Yamaha NS-1000 M Review

My Story

Yamaha NS-1000 M 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 fascinated with with Japanese amplifiers from golden era of HiFi, however, the speakers were never something that I have easily fallen in love with. This was not until I found a pair of NS1000M for a reasonable amount of money, near the place where I used to live. I ended up with light wallet and very, very heavy speakers.

Please note – usually before reviewing vintage speakers, I recap the crossovers to ensure that capacitors are within manufacturer’s specification. On this occasion, even though the capacitors were within the specs, because I was going to keep the speakers, I decided to attempt a recap, to see if audible improvements can be made. To start with, I have listened to the speakers as they were (original condition), and then replaced the original capacitors in the crossovers with modern film caps of the same values. Following my usual methodical approach, I only recapped one speaker and left the other one as it was. After this I concluded listening tests in mono and discovered that the recap made very little difference to the sound (borderline of perception). For the purpose of this review I left the speakers recapped with basic film capacitors, as these, to my ears, did not alter the the sound when compared with original crossovers. If I could turn back the time, I probably would not bother recapping as the original capacitors are of a very  good quality.

Speaker Info

The Yamaha NS-1000 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 of 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 sealed enclosure.
 

Yamaha NS-1000M Specs
Frequency Response: 40 – 20,000Hz
Sensitivity: 90dB (1W input, measured at 1m)
Impedance:
Power Capacity: 100W (continuous program)
High Frequency Driver: JA0513 30mm (1.2″) Beryllium Dome
Medium Frequency Driver: JA0801 88mm (3.5″) Beryllium Dome
Low Frequency Driver: JA3055A 300mm (12″) Paper Diaphragm
Crossover Frequencies: 500Hz & 6,000Hz
Enclosure Type: Closed
Enclosure Dimensions (HxWxD): 675x375x326mm (26.5×14.75×12.75″)
Weight: 31kg (each speaker)
Production Year: 1974
Price When Launched: £340 for a pair
Equivalent Present Day Price: £3,700 for a pair
Current UK Price: £600 to £1,500 for a pair

 

Look & Feel of Yamaha NS-1000 Speakers

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 NS-1000 M are by far the best build vintage speakers that I have ever seen.

The enclosure’s walls are made of 25-30mm chipboard, veneered on both sides. Internal bracing is made of 30mm thick plywood. All the joints are supported with triangular pieces of solid wood. The circle waste created by cutting out the hole for the bass driver was re-used and glued to the back wall of the enclosure (very good thinking!). All inner 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 such as beryllium 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 Yamaha NS-1000 M are very impressive speakers.

Sound of Yamaha NS-1000M

Gentleman who I bought the speakers from was confident that they will sound better than any other speaker that I have 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) was able to hear it straight away. At this point I decided to use Yamaha NS-1000 M as my main speakers for couple of months, to see what else they were capable of.

The bass from Yamaha NS-1000 is is quite deep considering the enclosure size. It is not as deep as I would like it to be, however, when you live with them long enough, the feeling goes away on most recordings. On the other hand, once you’ve heard songs with deep bass reproduced on full range system, you will always expect to hear that – and that is not always going to be possible with the NS-1000. The bass is quick as you would expect from a sealed enclosure, however, this is probably the weakest area of the NS1000. When I played a drums recording on NS1000M and compared it with JBL L100, the drums on the JBLs sounded much more realistic.

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 Yamaha NS-1000 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 other speakers like the previously mentioned Celestion Ditton 66, which ultimately are not as transparent but they are warmer sounding speakers. A good example of that is In My Father’s House by Eric Bibb which just sounds a lot more enjoyable on the Celestions.

Because of their character and limited low end extension, the Yamaha NS-1000M can sometimes sound 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. It’s worth noting that Yamahas can be played at very high levels without sounding distorted or loosing resolution and clarity of sound – very impressive and reminds me of equally impressive composure of Tannoy Little Gold Monitor speakers. With demining tracks such as Race With Devil On Turkish Highway by Al Di Meola there are no audible signs of compression, even when played very loud.


 

Conclusion

Yamaha NS-1000 M are very impressive speakers with great sound clarity and resolution. So far, these are one of most transparent speakers I have ever heard. Very analytical – not for people who like gentle and sweet sound though. Exceptional treble and midrange but not the best bass.

Balance of Sound: 4 grey stars
Neutrality of Tone: 4 grey stars
Transparency: 5 grey stars
Soundstage: 4.5 grey stars
Attack: 3 grey stars
Engagement: 4 grey stars
Total Score: 4 red stars

 

Songs Mentioned In This Review

Al Di Meola – Race With Devil On Turkish Highway
Eric Bibb – In My Father’s House
 

Reviewed: April 2015 | Published: May 2015

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