Pros: These are the best studio monitors in this price range.
YAMAHA HS50M POWERED STUDIO MONITORS
If you are serious about making good quality recordings, it is essential that you have good quality studio type monitors to mix your music on. Without the proper studio monitors, you may make a mix that sounds good on your home stereo system, but it might not sound good anywhere else. If that were the case, all of your hard work would be in vain. That is one of the reasons why a good set of studio monitors is essential to making good quality studio recordings and mixes. Clearly there is no shortage of types and/or brands of studio monitors to choose from out there today. I have however chosen to use a pair of Yamaha HS50M Powered Studio Monitors for my small listening room, and a pair of Yamaha HS80M Powered Studio Monitors in my main studio. In today's review, I shall however be focusing only on the Yamaha HS50M Powered Studio Monitors. Read on and decide if these actively powered speakers sound like something that you might be auditioning the next time that you are in the market for a pair of studio monitors.
If you are a beginner at home recording, you might be questioning the reasoning behind buying a pair of studio monitors when you could be using your stereo system as your monitoring system. Most home stereo systems have speakers that are "sweetened" in certain sonic areas or frequencies. This means that they are specifically designed to accentuate certain frequencies of the music that you are listening to for the specific purpose of making the music sound better. This is not what you want from a set of studio monitors. You want your studio speakers to have a flat frequency response, so that when you make a final mix down, and it sounds good, it is going to sound correct and accurate on a wide variety of other different sound systems, be it in a car, on a boom box, in a pair of headphones, or whatever you or someone else might be playing your final mix down through. That is why it is important to use a set of speakers that are designated as being flat studio monitor speakers.
Years ago when I was first starting out in the professional recording business and working in different studios, many of these studios used the Yamaha NS10M as their studio reference monitor when using small speakers to mix down on or for checking balances for reference purposes. They Yamaha NS10M's were literally the industry standard in these situations. Not because they were expensive and sounded so good. It was because they sounded so accurate. The rule of thumb at that time was simply this (and could still be said to be true today), if the song sounded good playing through a pair of Yamaha NS10M's, then it would sound good just about anywhere.
With this knowledge in mind, and with many years of experience at doing studio work, I decided a while back that I needed to outfit my own home based studio with the best reference monitors I could find and afford to purchase. When I decided to outfit my studio with reference speakers, I decided I would listen to many, many different actively powered speakers, and then choose what pair I felt would do the most accurate job for my purposes, and yet not bankrupt me in the process. Well after going to many different electronics stores and musical instrument stores that catered to professional and semi-professional recording enthusiasts, and after listening to many different speakers, and performing many many side by side comparisons, I chose the Yamaha HS50M for my small listening room and the Yamaha HS80M for my larger room. I came to this conclusion not because they were the best sounding speakers, but simply because they were the most accurate sounding speakers.
Let me get into some of the specifics regarding the Yamaha HS50M Powered Studio Monitors. These speakers have a list price tag of $249.95 each, and can very easily be found selling at a discount for $199.99. Thus a pair of these speakers will set you back about $400.00. However, also keep in mind that these speakers are "active" or "powered" speakers. That means you do not have to go crazy trying to find the perfect power amp and preamp that is going to match their ultra flat response and not add false and misleading coloration to the sound. There is already a 70 Watt internal built in power amp that drives the Yamaha HS50M's. There is an internal bi-amp system that drives a 5 inch woofer and a ¾ inch dome tweeter. If you know something about powering speakers, then you will be pleased to know that the HS50M uses a bi-amp power source, as this tends to soften the transition between the sound of the high frequencies and low frequencies, and there is less distortion, which means less fatigue when listening to the music or sound sources that you are mixing. I am sure that you know that is possible for a mixing session can go on for hours when one is trying to get even one song to sound just right.
There are several options open to you for connecting the Yamaha HS50M's to your mixing board or other mixing device. One can use balanced connectors such as microphone cables, which is probably the best way to go. If however you prefer, you may also use balanced TRS quarter inch connectors, and that will work every bit as well. If you do not have either of these options open to you for some reason, you can also use a simple old guitar cable to connect the Yamaha HS50M's to you mixing device.
On the back of the Yamaha HS50M's is a Level Control, which controls the overall volume level of the speakers. There is also a MID EQ Switch, which adjusts the level of the mid range frequencies. Keeping the switch in the "0" position maintains the flat frequency response of the speakers. Next we come to the ROOM CONTROL SWITCH which can correct any low frequency exaggeration that can result from close placement of the monitors to walls, corners, or even ceilings. This is so very important for compensating or correcting for poor speaker placement, because let's face it, not every one who owns a pair of these speakers is going to have a large acoustically perfect room. Next we come to the HIGH TRIM SWITCH which adjusts the high frequency range of the speakers. Setting the switch to "0" will result in a flat frequency response. Lastly we come to a LOW CUT Switch, which permits either a flat response, an 80 Hz. and below cut, and/or a 100 Hz. and below cut.
The overall frequency response of the Yamaha HS50M's is 55 Hz. to 20,000 Hz. Would I have preferred these speakers to have a frequency response of 15 Hz. to 25,000 Hz? Well of course I would, but one must make some compromises in life unless they have bottomless pockets. The crossover frequency is 3,000 Hz. These speakers have a height of 10.5625 inches, a width of 6.5 inches, and a depth of 8.75 inches. They also weigh 12.76 pounds each.
Do I have any complaints? Of course I do, but they are only two. One is that there is no speaker grille to protect the woofer, and I must confess that disturbs me. The other complaint is that the frequency response is not wider. Obviously, I can live with each of these complaints, since after all I did purchase the Yamaha HS50M Powered Studio Monitors, and I am very pleased that I did.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me I must get back to my practicing.