Honesty and integrity are always important, especially if we are talking about sound and audio equipment. Recording studio owners need the most honest sound possible. And decent studio monitor speakers are the best way to understand just what you are dealing with in a mix.
No fake bass, no fake treble, just pure and unadulterated sound waves are what we need. That’s why I had to write this in-depth Yamaha HS5 review to talk about the best studio monitor speaker in a price range you can afford.
High-quality studio monitor speakers at affordable prices are more difficult to find than the lovechild of DB Cooper and Lord Lucan. Intrigued? Of course, you are, so let’s find out more.
Who Should Buy This Yamaha Monitor Speaker?
This Yamaha HS5 is not for your standard music listener or casual movie watchers with a surround sound system. This model is for sound engineers, small-scale producers, beat-makers, and composers.
Especially those on a budget…
Do you want honest and reliable sound waves in your recording studio that you can trust? In an ideal world, you would opt to buy the biggest and best studio monitor speakers that you can afford. However, when on a budget, sound engineers have to be a bit savvier and make some sacrifices.
When you are mixing and mastering on the fly…
You need a flat, unbiased, and pure sound that you can then manipulate via your mixer or compressors and other equipment. If you are a producer or engineer who makes EDM or other bass-heavy musical genes, this speaker probably isn’t for you.
But, for general studio mixing and mastering at a high level for an affordable price, this Yamaha monitor speaker is a great option.
Yamaha HS5 Review – Key Features
With all the pleasantries out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. This is a smaller monitor speaker with a 5” woofer and 1” bi-amplified dome tweeter that ideally suits those with a smaller studio space.
You won’t find many high-quality monitor speakers for under $200. But this beauty is well below that price. It’s very lightweight when compared to the more cumbersome 8” models. Yet, it still delivers a true and uncompromised sound that you might expect from bigger monitors.
This sleek and elegant bi-amplified speaker gave me a consistent and surprising performance with a very flat and clear sound. And this is largely due to it having its own amp and built-in power.
HS5 models have super-sized beefy magnets as well as an advanced magnetic circuit design. You get a tighter and more versatile controlled field across a broad frequency range.
Inputs and Connections
There are a few things to consider when looking at the inputs and connections. The Yamaha HS5 monitor speaker comes equipped with balanced TRS and XLR inputs. But, if you are a DJ looking for a standard monitor speaker so you can match beats in a live setting, this might not be for you.
That’s because it doesn’t have RCA connections. However, one way around this is to use a cable that can connect an RCA connection to TRS or XLR.
The connections are ideally suited for recording studios, sound engineers, and producers. Not so much for DJs or live performers. There are no XLR cables included, but to be fair, they very rarely are with these types of products.
Room Control and Tuning Features
Where you place these speakers in the studio is very important. I found that this monitor needs to be at least five feet away from any walls to get the best sound. So, if your studio is tight for space management, you need to be super-careful where you position it.
This leads nicely into the tuning control functions that make it easier to find the ideal distance between the monitor and the walls. The High-Trim and Room Control switches are a welcome addition that allowed me to configure the high and low ends to suit my room.
You can use these to match most studio room environments…
The frequency ranges for this speaker are 54Hz – 30kHz, so both the high and low ends are fully covered. Although, it’s not perfect for the lower end of the sound spectrum. But, if you routinely work with a lot of bass instruments, I recommend that you use an additional subwoofer for the low end.
High-Performing Bi-Amp Features
This HS-series speaker is fully equipped with a high-performance bi-amp design that perfectly matches its newly developed magnetic transducers. This bi-amp design means you get a separate yet dedicated amp for both the tweeter and the woofer.
By separating these parts, the sound quality and performance are excellent. You get a flat response across the entire sound spectrum, which is what engineers and producers are looking for. Yet, another reason this is one of the best budget friendly studio monitor speakers you can buy.
New and Improved Noise Reduction Qualities
These types of port design monitor speakers usually have problems where noise is concerned. This Yamaha HS5 monitor has new and improved noise reduction features that offer reduction rates up to around 6dB.
Vortexes at each side of the port are usually the culprit for unwanted noise where air-generated vibrations are concerned. This speaker’s advanced noise reduction qualities reduce the vortex issues that blight many a recording session.
Features like this are why you can’t beat the Yamaha HS5 for the combination of unbiased sound quality and affordability.
Yamaha HS5 – Design and Construction Elements
Most Yamaha products are built to last. They have had a glittering reputation for high-end recording studio equipment and musical instruments since the 1970s. Their studio equipment is as solid and reliable as their mopeds.
Strong, solid, reliable, and dependable are the cornerstone of Yamaha. And this monitor speaker is no different. It’s a heavy-duty kit that can take some knocks and bumps and still work to exceptional levels.
No messing about…
The Yamaha HS5 can be used right out of the box and is easy to operate and connect to your gear. It only weighs 11.7 pounds. As a result, it’s one of the best lightweight studio monitor speakers out there.
Although it has a compact size of 6.7” x 11.25” x 8.75”, it can fit larger or smaller studio rooms, and you won’t notice. Major recording studios to small-scale home studios can both get the best from this monitor.
The aesthetics of the design also impressed me…
The speaker looks compact and sleek, but it’s also elegant and modern. It looks great in my studio. And, although appearances are not always important, it does look pretty good, and I like that. You can choose from either a black-and-white or an all-white design.
You should choose the color that suits your overall studio design because something that looks so good can enhance the overall design elements of your recording room. And, if you want to impress potential artists, this is a great-looking speaker.
Low-Resonance Enclosure Design
One of my favorite HS5 elements is the low-resonance enclosure design that cuts out any unwanted resonance. This ensures that you get a very reliable and accurate sound. That means something to a producer like me who is hell-bent on creating the best audio possible.
The enclosures are constructed from densely-packed MDF. This results in a dampened acoustic resonance to ensure that the sound is honest and unbiased. Working in tandem with the noise reduction features, this is like a two-prong attack to eliminate any unwanted noise for perfect production values.
If you have a smaller studio room like me, finding the best places to position and install monitor speakers can be a real hassle. Yamaha has taken this into account and made the HS5 one of the easiest to install studio monitor speakers in the game.
There are so many installation options with lots of mounting points and screws…
Installation compatibility is an important factor that so many sound engineers overlook. We can sometimes get so caught up in production values that we forget how important it is to install and position monitor speakers correctly.
The HS5 monitor is easy to install on ceilings and walls. And it can even be used in conjunction with baton brackets, although they are not included in the package.
How Does This Yamaha HS5 Sound?
Design elements and key features aside, the real question is, how does the Yamaha HS5 monitor speaker sound in your studio? Pretty dang well when I used it. It has very clear high and mid ranges, and you can’t ask for more than that from such an affordable monitor speaker.
If I had to sum that up in one word…
It would be “clarity,” and that’s the best you can expect from an active monitor speaker in your studio. This is why producers and audio engineers alike wax lyrical about the entire Yamaha HS series.
We sometimes get the wrong idea that loud is best, especially where volume and bass are concerned. But any sound engineer will tell you that consistent flat response is king.
That is because it’s an unbiased sound that you can then manipulate with your mixer or compressors and sound modules separately. This speaker sounds clear, concise, crisp, and flat, which are all things that producers love.
How about the low-end?
One of the major negatives about this monitor is the lack of low-end. But that’s not surprising, considering this is a 5” speaker. They are made for mastering and mixing more than anything else.
And, the lack of low-end shouldn’t be an issue for sound engineers. It might be a good thing because you are not tricked by a fake deep bass that shakes the room.
The harsh reality…
This monitor doesn’t operate well under 60kHz. So, if you are buying a speaker to give you a clear impression of this range, it’s probably not for you. This is why I mentioned earlier that this model does not suit EDM producers.
The only way around this is to get an additional subwoofer. Or to use a good-quality set of mixing headphones with decent low-end frequencies, which most of them do.
Does it make much noise?
No, it doesn’t make much noise, and this is one of its more positive features. As I mentioned, this monitor reduces noise up to 6dB, and that’s quite a massive bonus.
Constant hums and noises are nightmares that plague a sound engineer’s dreams and can massively affect the music-making process negatively. If you are still experiencing a constant hum and noise even when using the Yamaha HS5, it’s probably due to some other problem with your setup.
Yamaha HS5 Review – Pros and Cons
- Flat and clear sound.
- Compact yet elegant design.
- Two design styles to choose from.
- Top-notch build quality.
- Perfect for studio mastering and mixing.
- Ideal for large to smaller studio layouts.
- Vast installation compatibility.
- Brilliant noise reduction qualities.
- Not ideal for DJs or EDM producers.
- The low-end is not very good.
- No extra cables are included.
In the Market for Great Studio Monitor Speakers?
Well, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Studio Monitors Under $500, the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200, the Best Studio Monitor Speakers, the Best Powered Speakers, and the Best Bookshelf Speakers you can buy in 2023.
Yamaha HS5 Review – Conclusion
If you are in the market for an excellent value-for-money monitor speaker that is high-performance yet compact, this Yamaha HS5 is a perfect choice. Any monitor speaker built of this quality for less than $150 is an absolute steal.
It’s ideally suited to producers and studio engineers who need quality but are on a budget. Those with limited studio space will also find this model the perfect fit, both literally and metaphorically.
For sure, it’s not great for low-end bass…
But, if you are mixing and mastering and need an honest and reliable unbiased sound, you need to blow the dust off your credit card right away. Yamaha always makes audio products that are reliable, solid, robust, and high-performance to boot.
These things, in tandem with the affordability factor, prove why so many producers are opting for this model. And the lightweight design and installation features make it easy to position and move about to get the right sound every time.
Until next time, happy listening.