So, you’ve decided to spend a little of your hard-earned money to improve the way you listen to your music, but you don’t know which Yamaha studio monitor is best for your situation. What do you do? Well, don’t worry, I’m here to help you figure that out.
In this article, we compare the Yamaha HS7 vs HS8, as well as going over some helpful information in general about studio monitors, frequency response, flatness, and even a little bit about how speakers create sound. By the time we’re done, you should know just what you’re looking for.
At a Glance
If you want the short and quick answer here it is: The Yamaha HS7 is a smaller speaker and puts out less bass, less bass is easier to control in a smaller and less acoustically ideal room without professional treatment. So If you’re in a small bedroom without good bass absorption you probably want to go for the HS7.
Let’s start by talking about what makes the Yamaha HS series special. Back in the day, Yamaha created the now legendary NS-10M speakers, studio monitors that quickly took over as the ‘industry standard’ in many recording and mixing studios. While not widely available today, it was from these monitors that the HS series was created. Both the NS-10 and the HS series have the same main philosophy: offer high resolution and flat response.
What do we mean by High Resolution and Flat Response?
When most people hear the word ‘resolution’ they think of their televisions. Higher resolution means better picture, right? Well, that same thing applies to sound as well, the higher the resolution, the more clarity in the sound quality. Where resolution in video usually means pixels-per-inch or some such measurement, resolution in sound usually refers to the bit depth and sample rate.
Hi-resolution audio is loosely defined as a minimum of 16bit/44.1kHz and a high-resolution speaker should be capable of reproducing the full range of frequencies that result from the audio file being played back at the before mentioned sample rate and bit depth. The human ear can hear from 20Hz to 20kHz (20,000Hz), though our ability to hear higher frequencies lessens as we age. Because of this, you want to have speakers that can also output in the same range, or as close as possible.
In our case, there is a very slight (but especially important) difference between the Yamaha HS7 vs HS8: the HS7 has a Frequency Response of 43Hz – 30kHz, and the HS8 has a Frequency Response of 38Hz – 30kHz. We’ll talk about that 5Hz of difference in a bit.
So, what about flatness? What does that even mean when it comes to sound? What we mean is the shape of the sound curve that is applied by the speaker. If you’ve ever seen or used a multiband EQ, you were adjusting the sound curve.
A user on the Gearspace forum posted the below response curves. Main differences being in the sub-frequencies and around 600-700Hz. Bear in mind that these curves will change when measured in different rooms.
Many people, especially those without any mixing experience, will listen to a studio monitor and think that it sounds awful. This is because they’re used to listening to consumer-based products that have EQ curves built in, usually something with more powerful bass, striking highs, and a ‘smile’ pattern to the curve. That is not what we are looking for. A proper studio monitor should offer a curve as Flat as possible, to allow the engineer the most accurate representation of the music being heard.
Yamaha HS7 vs HS8: The Similarities
When comparing the Yamaha HS7 and the HS8, you’re going to notice that they are extremely similar. The design of both monitors is the exact same, including material and shape, but the main difference is size.
The HS7 series is based on a 6.5” cone with a 1” dome tweeter and the HS8 is based on an 8” cone, also with a 1” dome tweeter. Both speakers also have ports in the back which allow for added bass. This is important to note because of where you might be planning to place them in your room. When you set them up, they should not be directed against a wall or a shelf because the back needs to be open to the room to allow for the best possible sound.
Continuing to talk about the back a bit, both speakers offer the same features: I/O connectors (balanced XLR and ¼” TRS inputs), level control (+4dB), High Trim switch (+/- 2dB @ >2kHz) and a Room Control switch (0/-2/-4dB under 500Hz). Finally, both are powered with a generic (and included) power cable, with a power switch above the AC port.
Yamaha HS7 vs HS8: The Differences
We already talked about the difference in speaker size, which translates to cabinet size as well. The HS7 cabinet measures W8.3” x H13.1” x D11.2” whereas the HS8 comes in at W9.8” x H13.4” x D13.1”. Of course, with a bigger speaker and a bigger cabinet, the HS8 also weighs just a bit more, at 22.5 lbs., compared to the HS7 at only 18 lbs.
You don’t need me to tell you that a bigger speaker is heavier (it is) and louder (again, it is), what you came for is to know what the difference in that 5Hz frequency response really means. Is 5Hz really that big of a deal? Yes, yes it is. While it might seem incredibly small, that 5Hz will create a massive change in how you hear low frequencies, especially at lower levels.
If you are going to be working with drum and bass, house music, hip hop, or anything else with important low-end resolution; you are going to want to really hear, and feel, that low end. This is where the HS8 separates itself from the HS7.
In talking about how each of the speakers handles low end, it is important to note that these distinctions are based on a pair of studio monitors alone.
Both of these studio monitor pairs can be combined with the Yamaha HS8S subwoofer to really enhance and separate the bass from the treble. Since both the HS7 and the HS8 offer the same crossover frequency (2kHz) and both have the same adjustment controls, they can both be used in conjunction with the HS8S to move the bass from the powered monitors down to the sub, which makes the difference in the low end mostly irrelevant.
Lastly, the difference between the two monitors is a considerably basic one; the HS8 is louder, or to put it in other words, it can be listened to at louder levels before distortion in an appropriately sized room. A bigger speaker might mean that it can get louder at max volume, but it also means that it will distort more easily in a small space.
Sound is nothing but vibrations in the air, and those vibrations can get pushed around in a small space, causing them to bounce back into themselves and change the sound field and resolution of your music. In these instances, a smaller set of studio monitors might be the better choice.
Yamaha HS7 vs HS8: The Verdict
So, after all that, it really boils down to two things to consider when making your decision: room size and low-end needs. Are you working in a small bedroom you’ve converted into a home studio? You probably want the HS7. If you’re in a bigger studio with soundproof panels and acoustic treatment? You might want the bigger HS8.
What about the type of music that you normally work with? If it has booming lows, thumping bass and pushing rhythms, you might want to want to bump up to the HS8 (and maybe even spring for an HS8S too). Both the Yamaha HS7 and HS8 are incredible studio monitors that have earned their place in rooms all around the world. Which one ends up finding a place in yours should hopefully be an easier decision now that you know a little bit more about them.