Submitted February 3, 2021 by Michael R in Gilbert, AZ
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I thought I'd throw up a review since nobody's done it already (surprisingly). I just set these up about 3 days ago and am still in the process of breaking the cones in, so keep that in mind. One thing that mystifies me is the description on Zzounds lacking what these are specifically meant to be: an exact replica of the renowned Yamaha NS10 monitors. And I don't mean a clone like some pedals/effects/channel strips, etc. I mean that Avantone actually sourced the same materials down to the doping used on the cones. My understanding is that the only difference is in the addition of active power and different I/O options. That to me was the biggest selling point and I had to learn about this from another website that is selling these. I will always support Zzounds first when purchasing though because of their payment options. I think we all agree that we wouldn't have near the gear we have without that. Anyway, having never listened to the original NS10s I can't give a comparative A/B description (there are many such videos on the 'Tube doing just that though). Regardless of the comparison to the Yamaha's sound, I can give a description of the sound to my ears. I don't call myself an audiophile because I'm not wealthy and I do enjoy having friends. That being said, I have some relatively high end HiFi equipment at home just for listening to vinyl and TiDAL. Thus, I can comment on the clarity, etc. I will tell you that these are extremely revealing speakers. I popped on a casual recording I made with a Tascam Dr 40x which admittedly was never really mixed and certainly not mastered but nonetheless sounded adequate through the headphone out. What can I say? I cringed. The mids on these are right up front in bare bones honesty. You will not be able to cover up any fudging you might try to slip by in the mix. Which of course, if you know the reasons for the Yamaha's ubiquitous presence in every professional recording studio, is entirely the point. Mixing on these forces you to separate all the clashing mid frequencies into a harmonious palette. You could think of it like shooting a beam of light into a prism. What was previously singular (sometimes in really bad way) can be heard well enough and in enough detail to spread out those frequencies into a beautiful harmony. I previously owned the Avantone Mix Cubes which attempt the same thing. However, while the Mix Cubes certainly do this, they are unlistenable to in any other fashion. They were not built for sitting back and listening to some tunes. These CLA10As are different in that regard. These do a better job at displaying the muddled mids than the Mix Cubes, while at the same time giving a very balanced reproduction of commercial albums. If I had to compare them in a way that might make sense to you I would say they are very similar to listening to Audio Technica's high end headphones. Very flat with no scooped mids and no bass or treble boost. Originally I wasn't sure I would want these as there are reports of a total lack of bass and thus the necessity of a subwoofer. I can tell you that this assessment is incorrect, at least to my ears. Again I will say that it is very close to AT's frequency response where there is certainly bass present but it is confined to a proper placement in the mix. My walls still vibrate from the bass at loud levels. The bass does not, however, ever clog your ears to what else is going on. Again, very revealing. The highs are not silky but far far away from grating or fatiguing. You might call them bell like in their clarity but certainly not chimed. I have also read that these will not do if they are your only monitors for mixing. I don't see how that could be. Nevertheless, before I purchased them I had narrowed my choices down to these or the Yamaha HS8s with subwoofer. The HS8s have reports of stunning clarity as well so I wasn't sure which way to go. Naturally I wanted both ;). Not being able to do this I finally decided upon these, and I am so glad I did. I still do plan on adding another pair of near field monitors (Yamaha HS8 or possibly the Neumans), but that's more of a "I've now got the tools the pros use so there are no more excuses" idea. Of course, if you've already got other near fields then these can be even more valuable because you can immediately see how they translate. In total, I would say that if you are on the fence because you are thinking that these are too purpose specific (only for balancing mids) then abandon that fear because they work incredibly well as your only studio monitors. Does a second pair help? Does a second guitar/bass/synth help? I'm sure we can agree that it does. But I am more than satisfied to have only these until I can add that extra addition to my studio. And again, I've only had these up for 3 days; the sound that these produce will only get warmer as they wear. Also, the 200 watts is certainly noticeable but I've yet to hear any distortion. So, yeah, you should buy 'em even if you don't have or don't want to buy a subwoofer.
Started piano at 6 and haven't stopped with some instrument or another since
Everything from Krautrock to 70s Country Western Swing to Beatles to Bach
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