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Yamaha HS8 Active Studio Monitor
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Review

Yamaha HS8 Active Studio Monitor

by 2016/02/07
Overview
Price

RRP: $499.00 (single)

Product Name

Yamaha HS8 Active Studio Monitor

Positives

• Fairly flat response
• High quality without high price tag
• Solid build quality
• Classy look

Negatives

• Not ideal for casual listening, although not terrible either

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Bottom Line

The Yamaha HS8 monitor speakers offer flat response on a budget and will appeal to both pros and amateurs. For the price, you won't get much better.

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The Yamaha HS8 studio monitor has been out for a few years now but hasn’t showed any signs of losing ground. What is the ongoing appeal of the model? The lineage of the speaker derives from the classic NS-10M, which was released in 1978 and discontinued in 2001. NS-10M can still be found in many professional studios across the world due to its ability to highlight any shortcomings in a mix. It has been criticised for its imperfectly flat response and for producing listener fatigue. Yahama released the HS80M in 2006, which took clear influence from the earlier NS-10M. The HS8 is the latest in the series and updates on the HS80M with improved drivers and cabinet.

Yamaha HS8 front

The Yamaha HS8.

Flat response on a budget

The Yamaha HS8 provides a fairly flat response and is an excellent choice for the price-point. Much like the NS-10M, a mix done on HS8s will likely translate well to other systems. Hence they have also found their way into professional recording studios. They are primarily sought after for those looking to do mixing (or mastering) work, although they can be used for other applications. There are other choices more suitable for casual listening but the HS8s certainly do the job. The monitors have a classy, understated appearance. The build quality is solid. In 18 months of daily use (and two moves) I haven’t managed to damage them in any way. The speakers are constructed from dense MDF with a damped acoustic response. They also have three-way mitered-joints which improve durability and eliminate unwanted resonance.

The Yamaha HS8 viewed at an angle.

The Yamaha HS8 viewed at an angle.

Yamaha HS8 features

The Yamaha HS8 features an 8″ cone woofer and 1″ dome tweeter. The tweeter is protected by a metal grill. The rear-firing bass port reduces unwanted noise up to 6dB. The HS8 offers a 38Hz – 30kHz frequency response and is powered by a 75W LF plus 45W HF bi-amp system, providing 120W of power amplification. The rear controls include room control, high trim, and level control. The monitors are designed to be placed at least five feet from the closest wall for best results. However, the three-way room control switch (0, -2 or -4 dB attenuation below 500 Hz) can be used prevent bass build-up if the monitor must be placed near a wall. The three-way high trim switch can be used to boost or attenuate 2 dB above 2 kHz, providing greater control of high frequencies. The continuously variable level control is set to a dented +4dB position at noon. It can be reduced all the way to mute the speaker, or set to -10dB at max. The XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals.

The rear panel of the Yamaha HS8.

The rear panel of the Yamaha HS8.

HS series offerings

The HS series also includes the HS5, HS7 and HS8S (subwoofer). It’s definitely worth shelling out the additional cash to get the real deal with the HS8. The smaller speakers, particularly the HS5, have physical limitations preventing an honest response. The HS5, HS7 and HS8 are also available in white, although in my opinion the original black looks much better. Yamaha decided not to offer the HS8S in white for some reason. The HS8 can be utilised without a sub-woofer, unlike the HS5, which definitely struggles with the low frequency reproduction. Naturally it would be better to use even the HS8s with a subwoofer, but not everyone has that kind of budget.

The Yamaha HS8 tweeter.

The Yamaha HS8 tweeter.

Clear, focused sound

The bass reproduction of the Yamaha HS8 is tight and focused. The highs and mids are clear and are not harsh. Obviously you get what you pay for and there are better monitors out there if you are willing to meet the costs. However for the price-range the Yamahas are very hard to beat. They are at a price point where you’d have to spend significantly more to get a real step up in quality. Hence they’ve become popular with both amateurs looking for an affordable solution, as well as with professionals looking for another addition to the arsenal. The HS series is often compared to KRK Rokits, which are hyped in comparison. The flat response and reproduction produced by the HS8s help take the guessing game out of mixing. The mixes I’ve produced using these monitors have gotten a good response from both casual listeners and fellow musicians and audiophiles.

United States: Newegg, Musicansfriend
United Kingdom: Amazon
International: Sweetwater, B&H Photo Video

Possibly the best for the price. You can't get better medium sized room monitors.


Unbelievably detailed. They make any music shine. Excellent presence - great when coupled with their subwoofer. Classic look that fits really well in small studios.


The sound is as good as it gets within this price range: crisp, clean, and deep outstanding bass.


Nice flat sound. I got rid of some KRKs for these. The KRKs were too base heavy. These are pretty close to true flat for the price.


  • High-performance drivers and mounting system
  • 8" cone woofer, 1" dome tweeter
  • Impressive 38Hz to 30kHz frequency response
  • Large magnets in an Advanced Magnetic Circuit design
  • Built-in bi-amplification: 75-watt LF, 45-watt HF
  • Dedicated power amps are perfectly matched to the woofer and tweeter
  • Enclosure is designed to kill unwanted frequencies that can influence sound
  • Room control and high-trim response controls give you optimum response in any room

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician, journalist and editor.

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