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REVIEW: Yamaha NS-1000M

My Story
   Yamaha NS-1000M were not the speakers that I ever considered buying. I was aware of them and their legendary status but for some reasons I was always more attracted to British speakers. I was Yamaha NS-1000M - Pair Of Speakers (Thumbnail) fascinated with with Japanese amplifiers from golden era of HiFi, however, the speakers were never something that I have easy fallen in love with. This was not until I found a pair of NS1000 for a reasonable amount of money, near the place where I live. I ended up with light wallet and very very heavy speakers.
   Just to clarify for the purpose of this review - to start with I have listened to the speakers as they were (original condition), but as with most of old electronics, I decided to replace electrolytic capacitors in the crossovers with modern film caps of the same values. During the recapping I have measured the original electrolytic capacitors and I was very surprised to discover that these were very much within their tolerances and were very good quality indeed. Following my usual methodical approach, I have only recapped one speaker and left the other one as it was. After this I concluded listening tests in mono. I discovered that the recap made very little difference to the sound. If anything, it just took a little edge of sometimes 'sharp' sounding treble. I may try to use high end capacitors in the future, but for the purpose of this review I left the speakers recapped with basic film capacitors, as these, to my ears, made very little difference to the sound when compared with original crossovers.

 

Speakers Info
   The Yamaha NS1000 were designed and released to the market in 1974. They received very good reviews in British HiFi press in the late 70s. There were two versions of these speakers. The one referred to as "NS-1000" was designed with domestic market in mind and had enclosures made from solid wood, which gave each speaker a modest weight of 39kg! The "NS-1000M" were designed with studio use in mind and I can only assume that that M stands for monitor. These monitors featured exactly the same components as the domestic version but had the enclosures made from chipboard with plywood bracing, giving them equally impressive weight of 31kg per speakers. Design of both versions, even by today's standards is outstanding. Both tweeter and midrange drivers feature extremely rigid beryllium domes. The bass is as 12in compressed paper pulp cone working in heavily dampen closed enclosure.

Factory Specifications:
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Crossover Frequencies:
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Additional Information
Production Year:
Price When Launched:
Equivalent Present Day Price:
Current UK Price:

40 - 40,000Hz
90dB (1W input, measured at 1m)

100W
HF - JA0513 30mm (1.2" Beryllium Dome
MF - JA0801 88mm (3.5") Beryllium Dome
LF - JA3055A 300mm (12") Paper Diaphragm
500Hz & 6,000Hz
Closed
675x375x326mm (26.5x14.75x12.75")
31kg (each speaker)


1974
£340*
£3,700*
£600 to £1,500*
*For a pair.



Look & Feel
   Visually, providing that the enclosures are in good condition, I think these speakers look very attractive. Silver baskets contrasting with matt black enclosures look a little 80s but I still like it.
   Yamaha NS1000 are by far the best build vintage speakers that I have ever seen. The enclosure's walls are made from 25-30mm chipboard, veneered on both sides. Internal bracing is made from 30mm thick plywood. All the joints are supported with triangular pieces of solid wood. The circle waste created by routing out the hole for the bass driver was re-used and glued to the back wall of the enclosure (very good thinking!). All inner I walls are covered with 1cm thick felt and the inner of the enclosures is filled in with fibber  glass damping material.
   Another impressive thing about these speakers are the state of the art drivers. Usage of exotic materials like beryllium for for tweeter and midrange domes is one thing, but quality of how these drivers are made is another. The drivers look very neat, especially when you compare them with the British gear from the same era. To me, the thing that stands out the most is the size of the magnets on the midrange drivers - they are just huge! Speakers are also equipped with two attenuators (L-Pads) that allow control of treble and midrange levels. Many people see them these days as a bad thing to have. I personally like them, especially considering how well these are made.
   All of the features above make the enclosures extremely rigid and very very heavy. The NS-1000 are very impressive speakers.


Sound
   Gentleman who I bought the speakers from was confident that they will sound better than any other speaker that I have already had at the time. I obviously took his words with a pinch of salt... At the time I was using Celestion Ditton 66 and was really pleased with everything they did. Imagine my surprises when I plugged in the Yamahas and they sounded much cleaner than my Celestions... The difference was very easy to notice and even my wife (who is not into HiFi BTW) was able to hear it straight away. At this point I decided to use Yamahas as my main speakers for couple of months, to see what else they were capable of.
   The quality and clarity of treble and midrange is astonishing, even by modern standards. Vocals sound very realistic and transparent. There is plenty of air around the instruments, which is especially noticeable on live recordings and gives a great sense of having artists performing in your living room. I would not necessary say that the sound stage is particularly deep, but despite this, the NS1000 are still very engaging. If I was to criticise anything about the treble and midrange, I would say that sometimes they sound too analytical, and therefore, cold. There are some recordings that just sound better on my Celestion Ditton 66, which ultimately are not as transparent but they are warm sounding speakers. Good examples are tracks from album Spirit & The Blues by Eric Bibb.
   The bass from Yamahas is is quite deep considering the enclosure size. It is not deep enough for me though. Just to re-emphasise - I'm not a bass freak. I just like the bass to be deep when it needs to be deep. And with NS-1000M I get a feeling that something is missing (a bit of weight to the sound). The bass is quick as you would expect from a sealed enclosure but it lacks a bit of depth for me.
   Because all of the points above, the NS-1000M sometimes sound too bright. I would also say that they are not the best for quiet listening. It feels to me that to get most of them, you need play them at realistic listening levels. Something to notice here - Yamahas can be played at very high levels without sounding distorted or loosing resolution and clarity of sound - as you would expect from top studio monitors.



Conclusion
   Yamaha NS-1000M are very impressive speakers with great sound clarity and resolution. So far, these are the most transparent speakers I have ever heard. Not for people who like gentle and sweet sound though. Exceptional treble and midrange but quite light on bass.
 

Balance of Sound:  
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Please note - if you want to know what I mean be the descriptions above, hover you mouse over them. More detailed information will be available in separate section of this website.

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