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 easy 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 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.

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 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.

Frequency Response: 40 – 40,000Hz
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 M

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 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 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-1000 M

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 Yamaha NS-1000 M 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 other speakers like the previously mentioned 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 however not as deep as I would like it to be, but when you live with them long enough, the feeling goes away. Just to re-emphasise – I’m not a bass freak. I just like the bass to be deep when it needs to be deep. 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.
Because thier character, the NS-1000M 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. 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-1000 M are very impressive speakers with great sound clarity and resolution. So far, these are the 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: 5 grey stars
Attack: 3 grey stars
Engagement: 4 grey stars
Total Score: 4.5 red stars