Yamaha’s HS series of active studio monitors is quite popular for home recording artists thanks to its impressive balance of features, audio quality and price. The line builds on Yamaha’s solid history of producing impressive studio monitors and serves as an impressive and budget-friendly midrange studio monitor.
In this Yamaha HS8 review, we’re detailing what you need to know about the largest of the three models in the HS series. Once you’ve finished this Yamaha HS8 review, be sure to check out our reviews of the HS5 and HS7, too.
And if you’re looking to compare the three directly, check out Which Yamaha Studio Monitor Speakers Are the Right Choice for You?
Yamaha HS8 Overview
If you’re looking for the top-of-the-line studio monitor from Yamaha, you’ve found it. A Yamaha HS8 pair (and perhaps an HS8S subwoofer to go with it— more on that later) represents the pinnacle of reference audio quality that Yamaha makes at this time.
Like the others in the HS line, the Yamaha HS8 is an active, bi-amplified two-way monitor. By every measure that matters, it’s the best monitor in the lineup. It offers the most power, and it has the largest cone woofer and overall size.
The eight-inch cone woofer combines with a one-inch Dome tweeter to produce a powerful yet even sonic response across a wide range of frequencies. For pros and amateurs alike looking for a reasonably priced full-size reference monitor, the HS8 is a notable contender.
Like the others in the line, the HS8 does not include any mounting points. It’s designed to sit on a shelf or a stand. If your studio environment requires that you mount your monitors, you’ll need to spend a little more on a variant that includes mounting points on four sides.
The HS8i has those mounting points but is nearly identical in every other way. There are some slight differences in frequency response depending on your gain level, but these aren’t particularly significant.
Who the HS8 Is Most Suited For
The HS8 produces a lot of power. That’s a good thing if you need that power. But in smaller spaces, the output might seem booming or even overwhelming. It’s a great product, but it might not be the right choice for at-home artists working in smaller bedrooms over other small spaces.
If you’re working in a decent-sized space, though, a Yamaha HS8 pair will produce exceptional results. A commercial control room, for example, with enough space for a half dozen or so to sit and collaborate, is going to need decent power output. The same goes if you’re working in a large basement or garage kind of environment.
Other scenarios that might benefit from a pair of HS8s include these:
- You’ve tried smaller monitors and needed more power/volume
- You’re working in a bass- or low-frequency-heavy medium
- You’re looking for playback monitors inside a larger studio room (rather than a control room)
If you search the online forums, you might find some complaints about Yamaha HS8 monitors being too bass-heavy. However, these complaints are mainly from those working in smaller spaces or who have not sufficiently treated those spaces with bass traps and other acoustic treatments.
If you have the right space (and if you’ve treated your space correctly), HS8 monitors are going to perform at an impressive level.
As the flagship monitor in Yamaha’s current catalog, the HS8 commands a higher price than its smaller siblings. These monitors have an MSRP of $529, and if you need the mountable version, the MSRP jumps up to $585. At list price, then, you’re shelling out over $1000 for a pair of these.
Of course, list price isn’t everything. It’s not uncommon to find Yamaha HS8 monitors selling for below $400 on Amazon. Even at a discount, the mountable HS8i variant still carries a hefty premium, pushing back closer to $1000 for a pair.
As the largest and most powerful HS monitors, it’s no surprise that HS8s give the best frequency response here, too. The HS8 dips down to 38Hz — low enough to reproduce the sound of the lowest E-flat on the piano. The maximum frequency is at 30kHz, the same as the other HS models.
Many audio engineers will be perfectly content with this frequency response. But if you need even more, all you need to do is add the Yamaha HS8 subwoofer, named the HS8S. We’ll talk more about the sub below (specs and all), but it’s a powerful addition if you need it.
The color options for the HS8 are identical to those for the other models in the line. Basically, you’re choosing between black and white. The black model features a white woofer, an iconic Yamaha look that gives the nod to previous generations of Yamaha monitors.
The white unit nearly reverses that color scheme yet retains a mostly white woofer. The only black accent here is a small ring around the edge of the woofer.
These monitors have a sleek, modern and maybe even stark look to them. They will look right at home in most studio setups, especially if you’re going for a modern look.
As the largest speaker in the HS series, it’s no surprise that the HS8 has the largest dimensions. Surrounding the eight-inch woofer is a speaker that measures 15.4 inches tall by 9.8 inches wide and 13.1 inches deep.
The standard model ways a hefty 22.5 pounds, while the mountable model weighs 23.6 pounds due to the extra reinforcement that allows for mounting.
At this size and weight, the Yamaha HS8 isn’t exactly a portable speaker. But then again, it’s not intended to be.
Just like its smaller siblings, the Yamaha HS8 is a two-way, bass-reflex active nearfield studio monitor. This larger model jumps up to a full-sized eight-inch cone woofer, and the power output is significantly higher as well.
The HS8 boasts 120 watts of total output. Due to the advanced bi-amp hardware, the woofer enjoys 75 watts, while the tweeter enjoys 45 watts. For those keeping score, this means that the woofer alone on the HS8 has more power than the entire HS5 unit. And the tweeter on the HS8 has as much power as the woofer on the HS5.
The audio response controls on the HS8 are identical to those on the HS7 and HS5. The limited controls included here are a high trim switch (+/- 2dB), a room control switch (0/-2/-4 dB below 500Hz), and a +4dB level control. And while we’re glad they’re here, these specs aren’t particularly impressive, especially for an eight-inch monitor at this higher price point.
The good news is that if you’re choosing the HS8, you’re more likely to add the accompanying subwoofer. If you do, you’ll gain additional levels of control.
The cabinet enclosure on the Yamaha HS8 is made from MDF and is designed to reduce unwanted resonance.
Yamaha built a subwoofer for its HS series, named the HS8S. While this subwoofer can be used with any HS series speaker (or just about any active monitors, for that matter), it’s designed to work most seamlessly with an HS8 pair.
This impressive subwoofer brings a beefy 150 watts of low-end power to your setup. It’s designed to handle all frequencies from 22Hz to 150Hz, routing everything higher than that to the main monitors.
The HS8S subwoofer also gives you additional audio controls: a low cut switch, plus low cut and high cut controls. The phase switch allows for very simple setup and operation, and a variety of inputs and outputs gives you needed flexibility.
The Yamaha HS8S subwoofer has an MSRP of $699, but you’ll regularly find it for under $500.
Pros and Cons
The Yamaha HS8 is the top-of-the-line studio monitor from Yamaha. Still, there are pros and cons to the unit. Here are a few of each.
- Powerful, impressive sound
- High power output
- Low-frequency response so good, you probably don’t need the subwoofer
- Low price compared to other eight-inch active monitors
The truth is there’s a lot to love here. The sound from an HS8 pair is powerful and impressive, thanks largely to the high power output. The low-frequency response is excellent as well, so much that most users don’t feel the need to add a subwoofer to their setup. Of course, speaking of subwoofers, Yamaha’s offering is purpose-built to match these speakers.
Price can also be considered a pro because it’s substantially lower than what you would pay for speakers of this size and power output from any other manufacturers.
- Too much sound for some spaces
- Low-end response especially can sometimes overwhelm
- Most expensive in the lineup
There aren’t many cons to this monitor, but here are the ones we came up with. First, the Yamaha HS8 produces too much sound for some spaces. If you’re working in a converted bedroom or a small control room, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by the output, even if you turn things down.
This concern is especially prevalent on the low end. If your space isn’t properly outfitted with bass traps, you might feel overwhelmed by the bass response — even without the subwoofer.
And while the price is certainly competitive compared to other speakers in its class, it’s still a markedly more expensive monitor. If your budget is tight, the HS8 might be out of reach.
The entire Yamaha HS series is an impressive lineup of reference monitors at equally impressive price points. Within the line, the HS8 is clearly the most impressive entry. If you have the space and the budget for it, the Yamaha HS8 monitor is worth seriously considering (either with the subwoofer or without).