If you’re a budding music producer looking to invest in their first pair of monitor speakers without breaking the bank or an experienced practitioner looking for a pair of nearfield speakers for alternative reference, the Adam Audio T5V vs JBL 305P vs Yamaha HS5 are three great ‘must check out’ items on your list.
In summary, these three options represent probably one of the most challenging decisions for music producers looking to strike a balance between budget and utility. The good news is that all of these deliver what you’ll need, albeit with their minor quirks, which you’ll have to pick and choose from. The JBLs (approx. $437 a pair) offers vibrant sound but color your mixes mildly, which you’ll need to factor in. The Yamaha HS5s (approximately $400 a pair) offer near-legendary neutrality in the mid-ranges, while the Adam Audio T5V’s might possibly be the most versatile and balanced of the three. The JBL 305P is the least expensive.
Let’s go have a closer look.
Adam Audio T5V
While one of the most reasonably priced products from this Berlin-based company whose USP has been high-end studio gear, the Adam Audio T5V’s look remarkably similar to its siblings in the higher-end sector. This speaks for the company’s ethics - smaller budgets don’t necessarily mean lesser quality. Sometimes it’s just a different point that’s focused on.
Signature black exteriors with golden tweeters and minimal branding in the bottom make these monitors look like a serious and professional product to have in your studio environment.
- Weight: 12.6 lbs (5.7 kg)
- Height x Width x Depth: 298 mm x 179 mm x 297mm (11.7" x 7" x 11.7")
Check out the Operation Manual of Adam Audio’s T Series.
Slick, shiny, and black with JBL branding near the tweeters, these might be an acquired taste on the visual factor. To be absolutely candid, nothing really distinguishes them much from a pair of computer speakers, which, while not a deal-breaker, doesn’t really do its credibility a lot of favors.
That being said, they do blend in well enough into most environments, and their overall performance compensates for less-than-sophisticated looks.
- Weight: 4.73 kg (10.43 lbs)
- Height x Width x Depth: 298 x 185 x 231 mm (11.75" x 7.3" x 9.9")
A tribute to the legendary Yamaha NS 10’s, the design on these monitors tends to evoke a retro look with very basic black MDF exteriors with a white cone in the middle (unless you go with the white version). With a basic and timeless design, it fits in seamlessly into all studios.
- The Yamaha HS5’s come in black and white. The white option inverts the design pattern with white exteriors and a black ring around the speaker cones.
- Weight: 12.5kg (27.6 lbs)
- Height x Width x Depth: 300 x 350 x 389 mm (11.8" x 13.8" x 15.3")
Have you ever noticed that there often tends to be quite the opposite opinions about a speaker?
I can understand this for more "personal taste" kinda products like clothing, for example.
But for engineering products like speakers? Personal tastes and preferences probably still play a role. But shouldn't it be less?
Why is it that we can't set a universal metric for sound quality?
First time I asked this question to myself has been a pivotal day.
Because it turns out that in the mid 90's, Electrical Engineer PhD Floyd Toole came up with a method called Spinorama. This is exactly what he accomplished with this. Turns out that his book Sound Reproduction is like the bible of audiophiles.
Put it simply, Spinorama is a set of measurements that gives a comprehensive overview of a speaker's performance from various angles.
It allows you to compare the performances of different speakers before even laying your ears hands on them.
Isn't that amazing?
This is why Spinorama was apparently groundbreaking news for audio industry. Hence in the mid-late 2010's, most brands and magazines began publishing Spinorama measurements, despite the challenges of making such measurements.
Fortunately, now we have the Spinorama data for a bunch of quite popular speakers. Pierre Aubert put all this untidy data together and put it into https://www.spinorama.org/. This is a stunning source. Pretty valuable stuff from him right there.
All good up to this point.
Now there comes a caveat.
Since the sound speakers propagate are in the form of omnidirectional waves, all measurements are obtained in anechoic or semi-anechoic chambers (a super-quiet room where soundwaves don't bounce back, here's how different that room sounds [a mind blowing time-adjusted video]).
This is a problem because it means that Spinorama alone, unfortunately, won't give us all we need. Placement and reflections play an equally important role there too.
This is why most A-class brands (like SVS, Bang & Olufsen, etc) often come up with room correction features, adjusted either manually or automatically. The EQ adapts itself to the placement (room, corner, center, etc) for a better (deeper and more accurate) sound. Which is great.
Additionally they often emphasize the importance of placement, here is an example: https://www.svsound.com/blogs/subwoofer-setup-and-tuning/75365187-the-art-of-subwoofer-placement
The source code under Pierre Aubert's work is licensed under GPL (General public license). He didn't perform any of the measurements himself, and instead he compiled all of them into one place, so that makes sense.
At this point, I thought that if there was a tool that combined both the Spinorama with the room acoustics data, it'd be extremely useful.
Unfortunately, it turns out that there wasn't any.
This is where I stepped in and partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD in order to achieve this.
We combined Spinorama data with room acoustics and came up with Soundton. A very simple, 2D online tool that allows you to:
- Reveal optimal speaker positions in a room,
- Test with real speakers from real brands,
- Compare different speakers and different positions in the room.
It can be very valuable for the vast majority.
The colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) listening experience.
It works the best with subwoofers since Soundton processes low frequency response waves only.
- Soundton is going to be, say, 80% accurate. Not 100%.
- Because, other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, furniture/windows in place also have an impact on room acoustics.
- If you want absolutely the most detailed room analysis, then what you need is an acoustics consultant. Mind you that's going to require deep pockets and patience though... assuming you find the right person and they get the job done.