If you're on a budget, need a listening solution for an area larger than a bedroom, and are on the hunt for something with a warm, wide-bodied listening experience that won't wear you out, ADAM Audio's new offering may just suit the occasion. Their new T8V active monitors offer a full, powerful sound, featuring polypropylene woofers and the U-ART 1.9-inch accelerated ribbon tweeter driver employing the same technology found in their more expensive models, all at a reasonable price. Our own Geoff Stanfield wrote about the smaller T5V and T7V [Tape Op #128]. Now I'm here to tell you about their bigger sibling eight-inch model.
Boxes containing the new models arrived safely at my doorstep and were well packaged without excessive material waste (thank you, ADAM Audio). The T8V's rear panel controls include a simple rotary level control (with no 0 dB detent), plus switches for low frequency and high-frequency response adjustment. Balanced and unbalanced connections are provided. A power switch with a green LED is located right next to the IEC AC connecter, above the rear-firing bass-reflex port. It should be noted that T series monitors don't have power indicators on the front panels.
Most of us are familiar with ADAM Audio's signature folded ribbon tweeter design, but let's talk more about the polypropylene woofers. This type of plastic cone is somewhat inexpensive to produce (with more consistency in manufacturing results), is extremely rigid, and highly damped while offering a controlled breakup that results in a smooth midrange and low end response. Combined with the wide sweet spot and gentle vibe of the folded ribbon tweeter, the T8Vs ooze a mellow sound and never seem to wear the ear out. Some would say that the combination of a ribbon tweeter with a polypropylene woofer might lack punch, but I found the drivers (20 watts and 70 watts respectively) provided plenty of lift in my playback, resulting in mixes that translated well. Don't get me wrong, I like to hear the crack of a snare drum as much as anyone (and with an alternate set of monitors alongside the T8Vs, I was able to get my fix/check my mix in that instance) – but listening and working is enjoyable with these boxes! Initially, I thought my room was too small for 8-inch speakers, but with my 6.5-inchers I am using a subwoofer to get where I need to be in the low end. Next to my smaller monitors, it was refreshing to hear such a full sound (even at moderate levels) without a sub. T8V specs claim a frequency response down to 33 Hz, and though I did not confirm that with measurement, I was feeling it, and it was nice to have a focused, big, low end.
In use, I didn't hear much of a character change after a 24-hour break-in period – perhaps due to the polypropylene speaker? Electric guitars seemed easier to mix on the T8Vs than I expected when there were competing sources in similar frequency ranges. I never struggled to find the right place for every element in a mix with the ADAMs – good midrange is something I really look for when evaluating monitors, and I get that with the T8Vs. The tweeters took some time to get used to at first, but the low end was immediately descriptive. For my ears and space, I needed to boost the high-frequency response and found myself switching between cutting the lows (depending on how close to the back wall I placed the monitors). Every monitor takes some time to get comfortable with, but so far my first mixes are referencing well.
If you're looking for punchy playback with a strident, brassy sound, this isn't the monitor for you. However, if you want to be inspired and emotionally pulled into the mix landscape, the T8Vs are a great introduction to the wonderful world ribbon technology that I would highly recommend. I'm finding them indispensable as an alternate set to my main pair of monitors – the character difference between dome and ribbon tweeters is so different to my ears, but I really like both. Though my previous comment about picking a monitor for your space is still good advice, the T8V's 8-inch woofer felt right at home in my bedroom-sized mix space. If you can afford to upsize your monitoring (within reason) or just add a second set, go for it – at this price, you can't afford not to. As Geoff said in his review of the T5V and T7V, "Some of the best money spent on your studio is in your playback."