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Yamaha HS5 review

Back in the 1980s, Yamaha came out with the NS-10. These monitors sounded absolutely horrible, but it was that exact reason that Yamaha found great success through their release. The short of it all was that they were harsh, brittle, but extremely accurate at showing sore spots and weaknesses in any mix.

Yamaha’s newer line of monitors, the HS5, are often compared to the NS-10, and for the most part, that comparison is fairly accurate.

Like I said, the NS-10 sounded terrible, but in the context of practical mixing applications, they proved irreplaceable in their usefulness. The general idea was that if you could get your mix to sound good on the NS-10, then it would sound good on any other system. For this reason alone, the NS-10 are still well sought-after.

Thirty-some years later, of course, the HS5 seem to be the better option. Against the NS-10, the HS5 are far flatter in their response. The tweeters are easier on the ears (helping with fatigue), and the bass response is slightly better as well.

While many may steer you towards finding a used pair of NS-10, the HS5 may be the best present-day alternative to those legendary monitors.

About the author

I’m a producer and audio engineer with a decade’s worth of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I’ve worked with a huge variety of monitoring systems, including Genelec, Neumann, Adam Audio, Focal, JBL, and Yamaha, among others.

Yamaha HS5 studio monitors review
Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the Yamaha HS5 3.8

The Yamaha HS5 monitors are fine, maybe even a little bit better than fine. It seems that Yamaha is trying to keep up with the signature sound of the NS-10, which is great for several reasons but maybe horrible for some.

The bottom line is that these are monitors meant for mixing, and I say that in the most serious way possible. If you’re looking for monitors for casual mixing, or just to have some monitors for some lightweight creative endeavors, don’t buy these. They don’t sound good, but that’s exactly why they can prove invaluable for mix engineers – they’re not necessarily supposed to sound “good”.

If you want some monitors to show you what’s wrong with your mix, the HS5 is a good contender in the current market. Just like the NS-10 that preceded, if you can get a mix to sound right on the HS5, your mix will probably sound right on everything else.

What I like

  • Flat frequency response.
  • Great for mixing.
  • Stylish and well-built.

What I don’t like

  • Lack a lot of low end.
  • Not the most versatile option around.
Buy Yamaha HS5 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Power and frequency response 3.5

The Yamaha HS5 have a rough frequency response of about 74 Hz – 25 kHz at -3 dB (or 54 Hz – 30 kHz at -10 dB). The bass starts to roll off at around 200 Hz, recovering slightly around 80 Hz before the final drop-off.

Yamaha HS5 tweeter
Image: Higher Hz

Keeping this in mind, these monitors are unfortunately very bass-shy. If you intend to use them as your main monitors then investing in a good subwoofer should be written next on your to-do list.

Yamaha HS5 woofer
Image: Higher Hz

Beyond this, there is a notable peak (around 3 – 5 dB) right between 650 Hz and 1.3 kHz before a sudden drop-off that hits a trough at 2 kHz, increasing the presence of mid-range by quite a large margin.

There’s yet another small dip around 7 – 10 kHz, effectively understating any vocal sibilance that might occur in your mixes.

I/O and controls 4.0

On the rear panel, the monitor is equipped with two connection options: a balanced TRS input, as well as a balanced XLR input.

The HS5 also features a Room Control switch that allows you to engage a 2 to 4 dB low-cut below 500 Hz to compensate for muddy low-frequencies that may occur if your speakers are placed too close to a wall.

Yamaha HS5 inputs, outputs, and controls
Image: Higher Hz

This low-cut filter is accommodated by a corresponding High Trim filter, allowing you to cut 2 dB from frequencies above 2 kHz. This is extremely useful when having to attenuate for an overly dampened, or a conversely bright room.

Build quality 5.0

At a quick glance, the Yamaha HS5 carries on the signature look and design of Yamaha’s older monitors. Just like the NS-10, the HS5 share the same boxy cabinet, with the iconic white cone over the woofer. They feel fairly solid, and while they are on the smaller side, they’re incredibly durable.

There’s some weight to them, sure, but they’re still light enough to remain relatively portable.

Yamaha also chose to invert the color schemes as well in case any of you weren’t sold on the black and white color scheme of the default model. All in all, the HS5 monitors are stylish and well-built.

Compared to other studio monitors

While the Yamaha HS5s may very well be the perfect studio monitors for you, let’s take a look at other models to see how they compare.

Yamaha HS5 vs KRK Rokit 5 G4

The KRK Rokits, as I’ve discussed in the past, are some of the most popular monitors to date. While the HS5 are becoming increasingly popular as well, the comparison just about ends there.

The KRKs are extremely bass-heavy, and there is an exceptional amount of coloration they impose on the source material. Having said this, the Rokits sound better than the HS5, but working with them might set you up for an inaccurate sounding mix.

For the more serious engineers, the HS5 are most likely the better option.

Read the full KRK Rokit 5 G4 review

Yamaha HS5 vs PreSonus Eris E5

Without getting too technical, the Eris E5 is probably the better deal in this comparison. Although the Eris monitors lack a lot of low end in their response, just like the Yamahas, they’re much more versatile and their strengths outweigh the HS5 in value.

Read the full PreSonus Eris E5 review

For more great options, check out my recently updated picks of the best budget studio monitors in the $200-400 range and the best studio monitors under $500.

Who are the Yamaha HS5 best suited for?

The Yamaha HS5 monitors are a great option for mixing engineers. They don’t sound “good”, but they will highlight the problems in your mix. But we can’t recommend them for everyone.

Buy Yamaha HS5 at: SweetwaterAmazon