Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor – Review


My go-to studio monitors for years have been a pair of Yamaha HS5 powered studio monitors.  They have helped me produce 3 albums, hours of electroacoustic music, and listen deeply to mixes I love so I can understand them.

My main problem at the time of purchasing these speakers was that my mixes were not transferring well from one playback system to another.  For example, my mixes might sound great in headphones, okay in a car, and tinny on my computer speakers that are generally not tinny.  My mixes sounded like completely different pieces/songs on these different stereo systems, and that was a big problem for me.

I did my research, and found that these speakers were trusted to deliver a very flat response.

In short, most speakers emphasize treble and bass frequencies, giving you a good sound from the get-go.  These Yamaha speakers treat all frequencies equally.  So, you won’t get a treble boost, nor a bass boost.  Your mixes will be exposed, able to be heard in depth, and you will not be tricked into thinking your music sounds a certain way when it actually doesn’t.

This flat response allows your mix to be emphasized by whatever stereos or headphones are playing your music.  Those devices naturally boost certain frequencies, and so your mix will be colored only by the device, and won’t be boosted at the level of the mix.  This is invaluable, as it means that your mix will only change as little as possible.  If you didn’t mix on flat-response speakers, you risk having your mix sound great sometimes, but not at other times.  You have a much better chance of transferring your sound with flat-response speakers like these.

These speakers are easy to use, easy to set up, and even have room controls and trims, which means that you can adjust how the speakers treat bass and treble frequencies that typically build up in corners and certain rooms.  So, you can tune your speakers to the room to be doubly sure that you hear a flat-response mix.

When purchasing these speakers, I recommend cables, stands (or a desk), and a good audio interface.  I use the Mackie Onyx Blackjack.  A good power strip is also really helpful, because each speaker requires one outlet.  Amazon is good at showing you deals on cables and stands.  Be sure to get TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) cables for connecting the speakers to your audio interface.  Instrument cables and live speaker cables will not do the job.

It is worth noting that while these speakers are great for studying mixes, they should in general be avoided for pure listening, as they allow high frequencies to pass through that normally don’t appear so prominently in songs, which (in combination with other frequencies, and extended listening times) can cause ear fatigue.

No matter how you use the speakers, take breaks.  In addition, mix at both low and high volume levels.  High volume levels are great for hearing depth, but low volume levels make you zero in on the details because you have to be so darn precise in the mix.

Do you have any questions about these speakers?  Nearly all of my music’s recordings online have been mixed and/or mastered using these speakers, so feel free to poke around to get an idea of their capabilities.

You can take a look at more details here.

5 stars – an absolutely invaluable asset to my work.

Until next time, happy mixing and hearing all the details!

Dan

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