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Return of the Yamaha NS10 Studio Monitors

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
Avantone has started production of a clone of the long-discontinued Yamaha NS10 nearfield studio monitors which were used in studios throughout the 1990s to make almost every hit single we remember.

http://www.audioxpress.com/news/avantone-pro-brings-back-nearfield-studio-monitoring-mainstay

Yamaha discontinued them in part because they could no longer assure the supply of the banana pulp used in the woofer cone, they were also notorious for the tweeters failing (but they weren't weak for their size and design, just not nearly reliable enough for the constant high SPLs of recording studios).

I find these being offered fascinating, and while these are very far from the modern expectation of a flat response style studio monitor which dominates the market, they are very nostalgic and their flaws often make recordings mixed on them sound better than those mixes on other monitors.
 
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rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
Those were one of the most terrible sounding speakers I've have ever had the displeasure to work with. I was forced to use them when doing film sound effects at Soundelux. My ears are still bleeding. I can't imagine why someone would want to reintroduce such a horrible sounding speaker, no matter what "hits" were mixed on them.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
Those were one of the most terrible sounding speakers I've have ever had the displeasure to work with. I was forced to use them when doing film sound effects at Soundelux. My ears are still bleeding. I can't imagine why someone would want to reintroduce such a horrible sounding speaker, no matter what "hits" were mixed on them.

I agree they are far from "great sounding" speakers. In my experience, if one mixes a pop/rock/R&B/Rap recording on them and EQ and tune the music to sound pretty good on them, the result is a recording which sounds great to most people on most systems - and especially so for FM broadcasts (which are EQ'ed and compressed). I used to use them for the final mastering as a reference - if a recording sounded good on my ideal speakers and also sounded completely listenable on the NS10 monitors, then the recording would likely sound pretty decent anywhere.
 

rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
I had Aurotones in my 8 track studio for that purpose. The Aurotones were used all over the place in the 70s. At Gold Star recording studios where the "Wall of Sound" and many Beach Boys recordings were made, they had an actual car parked behind the studio so that mixes could be played through its 6x9" speaker to hear how it would sound in the real world in a car where most listening was done. In the 50s and 60s, the Altec 604 was the standard large studio monitor; it would make your ears bleed, but it was the reference standard of the time.

A lot of classical music which is recorded these days is done through "audiophile" type speakers, and these tend to be rather polite sounding. The result is that when played through really revealing speakers like my horns, some of them can sound a bit shrill because the engineers didn't hear that during the original recording.
 

Dentman

Well-Known Member
No wonder it's such a pain in the ass trying to find well recorded music. Tone def morons in the studio mixing through garbage monitors. How was/is this type of bullshit excepted as ok?
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
No wonder it's such a pain in the ass trying to find well recorded music. Tone def morons in the studio mixing through garbage monitors. How was/is this type of bullshit excepted as ok?

That's not exactly fair. What these speakers did was encourage the mixing engineer and producer to EQ and adjust the mix such that when it sounded decent on these speakers it sounded pretty damn good on more accurate speakers. The midrange was harsh, so adjusting the recordings so it sounded less harsh actually produced a very pleasing sound on better speakers. Remember, in the studio everything is an instrument. The point of super high fidelity speakers in a studio are for hearing what might be missed on a recording, but mixing on perfect speakers can result in total crap on average systems because you may mix something like the bass drum to have this impactful deep bass thud which cannot be heard at all on all but the best speakers out there, and so on.

I always found it fascinating that the aftermarket for the Yamaha NS10s was so huge and used prices for working units was often significantly higher than what they sold for new. Everyone knows these are not accurate speakers, but they work wonders for ensuring a recording will sound good on almost anything it will ever get played on. It can save a ton of time compared to auditioning a test mix on multiple car stereos, one piece stereos, Bluetooth speakers, built-in television speakers, and so on.
 

lakedmb

Well-Known Member
Those were one of the most terrible sounding speakers I've have ever had the displeasure to work with. I was forced to use them when doing film sound effects at Soundelux. My ears are still bleeding. I can't imagine why someone would want to reintroduce such a horrible sounding speaker, no matter what "hits" were mixed on them.

Had to go look up Soundelux and the effects are crazy! Some were created, but did you guys go to locations to capture a lot of the sounds?

Looks like Soundelux was sold to SoundDogs, but you can sample all sorts of stuff.
https://www.sounddogs.com/sound-effects-categories
 

rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
Had to go look up Soundelux and the effects are crazy! Some were created, but did you guys go to locations to capture a lot of the sounds?

Looks like Soundelux was sold to SoundDogs, but you can sample all sorts of stuff.
https://www.sounddogs.com/sound-effects-categories
I created sound effects for True Lies, The Pagemaster, and a few others I can't recall, and yes, especially for True Lies I went to the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, and recorded all manner of explosives and Harrier jets. All these were multi-channel recordings onto an Alesis ADAT 8 channel recorder via a modified Mackie mixer (for enhanced headroom). One particularly crazy recording involved placing a widely spaced microphone array onto the landing field, and having a Harrier jet land in the middle of it. On another one I placed mics all around and on a howitzer and recorded several shots. I got to fire that howitzer - I have a picture of it. Great fun.

I also went to a ranch in the Tejon pass and recorded all imaginable type of guns, placing mics at the point of impact too. I shot and killed one mic....

The irony is that all of the real Harrier sounds were never used in the final mix of True Lies because it was deemed, correctly, that a real Harrier jet sounds like a gigantic vacuum cleaner. So a composite was made of other jet sounds.
 

rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
What these speakers did was encourage the mixing engineer and producer to EQ and adjust the mix such that when it sounded decent on these speakers it sounded pretty damn good on more accurate speakers.
That's not really true either. Generally mixes were made on the big soffit mounted monitors which were almost always JBL, and the small console-mounted monitors were used as a "check" to make sure that the recording registered correctly on what was considered as a proxy for the "everyman" speaker in the real world. The only mixes which were done from the get-go on small crappy speakers was for things like pop songs released on 7" singles. I rarely used the small console mounted monitors on sessions I did. BTW, the console mounted speakers used were Auratones.

At least that's the way it was done during the years I worked at Sound City, a hole-in-the-wall studio that made good. That's also how it was done at Bolic Sound, Ike Turner's studio where I also was a recording engineer.
 

Dentman

Well-Known Member
That's not really true either. Generally mixes were made on the big soffit mounted monitors which were almost always JBL, and the small console-mounted monitors were used as a "check" to make sure that the recording registered correctly on what was considered as a proxy for the "everyman" speaker in the real world. The only mixes which were done from the get-go on small crappy speakers was for things like pop songs released on 7" singles. I rarely used the small console mounted monitors on sessions I did. BTW, the console mounted speakers used were Auratones.

At least that's the way it was done during the years I worked at Sound City, a hole-in-the-wall studio that made good. That's also how it was done at Bolic Sound, Ike Turner's studio where I also was a recording engineer.
Can you help me understand why so many great albums (CD'ect.) Sound either out right bad, think nearly every thing YES recorded, or fairly poor? Why is it so diffacult to capture the sound quality of an average Telarc disc/Lp for example?
Is it really that hard to make a solid sounding recording?
 

rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
Can you help me understand why so many great albums (CD'ect.) Sound either out right bad, think nearly every thing YES recorded, or fairly poor? Why is it so diffacult to capture the sound quality of an average Telarc disc/Lp for example?
Is it really that hard to make a solid sounding recording?
That's actually a great question, and one I've grappled with since I engineered recordings in the 70s. Its certainly not the fault of the equipment; from the early 1950s it has been possible to capture the full audible range cleanly with the period microphones, consoles, and tape machines.

I really think that it boils down to the capabilities of the engineers of the time, coupled with the "need" and "perception" that the recordings had to be compatible and playable on the stereo (and mono) phonographs the record companies "thought" were typical.

Gradually after the 1950s it seems to me that the mentoring and education of recording engineers took a turn for the worse. I actually know an instance of a band which was fairly well known, who's engineer was just some guy who usually sold them drugs. They needed an engineer, and bingo he was it. True story. In the much earlier years, engineers underwent pretty extensive mentoring from older engineers, and the studios were more likely to be unionized, so there had to be some on the job education. Most of the really early engineers were old radio guys who knew their stuff, and the generation after them learned their craft relatively well.

There was the perception that master recordings had to be as "loud" as possible for radio play. Bass energy is the real three-headed hog of audio and having substantial bass presence on a record (especially of the period) just ate up a lot of groove space and yielded no real increase in the perceived "loudness" the record companies wanted and produced very little audible benefit on the vast majority of stereos at the time since most of them had no real bass response. Bass was therefore largely deemed useless and could be rolled off. So you had a large segment of master recordings which were almost all mid-range frequencies, and were pretty heavily compressed to boot. So you had a lot of really crappy mid-rang-y sounding recordings which had no real depth or life. The original multi-track master recordings might have actually pretty good sound, but the mixdowns for public release were typically compromised by lack of bass and heavily compressed.

How the recording you buy sounds is really a result of which master the re-issuers used to make the CD. If they had a choice an had lots of budget, they might actually go back to the multi-track masters and remix the whole thing. However this is costly and risks alienating people who are used to the way a certain album sounded. The Beatles could get away with this with the recent remix of Sgt Peppers, but it sounds different than the original did. Mostly the record companies now don't have a choice; they only have one master which has survived, and that might have been mixed with 60s and 70s vinyl requirements in mind, thus no bass, lots of midrange, and lots of compression. Sometimes there are only "EQ masters" which are masters equalized specifically for vinyl cutting, and these are particularly likely to sound harsh, since the act of cutting that master to vinyl rounded off those EQ settings.

A good deal (most actually) of the late 60s and early 70s recordings of bands like Cream, Led Zeppelin etc are pretty anemic sounding by today's standards. They could have sounded better, but the engineers either didn't know better, or they purposefully compromised the sound to cater to the sound system of the "man in the street". Even "better sounding" recordings like those of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and others tended to lack bass. That's just how recordings were mixed during that period.

Telarc had no such restrictions. They used minimal equipment, recorded almost exclusively classical music in the early years, and really knew that their sound was their trademark.
 
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bmwuk

Well-Known Member
@rammisframmis thank you for that knowledge. Great brief read. So in effect even remasters are not great, missing the fuller range of sound. That sucks knowing the best of Led Zeppelin or others won't experience it's full capabilities.
 

Dentman

Well-Known Member
Thank you for that explanation. For years its driven me crazy. I've really grown sick and tired of rolling the dice when buying discs. If it's a shity recording or barely average it makes more sense to me to just enjoy the streamable version and move on.

Very cool that you spent time at sound city. I must have watched the doc 10 times.
 

rammisframmis

Well-Known Member
Merely average sound is something which is more the rule than the exception with classical music too. Usually the problem is a flat soundstage and over agressive and strident violin sound. I go the streaming route there too.
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
Can you help me understand why so many great albums (CD'ect.) Sound either out right bad, think nearly every thing YES recorded, or fairly poor? Why is it so diffacult to capture the sound quality of an average Telarc disc/Lp for example?
Is it really that hard to make a solid sounding recording?
There is a remastered version of 90125, that also has some additional tracks, that actually sounds pretty good. Amazon LINK
 

Dentman

Well-Known Member
There is a remastered version of 90125, that also has some additional tracks, that actually sounds pretty good. Amazon LINK
I bought that LP when it came out. Its bright and compressed a bit but it was over all a good sounding record. With that said it's one of my least favorite yes albums.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
The Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, and Howe album sounds good.

But, if I love the music and performances enough, I rarely notice the recording quality.
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
I bought that LP when it came out. Its bright and compressed a bit but it was over all a good sounding record. With that said it's one of my least favorite yes albums.
Blasphemy! While that album doesn't contain my favorite Yes song, it still has a lot of good songs on there. I don't even know what to say to you Jack, but let's hope Yesfan doesn't see this post if he ever comes back around.
 

Dentman

Well-Known Member
The Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, and Howe album sounds good.

But, if I love the music and performances enough, I rarely notice the recording quality.
I sure wish I felt that way. For me it pisses me off even more the better the music.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
I sure wish I felt that way. For me it pisses me off even more the better the music.

I get it, and I'd prefer all my favorite music sounded great. But I grew up living Yes to death. At no point did I ever consider their recordings as "bad" until you wrote about it. I now realize I've never used them as reference material. However, I still love and adore them to death and get excited whenever I play them or they randomly appear when I'm out and about. ELO and others fit that bill for me. Hell, I adore the Replacements and their recordings are about as bad as you can get. So... I guess for me if I love the music, the recording is secondary.
 
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