Yamaha’s NS-10 Gets a Spotlight
Gizmodo has recently posted an article talking about Yamaha’s most popular studio monitor, the NS-10. I’m sure most of you already know about this speaker but if you don’t have a read. It’s always interesting seeing what people outside the industry write and think about what we deal or work with on a daily basis. You can find the link and a portion of the article after the jump.
It’s not often you can trace so much creative and artistic awesomeness back to a single piece of gear—particularly in the music industry. Meet the Yamaha NS-10: A speaker you’ve probably never heard of, but have definitely heard.
Quick, pick an album you love from the 80s or 90s. Any album. Regardless of where you first listened to it, or on what device, chances are it was mixed on a pair of these unassuming little black monitors. Born in the U.S.A.? Check. Roxie Music’s Avalon? Uh-huh. Bowie’s Let’s Dance? You bet. Hall and Oats’ Big Bam Boom? I said good albums. But yeah, that one too.
Over their 23-year reign, these quotidian nearfield speakers became such a fixture in the industry that it’s actually harder to find an album they didn’t in some way shape or influence. Chewbacca hawked them on TV; they helped win Yamaha a technical Grammy; they’ve been the source of epic research papers (.pdf); people have even studied the effect of placing tissue paper over their tweeters. Put simply, no other piece of studio equipment before or since has exerted as much influence over the way music sounded.
The greatest irony? A lot of engineers kinda hate them.
To get a sense of the NS-10′s incredible staying power, the strange love/hate relationships they provoked among producers, and the reason they came to dominate the industry for more than two decades, you need to know a few things—both about their technical chops and the time period.
The year is 1978. Yamaha introduces the NS-10s as hi-fi consumer speakers, where they are more or less panned by critics and all but ignored by the general public. As the story goes, it isn’t until mixing God Bob Clearmountain starting humping them around to various recording gigs a few years later that they began to gain a modest following. A few gold and platinum records later, and the NS-10s where literally everywhere. To this day, if you look hard at any studio photo you’ll probably see these little guys with their trademark white cones peaking out behind a console or tucked in a corner.
So what attracted producers to a consumer-grade flop—aside from a word of mouth and a big-name endorsement? In a word: translatability. For an audio engineer—whose goal is to replicate what they hear on the studio mixing board and make it sound the same everywhere else—nothing is more important. As Avid’s product manager Kevin Zuccaro notes, the NS-10s really had a couple advantages in this particular game, both of which came about by entirely by chance.
Read the rest of the article here: Gizmodo