In the world of studio monitors, Yamaha carries a bit of a stigma. Their legendary NS-10 monitors were ubiquitous in professional studios during the 1970’s and 80’s. You really couldn’t get away from them. But they were also notorious for a terribly trashy high end that many found fatiguing, as well as muddy lows that lacked definition. But they also exposed issues with mixes for some engineers, who remain avid fans.
What does this have to do with the HS5?
Nothing. We just wanted to get it out of the way. Love them or hate them, NS10s are classics. Let’s move on.
What you’re here for is the kind of speaker that can help you improve your tracks and mixes, which is precisely what the HS5 and its big brother, HS8 can do.
First, specifications: An astonishing frequency response of 54 Hz to 30kHz(!) is what Yamaha claims for this speaker. A 5 inch, 45 watt woofer and a 1 inch, 25 watt tweeter crossover at 2 kHz with a bi-amp design to prevent muddled mids of a shared amplifier. Like most nearfield monitors of this size, it features a bass-reflex model to give you that rich bass you are looking for, without the massive monitor size.
When it comes to listening, it seems that there is actually a common thread between the Yamaha monitors of old and their modern designs: an uncompromising clarity that lets you perfectly hear what’s happening in your mix as well as the classic white cone in a black box design. Whereas the NS-10s were derided for being harsh and fatiguing, the high end here is smooth and clear, while the bass remains satisfyingly tight and compact, perfect for the small studio.
And like many newer nearfields, Yamaha has given you some control over room behavior with a low shelf of -2 or -4 dB below 500 Hz. Handy guidelines give you some instruction on adjusting the position of the speakers and adjusting the lows to accommodate. It really does make a big difference when you’re working in cramped quarters, and you’ll find that the low shelf can really help cut down on room modes.
Also, Yamaha has given users a little more control over the high end, with a 2 dB boost or cut about 2 kHz, to help you with excessively live or dead rooms.
Everything comes through crystal-clear through these speakers, except for extreme lows, but for those frequencies, look to the HS7 or HS8, or you could always just augment the HS5 with a sub.
For such a small and inexpensive monitor, the HS5 will shed unprecedented light on your mixes, without the overbearing tones that Yamaha monitors have come to be known for. In this price range, there are few worthy competitors, making the Yamaha HS series an incredible investment for your home studio.