CD Mastering Services
CDs, EPs, Singles, High Resolution Files
The Artistic Blend of Music, Science, and Technology Since 1985
   
Logo Member
Audio
Engineering
Society
 
Yamaha NS10 Nearfield Monitors
By Bob Speer
Yamaha has discontinued production of this musical workhorse.  Why, you ask?  Don't we see them perched on the meter bridge of every console in almost every studio?  Yes, we certainly do.  So, why are they being discontinued?  It's because Yamaha says they can no longer obtain the materials needed to produce this famous speaker.  They claim that the wood pulp used in the woofer cone is no longer available.  Yamaha tried other materials in place of this special wood pulp, but they were never able to duplicate the "NS10 sound."  So, after years of faithful service, an era comes to an end.  Yamaha NS10 Press Release

The people that hate this little speaker have several reasons for doing so.  They say the speaker just doesn't sound good.  They say it's too bright, especially in the upper mid frequencies.  Actually, the NS10's have a 7dB peak around 1500Hz.  Then, of course, there's the bass response problem.  There isn't much there to work with.  These are all good reasons not to like this speaker, yet it's an important component in most recording studios and is used by many successful recording engineers worldwide.  There must be a reason for this.

In spite of the above claims, the speaker has something very funny about it.  Mixes made on this speaker usually translate well to other speaker systems.  There is a simple rule of thumb, "if it sounds good on the NS10's, it will sound good on anything." Well, maybe, and maybe not.  It all depends on whether or not you know the "secret."

The secret in working with the NS10s, or any speaker for that matter, is knowing what the speaker sounds like.  It's no different than knowing what other studio equipment sounds like.  Compressors all sound different.  EQ's all sound different.  Microphones and mic preamps all sound different.  Everything in your studio has a "sound."  Even cables and speaker wire have their own "sound."  OK, maybe that's pushing it a bit.  Seriously though, many engineers use compressors not only to control dynamics, but to color the sound as well.  Different compressors color the sound in different ways.  If you know what your compressors sound like, you can use the appropriate one to achieve the color you desire.  The NS10s are no different.  Like any piece of
audio gear, you need to know what they sound like in order to have success using them.

One thing you'll enjoy about these speakers is they don't have the normal 2 to 3db dip in frequency response at the crossover point.  This is usually around 2000 to 2500Hz on most near field monitors.  This lack of frequency dip is probably the biggest reason why these speakers are loved by so many.  As with any monitor, you need to check your mix on several other systems before making your final decisions.  Use a car stereo, boom box, headphones, and maybe a good stereo system with a sub woofer.  When your mix sounds great on all these systems, including the NS10s, you've got it nailed.  Once you learn how the NS10s sound, you'll realize that for the most part, they are a joy to mix on.  Isn't that what we all want in a near field monitor?

NS10 Mixing Tip
When mixing with the NS10s, there's a way to make sure your mix will sound good on other systems.  Mix at a low level.  Use
a level that's similar to background music at a dinner party.  When you monitor with the NS10s in this manner, and you hear a good balance of frequencies, you've got it.  Monitoring at loud levels is where the NS10s trick us into lowering the mids and raising the lows.  This results in mixes that may sound great on the NS10s, but muffled or bass heavy (dull) on other systems. Now conventional wisdom says that monitoring in this way is in conflict with the Fletcher Munson Curve.  However, because of the design of the NS10's, it does seem to work.  Also, the amp has a lot to do with the sound you get from these monitors.  In a test using a 60 watt per channel Yamaha amp, the high end was brittle and the low end not impressive.  However, when using a 250 watt per channel Acurus amp, the highs were pleasing, and the low end, while not over bearing, sounded tight and punchy.

There has long been a theory that placing tissue paper on the tweeters of the original NS10s may give more desirable results.
Is this theory fact or fiction?  Check it out here. 
NS10 - Tissue On Tweeters
 
Copyright 2001-2014 All Rights Reserved
CD Mastering Services