September 21

Yamaha HS8S Subwoofer Review: Best On The Market?

Adding a subwoofer to your home studio setup can make a huge difference in the sound you experience as you record, mix and master your music. If you’re considering making this change, there are some things you need to know.

As you start searching and shopping for the right studio-grade sub to add to your setup, you’ll doubtless come across the Yamaha HS8S subwoofer. It’s widely reviewed, widely loved, and overall honestly an excellent choice for many. Still, it’s not perfect for everyone, and there are plenty of questions to answer about this highly praised subwoofer.

In this Yamaha HS8S review, I’ll tell you exactly what I think about this product and answer the questions you might have about it. Ready to dive in? Let’s do it.

First Question: Do You Really Need a Subwoofer for Your Home Studio Setup?

Before we dive into the details of the Yamaha HS8S sub, there’s a more foundational question to ask: do you really need a subwoofer in the first place?

You might not. If you’re working in a very small studio space (say, a converted closet or shed), a subwoofer as beefy as the HS8S might just blow you out. It could be downright uncomfortable, and it could go against the whole point of adding a sub by distorting or overwhelming the sound rather than clarifying it.

The value of a subwoofer also depends on the monitors driving your mix and the type of music you’re mixing. The more bass-intensive your music, the more valuable a subwoofer becomes. The opposite is also true: the less bass, the less value you’ll get from a sub.

Your monitors themselves can make a difference, too. Sticking with the Yamaha HS series, a set of HS5 studio monitors won’t have near the level of bass response as a set of HS8 monitors will. If you’re doing mostly acoustic music and you already have a quality set of 8-inch monitors, a subwoofer may not be essential.

+Which Yamaha Studio Monitor Speakers Are The Right Choice For You?

Still, for most at-home studio musicians, adding a subwoofer is a smart play. You’ll get better, truer response so you can have a better sense of what your tracks actually sound like — not just what they sound like in your headphones or over your monitor mains or in your car.

How to Maximize the Value of Adding a Subwoofer

If you choose to add a subwoofer to your system, take these steps to maximize the value of your sub.

Your Room Matters

Getting the most out of a sub takes more than just buying one and dropping it in your studio space. The size, shape, and acoustic treatment of your room matter a great deal in terms of how much of a difference your subwoofer will make.

An untreated, boxy room is likely to experience negative effects like standing waves and sound pressure issues. If you experience new issues after installing your first subwoofer, you might need to recalibrate your system, your room, or both. You might also need additional acoustic treatment in the space. Here’s a deeper dive on that topicfrom Producer Hive.

Subwoofer Placement Matters

In addition to concerns with room design, you’ll also need to consider where your subwoofer will go. Again, just dropping it any old place will not necessarily give you the results you’re looking for.

Typically, the best place for your subwoofer is behind and between your two monitors — but not dead center between them. But the best way to know for sure is to test with your own ears. Experiment with subwoofer placement (using white or pink noise is a good strategy), and you’ll find the ideal placement in your space soon enough.

The Yamaha HS8S Subwoofer Review

Now that we’ve established that buying a subwoofer is a good move for most home studios, it’s time to look at one of my favorite subs, the Yamaha HS8S.

Yamaha’s HS Series of studio monitors is the go-to choice for many, many at-home musicians for their impressive balance of power, clarity and price. Simply put, aside from the HS Series, you’ll have a hard time getting this good a response at anywhere near these prices.

Yamaha offers three sets of studio monitors in the series:

MSRP on these ranges from $250 for the HS5 to $529 for the HS8, though of course you can find them for cheaper at most retailers. The inch measurement refers to the diameter of the woofer. All three monitors include a one-inch tweeter, though power output is not identical.

The HS8 monitors can reach as low as 38Hz, lower than the smaller speakers can go. Still, you won’t get as deep or as true or as balanced a bass response out of a pair of these speakers as you will when you add Yamaha’s HS8S subwoofer to the mix.

The Yamaha HS8S is an 8-inch bass reflex powered subwoofer that takes on frequencies between 22Hz and 150Hz, freeing your existing monitors from having to power anything below 150Hz.

Subwoofers take a lot of power, so it’s no surprise that the HS8S has 150 watts of power coursing through its purpose-built low-frequency amplifier.

The HS8S comes with a low cut switch as well as separate controls for both low and high cut.

Yamaha has included a phase switch on the HS8S, making it extremely simple to configure when using with HS Series monitors.

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Inputs, Outputs, Controls

The Yamaha HS8S offers dual inputs (both XLR and TRS R and L) and dual XLR outputs, perfect for integrating with your existing powered studio monitors. There’s a physical power switch on the back of the unit too, plus the phase switch and low / high cut controls mentioned earlier.

The low cut switch adjusts from 80 to 120Hz and can be disabled. The high cut adjusts within the same frequency range.

There’s also a level knob for adjusting output level to fit the needs of your room or space.

How To Connect a Yamaha HS8S Subwoofer to Your Existing Setup

Experienced studio veterans can probably skip this section entirely, but I thought I’d explain what to do if you’re not exactly sure how to connect a Yamaha HS8S subwoofer into your existing setup.

In your current setup, you’re almost certainly sending a signal from your audio interface’s monitor OUT to your monitors’ INs. (If not, you’re doing something more advanced and can probably reconstruct this advice to suit your setup.)

All you need to do to start using a Yamaha HS8S is route those existing monitor OUT lines into your new subwoofer’s inputs. Then, using a second set of XLR cables, route from the subwoofer’s outputs to your monitors’ inputs, right to right and left to left.

That’s the general setup. From there, in most applications you’ll want the low cut switch on the sub turned on. Start with the LEVEL knob around 10 o’clock and move it up gradually until you reach an optimal level.

What About That Phase Switch?

The Phase switch on your sub should probably be set to NORM (normal). However, if you’re getting a strange result, try switching it to REV (reverse), which reverses the phase.

In most setups, one or the other will perform perfectly, eliminating the need for fussy calibration tools.

Can You Use a Yamaha HS8S with Non-Yamaha Studio Monitors?

Yes, with some caveats.

If you have a set of powered studio monitors from a brand that makes a matching subwoofer, you’re very likely better off getting the matching sub. (I’d never recommend getting a different sub to go with your Yamaha HS5 monitors, either.)

Also, you very likely don’t want to mix passive and active formats (if it’s even feasible or possible), so the HS8S isn’t a good choice for a passive monitor setup.

But as long as you’re in the territory of active studio monitors, then yes: generally speaking, you can connect a Yamaha HS8S to another set of powered studio monitors. Refer back to the setup instructions above because the process will be nearly identical.

You might have to do more fussing and fiddling with settings to get things just right, but thankfully this should be minimal. Why? Because the Yamaha HS8S features an internal crossover that handles most of the technical stuff automatically. It “keeps” the frequencies that it can handle and passes the rest off to your studio monitors. Whether those monitors are HS monitors or something else, the process works pretty much the same way.

Pricing and Availability

The Yamaha HS8S subwoofer has an MSRP of $746 but typically sells for $479.99. As with many things in this current moment, availability is mixed due to supply chain constraints, but some retailers still have units in stock.

Final Thoughts: Should You Get a Yamaha HS8S?

So, after reading this far into the post, it’s time for the ultimate question: should you get a Yamaha HS8S subwoofer?

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. At around $480, this subwoofer won’t break the bank for most at-home studio musicians. And it can add a lot (and I mean a lot) of bass response to your monitors.

Whether you need that bass response depends on many factors. The size of your studio space is a big one, as is the size and power of your existing monitors. If you’re rocking a pair of 8-inch powered monitors with solid bass response and you’re running them in a smallish room, an HS8S might be too much power.

The last point of consideration is the type of sound you’re mixing and the audience you’re mixing for. If you’re working in bass-heavy genres like electronic, hip-hop, dance and more, you need as accurate a bass response as you can get. The same goes if you’re mixing for film or TV, where audiences are more likely to have a sub of their own.

In the end, whether you do or don’t get a subwoofer is up to you, your music, and your needs. But if you do get one? The Yamaha HS8S is a phenomenal choice for most home studios — even more so if you’re already using Yamaha HS Series powered studio monitors.


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