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Brandon Drury
Owner of Echo Echo Studios, Brandon Drury, has recorded and mixed over 600 songs in his very busy home recording studio.  

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Yamaha NS-10 Studio Monitors... YUCK!!
By Brandon Drury | Published  05/22/2006

A good friend of mine is working with a big producer dude.They mixed their project on an SSL 9000 which is about as high end of a console that you are going to find.The studio was Soundstage Studios which has some fairly intimidating client's records on the walls.

Anyway, everything was tip top.The studio monitors were Yamaha NS-10s.Since I had never heard NS-10 Studio monitors before, I was curious to see how they translated to the outside world.

First of all, I must say that the sound in the studio was mega top notch.Producer / Mixer Malcolm Springer knew what he was doing, that is no doubt.For the most part, I thought that every song sounded as about as good as it could get, but I thought the mix overall was pretty damn harsh in an upper midrange kind of harsh kind of way.Not knowing what I'm doing, I didn't say anything.I was anxious to hear what the mixes sounded like on my home system a week later.

Well, it's a week later.

I hate Yamaha NS-10s.

The band was big on getting the huge, mega distorted, modern, mega bright sound. (Not to be confused with the huge mega distorted dark guitar sound which is also popular these days).Well, the guitars were killing us with their mega upper midrange attack in the studio.When Malcolm cranked up the mixes, I was hurting.The only thing I could do was put a magazine over my ears.I probably should have left the room.That's how harsh it was.

Well, now that I have?listened to the cd on my studio monitors and every other stereo I own, it's clear to me that the Yamaha's really "excited" the sound.If you apply the inverse theory, the mixes suddenly become "unexciting".Now, in know way would I call these mixes unexciting.I would say that they sounded dangerous in the studio and they feel a little bit more safe...they sound a lot more top 40ish at home while in the studio they sounded a little more like a metal record.? The guitars were bone crushing in the studio...now they are "warm".

Overall, the mixes still do sound great, but they just sound great in a girl way more than a guy way if that makes any sense.Michael Wagener called it the "housewife mix".It basically you means you turn the guitars down.

Either way, for me I can tell that Yamaha NS-10s are about the worst possible speaker for me to be mixing on.I can totally understand why I've heard of guys taping toilet paper over the tweets to knock down some of the high end (and therefore make their mixes brighter).



  • Comment #1 (Posted by Dee)

    Although the Yamaha NS-10s are not great for mixing, I will agree with you there. They are a great refrence speakers when mixing. Right now I am attending an audio recording school, and in every single studio we have 2 sets of speakers. One set is your higher end speaker, better for getting that perfect mix. and the NS-10s because not everyone is going to have namebrand speakers that kick ass no matter what. But you still want that fan to enjoy the mix. So although i dont recommend the NS-10 for your main speakers I would like to say they are good if you want to try and have a happy blance for all of your fans. After all the are called NS-10 Studio Monitors, they are just there to monitor your sound.
  • Comment #2 (Posted by Mahima sooriyaarachchi)

    I,m Mahima from Sri lanka.
    I have yamaha NS350, NS351, NS415 speakers.
    I want to know about that speakers.
    Studio monitors or what?
    pls reply me....
  • Comment #3 (Posted by Yiyi)

    Mahima , your speakers are really bad , just burn them.
  • Comment #4 (Posted by David Lane)

    Those who voice the opinion that the NS10s sound atrocious to their ears, are simply missing the point. It's become almost a cliche now to say these reference monitors sound bad.
  • Comment #5 (Posted by Johnboy)

    Nothing like commenting on a post that is 100 years old, but alas, I digress!

    Old old old audio engineer best friend of mine once say,"You makee mix sound great on NS10's, you makee mix sound great on any ting!"

    Berry berry wise, dis old old friend of mine. Clearmountain can't mix without them, that doesn't mean the rest of us can, just that it can be done!


  • Comment #6 (Posted by Darko Zoric)

    I run a commercial studio in Sydney, and by no means are we state of the art. However, we do o.k in terms of clientel. I've been brought up mixing on the NS-10's, and find it hard to use anything but the NS-10's. I've had more modern monitors in mix sessions such as genelecs, mackie's, blue etc, and they sound simply awesome... better than the ns10's, but in a very hyped up way in my opinion. Not to say that the NS10's aren't bright, but I find that it helps not make your mix too bright in the real world, but more a warmer mix. They translate well, and if you can make a great mix on the NS10's, it will sound great on atleast 9 out of ten stereo systems. They weren't an industry standard for so long because they're crap... but rather because they do the job... and even though there are heaps better monitors on the market nowadays, it hasn't really made a big difference on the quality of mixes now as compared to the NS10 days.
  • Comment #7 (Posted by john m romero)

    the ns-10's doesn't suck it has mix platinum albums again and again, if you know the purpose of them then you know why, speakers frequency's now day's differ from the ns10's, a lot of false bass or mid's or high's, the ns10's are a flat almost shitty sounding yes but that's the whole point to it, if you can make it sound good on ns10's then it should sound good on any playback rig and that's what makes a real mixing engineer, a true sound if you know how to use it, of coarse there should be other monitors to cross reference with to be in the ballpark, ask any major recording studio I mean sony, universal, whoever I bet you they have a pair of those yucky ns10's on hand for a true
  • Comment #8 (Posted by an unknown user)

    I want to make it clear that I wasn't sayin the NS-10s were bad for mixing. That would be a ridiculous statement simply because I own way too many records I that were mixed on NS-10s.

    The point of the blog was to say just how surprised I was by high mega aggressive they were in the upper midrange. They sounded like a SM57 or something.

    The end result could be called warm, if you are into that word, but I thought the difference between what we heard in the studio and then immediately heard in the car was a little too drastic. That's just my opinion and would only apply to people have similar tastes in monitoring.
  • Comment #9 (Posted by Faith )

    I was wondering what kind of monitor would give you a more "realistic" as in true-to-your-stereo sound? While still exhibiting high quality highs and lows. Im recording anolog and have no clue what to get.
  • Comment #10 (Posted by phil)

    It's so funny to read all this stuff about the NS10s. I was in a bigger studio for the first time recently I noticed that their near field monitors (the NS10s) had no bass response. I even made a comment about it at the time. That being said I understand now why I guess they are so ubiquitous.
  • Comment #11 (Posted by Marc Leclair)

    I've been working professionally with NS-10s for almost two decades already and I couldn't agree with you I'm afraid. If you know them well and learn to push them you can get some wonderful results. They are by far the only monitors that gives me the closest idea of how it's going to sound pretty much anywhere. And believe me I am picky and perfectionnist when it comes to sounding right. My combination, Bryston 3B ST amplifier, NS-10m and a Allan & Heath soundboard.
  • Comment #12 (Posted by KLD)

    I will say that the NS-10's are the best medium for mixdown on a broad spectrum. The important thing to remember is that music produced to be harsh and overdriven does not offer a complete range of frequency balance, as with jazz or vocal based material... that is where NS-10 sparkle...
  • Comment #13 (Posted by Ian)

    Well you said alot about the NS 10s without saying anything about your amps. SSLs are a fine console but NS 10s can sound great or next to crap depending on how much that studio had left for decent amps after that SSL.
  • Comment #14 (Posted by david baldwin)

    I'm an idiot and so are you.
  • Comment #15 (Posted by HAHA)

    Anuone that says the NS 10S are a bad monitor should be shot! Yeh they sound bad BUT if u are mixing and get a good sound through the NS 10s what kinda sound are u gonna get out of your main monitors? AWESOME! Thats the sound your gonna get! The NS 10s are BRILLIANT for mixing so all u W@NKERS can shut yet yaps arite? Aye thot so!
  • Comment #16 (Posted by Wayne P)

    Brandon, Unfortunately your comments disclose the fact that you just don't get it when it comes to the whole NS10 thing. That's okay, 'cause neither did I for ages. All I know is that the mixes I did prior to converting to NS10M Studio's were really inconsistent. Since using them with one of the most transparent amplifiers around (Acurus A200/A250 which some claim as being really harsh sounding as well) I can now hear EVERYTHING in the mix with almost decibel accuracy every time (and I have used many monitors over the years) Its about being used to what you use - the control room is no place to simply use monitors that "sound nice". Its about accuracy and not hiding the flaws. The more you use NS10's the more you appreciate them. And that's coming from someone who used to HATE them. Now, I wouldn't be without them, but they aren't my ONLY monitors. Regards and thanks for honestly sharing, Wayne P.
  • Comment #17 (Posted by Steven)

    Clearly you do-not have any real time in a studio to understand the reason why people mix on NS10's. 99% of every real record or CD from every real artist has been mixed on them. I suggest you either get your ears checked or get an education.
  • Comment #18 (Posted by Carlito)

    NS-10's aren't for everyone, They are for MAINLY for Professionals. It comes down to the engineer 100%- if he can't mix on them then the mix will sound BAD... obviously. I do work at a pro studio and you must keep these speakers in good condition or they will sound week. To the untrained ear they sound bad, to a good engineer we know why we like it and can't work on much else.
    There is no pleasure in listening to NS-10's, so the fact people say they don't sound good is irrelevant. They WORK, work is not always pretty, if you want pretty, buy high end Adams, but if you need to work... then get DIRTY. P.S- these speakers are not for electronic guys because YOU guys are the producers and mix your own stuff 89% of the time. You rely on Mastering and that's cool. Just don't say NS-10's suck if you are not a pro engineer, can't mix like a pro and need the pretty stuff to help you.(That may sound negative but it's not) It's 2 different ways of working and that's 100% COOl.
  • Comment #19 (Posted by Don Wyan)

    I've been in the studio with some of the best mixers alive. Seriously EVERYONE uses a pair of NS10s. thats the point. they're flat as hell. if you can get a mix to sound bangin at a low volume on these, the results on normal speakers is a joke. Mixing on NS10s is definitely a challenge but once you've learned its supposed to be the best out there.
  • Comment #20 (Posted by NekJerka)

    I tried mixing on NS-10s years ago, b4 I knew of their prestigious history, and....I HATED them! Terrible bass & harsh sounding. But then I produced songs on a major artist and we went to mix with the legendary LESLIE BRATHWAITE in Atlanta. He's the Grammy award winning engineer, who has mixed most EVERY major artist's records at 1 point or other! He mixed all of our records, at PATCHWERK Studio, on NS-10s and he also mixed each record in UNDER 4 HOURS EACH!!! The mixes? INCREDIBLE! This guy even used ALL PLUGINS! NO OUTBOARD GEAR, except the SSL's channel eq! Also, I've NEVER heard NS-10s play SO LOUD??!! He didn't mix loud, but once he got my drums mixed(about 20 minutes), he would periodically turn the NS-10s up to an ungodly level. I asked him wasn't he afraid the yamahas would "blow" and he said that "you just have to know how to use EQ properly when mixing!" The NS-10s didn't pop and again, THE MIXES BANGED!! Of course, he also switched to the studio's large MAINs monitors(custom designed Quested, soffit mounted mains) to check the sub-low bass frequencies, but he spent 80% of mix time on the NS-10s! I'M SOLD!!

    Record Producer/Engineer
  • Comment #21 (Posted by an unknown user)

    people use ns-10s becuase of this, the logic being if you can make it sound good on ns10s it'll sound good on anything. they were one of the most popular monitors of the past two decades or something
  • Comment #22 (Posted by soundshark)

    WOW I have to comment here! I have been a recording engineer for 20 years and I have to say that the idea of someone that has not used ns 10 and referenced with them is typical muchless commenting on what they hate or dislike there is a reason they are in professional studios as well as mine. The reason is ns10's give you a true response to your mixes no fluff or added freq that you have to fight with. They will also tell you what your mains are doing! And to say the least pretty much all hit records have been mixed and referenced to them! Until you have the rep of mixing with the big boys I would do as they do and take some pointers from people that have been doing this for many years! Engineering and mixing is an art! Not something you just get up and start doing it takes years of practice even though we all have been given the ttols of school. Find your niche, keep an open mind to sonic possibilities, you will never stop learning as technology starts to advance. And a pair of ns10's and use them for you not because you hear some engineer not mix it the way you would like it to sound. 9 times out of ten half of you wouldn"t know what mics were used in the recording!
    Learning from Dinosaurs and watching them is a blessing!
  • Comment #23 (Posted by Dave Jones)

    Clearly, Brandon is an idiot/
  • Comment #24 (Posted by Jason Andrews)

    sounds like you hate the producer/engineer. not NS10s if you hated the guitar sound in the studio and still hated the sound outside the studio, it sounds like the mix translated well. I would blame the speakers if you LOVED the mix inside the studio and hated it outsied the studio.

  • Comment #25 (Posted by Brandon Drury)

    Audio is much complicated than "hate" and "like". In this particular example I hated the guitars in the control room when they absolutely hurt. Then I hated those same guitars in the car because they were so dull.

    The point of this little blog was not to say that the NS-10 isn't a usable monitor. The point was you do have to get very very aggressive with your mixes in these things and that isn't for everyone.

    It's well known that the NS-10 has been used on a zillion big records and it's also well known that fewer and fewer people are using them these days. I'm certainly not alone.
  • Comment #26 (Posted by Neal)

    you simply made a bias review about ns-10s. you never mentioned the target audience for the mix. the ns-10 was selected as a preference by the engineer to capture the producer's vision. moron.
  • Comment #27 (Posted by Brandon Drury)

    This isn't a review. It was simply me stating just how damn aggressive in the upper midrange the NS-10s were and how this wasn't compatible with my mixing style.
  • Comment #28 (Posted by g)

    bad studio speakers for any studio. easily blown speakers & expensive to replace
  • Comment #29 (Posted by g)

    u people nead to clean ur ears out. seasly. get ur self a pair of mackies or simular
  • Comment #30 (Posted by menno)

    to me this guy sounds like the average guitarplayer that only wants to hear himself in a mix of the band he's playing in.... fuck him, monitors are about reference and NS10's are just that for enineers who are used to them.

  • Comment #31 (Posted by BiffTreehorn)

    Rubbish blog. What's with all the question marks too?
  • Comment #32 (Posted by annoying person)


    "The Newells/Holland paper was based on acoustic measurements of 38 different nearfield monitors, carried out in the UK's premier research anechoic chamber at Southampton University. The acoustic measurements taken included frequency response, harmonic distortion and time-domain response (how quickly a monitor starts and stops in response to an input). At the end of the exercise it's no exaggeration to say that one monitor stood out like the proverbial sore clich´┐Ż: the NS10. While its frequency response wasn't particularly flat, and its low-frequency bandwidth was restricted in comparison to many others, in terms of time-domain and distortion performance it was outstanding."

    This means that flat or not, ns-10s were extremely accurate. And therefore and extremely useful tool. The 'if you can get a mix to sound good on these then it'll sound good on anything' angle is hot air. The accuracy is why these speakers were so popular.

  • Comment #33 (Posted by d)

    Well first off let me say we all know that most any 'mega-distorted' (which sounds like metal to me) guitarist obviously does not have any ear for tone. Im just saying, i have been into that whole world and never did i think "wow he has a 'great tone'." But the NS10's are for reference and are great mixing monitors. It sounds to me like if it had a midy sound in the studio than the engineer either did not know the tone you were going for or does not have the ear/ know what he's doing. Almost any big producer/ engineer will swear by the NS10's and many now by the modern recreation yamaha HS50's. It sounds to me like it is the person behind the mixer, not the speakers. After all the saying 'if it sounds good on the NS10's it will sound good on almost any system' is not popular for nothing.