Sonic LAB: Yamaha MSP5 Studio Monitors

Active bi-amped 5 inchers      21/11/08

No flash plug


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5:9 mins

Everyone seems to be doing a 5" active monitor at the moment, see my recent M-Audio BX5-deluxe review. It seems we all want to get cozy with our speakers, make 'em fit into smaller and smaller spaces. For me, it seems to makes sense as my desk is cluttered at the best of times, laptop, second monitor, bits of paper, a mic or two, small MIDI controller, audio recorder, compact mixing desk etc. Yamaha clearly feel that they have a place on my desk too - or ones just like it, and have introduced their MSP5 Studio Monitor. This is a 67 Watt (40 bass, 27 top), active, bi-amped speaker with a 5 inch bass driver and 1 inch titanium tweeter. Connections are XLR or balanced 1/4" jack as standard with a power chord (these were 230v only and are not switching) and switch located on the rear panel, as are the amplifier adjustments: +/- 1.5dB for the tweeter and + 1.5dB –3dB for the bass driver. Out of the box, they weigh a ton! 8.8KGs each to be precise, they are sold individually to allow easy 5.1 monitor setup - if they were only sold in pairs, you'd have one spare wouldn't you? Good to see the volume control (at least) on the font panel - I like to be able to get to that - but again, on/off too please! I don't like fiddling around the back. Really there's not much more to say apart from the sound. Initially I was quite shocked at the sound of these, they were flat, bright and unflattering which makes a real change - most speakers I hear have a sweet sound that obviously colours the perception. These, like the original and legendary NS10M monitors are not flattering, in fact they can sound quite unpleasant with badly prepared material. The bottom end is not over hyped and can sound rather light compared to some - but this can be a Good Thing. Why? Well these speakers can sound good, but only given well balanced and mixed material. Net result = you'll need to work harder to get a mix to sound good, but when you do it will more likely be a thing of beauty than if you mixed it on some flattering monitors where the frequencies are skewed. I was a fan of the orginal NS10Ms - I understood them and by the same token, I sort of understand the MSP5s. I think the low end is harder to get right on smaller speakers and these are just that at 5 inches, however a sub or maybe the MSP7's would cure that if it's a deal breaker. Bottom line is, a lot of people get on with the Yamaha sound, some don't. If you don't already know, you should try these out before you buy. Pricing
$299 each, €339 each and £205 each. Web Prices
$249.99 at Music123.com
$249.95 at zZounds
$249.99 at MusiciansFriend.com
£175.00 at Dolphin

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