Sweet Sounds for Everyone! The Yamaha HS7 Review

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Yamaha undeniably has had a legacy in the audio world, manufacturing speakers, stereo systems, headphones, and more for decades. However, famed speakers like the NS10s have proven less useful for audiophiles and more useful for recording studios, demanding the flattest frequency response possible. Yamaha’s HS series of monitors- including a 5, 7 , and 8 inch version – aims to recapture the magic that were held inside of NS10s – white cone and all.

However, the newer iterations, the HS series, are active monitors, housing the amplifier inside of the speaker. While this is a huge convenience over the NS10s, a big part of the NS10 sound came from the amplifier used with it. Does the HS series live up to this legacy despite the differences? Or is this just another mediocre low-end speaker?

Overview

The HS7 is the closest in size to the NS10, holding a 6.5” woofer and a 1” dome tweeter. The cabinet is bi-amplified, with 65W reserved for the low filter and 30W for the high filter, totaling a 95W speaker. In addition, the speaker holds high and low shelves to tune the speaker to your room. The HS7s are rear-ported speakers as well, so you may need to take advantage of these shelves to get the bass just right.

On the back of the speaker, there are XLR and ¼ TRS inputs. While these two inputs cover most systems, the lack of RCA input shows that these are lower-end speakers. Most audiophiles out there will have an array of cables to remedy this sort of issues, but it was a bit of annoyance when hooking u the entire system.

Each of the speakers span from 43Hz-30kHz with a single point crossover at 2kHz. While the bass is impressive for such a small speaker, it may not be enough low end without a subwoofer. The marketing material states that the speakers reach all the way down to 43Hz, but the HS7s had notable drop-off around 50Hz. This, however, is better than most speakers on the market in this price bracket.

The construction of the HS7 shows where costs were cut. The cabinet in made entirely of MDF (medium density fiberboard) with the only metal piece being the heat sinks in the rear. While most speakers don’t have metal on their cabinets (thank God), it would be welcome to see a nicer wood to construct the cabinets out of instead of just fiberboard.

Unfortunately, the fiberboard doesn’t do much for the weight of the speaker either, clocking each speaker in at 18.1lbs.  The weight isn’t backbreaking, but I was expecting a much tighter and compact speaker when I first received them. At 8 1/4” x 11 1/16” x 11 3/16”, the speakers are a bit larger than what I would expect from a 6.5” woofer speaker. While a bit on the large side for this range, the speakers still didn’t take up too much room and the weight was only slightly annoying.

Performance

True to the NS10 heritage, the HS7 aims to be as flat as possible. It achieves this plight. However, this translates into the speaker having a slightly overblown midrange that sometimes drowns out the sparkly highs and booming lows. While this definition in the midrange is needed for professional audio applications, it may come off as unpleasant in a home environment. If you’re listening to great sounding music, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if there are errors in the production of the music you’re listening to, the HS7 will let you know about it.

The speakers were impressive in reproducing low-end frequencies despite their roll-off and size. While there isn’t much information below 50Hz, it is still nice to see some lows from such a small speaker. Regardless of this feat, the low-end is not enough to satisfy without a dedicated sub-woofer. If you’re looking to shake the house with a single set of speakers, you may want to look elsewhere.

On the other end of the spectrum, the highs are smooth and are reproduced without much harshness. This is something to commend the HS7s for considering that most low-end speakers are way too rolled off in the highs, or way too harsh. While the highs aren’t as sparkly and crisp as more expensive speakers, they are enough to satisfy considering the price point.

Some of the Cons

All of that being said, the HS7 are nearfield speakers and really sound best when place within a foot or two of the listener. While they don’t sound bad from further away, the lows begin to sound obtuse, drowning out the midrange and high end completely. This is largely due to where the speakers are positioned in the room, but still the large cabinet seems to radiate low-end if you’re not positioned in the sweet spot.

Another pitfall of this nearfield design is that very limited sweet spot of the speakers. While they sound great for the price positioned just right, they give an almost cone filter effect when moving to either side, bringing along that low-end rumble. This is a problem with most speakers, however it is particularly noticeable on the HS7s.

The best placement I have found for these speakers is about a 1.5’ apart from each other with the listener positioned about 1.5’-2’ away, right in the center. This provides the most accurate response of the speakers, while avoiding the cone filter effect. I backed my speakers up about 8” to 1’ away from the wall as well to prevent the lows firing out of the back to build up too much.

Because of the limitations in placement and how good the audio sounds, it’s difficult to justify the speakers for a home theater or party situation. While they are certainly loud enough to fill a room, they may not produce optimal sound quality for all listeners, bringing the whole experience down overall.

If you’re looking to crank the speakers up as loud as you can, the HS7s may be a poor choice. While they can get very loud, they distort at extreme loud places. In addition, the speakers begin to sound cluttered when turned up too loud, as if there was too much information and the speaker can’t push it all out at once. However, this is in extreme circumstances and the speakers still sound great for most listening volumes.

Overall Rating

The Yamaha HS7s fall victim to many of the negative signs of cheaper speakers – limited range, cheap construction, and a very narrow sweet spot. However, at $600 a pair, you would be hard-pressed to find a speaker that sounds more accurate. Of course, you can check out the latest prices and discounts here!

However, if you’re looking for a colored sound, the HS7s will sorely disappoint. The speakers are meant to sound accurate and because of that, tend to show the worst in songs instead of the best.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Very loud
  • Accurate
  • Great lows for such a small speaker
  • Highs are not too harsh

Cons

  • Cheap construction
  • Inflated midrange
  • Limited range
  • Narrow sweet spot

The Final Take

When considering all aspects of the Yamaha HS7, they do offer quite an incredible value at the price. While the speakers are not as flattering as some on the market, they achieve much more than even much more expensive speakers – reproducing sound accurately.

However, this comes with costs. The HS7s are cheaply made, and that sometimes reflects in the sound, especially at extreme volumes. Despite this limitation, the HS7s are incredible speakers at an incredible cost. They may be more suited to a single listener instead of a room of people, though.

If you’re looking for a solid pair of speakers for personal listening, it’s hard to go wrong with the legacy of Yamaha. The HS7s prove to continue this lineage, providing inexpensive speakers that rival much more expensive pairs in reproducing sounds accurately. If you can deal with the limitations, the HS7s may be the right fit for you at only $600 a pair.

Juan Alexander

Juan is a self-professed sound-nerd and the webmaster / lead author & tester for AllSoundLab. You might literally walk into him on the street because he's tuned out to the world and tuned into his beats...

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