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Audio & Video
NS-700 Series Development Story - Report on the sound and styling of the NS-700 Series.
sound and styling
that will make everyone
take a second look.
The NS-700 Series has been introduced. This new series of mid-class speakers from Yamaha blends elegant, individualistic styling that reminds listeners of a single instrument with the high sound quality technology inherited from the luxury class Soavo Series HiFi speakers. Their clear sound broadly covers everything from pure HiFi to home theater and their new exterior design expresses the identity of Yamaha as a musical instrument manufacturer in every feature. How were these created? Today, we will interview three people: Masahiro Tobise who is the product development project leader, Koji Okazaki, who is in charge of driver development, and Keizo Tatsumi, in charge of design.
This article was prepared by reorganizing information from an interview held on July 14, 2008 in the Yamaha Product Development Project.
When people hear the words, "Yamaha HiFi speaker," recently they first think of the Soavo HiFi Series, introduced in the autumn of 2006, but when we speak of the appearance and technical features of the NS-700 Series, aren't they similar in the two series? On the other hand, in terms of its place in the product lineup, it probably also has the aspect of a home theater speaker. So I would like to begin by inquiring about matters such as, "What aims guided the development of the new NS-700 Series?"
Tobise : Let me see, we express it as "versatile" but the original aim was to develop the NS-700 Series, with the goal of achieving, "the all-round athlete of speakers." When developing Soavo for example, we set its special feature as the ability to express acoustic music, mainly vocals, but for the NS-700 Series, our goal was to create a speaker with depth: capable of wide coverage from rock and pops to jazz, and able to solidly reproduce 2-channel stereo, multi-channel, music and movies.
A really long list of goals isn't it? (Laughs). But, with the increase of speaker performance to that degree, the idea of dividing speakers into genres such as HiFi speaker or home theater speaker may be out of date.
Tobise : I think so too. When we asked customers who actually purchased Soavo speakers about their motivation for purchase or sense of use, it appeared that they were not very concerned whether it was for HiFi use or for home theater use. Many expressed happy sentiments such as "I bought them to listen to HiFi, but enjoyed using them to watch movies." Or, "I intended to buy them for home theater use, but suddenly realized I had started to listen to many music CDs."
Oh, I thought so. In fact, as I asked you a little before, its sound production is very good for a HiFi speaker, and received the impression that it was sound with impact. For example, the sound of the Soavo Series gives the feeling that a vocalist is standing right in front of us softly starting to sing, but with this one, the sound forces its way in front of you. I think that the NS-700 Series will be sold as a home theater speaker that follows the present 525 Series on the lineup, but its sound is sharply clearer than that of the 525 Series, and is also dynamic, isn't it?
Tobise : The predecessor, the 525 Series, were actually models created by focusing on the European market and provide a sense of accomplishment in our own way, but on the other hand, they also characteristically let users listen in quiet environments to appreciate true attractiveness, so from the domestic market, we have been asked, "When we listen to it in a busy store where in-store announcements are constantly on, won't it be difficult for people to appreciate the full strengths of the speakers?"
Is that so? The 525 Series was very different from the expected sound of a home theater speaker in a certain sense. I personally liked this series, but products in this class are often selected after checking the sound in stores, so what you just told me may be a reasonable statement.
Tobise : The Soavo Series were originally products for audiophiles, so it was assumed that they should be able to listen intently to understand their good qualities, but because the NS-700 Series are speakers in the mid-class price range, if they do not provide good sound quality as a matter of course, and cannot reproduce punchy and sharp sound in a store, customers wouldn't even consider them as candidate products, would they? So this time we wanted to challenge ourselves to create such enjoyable sound.
Of course. But, won't that make the position of the NS-700 Series clearer and make it easier to distinguish Soavo from your rivals' speakers?
Tobise : That is true. Interestingly, when buyers in the stores listen to a sample product, we receive various opinions, triggering prolonged arguments such as that it could not be a past Yamaha speaker. It is astonishing; we certainly hear the view, "It is not like a Yamaha product," while others give it their seal of approval, remaking, "It's great! It will sell well!"
That is interesting. There are few speakers in its class that receive so many different opinions, I suppose?
Tobise : That's true. But I think that products which more clearly divide tastes will appeal to the present generation rather than products which 70 to 80 percent of people will like to some degree. As you see, the NS-700 Series speakers have very bold designs, but I want you to understand that this is not a result of aiming to gain everyone's acceptance, but valuing the type of individuality that will not settle for anything but this product.
NS-F700 Advanced PMD Cone Woofer Construction
Tweeter with DC-Diaphragm™
Now let’s talk about the substance of the product. The speaker drivers installed in the NS-700 Series are an A-PMD woofer and a DC-Diaphragm™ type tweeter, the same specs as the Soavo Series, right?
Tobise : Yes. The key parts of the NS-700 are the same as those used in the Soavo Series.
Come to think of it, the combination of an A-PMD woofer and DC-Diaphragm™ tweeter is not only a feature of Soavo, it dates back to the 525 Series, doesn’t it? Of course the driver design is probably very different.
Okazaki : That’s true. The driver itself is entirely new for the NS-700 Series. It differs from Soavo Series in that its mid-range magnet has been changed from neodymium to ferrite, the voice coil of the entire driver has been changed from rectangular flat wire to round wire, and the material of the surround is different.
Ah. That is extremely extravagant, isn’t it? So what about the crossover network?
Tobise: In that it has a three-way structure with second order filters, it is similar to Soavo and the 525 Series, but of course, the parts were optimized to match the driver. It would take too long to explain it in detail, but the quality of the constituent parts have been upgraded from that of the 525 Series to match the driver.
What is the felt around the tweeter diaphragm effective for?
Tobise : It is called an acoustic absorber, and its acoustic effect is to control the resonance of the frame that supports the tweeter.
It is the same idea as that of the former NS-10M or NS-1 Classics. Isn’t its design Yamaha-like and doesn’t it create a good accent?
Tobise : That is true. On Soavo, the baffle around the tweeter was formed as an integrated aluminum diecast to reduce resonance from the cabinet, but on the NS-700 Series, considering design and cost, our aim was to achieve the same effect with traditional methods.
Okazaki : The result is that we have completed sound which makes not only music, but also movies enjoyable. To watch an action movie for example, if subwoofers are combined and used in multi-channel, it is an extremely high level, even when considered as pure home theater sound.
Tobise : I am repeating something I have already said, but in the world of speakers, the boundary between HiFi and home theater has truly disappeared. And if you listen to the NS-700 Series you will fully understand this fact.
Vertical and slanted partitions contribute to a strong, vibration-resistant structure (NS-F700)
The cabinets of the NS-700 Series feature a unique shape never seen in previous Yamaha HiFi products.
Tobise : The 700 Series speakers are, from the technical perspective, models with many aspects inherited from the Soavo, but it is not simply a sister series. I think it offers brand new values in terms of both its sound and its exterior design.
On the topic of design, Mr. Tatsumi, who was in charge of the design, has joined us today. This is the first time a designer has taken part in our interviews with product developers, but I hear that Yamaha has a division that specializes in design.
Tatsumi : Yes. It is a division called the Product Design Laboratory which has consistently specialized in the industrial design of Yamaha products, and one of its good points is a lack of fences between the product genres it handles. I have worked on a variety of designs, mainly musical instruments. The AV Components I have designed include the HX Series luxury home theater speakers and speakers for PC use.
Of course. Yamaha-like designs are created by having each designer tackle products from a variety of categories. So what were you aiming for in your design of the NS-700 Series?
Tatsumi : I sought a method of aiming for unique shapes for the NS-700 Series while inheriting the image established by Soavo to express the design image of Soavo Series - an image symbolized by the words, "displaying a completely different aspect according to the angle it is viewed," and "like young, vivacious trees standing in a living room" - in a different form.
Do you mean reconstructing the concepts from Soavo, based on a different interpretation?
Tatsumi : That is certainly true. And because Yamaha is a musical instrument maker, our first desire was to show the baffle surface as neatly as if it were a musical instrument. What was unexpectedly a visual problem was the pin that holds the grille. As a result of minimizing the size of the speaker grille on the front surface to eliminate this pin, a grille with a shape resembling the body of a guitar or violin was naturally designed.
Of course. If the baffle surface is presented smoothly, it certainly has a musical instrument image, doesn’t it? Regarding that, it is true of the round form of the top surface of the cabinet which is the identity of the NS-700 Series. Is this part made by bending wooden material?
Tobise : Yes. The cabinets are constructed by bonding together thick laminated panels and bending them to precisely shape them. But the corners of the rounded parts are firmly anchored by Yamaha’s traditional Three-Way Mitered-Joint Construction.
Yes, it is luxurious. When you think about it, such a laborious cabinet structure is rarely adopted in this class of speaker.
Tobise : That’s true, isn’t it? While Soavo Series cabinets are designed without any parallel surfaces, on the NS-700 Series, only the front and back baffle surfaces are parallel, but if the top is straightened in this condition, it would become an extremely rough shape. Therefore, by adopting this round form, we succeeded in skillfully expressing the design goal, "displaying a completely different aspect according to the angle it is viewed," in a form different from that of Soavo Series.
As a result of such struggles, this unique shape was created. The part of the stand which prevents overturning also have a shape that goes well with the cabinet.
Tatsumi : It looks as if its roots spread deeply underground. It is a small part, but even the design of this part was the result of making many prototypes.
It is interesting that when one looks at their overall appearance, they appear very organic, almost as if they are alive.
Tobise : To speak honestly, for Yamaha that has adhered to orthodox styles until now, the design of the NS-700 Series was a considerable challenge. But we are confident that originally Yamaha was a manufacturer that provided new value in both its music and its design. People inside the company are quietly looking forward to the NS-700 Series being the breakthrough to such a new trend.
Our time ended just as he so skillfully concluded. Thank you all very much for sparing so much of your time.
Cabinets feature a luxurious, environmentally friendly open-pore finish. The Piano Black Finish is made with the same materials, and using the same application process, as is used on Yamaha's finest grand pianos.
|Type||2-Way Acoustic Suspension Center Speaker System|
|Woofers||Dual 13cm Advanced cone|
|Tweeter||3cm aluminium dome|
|Frequency Response||60 Hz-50 kHz|
|Nominal Input Power||40 W|
|Maximum Input Power||160 W|
|Crossover Frequencies||5 kHz|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||500 x 170 x 170 mm|