Review of my new AVI ADM40s

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
Visit site
I thought I'd post a few initial thoughts on my new ADM40s, but first a bit about what I’m moving from. Hopefully my history of posting here and clear evidence of the other systems that I had/developed/invested in over quite a period of time will be sufficient to avoid being accused of being a troll, or an AVI lacky. If you don’t want my life story then skip to paragraph 7 (not including this one).

I was using Naim-based system comprising of a Sonos ZP90, Naim CDX2, Naim SuperNait + Hi-Cap2 amp and Neat Momentum 3i speakers (At full current retail prices, well over £10k worth). I liked this system, and I was pretty happy with it. The only things that I didn’t like about the sound were the fact that I always suffered with bass-boom in my lounge, which try as I might, I could never entirely eliminate without bunging the speaker ports, which killed the ‘life’ and energy of the music. Also when I turned the volume up the sound changed and became a little brittle and fatiguing. Generally though I was happy. However I had this ever-present itch. The itch was what led to me buying the CDX2 (2nd hand I might add) when I already had the Sonos and what led to me buying the Hi-Cap2 to go with the amp. Big sums of money. I could hear the improvements, but I have to be honest and say that I never really thought about the value for money of those upgrades – the option was there and I was compelled to take it. The same itch had me eying up an XPS2 power supply to go with the CDX2…I was looking at £1400ish for a second hand one. If I did that, then no doubt I would have been eying up a CDS3 before long, or hell, maybe I would have gone for an NDX! And then who knows what.

My wife has been very tolerant and understanding of my ‘hobby’, in fact more so than I ever expected her to be. To be honest she has always seemed to take the view that if it’s something that I derive pleasure from then she’s going to do her best to be interested in it and supportive of me. But us getting married really started to put things in perspective. We live a pretty comfortable existence, but we’re certainly not rich. We want to start a family soon and we need to be saving up to move to a bigger place, at least by the time our first-born is getting to the age of 3 or so. I realised that I simply cannot be diverting all my spare income into saving for the next upgrade all the time. There really is more to life. We were on our honeymoon when I started really reflecting on this and realising that I had to get off the merry-go-round. I owed my wife that much for all her indulgence so far.

There were other factors nagging at me as well, such as the knowledge when we do have kids, and they get to toddling age, then all those little green lights on every dial and button were going to be irresistible (as seemed to be the case with any visiting kids) and top-heavy speakers on stands were going to be mighty risky.

I knew of the ADMs mainly from seeing what a stir they’d caused on the forums here. The main impression I had was that you rarely saw anyone who’d actually tried them saying that they were anything less than deeply impressed, and you never saw anyone who’d tried them slagging them off. So I joined the HDD forum to find out a bit more and found that the AVI design philosophy really struck a chord. Also, and I quote (perhaps paraphrased slightly) “Just plug them in to any available mains socket with the supplied leads, plug your Sonos in with the supplied optical cable (or any cheap one from a reputable ‘pro’ retailer if you need a longer one) and you’re away” – imagine that, it hardly seems feasible does it!?

If what I was reading was to be believed then the ADM40s, would not only address all of my practical needs, but represent an upgrade over what I had now, and crucially, not have any available (and therefore implied as necessary) upgrade path. Not only that, but after selling all the existing kit I’d make a tidy profit all-in. Too good to be true? I pondered long and hard and scoured the web for every review of the ADM40s that I could find. Everyone seemed delighted with them, even when moving from much more expensive 'separates' set-ups. So after much mulling and musing I decided to go for it.

Now believe it or not given what I said above, my wife was not easily convinced that this was the right thing to do – I had clearly made the financial case, and she was pretty indifferent to my ‘geeky’ explanations of why they ought to be better than what we had currently, but she was just deeply sceptical that I could live without all the tweaking, ‘geeking’ and upgrading etc. and she wasn’t up for dropping £3k on ‘just another upgrade’. Anyway, I persisted and convinced her I was a changed man and ordered myself a pair of Cherry ADM40s.

So now I have them up and running, so how do they compare to the old system? Well they are better, absolutely no doubt about that. I would go so far as to say significantly better. However the ADMs certainly do not disgrace the old system. The old system (either playing back on the Sonos or the CDX2) was very capable, outstanding in some areas), it just wasn’t as good as the ADMs fed by the Sonos are (the Sonos is the only piece that I kept out of the stuff listed above). So I’m certainly not going to deride Naim – in fact, for reasons not entirely clear even to me, I may always have a certain affection for Naim gear. However what I can say is that next to the ADMs the old system looks like extraordinarily bad value for money. In fact it has really put things in perspective for me – it is, frankly, ludicrous to think that I could have spent the same amount of money as I spent on these active speakers (or should I call it an ‘active system’) buying just a Naim power supply to incrementally improve my amp or CD player!

Now I’m going to attempt to describe how they sound, and this is inevitably going to make me sound a) like I’m listening to the gear and not the music, and b) a bit pretentious, so please excuse me, and I assure you I’m not guilty on either count, but I find describing how music being reproduced sounds very difficult.

The first thing that struck me about the sound from the ADMs was how much tonal colour and flavour they had. It was like watching TV in black and white and then upgrading to colour. I don’t think I’ve described that very well, but anyway, it was quite striking. I also noticed how revealing they are of recording and production quality – playing through a few songs there is a really noticeable shift in the character of the sound each time. Not always good or bad changes, often just different, but a reminder of how revealing they are. They have a much ‘warmer’ and relaxed sound than the old system. I think the warmth comes from having the richer presentation mentioned above, but they are noticeably less ‘forward’. Voices sit further back in the mix, which again takes a bit of getting used to, but at the same time things are more detailed throughout the frequency range. All the threads and layers of the music are presented in a more revealing and coherent way and on some tracks I’ve been able to literally hear more notes being played then I realised were there, or hear whole instruments for the first time!

The bass is worth a review all of it’s own. It’s deeper than with the old system, but also tighter, more tuneful and there is absolutely no boom, which is a blessed relief. There is so much detail and character to be heard in the bass that I just didn’t realise was there.

But if I had to sum it up and highlight one main thing that characterises the ADMs, it’s their clarity. Everything is just crystal clear, but not pushed at you and never harsh, regardless of volume, it really is easy to just forget about the gear and just listen to the music.

So as you can probably gather, I’m very pleased with them. Now I can just listen to music and not even think about Hi-Fi, or accessories, or tweaks, or upgrades, and my money can go on far more worthwhile things! I don’t begrudge the money I’ve spent on Hi-Fi up to this point, but I will just say I’m glad I got out when I did.

Part of the deal with the Mrs to convince her that I was going to get off the hi-fi hamster-wheel was to stop going on the forums so much (I volunteered this before anyone gets the wrong idea), so I’ll stick around for a while to see the responses here, and no doubt soak up a bit of abuse, and then I’ll be off to forget about Hi-Fi and enjoy the music!

I also reckon they look pretty good too - and I just love the new, strealined system!

DSC_0029.jpg


Cheers

Dan
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
Visit site
Ah image link didn't work, I'll post it in the My System forum and link to that

Edit - OK can't get it to work there either, but I think you can use the URL to see the picture if you like. if someone knows what I've done wrong then feel free to help
smiley-smile.gif
 

Diamond Joe

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2008
88
6
18,545
Visit site
No probs, looks really nice BTW. Been meaning to ask an ADM40 owner: what's the small round thing on the front of the left hand speaker, about 1/3 of the way up? IR reciever maybe?
 

Bialykot

Well-known member
Feb 4, 2010
5
0
18,520
Visit site
Yeah, I've heard they're exceptional and great value for money. Haven't heard them myself but if they're better than the ADM9Ts, they must be something special. Glad you like them and well done for realising there's another way!
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
14
0
Visit site
Thank you for the honest and comprehensive review......if you want to be a Troll, you need to work on being a little less polite (and reasonable) ;)
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
Visit site
Diamond Joe said:
No probs, looks really nice BTW. Been meaning to ask an ADM40 owner: what's the small round thing on the front of the left hand speaker, about 1/3 of the way up? IR reciever maybe?

Cheers!

I think it probably does house the IR receiver, but its actually a display. It shows the input selected and switches to show the volume when you adjust that
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Nice setup Dan and a good review. Nice to hear of an AVI owner that doesn't rip the whatever out of Naim...(just kidding AVI-ers out there!). They look the part too.
 

Diamond Joe

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2008
88
6
18,545
Visit site
Dan Turner said:
Diamond Joe said:
No probs, looks really nice BTW. Been meaning to ask an ADM40 owner: what's the small round thing on the front of the left hand speaker, about 1/3 of the way up? IR reciever maybe?

Cheers!

I think it probably does house the IR receiver, but its actually a display. It shows the input selected and switches to show the volume when you adjust that
Ahh right, thanks Dan, I had no idea it was a display.

[I don't know why I can't spell the word receiver correctly. I'm off to write it out 500 times, durr. :oops: ]
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
475
7
18,895
Visit site
Top post, very interesting read, thanks :)

Your findings coincide with mine re actives, and happily I find ATC passives share those qualities. I hope I get a chance to listen to some AVIs some day :)
 

Ambrose

New member
Feb 19, 2008
53
0
0
Visit site
Hi Dan

Very interesting indeed.

Do you find them as engaging as the Naim setup?

I must admit I like the forward Naim presentation and the way they pull you into the music.

Is this something you miss or is this overlooked because everything else is so much better?

Thanks for your thoughts

Ambrose
 

WishTree

Well-known member
May 18, 2010
107
1
18,595
Visit site
Dan Turner said:
Part of the deal with the Mrs to convince her that I was going to get off the hi-fi hamster-wheel was to stop going on the forums so much (I volunteered this before anyone gets the wrong idea), so I’ll stick around for a while to see the responses here, and no doubt soak up a bit of abuse, and then I’ll be off to forget about Hi-Fi and enjoy the music!

Oh no.. I was reading elsewhere that the Benchmark DAC HDR with ATC active is a one step up and the final step or wait a minute it is the new - yet to be announced - ADM60s which do the almost impossible feat of improving the well received ADM40s to that final step.. :grin:

Just kidding but it would be really impressive if you are able to get off.. I have been weaving the same dream of getting off and the more I spend to get out of the upgraditis the more I am pulled in ;) Luckily it is not contagious in my home and not yet it in need of rehab ;)

BTW.. very good review.. It looks like all the ADM40s are very happy with them and it is a true acheivement.

One quick question - what is the warranty period on the ADM products in particular 40s?
 

Alec

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
478
0
18,890
Visit site
Dan Turner said:
“Just plug them in to any available mains socket with the supplied leads, plug your Sonos in with the supplied optical cable (or any cheap one from a reputable ‘pro’ retailer if you need a longer one) and you’re away” – imagine that, it hardly seems feasible does it!?

Seems entirely feasible (scratches head).

Happy listening.
 

byakuya83

New member
Mar 14, 2011
63
1
0
Visit site
Thank you, great review. A positive thread about these speakers is rare in these parts.

The profit and money saved on future upgrades can be spent on new music :dance:

A far better way to enjoy yourself if you ask me!
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
Visit site
Ambrose said:
Do you find them as engaging as the Naim setup?

HI Ambrose - in a word, yes. They may not be as forward, but they are more detailed than my old set-up (not sure if that's because or in spite of being less forward), so whilst they may not project the sound (particularly voices) towards you as much, there's actually more there, and I find I actually prefer the more relaxed approach. I certainly associate the 'forwardness' of the old set-up with the fact that it could become harsh at higher volumes, which is something I'm glad to have lost.

Cheers

Dan
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,255
26
19,220
Visit site
Dan Turner said:
They may not be as forward, but they are more detailed than my old set-up (not sure if that's because or in spite of being less forward), so whilst they may not project the sound (particularly voices) towards you as much, there's actually more there, and I find I actually prefer the more relaxed approach. I certainly associate the 'forwardness' of the old set-up with the fact that it could become harsh at higher volumes, which is something I'm glad to have lost.

I notice from the photo that you have not used any 'toe-in' on the speakers. Maybe a little experimenting could bring voices etc. a little closer.

Something I noticed with an old all-Naim system (albeit an 'entry level' one compared to the one you just sold) was that there was a lot of front to back depth in the sound compared to left-right imaging. (I actually liked that and found it more engaging than the traditional LR imaging in a more or less fixed plane 'over there' somewhere between the speakers.)

I don't know if AVI suggest experimenting with speaker 'toe-in' or not (or if you have tried it), but maybe give it a go if you haven't already. Some people prefer a toe-in that results in the (imaginary) lines through the axis of the speakers crossing just in front of the listener's position and some who prefer it a little less extreme.
 

Ambrose

New member
Feb 19, 2008
53
0
0
Visit site
Dan Turner said:
Ambrose said:
Do you find them as engaging as the Naim setup?

HI Ambrose - in a word, yes. They may not be as forward, but they are more detailed than my old set-up (not sure if that's because or in spite of being less forward), so whilst they may not project the sound (particularly voices) towards you as much, there's actually more there, and I find I actually prefer the more relaxed approach. I certainly associate the 'forwardness' of the old set-up with the fact that it could become harsh at higher volumes, which is something I'm glad to have lost.

Cheers

Dan

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Once I have decent stands I'll try and enjoy my current new system which is coming together nicely, when time allows.

The ADM40 are out of my budget in any case, although the ADM9T would be an interesting swap option feeding from Touch and wonder how these would compare as many avi users seem to rate their stuff very well as far as value for money goes?

Maybe sometime in the future will have to try and take a listen as see what the fuss is about :)

Shame as it seems difficult to demo AVI kit. Might make the scratch easier to itch!!!

Ambrose
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts