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.
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 5
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.
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.
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 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 Woofer
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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