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Thank you for reading my Photography Blog. Birmingham based photographer specialising in Urban Landscapes but available for all photography commissions. Ross Jukes is also a professional Automotive photographer, please see his other website for details - www.rossjukesphoto.com 

Ross Jukes is a professional freelance photographer and owns www.rossjukesphoto.co.uk and all images / photos of Birmingham on this site. All images are available for purchase either as prints or stock and are also available to license the images for commercial use.

REVIEW: Adam Audio A5X Studio Monitors

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I’m a big believer in quality products, you really do get what you pay for. I use this ethos when buying equipment and when sound quality of videos is crucial, having good studio monitors for checking sound is critical. That and the fact that there is always music playing in my office so only the best will do! Will the Adam Audio A5X’s cut it? Read on…

Specifications

The A5X’s are a nearfield studio monitor that have proven to be popular with music professionals. The key specs are:

  • Adam Audio’s ‘X-ART’ Tweeter

  • 5.5“ Woofer (Carbon/Rohacell/Glass Fiber)

  • Amp. Power RMS / Music: 100 W / 150 W

  • Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 50 kHz

  • Max. SPL per pair at 1 m: ≥110 dB

  • Stereolink

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Build Quality

Easily one of the most impressive things about the monitors (and certainly the first thing you will notice straight out of the box) is the quality of the build. The wooden cabinets are predictably weighty but all of the fittings (the tweeter mount, cone, inputs on the rear) all feel rigid, well built and properly manufactured. There are clearly no shortcuts here and being hand-built in Germany, you wouldn’t expect anything less.

However, equally as impressive is the functionality. Well thought out design is very apparent, such as the on'/off switch and bass tunnels actually being on the front of the monitors, not only making them easy to use but optimising the sound in smaller rooms, which is predictably, where monitors like this will be used. Overall, they feel like a very high quality product and there are no disappointments in this department.

Sound Quality

So this is the biggie, does the sound quality live up to the circa £600 price tag? Well, in short, yes, and then some. From the moment that I plugged these into the DAC and ran the first track through them, I have been incredibly impressed. I have even had to get a second opinion from friends who ‘know their stuff’, just to make sure I wasn’t being too over the top!

So what sets them apart? The first thing that strikes you is the clarity that the X-Art tweeter adds, but more of that later. The bass is equally sharp, with no muddy tones and the ‘room’ micro controls on the rear, really help you fine tune the monitors to suit your space. All though they have a fairly narrow dispersion, it will be worth considering placement of the monitors but rest assured, when you find the sweet spot you’ll know. The first few tracks that I listened had me twisting my head around in circles as I was picking up instruments left, right and centre - they really do provide a fantastic sound image.

I almost think that they are a bit of ‘overkill’ for anyone who is not producing music on a regular basis (me included!) but they are incredibly accurate and a joy to listen to with no audio-fatigue experienced whilst using them. They carry plenty of bass (though an additional sub-woofer is available) but unless you live in a detached house in the middle of nowhere (or own a recording studio!) I don’t think you’ll require any additional low. Additionally, at 150 watts, you won’t have to push them hard before you have some very upset neighbours, should that be something you’re interested in!

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The Star of the Show…

A special word has to be said about the X-Art tweeter. It is a Ribbon Tweeter, something that I had not (knowingly) experienced before and it completely blew me away. To be honest, explaining how it works would take me way out of my comfort area as I’m not a studio technician, but if you fancy learning more about the technicality of it, you can read up HERE

The only thing that I would say is that it really needs to be experienced to appreciate the differences it makes. Having previously used the M-Audio BX5 D3’s - I would struggle to go back to them, having heard the quality and performance of the A5X’s. The performance of the mids & highs really does lift these monitors above the competition.

Conclusion

These are the best studio monitors that I have used by some distance. Stepping up from the M-Audio’s, there really is no comparison. The sound is so much clearer and crisper and you can really feel the difference that the X-Art tweeter makes. I would say that only studio professionals would need (or even be able to differentiate between) anything more expensive than these monitors. I certainly feel that you would be getting into the realms of diminishing returns with more costly monitors.

Should you purchase these monitors? That really is your choice but if they fit your budget, they should be very seriously considered. I would be amazed if you didn’t think they were anything other than a bargain considering the quality of the sound.

For more information, visit Adam Audio

VIDEO - Canon EOS-R Preview

So I have took the plunge and gone and bought myself a new camera! More specifically, the much anticipated Canon EOS-R - A new full frame mirrorless option from the camera giant. Where as I have only had it for a couple of days, I thought I would share my initial thoughts on the handling and the feel of the camera with a full review to follow shortly, so don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

REVIEW: Loupedeck+

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Loupedeck have certainly made a splash in the photography market over the past couple of years. Ever since the launch of their inaugural product, many photographers have adopted the Loupedeck into their workflow. There really is something about being able to twiddle a knob that is far more satisfying (stop laughing!) than dragging a mouse around. I too, was an adopter of the Loupedeck way of life so when I heard that they had launched their updated model, the Loupedeck+ - I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and have a twiddle!

The Loupedeck, for those that are not aware, is a physical controller for Lightroom, with pre-determined controls for everything from Exposure to individual hue & saturation dials. The benefit of this is that it speeds up your workflow as you are not scratching around with a mouse, trying to make minute adjustments and constantly having to go backwards and forwards, trying to find the perfect spot. The physical controls are responsive and accurate and once accustomed, you’ll wonder how you ever used a mouse in the first place. Still not convinced? Keep an eye-out for a video to follow which will show you in more detail.

First Impressions…

Straight out of the box, the plus feels like a premium product. It comes extremely well packaged and is presented beautifully in the all black packaging. The controller itself is plastic, which comes as a little bit of a surprise consider the price point. However, this actually makes sense, in particular if you are going to travel with the controller as it keeps the weight down. That being said, the plastic is clearly good quality and it has enough weight to it that it doesn’t feel flimsy. The dials also feel good quality with a rubberised touch and a distinct ‘click’ when rotated, to help with the ‘feel’ when in use. However, I would have liked a touch more resistance to them as they are quite easy to rotate and I would have liked a little more feedback - I’m sure this is just personal preference.

The controls are all laid out in a very logical fashion with the priority dials such as Exposure, Contrast and Clarity all being fairly central (which will suit both right and left-handed users) and the tonal controls and temperature controls more to the right. The function keys, such as undo/redo and shift & control etc. are all to the left of the controller, which again makes pretty good sense as they are used slightly less frequently. Finally, there is a good array of customisable buttons, but more of that later. Setting up the controller for first usage is also pretty simple. However, it does require downloading the appropriate software for your platform but once installed, it communicates with Lightroom pretty well and I certainly didn’t have any issues getting started.

In use…

As with it predecessor, the Plus certainly adds the element of speed to your editing. However, it does take a little bit of time to get use to. Very much like learning to type, it takes a while to understand where every dial and button is. When you get it (and it really doesn’t take long to get) it’s a dream, it just becomes second nature. There is certainly a benefit to having something tactile, that you can control your fine adjustments with. However, I did repeatedly keep finding myself having to have a quick glance down, to check that I was ‘twiddling’ the right knob.

One of the main upgrades is the potential for the Plus to be used with more than just Lightroom. It is now compatible with Skylum (formally Macphun) and Aurora HDR. This certainly adds value to the device and is great for those looking to get even more creative with their editing. However, it doesn’t stop there, it is also now compatible with Adobe’s Premier Pro video editing software. Though I have not tried this yet it is certainly appealing to people like myself, that produce photography and video - the idea of having one, tactile editing interface is very appealing.

The improvements continue with additional customisable keys and a ‘custom mode’ which allows you to take full control of all keys and dials. This really opens up the possibilities with the device. The keys are also now mechanical which give improved responsiveness so you always feel in control. In addition to the physical improvements, the configuration software has also had a spruce up and worked flawlessly whilst setting up.

Final thoughts…

I have always been a fan of the Loupedeck. I love having something tactile that I can use to edit and feel it gives you a lot of extra control over your editing. I am pleased to see some improvements but also would like to have seen a few further additions - notably Bluetooth. However, having used the Plus for a few weeks, I can’t really see how I would go back to the ‘traditional’ style of editing. There is simply something so satisfying about taking manual control over your editing to really nail your edits.

I look forward to seeing how the Loupedeck evolves over the coming years and guess that there may be software updates during that time, opening the Loupedeck+ up to even more versatile uses. Check out the trailer below.