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Adam F5: A terrific and affordable powered audio-monitor system

Christopher Breen | Feb. 14, 2014
Adam Audio's F5 Active Nearfield Monitor is the smallest member of the company's F-Series family, which caters to the entry-level pro audio market. Advertised as near-field monitors and priced at $250 per speaker, two F5s make impressive companions on a largish desktop or mounted on a nearby wall.

In addition to using them for music playback from my Sonos gear and my Mac Pro, I've used the F5 pair to master some podcast themes I've recently created. The speakers beautifully handled the low string parts, the equally low orchestral percussion, and the bright pads and synths I threw at them. Having originally recorded those parts with headphones, I was surprised at how much more I could bring out of the music when listening with a pair of F5s — particularly in terms of pulling some of the parts out of the midrange muck.

If I have one complaint with the F5, it would be about the speaker's power-saving mode. To save power and cool the speakers when they're not being used, the F5 will go into a low-power mode after 20 minutes of receiving no signal. But once each speaker receives input again, it takes a few seconds to fully power up and produce audio. The result is that you sometimes need to rewind whatever it was you were playing so that you can hear every note from the beginning. (I might also complain that the fact that each F5 is its own entity, with its own amp, means that you have a separate volume control for each speaker. But the volume knob does have a detent at 0 dB, which worked well when using my audio source — my Sonos system or my Mac — to control volume level.)

The bottom line
It may seem like a lot to spend $500 for a pair of speakers that you place on your desk. And if all you want from those speakers is to hear the occasional system alert and listen to the sound accompanying YouTube videos, perhaps it is — an F5 system really isn't for you. But $500 for a great pair of compact near-field monitors is hardly an extravagance for those who take their music (and music making) seriously.


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