The Reason why Yamaha NS10s have been the Industry Standard for Decades

The Reason why Yamaha NS10s have been the Industry Standard for Decades.

A bit of backstory here. I bought my first pair (I have 5 now) when I was 17 years old. With excitement and passion I opened up that box and wired them into my studio. I thought to myself, “FINALLY. I will get to hear the way music was meant to be heard. All of my favorite songs were mixed on these. So they will sound their BEST on these speakers”.

I put on a CD and sat in my chair and listened. My jaw dropped to the floor. What was wrong? Where are the Lows? Where are the Highs? Did I wire one of the speakers backwards? It was… in a word… TERRIBLE.

I forget what happened next but I obviously decided to keep listening and working on them. Mixing and comparing my mixes on other speakers. It was a huge adjustment. I remember making the super high end (10kHz) too bright at first as I wanted things to sound pretty. These are NOT pretty speakers.

So why are these speakers so popular in the control room? Why did popular mixers use these as their main speakers?

To me. It’s like this: They are a magnifying glass for the mid-range to upper mid range. And this IMHO is the most important area to work in. This is where our mixes sound “up front”. “In your Face”.

The high end and the low end are going to vary with every speaker you listen to. So as much as that’s still important, you can’t really control what the listener will hear. But the mid-range is pretty consistent from speaker to speaker. Even if you’re listening with an iPhone. You’re hearing mid-range.

And what instruments live in the mid-range? Let’s see. We have the Vocal, the Snare, the Piano, the Guitars, the Attack of the Kick Drum and the Clarity of the Bass Guitar.

Pretty much. EVERYTHING!!!! And these are the things that are “fighting” for the listeners attention. If you can get all of these things to co-exist in this space, you’re 85% to 90% of the way there. The High End doesn’t “fight” nearly as much. Even the Low End only has a few contenders looking to be heard.

But everything is happening in the Mid to Upper Mid Range. And that’s the focus of these speakers. If you “live” in this “playground” for 85% to 90% of your mix, your mixes will be consistent on every system they’re played on.

And this is WHY most mixers still prefer the Yamaha NS10s. Because they understand where the focus should be and how well  these speakers translate when they’ll be played back on different systems.

I will add that I have a Genelec sub-woofer that I absolutely need to work with the NS10s. It took me years to perfect the balance of the sub-woofer with my Yamahas but I really don’t need to listen to anything else. I keep a Sony boombox in the back of my room that I listen to as I’m printing to check for anything I missed in High end Mid range relationship. But that usually would be a Tamb. plus or minus 3dB adjustment at most.

I hope this message finds you. Well… Kenny

Kenny Gioia

One thought on “The Reason why Yamaha NS10s have been the Industry Standard for Decades

  1. David Bonin says:

    Thanks Kenny! That’s an important lesson, to not push lows or highs to make it sound pretty.

    What amp do you use/recommend for the NS10s?

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