NS10's and the Core Production Workflow | Soundways

Yamaha NS10

Found in most major studios, the Yamaha NS10 is a legendary studio monitor.  Many top engineers swear by them.  You may have heard the phrase "if you can get a mix to sound good on NS10's, it will sound good on anything."  Yet, these monitors are known for their unpleasant sound.  

So why do engineers like the NS10?  Let's explore the history of these monitors.

The History of NS10's

The Yamaha NS10 was initially introduced to the hi-fi market in 1978.  The speaker wasn't well received at first and didn't sell.  This is likely due to the poor sound quality.  For the hi-fi market, this design didn't work.  However, recording engineers began to adopt these monitors.  

Bob Clearmountain is credited as the engineer who brought popularity to the NS10.  Clearmountain was looking for a compact monitor to use while traveling that could deliver specific results.  Clearmountain wanted the worst sounding hi-fi speaker.  He knew that if a mix sounded great on these, it would sound great anywhere.  

At that time only a few small studios in the UK and Japan were using the NS10's.  Eventually these speakers were recommended to Clearmountain, bringing them mainstream attention.  Since then engineers across the world have used these monitors to ensure that their mixes translate properly. 

Why use NS10's?

Yamaha NS10's have the ability to highlight problems in a mix.  Engineers describe the sound as being "harsh" and "mid-forward."  This presentation causes subtle problems to become apparent.  If your track is poorly balanced, it won't sound good on NS10's.

So, how do they work?

NS10's work by highlighting the most important area of a mix, the audio core.  This is the frequency range that the human ear finds most sensitive, 2kHz - 5kHz.  The NS10's frequency response causes the core to become pronounced.  For years, engineers have used these speakers to listen in more detail.

These monitors may work for some mixing applications.  However, they introduce a variety of distortions.  NS10's weren't designed for core listening and aren't optimized for this setting.  

Engineers need a way to hear the audio core in a more accurate way.  

Core Production Workflow


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The Core Production Workflow optimizes translation for all playback systems.  It works by focusing on the core in the most accurate way possible.  Often a mix that sounds great in the studio doesn't on other speakers.  Mixing with full-range monitors can mask problems.  This causes engineers to craft mixes that don't translate.

Reveal is the first plug-in designed for core listening applications.

Place Reveal on your DAW's master bus.  Turn on Critical Listening mode to make EQ and level adjustments.  Mixing in this way ensures that you make the most precise adjustments possible.  

Turn on Critical Listening mode and listen to your mix.  You may find that your kick drum or bass instruments have disappeared.  If this is the case, place LowLeveler on your kick drum and bass instruments.  Adjust the Upper Bass (Harmonic) to the desired level.  Now, turn off Critical Listening mode and adjust the Low Bass (Fundamental).  This workflow ensures that your bass is harmonically balanced and will translate properly.