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22 Dec 2015

Adamson S Series Launch – a Big Day Out in Brooklyn

Officially launched at ProLight+Sound 2015, Adamson System Engineering’s new sub-compact line array system, the S-Series, has finally made it to Australia. Proud distributor CMI was keen to show it off, and invited audio bods from around the nation to their Brooklyn, Victoria headquarters to hear it. David Doorman, Adamson’s Technical Director for Asia- Pacific, was on hand to talk tech, answer questions and play some tracks. Jason Allen was there to listen….

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Adamson’s APAC Technical Director, David Dohrmann

It was a fine and unusually hot Wednesday on October 14 when sound techs, consultants and integrators from across the live, corporate, venue and worship sectors converged on CMI. With organisations as large as Norwest, Hillsong Church and Rutledge AV represented, this was an audience with big gigs and even bigger expectations. Neither CMI nor Adamson disappointed, with flawless hospitality, informative content and great product.

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While the star of the day was undoubtedly the 12 element hang of S 10 awaiting us outside, the day started with a presentation from David Dohrmann talking through Adamson’s philosophy, design process and products. Always innovative, Adamson sets great store in its key technologies, such as its Kevlar speaker cones. Adamson believes the stiffness of Kevlar translates to more accurate and timely response, increasing mid-range clarity. Listening tests certainly bear this out; Adamson are famous for mid-range vocal presence and justifiably so. This tonal characteristic carries across all of their products, from concert-sized line source to install-friendly point source.

Critical Listening

Before getting outside and scaring the neighbours, we were treated to a listening session including the smaller Metrix line source system, set up with four elements with 8” drivers and two dual 15” subs per side, and the point source Point Series 15, 12, and 8 models, in combination with a Point 115 and A218 subwoofers. One of the most striking things about the session was the almost identical tonal characteristics across models and even between point and line source.

Adamson’s voicing is bang-on, with only the Point 15 standing out a little with slightly more bottom end.

In addition to sounding crisp, clear and honest, all models are capable of frightening volume, but are so free of distortion that you don’t realise how loud they actually are. It’s a strange sensation; your body is telling you how much air is hitting you, but your ears aren’t used to that kind of SPL not being full of square waves. The big star of the session was the small, humble Point 8. At just 45cm tall and 25cm wide, the single 8” ND8-LM Kevlar Neodymium Driver and 1” Exit HF driver put out enough level for a small band. Going down to a realistic 65Hz, this little 8 more than held its own next to its larger siblings and the Metrix, though it was driving at its limit, while the Metrix still had a lot of headroom left.

Listening

David Dohrmann running the Point and Metrix listening session

Feedback (the good kind)

Scott Mullane of Aisle 6 Productions and Peter Morris of Adelaide Sound Hire shared their thoughts on the speaker demo with me. “I think Adamson’s focus on a clean midrange is apparent,” observed Scott. “It’s really clean and clear, and the 8s are very impressive.” Peter agreed; “I loved the 8s, they were my favourite. I was particularly impressed how natural everything sounded with just David’s voice.” Scott also agreed that the demo was most likely much louder than we thought it was. “We associate the point at which speakers start to intermodulate and harmonically distort with loudness,” he offered. “When the signal is clean, we can tolerate a lot more SPL than we normally think we can.”

“That 8 is pretty impressive!” added Greer Compston of New Zealand Adamson distributor Direct Imports. “Everyone wants smaller loudspeakers in more compact packages, and Adamson have done a great job. We sell other brands, but having Adamson allows us to have something a bit different. It’s a passive option when most competitors are active.” Greer has had a lot of success in the worship market with Adamson, and has installed their products into six churches so far. “It’s come on the back of Hillsong using the product in Australia,” Greer explained. “Though since our first installation, the next five have all gone to different denominations that are quite different in their worship styles. It’s because it’s a really compelling offer and just sounds so good.”

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Scott Mullane of Aisle 6 Productions with Peter Morris of Adelaide Sound Hire

On The Gig

Production juggernaut Norwest have long been fans of Adamson, with their inventory including 100 Y-Axis cabinets, 24 T21 subwoofers, a Spektrix PA and a Metrix rig. “The Y-Axis system is capable of anything,” illustrated Graeme Whitehouse, General Manager of the NW Group. “It finds its home in our market at festivals, particularly electronic dance music. It’s a good rig for dance music because of the low end in the air straight out of the Y-18s, rather than having to rely on ground subs to provide that low mid.”

Norwest find the smaller rigs handy for high-end functions for corporate clients. “The Metrix is a great little PA to do multiple hangs through those long heritage-type buildings in Sydney like Australian Technology Park, “ Graeme continued. “It’s a great ballroom PA to distribute, and you can still put the corporate after-dinner party band through it.”

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From Left: Jon Caisley of Phase One Audio, Cris Sirc of AVL Productions, Graeme Whitehouse of Norwest/NW Group & CMI’s Mark Wayte

The Main Event

Heading out into the sunshine with a full stomach and open ear, it was time to crank up 12 elements of S10 and six A218 subs, all driven from just one E-Rack, which houses three lab.gruppen PLM Series amps, a Cisco switch for Dante connectivity and Adamson power and signal distribution. First impressions of the S10 is that it moves an incredible amount of air for the physical space it takes up. While starting out with light acoustic and acapella material, the clarity and precision we heard in the smaller models was evident. When cranked up and fed hard rock and metal, the S10s held their composure while forcing most of us back about 30 metres. What looks like a small system could actually power an outdoor stage at a festival, and be more than adequate as mains in big venue.

Adamsons’ task now is to get their brand on touring riders. While no sane engineer would ever turn up their nose at Adamson, they don’t appear as often as their main German and French competitors. This is partly due to their success in Europe and in installations, neither of which generate as many riders as the big US-based touring acts. There’s really no reason at all why this should be the case, and to my humble ear, I think the Adamson is just as good as both its main competitors and slightly better than one of them.

First published in CX Magazine (December, 2015)

Erak  Gear

Left: The Adamson E-Rack powering the S 10 demo. Right: Not just about Adamason; CMI brands Mackie, MCÇ and XTA help run the show.

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