ARTist 3 speakers arrived today from Thomann, ARTist Sub expected this coming Mon/Tue .
Leave it to me to forget to request NEMA 5-15 power plugs, turned out to be a fine excuse to order three Shunyata Venom 3 cords to try out:) . I'll post up additional shots when the ARTist Sub arrives. Interconnects used include AudioQuest Ruby Hyperlitz and Tributaries Silver Series. From a minimal Arch Linux build running DeaDBeeF with OSS4 (vmix disabled) and a Xonar ST w/ stock opamps:
- Gloss finish is not as well laquered as that of the Sonoro Elements W. Too bad.
- Stereo Link feature does not work with XLR; Stereo imaging seemed a bit off with Stereo Link (via RCA input) enabled.
- Mids are somewhat pronounced, played back a number of '97 remastered Zeppelin FLAC files off the SHM-CD box set.
- This mid forward approach plays right into the hands of movies and video playback where mids tend to dominate.
- Stereo imaging was excellent with XLR/RCA to each speaker (no Stereo Link). This is right after listening to a pair of Dynaudio Focus 110 passive in mid-field.
- There is no amp heatsink, the images for the ARTist 3 on the ADAM website are confusingly grouped with the ARTist 5.
- Speaker (LR) gain at 0, PC level at 95:95 is about all the speakers can take without distorting with most AF/DCC/MFSL classic rock. Impressive.
- An accompanying sub is a must, there is literally nothing there when you play hard hitting hip-hop/house. Should clean up the mids as well.
- They need some distance between them (min four feet in my estimation), else the imaging suffers and the music starts sounding as if it were coming out of a box.
- Build quality is very, very good. No external cabinet defects out of the box and the inputs, potentiometers and rocker switches feel solid.
- Speaker grills are of soft fabric and attached to the housing magnetically. Who uses speaker grills anyways?
ADAM touts the ARTIST 3 as both a multimedia-centric and a sonically upgraded version of the A3X. I can certainly vouch for the improvement in the mids (though it can get muddy depending on gain and what you play back) as I had auditioned the A3X at several locations, including Guitar Center, Hollywood. All those reviews regarding the A3X having adequate bass? Again, depends on what you play back. I would qualify the bass output as 'loose' rather than 'boomy' (depends on gain), 'sufficient' for general playback, 'not nearly enough' for modern movie soundtracks (DTS and TrueHD decoded to two-channel) and 'nothing there' for deep, synthesized bass tracks. Slightly convex sound curve to my ears. I did not find the X-ART implementation in the ARTist 3 bright in the least. What I did not expect was its clarity at low-level listening volumes (0 gain, 50:50). Crisp and clear with the right decay where expected. Have to run these speakers in a bit before a definitive statement can be made. Does not have the warmth of the Dynaudio Focus 110 A (amplified) at mid-field distances, but that is to be expected with the difference in driver size.
I threw a lot at these speaker, mostly AF/DCC/MFSL ripped classic rock, SACD/XRCD ripped classical and jazz (samplers) and overcompressed heavy metal, hip-hop and pop FLACs. Pantera's Cemetery Gates (both the '90 original press and the '10 compressed remaster) sounds particularly lively with these speakers. Might move up to the ARTist 5 to take advantage of its shelving filters, primarily to cut the mids. Then again, the 85 Hz high-pass of the ARTist Sub might be able to provide enough separation of duties to suit. Offhand, I might have preferred to establish the preset high-pass slightly higher at 70-75 Hz for use with the ARTist 3. Would also have preferred functional aesthetics including an angled front plate and/or non-parallel cabinet sides.
So initial impressions are favorable with reservations. As standalone computer speakers, I give them a 7 out of 10 so far. The integration of the ARTist Sub may vault that to an 8. Or not. Time will tell. An additional layer of lacquer would have been nice. Will have to demo the Mini Maggie as a point of comparison at some point as well. Second Primacoustic RX5-UF has not yet arrived, Shunyata Venom 3 power and two sets of Shunyata Black Mamba-IC XLR interconnects on their way (I won't be using the Stereo Link feature). Will also be pairing this up with an Audiolab M-DAC (already pre-ordered) via Xonar ST digital coax out. Would have used my onboard S/PDIF TOSLINK port, but OSS4 support for onboard S/PDIF is not to be had just yet. Major Linux drawback (don't talk to me about ALSA, or PulseAudio). Have to use a supported soundcard for S/PDIF out e.g. Xonar ST. Bummer...I paid for three DACs (Xonar ST/ARTist 3/M-DAC) only to end up using just one (M-DAC)...But at least I'm not running Windows...
BTW, thanks for the suggestions all ....
I'm steering away from Dynaudio and their lack of input options this time around...
The KH 120 D is still an option with its 24/192 S/PDIF input, just waiting until more details are released...
Edited by adamlau - 12/2/11 at 12:50am