I love desktop speakers, I really do. Since they don't have to fill an entire room with sound they can be small, and when you're listening from just 2.5 to 5 feet (.8 to 1.5 meters) away from the speakers you hear a lot more sound direct from the speakers; when you're further away you hear a higher proportion of reflected sound bouncing off the floor, walls, furniture, and ceiling. That's why well designed desktop speakers tend to sound clearer than comparably priced "normal" speakers. That was certainly the case with these Adam Audio T5V speakers that sell for $200 each in the US, £148 each in the UK, and AU$699 per pair in Australia.
By way of introduction Adam Audio is a German pro sound speaker company that has some crossover appeal to the audiophile crowd. I've used a pair of their F5s since 2013 as my reference desktop speakers, so when I heard the company introduced their most affordable monitors yet I requested a set.
Unboxing the T5Vs I appreciated their cleaner, more contemporary look, but the cabinets are lighter and less solid feeling, and have fewer sound tuning controls than the F5. The T5V measures 11.7 x 7 x 11.7 inches (298 x 179 x 297mm), it's only available in black.
The T5V features a newly designed 5-inch (127mm) polypropylene woofer and new U-ART folded ribbon tweeter. Each speaker is bi-amplified with a 50 watt Class D amplifier for the woofer and a 20 watt Class D amplifier for the tweeter. Onboard digital signal processing handles driver crossover and equalization.
The T5V's backside hosts balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA analog inputs, a volume control, high and low frequency boost or cut switches, and a rear-firing bass reflex port. There are no digital inputs or even a subwoofer output jack.
Streaming Kraftwerk's 3D: The Catalogue album over Tidal in high-resolution audio with MQA the sound fully exercised the T5V's woofers, the bass was deep and clear. Even with the two T5Vs rear ports just four inches (102mm) from the wall I didn't detect any bass thickening or muddiness. The music's stereo imaging gymnastics sounded fully liberated from the speakers as it came forward and wider than the speakers locations. The Beastie Boys full frontal onslaught of Check Your Head taken at a healthy volume level demonstrated the T5Vs considerable stamina.
I liked what I heard, but I was more than a little curious how the T5V would compare with the older Adam F5. The differences weren't subtle, the T5V was leaner and less rich sounding overall, the F5 had a more pleasing fullness, and as I listened more I noticed the T5V is a brighter sounding speaker, even after I turned the high frequency cut switch down. The T5V is more "exciting," and livelier, but the F5's sweeter tone is more to my taste. It's only slightly more expensive, the F5 sells for $229 each on Amazon in the US, but I could not find pricing in the UK or Australia.
Though I mostly listened to the T5Vs on my desktop I also stepped back and listened from 8 feet (2.4 meters) away, these little speakers would also serve with distinction in small living or bedrooms. Bass extension is average for a speaker of this size.
I also compared the T5Vs with a set of Kanto YU6 powered speakers ($479, £349, AU$626 per pair) in my listening room. The YU6 isn't as clear sounding as the T5V, but the YU6 played louder with ease, had more features, inputs, and a remote control. The T5V was a better nearfield monitor, the YU6 filled my listening room better. Look for my YU6 review coming up soon.
So I found a lot to like about the Adam Audio T5V, but I was disappointed that the sound fell short of the older Adam F5 speakers.