The Yamaha HS5 is one of the most popular monitor speakers at this affordable price point, and it has maintained its popularity for a good reason (or really, many good reasons).
Yamaha has a long history of producing industry-standard reference monitors since the 1970s, and with the HS series, they have been focused on making monitors that provide the purest and the most direct sound possible.
The HS5 is the smallest of the series, with a 5’’ cone woofer and 1’’ dome tweeter.
The iconic white-coned woofer on black makes this speaker an instant classic, and you might have seen this design used by many legendary studios and producers.
The newly designed bi-amplified drivers and advanced magnetic circuit design have taken this classic to the next level, and Yamaha’s speaker engineering team provide an optimum response in any room or any kind of space.
But all these specs aside, what do these monitors actually sound like and how do they perform on a day-to-day basis?
Well I’m already familiar with the sound of the HS5 as I’ve had a pair in my studio for a while. For this review I took the time to try it out in various other contexts as well. So, let’s take a deep dive into the Yamaha HS5, starting with its look and feel.
Yamaha HS5 Review: Verdict?
The elegant white-cone speakers used in the HS-series monitors deliver superlative audio performance that is further enhanced by a carefully engineered mounting system.
- Great for reduced spaces
- High-performance drivers
- Optimum response in any room
Yamaha HS5 is one of the most popular monitors for a good reason – it is small and light compared to 8-inch monitors, but still delivers an incredibly well defined and versatile sound- all at an affordable price.
Build Quality (9/10)
Design & Construction
Over many years, Yamaha speakers have built a reputation for being strong and solid. The Yamaha HS5 is no exception, and it is safe to say that this thing is built like a tank.
It’s ready to be used right out of the box, and the weight is surprisingly light. Measuring 6.7’’ x 11.25’’ x 8.75’’ and coming in at only 11.7 pounds, the Yamaha HS5 is compact enough to fit any sized room from huge studio control rooms to tiny home studio spaces.
The HS5 is available in two designs – black and white, and all-white. It’s a simple but luxurious design that you won’t get sick of looking at day after day.
Of course, it will come down to your own taste, but I found this design to be very beautiful and it visually complements any type of studio setting.
Yamaha HS5 speakers are built out of dense MDF board, and they provide a solid base to help minimize any unwanted resonance.
Yamaha have been in the game for a long time, and I get the feel they really know how to manufacture a strong and reliable monitor that will last for years and years.
Another great design aspect that I liked is the option to include installation models.
Yamaha really put a lot of thought into the ergonomics of the working space, and the installation models give you plenty of options for things like wall mounting, which can improve the audio quality while dramatically tidying up your studio space.
The main feature of the Yamaha HS5 is the 5-inch Woofer with the 1-inch bi-amplified tweeter. These are active monitors meaning they have built-in power.
The bi-amplified speaker delivers a more consistent optimum performance and flat clear sound. Bi-amplified means that both the 5-inch Woofer and the 1-inch tweeter have their own amp, which is designed for a clearer sound.
Additionally, another impressive feature of this pair of affordable monitors is the extra-large magnets with the HS5 advanced magnetic circuit design.
The beefy magnets on the HS5 are there to help produce a tight and versatile controlled flux field over a wide frequency range.
As for inputs, HS5 offers a balanced XLR input and a balanced TRS input.
It doesn’t come with RCA connections, which is what many casual DJs and music fans use to connect their devices for playback. If this is a dealbreaker for you, simply get a cable that connects RCA to XLR or TRS.
But keep in mind, the Yamaha HS5 is specifically designed for producers and audio engineers, so it won’t be a good choice for DJs anyway.
Additionally, the Yamaha HS5 does not include XLR cables, but this is hardly a feature we expect from any music gear.
The Yamaha HS5 speakers are made to be at least 5 feet away from walls for the best sound, though not all users will have that option, and dimensions for each space will vary.
With this in mind, the tuning controls are a welcome addition, helping you find the perfect space between your monitors and the wall.
The tuning section features Room Control and High Trim switches which adjust the high and low end to suit your environment.
The Yamaha HS5 has a frequency range of 54Hz – 30kHz, which covers both high and low end quite well. However, if you work a lot with bass instruments, having an additional subwoofer for more low-end is a good idea.
The new HS5 design has improved noise reduction, and while many port design speakers have a noise problem, the HS5s offer noise reduction that reaches up to 6dB.
Overall, there are a lot of impressive features considering the affordable price. Now let’s get into the most important aspect – the actual sound of these studio monitors.
Sound Quality (9/10)
What Does The Yamaha HS5 Sound Like?
If I had to describe the overall frequency response in a nutshell, the Yamaha HS5 has very clear mids and highs. Clarity is the word that pops into my mind here.
This is obviously the important part of any active studio monitor like the Yamaha HS5, as we are all looking for the best active monitor speakers that are specifically designed for producers and sound engineers.
A lot of times, we get lured into the idea that something sounds better because it is louder, particularly if the bass is boosted. But a good pair of monitor speakers need to have a unwavering flat response that will give you the most unbiased sound possible.
That is exactly the case with the Yamaha HS5, which delivers a clear, crisp, and uncolored flat sound that is best suited to producers and audio engineers.
Especially considering the affordable price, it will be very difficult to find something with a better value than the Yamaha HS5.
Because the Yamaha HS5 has a very pure sound, it’s a great choice for mixing and mastering music, knowing everything will translate well to all common listening setups.
What Is The Low-End Like?
One downside is the slight lack of bass from the HS5, which is to be expected from a 5-inch speaker.
I personally felt this actually made them better for mixing and mastering, because I’m not tricked into thinking something sounds good just because it shakes the room.
But the truth is, the Yamaha HS5 does not perform very well below 60 Hz, so don’t expect these monitors to give you a clear picture of this range.
If you work with a lot of bass, getting a dedicated subwoofer or an excellent pair of mixing headphones will definitely provide you with all the low-end clarity you need.
What About Noise?
And as we mentioned before, the new Yamaha HS5 has very little hum or noise. Thanks to the tech employed by Yamaha, noise is reduced by up to 6 dB, which is a big difference at the end of the day.
This is another aspect I was initially surprised with, and I’m sure we can all agree that not having to hear a constant hum or noise makes the music-making process so much more pleasurable.
Of course if you are experiencing excessive hum and noise with studio monitors, it’s more likely an electrical issue with your studio that can be solved with something like a Furman P-1800 power conditioner.
Value For Money (9.5/10)
Like many Yamaha products, you really get a lot of value for your money.
The HS5 studio monitor has that typical understated Yamaha quality at typical Yamaha prices – ie entirely reasonable.
Yamaha HS5: Who Is It For?
The Yamaha HS5 is not designed for casual music listeners nor for watching movies or videos. Instead, this is an active studio monitor designed by the Yamaha speaker engineering team to serve composers, producers, and audio engineers.
Like I mentioned before, it delivers uncolored, pure, and flat sound to deliver the most unbiased sound possible. This is essential for mixing, mastering, and really any professional audio application.
The HS5 is not the best pick for bass-heavy music like trap and EDM, so I don’t recommend it for producers who deal with a lot of low-end.
On the other hand, for general mixing and mastering, the Yamaha HS5 is one of the best options in the price range.
Alternatives To The Yamaha HS5
Although the Yamaha HS5 is definitely one of the best monitor speakers in its price range, let’s a take look at two alternatives that are similarly priced.
JBL 305P MKII
JBL 305P MkII series features next-generation JBL transducers, new Boundary EQ, and a sleek new design.
- Beautiful design
- Incredible stereo imaging
JBL speakers are also very famous in the audio industry, and the JBL 305P MKII is another excellent set of active monitor speakers that are slightly cheaper than the Yamaha HS5s.
As we’ve mentioned a few times, one of the main downsides of the Yamaha HS5 is the slight lack of bass, and the JBL 305P MKII does a little better in this area than the Yamaha HS5.
However they are known to have a little more noise than the Yamahas, so if your ears are really sensitive this might be important.
In my opinion, the Yamaha HS5 is more suitable for mixing and mastering, but the JBL 305P MKII will be better for producing bass-heavy tracks.
KRK Rokit 5 G4
The Rokit 5 features a pro-grade design, with low-distortion Kevlar drivers pushed by an efficient Class D power amp with a built-in brick wall limiter.
- Extreme rigidity
- High-quality sound
- Balanced sound
The KRK Rokit 5 is another hugely popular monitor speaker at this price range, costing about the same as the Yamaha HS5.
If you regularly watch producers doing their thing on YouTube, the chances are you have already seen these monitor speakers.
The KRK Rokit 5 G4 is popular with music producers that specialize in EDM, hip-hop, and pop.
Similar to the JBL, the KRK ROKIT 5 G4 has a reputation for being bass-heavy, so it would better suited to producers after more bass than what the HS5 can deliver. They have an exceptional low-end response right down to 42 Hz.
The Yamaha HS5 is a great “flat” active studio monitor that will give you a very clear and balanced perspective on whatever you are working on.
Even after directly comparing the Yamaha HS5 to other studio monitors in its price range, it is still my favorite for its accuracy, purity, and clarity.
If you are a music producer, composer, instrumentalist, or audio engineer looking to buy professional studio monitors for under $500, look no further than the Yamaha HS5.
If you want to see them in a setup, check out this video from JrTech:
Looking to expand on your studio setup? Check out our review of the Duex Plus USB Monitor.