At Yamaha, for many years there was a desire to repeat the enormous success of the NS-1000 and NS-1000M, belonging to the exclusive group of loudspeakers with the world’s longest production time. Yamaha proudly presents its new flagship Yamaha NS-5000 bookshelf speakers.
The ultimate move that this renowned company can do in the field of loudspeakers. Given the long experience with Yamaha products in the listening room and studio, this leads to high expectations.
Yamaha will be known by many of the musical instruments, outboard motors, boats, motorcycles, mopeds, hi-fi equipment and the extensive product range for professional studios. The latest category includes the professional monitors from the HS and MSP series, the analogue and digital 19-inch outboard processors and of course the large mixing tables for the studio. The Japanese brand has often put iconic products on the market, such as the GX-1 and the CS-80 synthesizers. The first has been a wish of yours for years, but only artists like Rick van der Linden, ABBA and Keith Emerson could afford such a device.
Other milestones were the DX7, one of the first commercially available synthesizers with FM synthesis and the phenomenal series Electone organs. The hi-fi equipment always had a luxurious look. The famous tuner / amplifiers were often sold through the chic music stores. Not where you just walked in. The classic receivers from Yamaha are currently sought-after collector’s items.
The new NS-5000 fits in a series of monitors that also include the familiar NS-10, NS-1000 and NSX-10000. There is virtually no studio where the NS-10 is missing. The NS-10 (1978) was initially designed as a bookshelf hi-fi speaker by Akira Nakamura, following the NS-20 and NS-30 (1968). Yamaha started with the development of domestic and professional loudspeakers following the Natural Sound loudspeakers developed by them for the highly successful Electone organs. The NS-10 sounded ‘harsh’ and bright in the high and the integration between the drivers was not optimal. Studio engineer Bob Clearmountain found a solution by sticking the hf driver with tissues. Eventually, Yamaha came with a version with modified crossover (NS-10M) and this one continued as a professional loudspeaker.
In studios, if the mix sounds good on an NS-10, it performs well everywhere. There are 200,000 of them built and you can find them in almost every studio. Nakamura then developed the NS-1000 and this transceiver saw the world’s first application of beryllium (mid and upper range drivers). Initially the NS-1000 had to overcome two prejudices. Japanese speakers still did not have the reputation to be very good, although there are of course a number of high-profile exceptions, including from Sony and Kondo. How disturbed audiophiles can be in their prejudices prove the stories that flew around at the time. Metal (beryllium) ‘sounds like metal’, so the NS-1000 would sound stark and metallic. Those prejudices have made Yamaha a lot of trouble at the time. Anyone who has ever heard of the NS-1000 knows better. The almost electrostatic high sounds neutral, lightning fast, reaches very high frequency regimes and is super-smooth yet realistic. The NS-1000 was therefore a huge success and is still a desirable speaker to own.
The model, with an ebony finish of thick solid wood, has been in production for 23 years and became the reference monitor of many broadcasters and studios. The pro version is the NS-1000M. There are very few speakers in history with such a long production time. Probably the Rogers LS3 / 5A and the Bose 901. Both highly desirable classics. Nowadays we live in a throwing and thrown world, where few loudspeaker manufacturers are able to design a model that is perfect in one go and that it will be followed up by Mark X within a year. Imagine Airbus would work. The hi-fi industry is notorious for the product innovation over the back of the consumer. Innovation is also a term that in the last ten years almost exclusively applies to (a part of) the loudspeaker market and digital.
There is now the NS-5000. At Yamaha there was always a desire to repeat the success of the NS-1000. But then without beryllium. Every material has advantages and disadvantages, but Yamaha has been looking for a material that could match the speed of beryllium. The Japanese have absolute sense of humor. Just like the NS-1000 at the time, the NS-5000 is being marketed as a 3-way bookshelf loudspeaker. No idea which bookshelves in Tokyo are common, but a loudspeaker with dimensions of 395 x 690 x 381 cm and a weight of about 40 kilos will embarrass many bookshelves here.
The shape of a so-called bookshelf loudspeaker also delayed the introduction of the NS-1000 at the time. It is a different form than the columns where the hi-fi market is forgiven and the NS-1000 as a bookshelf was simply too big and too heavy to really stand on a bookshelf. In addition, loudspeakers by definition should never be placed in a bookcase. That frustrates the performance of almost every speaker in a huge way. With the NS-1000, the market had a placement problem and that will also take some getting used to with the NS-5000. The NS-5000 is reminiscent of the large studio monitors of, among others, JBL and Urei. A very different approach than the drizzly pillars of 90 cm high that have pushed the consumer massively through the throat. The NS-5000 has a woofer with a diameter of 30 cm (12 inches).
If you listen to that, it becomes clear where most of those pillars go wrong. There’s no substitute for cubic inches… But, with ‘bookshelf’, Yamaha also means design. Ergo, the NS-5000 monitors are meant, just like any other loudspeaker, to be completely free in the listening room on their beautiful included tripods (included in the price). The tripods are fully adapted to the NS-5000 with regard to resonance control and tuning.
The NS-5000 is full of smart technologies and below is an overview of the most important features. Yamaha does not apply beryl lium anymore. A synthetic fiber has been developed which is one of the strongest plastics in the world and has the speed of beryllium. The three drivers each have a cone of this so-called ZYLON. Sound gives that homogeneity, because all drivers use the same material. ZYLON is used by, among others, NASA and in Formula 1.
It is stronger and lighter than beryllium, extremely strong and flame resistant. The latter is nice if the volume goes a little bit harder. Chief engineer Koji Okasaki, who has a leading role in the NS-5000 project, is obviously pleased with the material, because it reaches the speed of beryllium. Speed in loudspeaker systems and in electronics is a fundamentally important factor in reproducing realistic sound. Okasaki sees the target group for the NS-5000 as being music lovers looking for a realistic and musical view. To translate the notion of ‘musicality’ equally freely, it means that music is displayed as it occurs in practice. Musicality is not here in the musicological sense.
There are of course a number of elements from the NS-1000 left. Among other things, the choice of three drivers with specific diameters and their asymmetrical positioning to prevent interference with the ‘edges’ of the housing. The same cone material (ZYLON) is used for all drivers, so that these speakers perform sound identical over the entire frequency range. The dome of the tweeter has a Monel coating. This increases the detailing of wind instruments. ZYLON is a fiber material and fibers have specific problems with the detailed representation of wind instruments.
It is striking that all voicecoils are wrapped with square copper wire. That is a technique that in the past led to the remarkable performances of JBL drivers and the Magnat speakers. Behind the hf and mf drivers are ‘resonance suppression chambers’. Somewhat comparable to the Nautilus from B & W. They damp resonances. Such a room works better than having insulation material in the housing, because absorption material kills the sound, influences the frequency range and robs the sound of minute details and dynamics. Many modern speakers do not have absorption material in the housing. It is of course a strange approach that acoustic power is generated first by the supply of (a lot of) electrical power and that the acoustic power is then damped by insulating material. Bit similar to giving a lot of gas, while the handbrake is kept on. Yamaha tackles the remaining resonances with an acoustic absorber in the cabinet. The enclosure itself is built of white birch ply, one of the most acoustically ideal materials for speaker enclosures and pedestals for so-called rim-drive turntables.
Yamaha also researched this material for the construction of the wings. The front panel of the NS-5000 has a 3 cm thick birch ply plate and the other parts are 2 cm thick. Based on FEM analysis, the housing is provided with a number of precisely calculated cross bars. They make the whole cabinet virtually free of resonance without using internal damping materials. The NS-5000 is a bass reflex. The gate has a rotation, which greatly reduces the noise of the flowing air mass in the gate. Yamaha calls that the Twisted Flair Port. The NS-5000 comes with foam pads that can enter the gate. With these pads a semi-closed system is created where the layer has a more linear course. Actually the best option to listen to the NS-5000.
Yamaha NS-5000: Further specifications
The loudspeakers are delivered in black piano lacquer, applied via a process that is also used for the ‘grands’. The structure of this piano lacquer finish contributes to the rigidity of the housing and therefore the acoustic properties. The crossover contains Mundorf components, such as the MCap SUPREME EVO and the MResist SUPREME. The NS-5000 fits on the SPS-5000 stand, with a height of 305 mm. The stand has four aluminum carriers that are placed at an angle and therefore do not cause any reflections. The spikes (with balls) are adjustable and the high weight of the stand makes them resonant free.
The NS-5000’s main specs include the frequency range from 26 Hz to 100 kHz (-30 dB), 40 kHz at -10 dB, a sensitivity of 88 dB, an impedance of 6 Ohm and a lowest impedance of 3.5 Ohm. The impedance curve shows that the lower values occur above 10,000 Hertz. When the NS-5000 is on the stand, the total height is about 1.10 meters. They are an unmistakable part of the interior and have the chic appearance and dominant presence of a Yamaha Grand.
The so-called triad theory applies to the construction of audio sets. In the middle of the triangle (triad) is the term ‘perfect sound’. The three points of the triangle represent the placement, the acoustics and the match between the amplifier and the loudspeakers. If those three aspects are optimal, then the basis of the system is also optimal. The sources are located around the triangle. If the triangle is ‘right’, every source that is selected with the maximum quality for that source will sound. This is simply a matter of scaling up. As mentioned, the third point of the triad is about the interaction, via the cable, between the loudspeaker and the amplifier. Shortly through the bend, the loudspeaker forms a complex impedance with reactive elements within the resistance, inductance and capacitance.
Also the voicecoils form an alternating impedance under the influence of the temperature. Depending on the design of an amplifier, this device responds in a certain way to that motional impedance. The power supply plays a role, the negative feedback and, for example, the way in which amplifiers deal with a reactive load. Add to that the characteristics of a cable and a mathematical formula is created with a considerable number of variables. It is therefore sheer nonsense to claim that matching a loudspeaker via a cable with the amplifier is a simple job, as recently was to be read somewhere in a magazine. Building the ultimate performing audio systems ‘is and should be incredibly difficult’, as a paraphrase to a statement made by producer and engineer Mike Patto a few years ago in New Zealand’s York Street Studios. The result of such a ‘match’ is immediately audible and measurable.
For example, a mismatch manifests itself in a so-called ‘skewed slope’ of the frequency curve. A system then sounds too high and too low in the layer. Extremely irritating if you have program material that has been mastered in the right way. Happened last time when the undersigned stopped a well-recorded production in a demo-set. The system in question made mince from this recording. According to the seller, the recording was not … If all the conditions within the triad are met, you can then use sources. At the NS-5000 specific amplifiers were sought with a match. Then the associated cable must also fit. Which cable that is makes no difference, as long as it is matched. In the listening room that match was made by measuring with, among other things, the TEK analyzer. A very good match arose in this case with cables from AudioQuest and Zensati. Experience shows that the NS-5000 feels comfortable with some more powerful amplifiers that can provide a lot of power.
The NS-5000 is on average critical to set up. It is actually a disguised studio monitor in a consumer jacket and from home very linear, neutral and with an electrostatic transparency. It is absolutely no loudspeaker that has a beaten high, which often results in a harsh and aggressive sound and gives the impression of being a detailed sounding loudspeaker. These loudspeakers are very sensitive to the three aspects within the triad, partly due to their very high level of micro-detailing, transparency and linearity. The good news is that it is possible to get these Yamaha’s to play in every perfection.
It is certainly not a very critical loudspeaker, but it just needs to be worked on just like with any other loudspeaker. That means that every mistake that is made comes into the limelight. In the specific acoustic qualities of the listening room, 5 mm difference in toe-in and 1 cm difference in distance between the loudspeakers had a major impact on the characteristics of the soundstage and its coherence. Just blame yourself, recognize and acknowledge that your ingenuity is completely inadequate, but do not blame the Yamaha’s and just continue with round 4.
It took an hour and a half for these speakers to play well. That is already a relatively long time to set up a system properly. It sounded very good and convincing at the time, but there was one cable difference between good and ultimate. After a few days of listening, there was still a slight dissatisfaction about a certain aspect of the reproduction. The ultimate goal is ultimately to get as close as possible to what is audible on the studio floor. That required a speaker cable with a specific set of values. In principle, not special, because there will be a few dozen cables available in the market with these characteristics. But, of course not available here, so it’s built from raw materials. The newly measured cable drove the system to the ultimate performance. Such a cable has an immediate effect on homogeneity and linearity. All not rocket science, but it just teaches that the cable has a (relatively) small and sometimes significant piece of influence within the match. Actually the last five percent.
Live for the band
Perhaps the most striking and most desirable feature of these Yamaha’s is the ability to present music life-like. It sounds close to real voices and instruments. It is also striking that these loudspeakers have a certain degree of forgiveness. Of course you immediately hear what quality a recording has, but less ideal recorded productions do not immediately become unobtrusive. This is certainly not because these loudspeakers cover every material with the mantle of love and always sound polite and subdued. There are of course loudspeakers that have dynamic problems and with strongly rounded curves at both ends of the frequency spectrum. Suitable for consumers who want tranquillizers when they hear a real bang on a snare.
No, these Yamaha’s sound lifelike, with real speed and the power that has life-music. Listening to the NS-5000 is to a large extent whether you are standing on the studio floor. The high that comes from the NS-5000 is therefore the real high as instruments that present. That is never shrill, mean, cool, ‘white’ or aggressive. It is supposedly ‘realistic high’. So it is not the withdrawn, soft ‘daring’ and drift-like sound like many hi-fi speakers and some Japanese amplifiers present that and where everyone with some experience with real instruments and concerts is annoyed. These are usually the loudspeakers that from a flurry of commercial thinking present a sound that does not chase mammals and protects the sensitive listener. It has nothing to do with any representation of reality. The NS-5000 lets you hear music as if you were live for the band. That is actually true. With most recordings the microphones are less than a meter away from the instruments. That is the listening position. That can be upfront and confrontational and that’s the way it should be. You can not expect a system to be presented as if you were sitting in row 12. If so, you have a very bad system.
Beautiful layer foundation
But, that realistic and sculptural presentation of the NS-5000 is of unprecedented beauty. The NS-5000 sounds very clean, extremely pure and with unprecedented but natural detailing. The extreme degree with which the NS-5000 can give a completely natural and well-defined detail is impressive when the Sennheiser HE-1 is used as a preamplifier. As a consumer you will of course not soon use a HE-1, but it shows for a moment what the NS-5000 is capable of. It is all very transparent and the focusing and placement within the internship is phenomenal. Part of that realism is once again that speed. For example, that makes percussion appear as clear images within the internship. This also applies to piano stops or strings.
An attack on a wing has a very specific way of extinction. First the explosive attack of the tone and then the slow dissolving of the sound, which is often audible as a sort of match between harmonics, each of which shifts the tonal balance slightly every millisecond. The middle area is displayed very nicely and it looks like this area is placed slightly subtly forward. The layer can play with an enormous weight, goes pretty deep and is well defined. The best results apply if the gates are closed. A lot of music is put down with such a nice layer foundation, just as big woofers can. You notice the limitation of many pillar loudspeakers with 8-inch woofers, but that is of course not always applicable. The low level of the NS-5000 is reminiscent of the larger loudspeakers from the seventies and eighties. Years where the ‘WAF’ had not completely struck, the woman was even less emancipated and the man was not yet a wimp and often determined the choice of speakers.
The NS-5000 makes a difference in that the quality of the layer is of course much better than the average of the larger systems from the last century, although the NS-5000 emits a touch of warmth in the deepest layer. Spectacular low, as can be heard on the recently written CD of the Nils Økland Band (Lysning www.hubromusic.com). Or the spectacular and room-wide sounding wing on the Rhapsody tape by Denise Jannah and Atzko Kohashi, shown from one of the Studer machines. If you talk about internship, the Yamaha can set up a spectacular internship. That has something to do with the Yamaha’s, but also with a placement technique designed here in the listening room, which creates a completely free and convincing stage, where the sound sometimes bends around you from left and right and certainly from above. It then forms a kind of acoustic bell that takes place in the listening room. That was extremely noticeable among other things with tracks from Gloria Estefan’s ‘Destiny’. Really horrifyingly good.
Yamaha’s NS-5000 flagship loudspeaker is a very worthy successor to the famous NS-1000. Neutral, linear, dynamic, super detailed, homogeneous, transparent, extremely pure and clean-sounding and with phenomenal stage properties. Within the sum of all these features, the NS-5000 is not such an annoying ‘hi-fi’ loudspeaker. Here is the professional experience of Yamaha. The NS-5000 is as unobtrusive as possible for the event in the studio. Obviously to the (high) level that is possible within this design and the available budget. The best thing is that these loudspeakers, with appropriate control, present a real and realistic presentation of the event in the studio or the live happening. A band is just right in front of you, it grabs you immediately and is fascinating to experience, but if the microphone positions are farther away, this loudspeaker also switches to the corresponding place of the musicians within the stage. This image is very precise, but always has a natural flow. Without compromising on important sound characteristics, these Yamaha’s are in a way more forgiving towards lesser recordings.
The YG speakers, for example, have that less. If the recording is perfect, then you listen almost to the ‘holy grail’, but if recordings are less of a quality, then these Americans will explain it a bit more clearly. The big advantage for the consumer will be very likely that the investment in the NS-5000 will remain valid for a long time. It is not in the line of expectations that Yamaha with some regularity with mark 2 to mark 8 versions. That gives peace in a world where many loudspeaker manufacturers across the back of consumers within five years time with three completely ‘renewed’ lines. As is the case for every loudspeaker in the world, there are also sound aspects that have been further developed in loudspeaker systems that cost double to ten times. That is a choice you have as a consumer. But, without having to analyze the last bit, this NS-5000 has a form of ‘fundamental rightness’. What you hear is just right, but it also has a kind of hard to describe value, so listening to these Yamaha’s gets a kind of addictive effect.
€ 15,000 per pair