Yamaha’s NSBP401 speakers: Speak to Me
16th July 2016
Ostensibly part of the larger MCRN870D mini system, you can also buy them separately. Paul Rigby reviews the Yamaha NSBP401 speakers
The Yamaha MCRN870D mini system (£1,000) consists of the AU670 amplifier (£359.95) CDN670D CD player with DAB (£399.95) and these speakers. You get a discount on the total price if you buy everything together. If you don’t want to buy the entire system and just fancy grabbing the speakers then you can, which is why I’m reviewing them separately.
The build includes a 13cm aluminium woofer and 3cm soft dome tweeter, made by coating the diaphragm and applying a bespoke moulding technology. The speakers also feature a bespoke cabinet with a full three-way mitered-joint construction that connects all angled parts, adding to cabinet strength. The units are given a piano finish.
I began with a Bing Crosby CD, Bing on Broadway and the track, Mandy. Crosby baritone vocals are a perfect test for any speakers vocal projection while the jazz quartet behind the Ol’Groaner consisted of Buddy Cole’s man, Cole himself being on piano.
Two things immediately hit me, listening to the Yamahas. Firstly, the soundstage is a high one, extending the height of the stage lifted Crosby upwards and added a sense of grandeur to the song. Secondly, the speakers slightly soften the very focused attitude of the Yamaha amplifier. For some, this will be a good thing, adding a slightly valve-like soft-edge personality to the song. Detail was still resident, the piano was vibrant while percussion, especially the brush strokes half way through the song, were immediately recognisable and characterful. Crosby’s vocal delivery also had a slightly more romantic feel to it. Those who welcome the precision and slightly etched feel offered by the Yamaha amplifier may be a little disappointed to lose that focus via the Yamaha speakers. Personally, I can see benefits from both angles and I encourage a demo but I do believe that the addition of the Yamaha speakers adds a tonal balance to the mini system as a whole that gives the overall sound a mature and grown up feel with zero chance of listening fatigue.
I then moved to a more raucous ditty, Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence from the Violator album. Yamaha speakers have a reputation for bass: big powerful and informative. The new NSBP401 follows that proud tradition because bass wasn’t just big, powerful, meaty and with a mass of something around the size of Pluto, the bass was also incredibly characterful, insightful and detailed. It might be this bass-induced personality that gives the Yamaha its slightly warming presentation. One that, as I say, is not disagreeable at all. The lead vocal might lack a slight touch of upper mid stretch but I was wholly impressed by the midrange detail and the low lever noise that enhanced the instrumental separation.
I wanted to push the boundaries of this speaker design, so I hooked the speakers up to my reference system and played the 1966 spaghetti western Django vinyl soundtrack from Luis Bacalov and the mood piece, Town of Silence. Despite a slight lack of dynamic extension via the string section and the reverb from the bongos, the Yamahas impressed with the bouncy nature of the bass-like electric guitar.
In the Yamaha mini system, the NSBP401 offers an ideal opportunity for those who might want to tone down the precision and focus of the amplifier and Network CD Player but they also work very happily as an independent pair of speakers in any hi-fi chain. They might lack a tad of extension that classical and jazz fans yearn for but their performance in this field is still worthy.
That said, I have to say that the Yamahas are best budget speakers I’ve heard, thus far, for rock music. They give you enough detail to be more than content, they offer dynamic music with an ease that promises, even threatens, power and then, when the bass hits, boy do they deliver with a rhythm, thump and punch that threatens to give you internal injuries.
YAMAHA NSBP401 SPEAKERS
Tel: 01908 366700
GOOD: big bold bass, rock-centric, valve-like character, low noise
BAD: midrange veiling
Wilson Benesch Circle turntable
Cambridge Azur 651A integrated amplifier
Yamaha AU670 amplifier
Yamaha CDN670D Network CD player
Leema Elements CD player
Acoustic Research Radiance One Speakers
Black Rhodium cables