View Full Version : Avi ADM9.1 Audiophile-PC music system (mini-review)

04-22-09, 01:42 PM
I often forget to share here in the forums when I find great values. OC Forums has given me so much, giving back should be natural. So here it is...

I am currently living with the Avi ADM9.1 (http://www.avihifi.co.uk/adm9.html) "active loudspeakers." The term "active loudspekers" doesn't beguin to describe what we have here. They are not simply "powered speakers" which usually consist of two different speakers except for the drivers, with one box housing a passive speaker driven by the other into which an integrated amp has been installed. That unit will also house an input usually of the 1/8" mini-jack variety, a volume control (or remote) and the power chord.

The ADM9.1 are much more then a powered speaker, they are an entire system in which balance is essential, so each speaker enclosure also incorperates it's own solid state bi-amplfication. A 75W unit drives the tweeter and a 250W unit drives the mid/bass so each unit has its own AC power cord. From this perspective alone the ADM9.1 are an evolution from powered (or active) speakers to active spekaer system. Before I go on let me qualify.

Since I was 17 I was sneaking into clubs to hear live music. By 19 I was operating a Light System in Connecticut's second largest club. Every week the DJ would take into NYC where we would spend hours going through vinyl. I was involved in Pro-Audio until I was 24, then in 1990 I moved to Northampton MA which is infamous for many things, one being its proximity to many High End Audio manufacturers, several High End AUdio shops and a large selection of used vinyl.

The first time I experienced true High End Audio for the home was in 1991. I accidentally found myself in a Listening Room where I heard a pair of Apogee Stage (http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/789/) full-range ribbon loudspeakers, driven by KRELL (http://www.krellonline.com/krell_series.php?id=75&page=history) solid state electronics beginning with their MD-2 transport. When the music began I experienced what I've described as a psychoacoustic hallucination in which I "felt" as if the performers and their instruments were there in that room. In fact a better example, as described by Reviewers when such magic occurs, is the feeling your in the studio. The difference being a perception of the recording room because the original sound waves which entered the microphones (including the SPL pressure effect on the original room's "space") aare also captured on the mcrophone (if the engineer and equipment are right).

It does not matter in some cases the cost of the playback equipment can actually exceed that of the original recording equipment, its only important the signal can be reproduced at the Listener's end with uncanny accuracy. This is why peoepl are willing to pay $350,000 for valve amps (WAVAC SH-833 monoblocs (http://stereophile.com/tubepoweramps/704wavac/)) and $325,000 for Horn speakers (Magico Ultimate II (http://www.audiojunkies.com/product/1303/magico-ultimate-reviews)). Its for the same reason there are Buggati Veyrons. A 1.2million dollar auto hopefully represents a manifestation of engineering art which NASCAR or Indy Drivers would drool over. Unfortunately High End Audio usually means High Cost Audio as its no easy task to transform data stored in two dimensions into three dimensional space as air movement replicating a voice or musical intrument. Now imagine reproducing a hundred instruments from 20Hz to 20kHz. Yet cost does not = musical accuracy, it just means everything is most likely heavier :)

In Audio a decievingly justified reason for additional cost might be the desire for lower frequencies simply because of the design (self-imposed) complications involved. In fact its not so much the movement of air, but the movement of the diaphram (driver) itself. This is why the Apogee Stage's mentioned above use a large ribbon so thin one square inch weighs less then the same amount of air. Moving this diaphram is very different compared to moving a paper, hemp, plastic or metallic cone. But again this doesn not gaurantee accuracy and ribbons also have their character defects.

From the verbosity of these examples one can see why Audio, especially High End can begin to get very complicated and very expensive. My first High End system (which just began to sound good) cost me upwards of $10k and almost every peice was either a Dealer demo or pre-owned. It was adecent system, it gave me enjoyment but for $10k your making large sacrificies when it comes to the "Absolute Sound." As unfortunate a that is, once in a while there comes a product which which forces us to question our belief systems.

That product for me are the Avi ADM9.1's which as I described above are essentially a pair of active speakers, each with a 75W amplifer driving the tweeter and 250W amp driving the bass/mid driver. The "control" unit then incorperates twin optical inputs (TOSLINK) feeding a Wolfson 8741 D/A converter chip, and a set of analog inputs if you chose to bypass the DAC. There is the "Slave" RCA speaker interconnect (10-feet) feeding the right speaker. Finally a subwoofer output allows for a true 20Hz ~ 28kHz system. All RCA's are gold plated and the entire system is remotely controlled.

Now the very best part. I don't know how Avi came about its specification for lower frequency rating, but they are the first I've come across which are honest to the point of conservation. Either that or this is the first time I have heard an accurate 60Hz to which they are rated? I belaive it's the latter.

The sound. Theses are without a doubt the most accurate loudspeakers I've ever heard costing under $10k. At around the $2k price-point you are getting an entire system sans the source. I have been listening to streaming audio over the last year, and through the ADM9.1's I have discovered more new music then with any other system. I have been listening to Deezer.com (http://www.deezer.com/) specifically their streaming station Chanson Francaise (http://www.deezer.com/#music/radio/12) where I've heard some of the cleanest stream ever.

Music through the 9.1's is clean, airy, accurate, extended, precise, and most of all realistic. I cannot as a writer, find the adjectives to effectively describe what the ADM9.1's bring to the table, they are th table, the chairs and the baquent. Your probably asking "they gave him a pair that's why he is saying this..." When I tell you the saddest day in years will be when I'm asked to return the ADM9.1's I am not taking poetic lisence. While they are an absolute steal to the Audiophile, Music Lover or average shmoe alike, I survive on a Social Security Disability budget, so even these are out of reach for me. With that said I will still do everything in my power to acquire them.

And that is the highest compliment, or the best proof of paying omage to a deserving product, when the Reviewer is willing to purchases it. In fact I would add that this system is so satisfying, so engaging, I not only want to keep them, but at the honest risk of insulting other manufactuers (which I DO NOT INTEND to do) the enjoyment I get from this product has effected my desire to hear others. Its not intentional, its just that when you come across a product so honest you question how others can charge more for less.

Phelonious Ponk
04-22-09, 04:32 PM
3D --

I'll be a fish out of water on this computer form (a Mac user...), but Google, and ADM 9.1s brought me here. I recently became an owner and I was searching about to see if others had been as awestruck by these little speakers as I have. I have been a musician and audiophile for many, many years. I've spent a good bit of time in studios, where active monitors very similar in design to the ADM 9.1s are common. Still, these are surprising.

I was almost prepared for the clarity. When you couple perfectly-matched amplifiers directly to individual drivers, instead of running broadly over-engineered amps through the mess of distortion and incoherence that passive crossovers create, you expect exceptional clarity. But the 9.1s are still a cut above similar designs.

I was somewhat prepared for the dynamic range. Again, power and impedance matched amps and drivers makes for exceptional control, delivering a speaker that is full and nuanced at moderate volumes, and explosively clear on sudden peaks.

What I didn't expect was the imaging. I've had these little 9.1s set up on stands in my den and slightly raised and tilted back on my desktop. In either position, they deliver a wide, deep detailed stereo image that lays the instruments out before me, in a lovely, nuanced audio panorama. I close my eyes and the speakers disappear.

That small active speakers of exceptional quality can do this is not completely shocking. That they can do it in a turnkey package that only requires an optical cable from my laptop and the click of a remote, for so little money, simply defies credibility.

Yet here they are.

Phelonious Ponk