by Stefan Wyeth | 2,3 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
yamaha ns-10

Is the Yamaha NS-10 still relevant?  ·  Source: Veikko Venemies / Unsplash / Yamaha

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Since its introduction in 1978, the Yamaha NS-10 series of passive loudspeakers has had an unprecedented impact on the music industry with over 300,000 units sold to date.

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For a failed bookshelf speaker, becoming the global standard studio monitor was completely unintentional but nevertheless, it was religiously adopted by top engineers like Bob Clearmountain, Andy Wallace, and Manny Marroquin.

Why do we love/hate the Yamaha NS-10?

When it was eventually discontinued in 2001, there were a total of six different models of NS-10 speakers, each offering a slightly different feature set to the original NS-10M.

Over this time, the NS-10 series polarized opinions continuously as it does today. In fact, the voices questioning its relevance have grown louder in recent years, and for good reason.

The way we consume music has completely changed since the NS-10 rose to fame, and the sonic hallmarks of pop music have shifted somewhat. Is there still room for the NS-10 in the landscape of modern music? Or is it more of a novelty?

Yamaha HS-5: The bedroom producer’s NS-10?

The HS-5 is the entry-level model of the popular HS series of active monitor speakers launched back in 2014. It’s an affordable 5″ monitor that is relatively neutral sounding and can produce good results in smaller listening environments.

The fact that these have a relatively similar approach to the NS-10 style of monitoring without requiring an amp is probably why they are so popular. That being said, active speakers project sound in a different way to passives. So keep this in mind.

Yamaha HS

The Yamaha HS Series.

Yamaha HS 5

Yamaha HS 5

Customer rating:
(542)

Avantone CLA-10: Keeping it passive

With the help of superstar mix engineer and longtime NS-10 user, Chris Lord-Alge, Avantone reincarnated the NS-10 in the form of the CLA-10. This is as close as you’ll get to the original in a modern day monitor.

Like the NS-10M , it’s passive, which means you don’t get that hyped sound that we often associate with active monitors. Moreover, Avantone has a reputation for creating unforgiving monitors like the Mixcubes with excellent translation properties.

Avantone CLA-10

Avantone CLA-10

Avantone CLA-10

Avantone CLA-10

Customer rating:
(6)

Auratone A2-30: Passive monitoring

As you know, passive monitoring performance is largely reliant on the amp you have driving your speakers. The Auratone A2-30 was developed in collaboration with Bettermaker as a compact solution for passive near-field monitors.

It’s a comparably affordable way to drive your NS-10s in a reliable and uncoloured way. Designed for the 5C passive Sound Cubes, you can be sure that translation is the prime directive here.

Auratone A2-30

Auratone A2-30

Auratone A2-30

Auratone A2-30

Customer rating:
(19)

Avantone CLA-10A: An active modern remake

A truly modern remake, the CLA-10A brings the NS-10 monitoring experience in an active monitoring format that is far better suited to home recording setups. With 200W amplification, it’s more than enough power to produce accurate mixing levels.

If you’re wondering what the Variable Tissue Paper Control knob on the rear panel does, it allows you to simulate your favourite NS10 models. At over $1000 a pair, the CLA-10A is entering pro monitor territory, so you must really want the NS-10 sound.

Avantone CLA-10A

Avantone CLA-10A

Avantone CLA-10A

Avantone CLA-10A

Customer rating:
(2)

Avantone AV-10: Blown cones?

Those who didn’t stockpile NS-10 drivers were heartbroken when Yamaha stopped producing them. Luckily, these days, you can continue using your favourite monitors forever, as you can now replace the woofer, the crossover, and even the tweeter.

These Avantone will fit the NS-10M perfectly, and the installation is simple enough to DIY. What’s more, many users have even reported that they prefer the sound of the modern replacement cones. Go figure.

Avantone AV-10

Avantone AV-10

Avantone AV-10 Woofer

Avantone AV-10 Woofer

Customer rating:
(5)

Are you an advocate of the NS-10s and if not, what are your favourite active or passive alternatives?

Please let us know in the comments below!

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5 responses to “Is the Yamaha NS-10 still relevant in modern music production?”

    Steve Hartman says:
    2

    Never could see any reason to call these e monitors. They are not neutral . They are not even flat in frequency response. There is no standard of bad There are a myriad of ways to be wrong. So poor Translation

    Klemen Kotar says:
    1

    no. hs series is not much better.

    iixorb says:
    0

    I loved my NS10M’s. They sounded great to my non-professional ear and looked absolutely fantastic in my little bedroom studio. Bought brand new in 1998 but foolishly sold them 10 years later to help fund the purchase of the new Korg M3. I did manage to sell them for a small profit.

    Nathanael says:
    0

    “…active speakers project sound in a different way to passives. So keep that in mind.”

    Whoa there… this deserves at least a little bit of elaboration. Especially since it’s likely most of us have heard nothing about this “difference,” whatever it is.

      Stefan Wyeth says:
      -1

      I highly recommend visiting a professional studio in your city and finding out for yourself. It’s not something that can be accurately explained in 100 words, especially since monitoring mostly comes down to personal taste.

      In my experience, active monitors have a more hyped sound, but there are other factors like the choice of amp, speaker positioning, and room acoustics that are critical factors.

      This is why I recommend teaching your ears the difference rather than attaining a purely theoretical understanding.

      Hope this helps!

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