New Monitor Speakers

I ended up buying Yamaha HS8 monitor speakers instead of the Dynaudio Professional BM5 mkIII ones I had on my wish list.

Yamaha HS8

I had heard some bad things about the old Yamaha NS-10 that this model is supposedly based on, so I had neglected to take a closer look at it. However, reviews on the Internet now favored it over the BM5 mkIII.

Before going to the shop, I had actually set out to buy its little brother, the HS7, but they were out of stock everywhere. At the shop, they had the HS7 and HS8 hooked up to an A/B switch. While the HS7 sounded better than my old Tascam VL-X5, the HS8 made them both sound boxy and constrained. It was a stretch for my wallet, but I went for the HS8.

I took my new speakers home and placed them in my small bedroom studio. They sounded terrible. I should have anticipated that the size of the room would be a problem with these bigger speakers. After thinking about it for a while, I spent a few hours moving all my equipment into the living room.

I placed the speakers a few feet from the wall, as per manufacturer recommendations. Better. But the sub-bass notes were all over the place, nothing like what I had heard on the shop floor. Following some further research on speaker placement and some acoustic measurements and calculations, I moved them as close to the wall as I could. Better still, but not optimal. At this point, I concluded that only acoustic treatment of the room would improve things further, and called it a day.

There is an inherent contradiction in optimizing your audio mixing room too much: Your audience will nearly always listen to what you produce in a vastly inferior room, on vastly inferior equipment. What sounded great in your mixing room may sound terrible on the Bluetooth speaker that your neighbor keeps in the kitchen.

I have found that the producers of the music in my personal collection have mostly opted to minimize sub-bass content. When it’s there, they have kept it very simple, which helps it sound acceptable in environments with poorly controlled acoustics.

I have found the same to be true of my own music. I don’t find myself more actively using sub-bass in my music simply because it’s available to me. More often, it actually alerts me to unwanted sub-bass in my mixes. There have been several instances in the past where I have released a track, only to realize, with the help of headphones, that the sub-bass was out of control. Now that I have speakers that can detect it, I’m more often using filters to remove it.

2 thoughts on “New Monitor Speakers”

  1. Hey! I came across this post on my quest for replacement Tascam VL-X5’s

    I have been searching high and low for a pair but no-one seems to have any for sale, what did you do with your VL-X5’s if you don’t mind me asking?


    1. They are currently serving as speaker stands for my new monitors. They were starting to show their age in other ways. They were beginning to develop a faint hum, probably because the electrolytic capacitors in the power supplies have degraded somewhat. There’s also a light spatter on the bass elements. The speaker cones are coated in a plasticy material, so it may be viable to clean that up. The input jack connectors seem a bit wonky too; sometimes you have to jiggle the plug around a bit to get a proper connection. The XLR inputs have never been used. These monitors are not what you call “in mint condition”, but if you’re good with a soldering iron, they could probably be refurbished. I have no need for them.

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