Product Type: Yamaha speakers
Newest Review: ... amplifier for it. Overall, these speakers are a greeat set with a low price point. Good job Yamaha!... more
The new standard for studio monitors?
Author Name: DavidRx
Advantages: If it sounds good on this, it'll sound good on anything
Disadvantages: Somewhat dull sound.
These active near field monitor speakers are the replacements for Yamaha's legendary NS10 series, which have been a standard in recording studios for the past 30 years. The old adage went that if you could make your mix sound good on a pair of NS10s, then your mix would sound good on most low to mid range consumer systems. This led to the distinctive white cone of the speaker being spotted in many a studio.
The irony of all this is that the NS10 is acknowledged as being an appalling sounding speaker, so why would anybody want to use it? The theory is if you mix on a up scale monitor costing hundreds of pounds, then what you hear out of your monitors will be quite different to the sound a user will hear from their car stereo, cheapo midi system or increasingly, tinny iPod earphones. Monitor speakers are not like regular Hi-Fi speakers, which are often manufactured to deliberately enhance sound when used in conjunction with a good amplifier. Monitor speakers have a flat frequency response and will usually have switches on the back to let you cut or boost frequencies depending on the environment you’re using them.
So how does the HS50M compare? When I did my listening test, I compared these with the KRK RP5 (I’ll have a review on those coming soon) and the Tascam VLX5.
Well, it's small, black and has a glowing Yamaha logo when you turn it on. Personally I think they look great. But we don’t care about how it looks but sounds.
These are active nearfield monitors (meaning each speaker has an internal amplifier powering it). There are also low frequency and high frequency tunings, volume controls, and an on/off switch. Input is via either a standard XLR cable or phone jack. So standard features for a monitor in this price range.
You get 70 watts of amplification power and a frequency response of 55 Hz to 20 Hz.
With 1x5” speaker, this is hardly a bass machine, so if you're really missing the bass then you can get a matching sub woofer to go with these speakers. It all depends on what type of music you're making and where that music is likely to get played (in a acoustically perfect environment or in some boomy club on a shredded PA). The KRKs has a bit more bass but that is because they have a port in the front of the speaker box and the Yamaha has its port at the back.
These are designed as near field monitors, meaning you sit close to them (about 1-2 metres) so they’re loud enough that close. These have holes in the back to allow some low frequencies to escape so if you stick them in a corner or up against a wall the sound will vary slightly. They’re certainly loud enough for most uses.
Ultimately, buying reference speakers is very personal. After all you’re going to be spending a long time listening to the things and the type of music you like to make and listen to will influence your decision. However these represent good value for money if you happen to like this type of extremely flat sound. And Yamaha has a very good pedigree in making truthful reference monitors so I wouldn’t be surprised to see these become the natural successors to the old NS10s in studios around the world.
In the end, I think the quality of your reference speakers doesn't matter. It's how well you know them sonically that makes the difference. I ended up buying another brand of speakers (the Tascams), as I needed something with just a bit life to them. But again it's all about what sort of music you make and what type of reference you're actually looking for.
Summary: Use your ears.
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