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Avantone CLA-10 (Yamaha NS-10M Clone) Review

Rate this studio monitor

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 152 89.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 7 4.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 4 2.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 4.1%

  • Total voters
    170
@amirm After your review, you even will not able to resell these pair of little gem.
I am tempted to return it as it clearly is not a clone of 10M.
 
The problem with the NS-10 is that it was ignorantly designed to have flat in-room response, instead of flat anechoic response. It's actually a well-engineered speaker, it's just that the engineering target was massively wrong. In any case, using it for any kind of serious mixing or mastering is a colossal mistake -- it was really only good for hearing how the mix would sound on a clock radio or similar quality playback system.

This Avantone is just a poorly engineered POS.
I guess if you like nothing Bob Clearmountain has produced then you comments may be true.. but he insisted on NS10s to check the quality of his productions.. I have been part of many a serious mix where NS10 has been an integral part of the process (but never the exclusive or main monitor). Its slightly unusual "view" of the material could highlight problems and its consistent manufacture made that view portable.
 
Yeah, these really don't sound like NS10s. They're way, way brighter. Just like the other Avantone clone you've reviewed, @amirm, they're nothing like the originals.
 
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The claim to fame of the original Yamaha NS-10m was that it would allow mix/mastering engineers to create pop/rock music that "translated" well to whatever people were using to listen to music. A bit of its history and anechoic measurements are documented in this excellent paper:
THE YAMAHA NS10M: TWENTY YEARS A REFERENCE MONITOR. WHY?

The Yamaha NS-10 loudspeaker was never designed for that purpose.

It was a high quality 'mini' speaker made for Japan (and likely their musical tastes...) in their NS (Natural Sound) speaker range to be used with the emerging smaller footprint home/shelf type systems in the late 1970s. Contrary to what the 'excellent paper' asserts, it was a huge seller in Japan for 15+ years and continued to be sold right up until the early 1990s in other parts of the world as well. It was never intended to be sold outside Japan until travellers started bringing them 'home' and studio engineers 'discovered' them. An accidental monitor if ever there was one. But better than the Horrortone.

We were still selling the NS-10M in the early 1990s and it wasn't to studios, it was to domestic customers coming back for a second or third pair.

They are an excellent speaker if you want to hear flaws in a recording, warts and all. But not an enjoyable speaker.

Thanks for the review of these knockoff copies, but if anyone wanted a NS-10M, they'd track down an original pair IMO.
 
The problem with the NS-10 is that it was ignorantly designed to have flat in-room response, instead of flat anechoic response. It's actually a well-engineered speaker, it's just that the engineering target was massively wrong. In any case, using it for any kind of serious mixing or mastering is a colossal mistake -- it was really only good for hearing how the mix would sound on a clock radio or similar quality playback system.

This Avantone is just a poorly engineered POS.
If true, a slope of 3 db per decade (just short of 1 db per octave) should rein it in some. You would end up with a slope starting at 20 hz and ending at - 10db at 20 khz. That would probably make this speaker sound some better. Yet I think in those days they just didn't have a way to get good directivity.
 
If true, a slope of 3 db per decade (just short of 1 db per octave) should rein it in some. You would end up with a slope starting at 20 hz and ending at - 10db at 20 khz. That would probably make this speaker sound some better. Yet I think in those days they just didn't have a way to get good directivity.
it's a 70s vintage design, so yeah - directivity wasn't even understood much yet.
 
Thanks for testing these, I never used the originals.

IMO they should have done only the active version and fixed some things in the engineering and with the DSP.

CLA has the resources to source some vintage NS-10s and hire people with test equipment. I was listening to a comparison of Universal Audio 1176 compressors on YouTube, the crudest of listening environments. Even there, the CLA software compressor did not sound like an authentic UA 1176 hardware compressor, or any of the hardware clones either.

ASR testing demonstrates it is more a Guitar Center-targeted product. That isn't terrible, the musician using it could be the next Prince or Billie Eilish basement rocker. At that point it will be professionally mastered.
 
The data here seems clear: in attempting to clone a rather broken speaker, Avantone has made an even more broken speaker.
Ha! Perfect.

I never understood the appeal of the NS-10, which always sounded like cr@p to me (I suppose that was actually the appeal). Why Avantone would bother to clone it, while making an even worse speaker in the process, is hard to fathom.

Thanks for the review!
 
From the NS-10M factory brochure:

1691201483526.png
 
If it sounds good on there, it will sound great at home - Avantone Marketing Dept.
"...and if it sounds great on this... well, you've done something wrong and should probably start over."
 
If you want NS10 these days, just look for used ATC SCM20s. Far as I'm aware, ATC specifically designed them to go in the same place NS10s live(d) - on the meter bridge of a large format console. With, of course, better drivers than the original NS10, with a much more robust tweeter.
 
Many older recording and mastering engineers have hearing loss, especially those in in the pop / rock genres. Some of this was from going to loud clubs and some just from aging. ( Older people can rarely hear much above 15,000 or even 13,000 Hz )

Maybe that is why they wanted to use "bright" speakers, to compensate for their rolled-off hearing.

Hearing problems in the mixing booth or the mastering suite might also explain the whole "loudness wars" that has afflicted music.
 
it's a 70s vintage design, so yeah - directivity wasn't even understood much yet.
As compared to what? The speaker companies that had real labs, anechoic chambers, etc. were publishing polar plots in the 60s.

More to the point, there were polar plots published as part of the specs of the NS-10M (whether they were accurate or not, who knows):

1691207647340.png
 
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Avantone CLA-10 which is made to be a clone of the famous Yamaha NS-10A monitor. I purchased it from Amazon and costs US $699 (a pair).
View attachment 303439
We have the iconic paper white woofer. Speaker is commonly shown the horizontal configuration as you see but I tested it vertically as you see below. No port or anything exciting in the back:
View attachment 303440

The claim to fame of the original Yamaha NS-10m was that it would allow mix/mastering engineers to create pop/rock music that "translated" well to whatever people were using to listen to music. A bit of its history and anechoic measurements are documented in this excellent paper:
THE YAMAHA NS10M: TWENTY YEARS A REFERENCE MONITOR. WHY?
Philip R Newell Consultant,
Moaña, Spain Keith R Holland ISVR, University of Southampton, UK
Julius P Newell Independent Audio Systems Engineer, UK

Here are their conclusions:

6. SUMMARY
From the investigations presented, and from experiences in the use of the NS10M, it would appear that the following statements can be made.
•The free-field frequency response of the NS10M gives rise to a response in typical use which has been recognised by many recording personnel as being what they need for pop / rock music mixing. The principal characteristics are the raised mid-range, the gentle top-end rolloff, and the very fast low-frequency decay; the latter is aided by the 12dB / octave roll-off of the sealed-box cabinet.
•The time response exhibits a better than average step function response, which implies good reproduction of transients. Many people speak of the "rock and roll punch" of the NS10M. •The distortion characteristics are also better than average for a loudspeaker of such size.
•The output SPL is adequate for close-field studio monitoring with adequate reliability.
•In many of these characteristics, the NS10M mimics the response of many good larger monitor systems in well-controlled rooms. They are hence recognisable to many recording personnel in terms of their overall response.
•They are tools to achieve a well-balanced mix. It is notable how many of the people who use them in studios do not use them for home listening.


I tried to find a real NS-10m on various auction sites but all I found were speakers in horrible shape and still asking what this Avantone more or less costs. Testing the old samples would not give us data on how they performed when new so made no sense to risk buying them.

As noted, I chose to test the CLA-10 vertically as it was easier to set the reference point on Klippel NFS. Otherwise I would have to shift the speaker to the right, making for an asymmetrical situation. Fortunately this doesn't impact on-axis response and you can just transpose vertical measurements for horizontal and get that data as well (can't do that with preference score but that is not a big thing here).

Tweeter center was the reference axis although it did not make much difference when I lowered it.

Avantone CLA-10 Speaker Measurements
Let's start with the anechoic measurements from the Newell, et. al. paper of the Yamaha NS-10M:
View attachment 303441

We see that it has a hugely over boosted midrange to low treble. We get that in CLA-10 but unfortunately here, the boosted response goes way higher:
View attachment 303442

So assuming the paper measurements are correct, then the CLA-10 clearly is not its clone. That aside, there is a narrow but nasty resonance around 3500 Hz. We have a large directivity error that would have been in the Yamaha as well. Overall, this is a horribly bad response by any measure.

Strangely that resonance did not show up in near-field measurements indicating it likely is not in the drivers:
View attachment 303445

Paper talks about low distortion but they measured it at 90 dBSPL so not matching mine. But we can interpolate and kind of see what they are saying:
View attachment 303443
View attachment 303444

We really need relative distortion measurements as that includes the variations in response. Absolute levels as they show is not instructive unless speakers being compared all have flat measurements (which they do not). Using our relative measurements, we see broad distortions where our hearing is most sensitive at 96 dBSPL.

We see the strong directivity error impacting our early window reflection sum:

View attachment 303446
Breaking that down we see that using the speaker as tested, i.e. vertically, is much more optimal:

View attachment 303447

As noted, the pink curve which is the sound being sent to you, going past and reflecting from the wall behind you (if it is close), makes the tweeter even hotter so absorption there would help.

If you placed the speaker on its side the right graph becomes your horizontal axis, emphasizing that massive error. You better absorb the heck out of your sidewalls then (assuming they are close to the speakers).

Here is our predicted in-room response:
View attachment 303475

We see the effect of directivity error in our 3-D near-field plot:
View attachment 303448
Level of reflections in the room will change the tonality of this speaker fair bit.

Our beamwidth and directivity tell the story we already know:
View attachment 303449

View attachment 303450

View attachment 303451

The paper talks about fast settling response of the Yamaha NS-10 but they use wildly different timing scale so we can't compare that to my measurements (they can do that because they have an anechoic chamber). Here is the data anyway:
View attachment 303452
View attachment 303453

So we don't just have boosted frequencies but lots of resonances within. I think this is the worse waterfall measurement I have seen of any speaker I have tested.

The paper also has a step response and here, matching to our measurements is excellent:
View attachment 303454

Rating impedance of the original I think is 8 ohm and we are kind of there with CLA-10:
View attachment 303455

Avantone Pro CLA-10 Speaker Listening Tests
I was listening to my everyday music when I started to test the CLA-10. When I hit play on the same track I was listening to using my headphones, I thought something was seriously wrong as all I was hearing was distorted high frequencies. I went back to my standard test tracks and there, the sound was somewhat better but as you can imagine, had heavy treble emphasis. Not only that, it sounded grungy and bad. I dialed in an inverse filter for the 3450 Hz resonance and that cleaned things up a bit. From there, I built a five filter correction but the speaker still sounded quite lousy.

I then took the inverse approach of boosting bass. That was more successful but still, what I was hearing was just not great. The sound and experience was bad that I just gave up on playing with it more. The idea here is not to make this a hi-fi speaker anyway as the use is for mastering and everyone says it is not good for enjoyment. On that front, they are right.

I did experiment with putting in a shelving filter to bring the response close to the NS-10m and that was definitely an improvement. So I don't think the Yamaha was nearly as bad as CLA-10 is. I like to meet the mastering engineering who was involved the design of CLA-10 to understand how he thinks these speakers are equivalent.

Discussion and Conclusions
The data here seems clear: in attempting to clone a rather broken speaker, Avantone has made an even more broken speaker. It fails not only in mimicking the frequency response of the NS-10M but seems to also introduce resonances that may not have been in the original. Any attempt like this should have been done as you see above: with detailed anechoic measurements to make sure the design is a true clone of the original. Using what is thought to be original parts and tuning based on someone's ear is just not the way to do it.

The whole idea of a mix that "translates well" is a problematic thing. Yeh, in the 1970s and 1980s we listened to a lot of music in cars with stock sound systems and clock radios and such at home. Those systems were likely to have had midrange/lower treble emphasis. That all changed with advent of iPods and people listening to headphones/IEMs that have deep bass response. So likely what translated to old casual audio systems of the past, will not work in this era. Why there is still interest in buying such a speaker is beyond me.

I know I may be making a lot of enemies by saying this but maybe this speaker was compensating for poor listening skills of people using them. That is, unless there was so much exaggeration in large portion of the frequency response, they couldn't tell that they had boosted them too much in the mix/mastering.

The massive directivity error just adds to the problem. No wonder folks were covering all the walls in their studios. They couldn't stand the sound otherwise!

If I were to listen to this speaker to tune a mix, I would have to turn so much of the gain from upper midrange to treble. It is so grating otherwise. The mix then would sound absolutely dull on any half proper audio system. The industry needs to ditch this concept and adopt fully neutral audio systems used in mixing/mastering systems. Then we can adopt the same and be on the same wavelength.

Anyway, I am out $750 including tax so hopefully you found this analysis and measurements of value!

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Avantone CLA-10 monitor.

Specifications​

  • SYSTEM TYPE: Passive - full-range two-way stereo pair
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 60Hz-20,000Hz (Accessible musical range)
  • POWER CAPACITY: Program – 60W, Maximum – 120W
  • SENSITIVITY: 90dB SPL (1W, 1m on axis)
  • COMPONENTS:
  • Low Frequency: AV10-MLF 18cm cone
  • High Frequency: AV10-MHF 3.5cm soft dome
  • CABINET: 10.4 liter sealed design, 18mm MDF with real wood veneer
  • CABINET DIMENSIONS: 381.5mm x 215mm x197.5mm ( 15”x 8 ½”x 7- ¾ ” )
  • CABINET WEIGHT: 6.3kg / 13.9 Lbs (each)
  • WARRANTY: 5 Year Limited Warranty to original purchaser

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

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One of the most famous speaker in history...


Paper including 30 monitor measurements:
THE YAMAHA NS10M: TWENTY YEARS A REFERENCE MONITOR. WHY?

Here is my take on the EQ.

Please report your findings, positive or negative!

The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 1.4
With Sub: 5.0

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Designed for Flat Power response??
Avantone CLA-10 No EQ Spinorama.png

Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
Avantone CLA-10 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png

EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.

Score EQ LW: 4.1
with sub: 7.2

Score EQ Score: 5.4
with sub: 8.2

Code:
Avantone CLA-10 APO EQ LW 96000Hz
August052023-115051

Preamp: -2.7 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 45.93,    0.00,    1.25
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1125.87,    -1.20,    3.10
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1910.57,    -6.46,    1.00
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2014.59,    2.87,    3.38
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3616.65,    -1.37,    4.55
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 5640.37,    -3.38,    2.03
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 11794.06,    -0.92,    4.94

Avantone CLA-10 APO EQ Score 96000Hz
August052023-115051

Preamp: -2.6 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 54.43,    0.00,    1.25
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 152.97,    -1.44,    2.13
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 530.66,    -0.98,    3.06
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1042.82,    -1.66,    4.25
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2245.28,    -7.27,    0.82
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 2061.11,    3.92,    3.94
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 3629.08,    -1.45,    4.94
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 5892.46,    -4.13,    1.35
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 11793.34,    -1.76,    4.91
Avantone CLA-10 EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Avantone CLA-10 LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Avantone CLA-10 Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Avantone CLA-10 Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Avantone CLA-10 Regression.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Large improvements?
Avantone CLA-10 Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Avantone CLA-10 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    289.4 KB · Views: 52
  • Avantone CLA-10 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    449.3 KB · Views: 57
  • Avantone CLA-10 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    457.8 KB · Views: 62
  • Avantone CLA-10 Normalized Directivity data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 Normalized Directivity data.png
    300.1 KB · Views: 43
  • Avantone CLA-10 Raw Directivity data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 Raw Directivity data.png
    459.3 KB · Views: 57
  • Avantone CLA-10 Reflexion data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 Reflexion data.png
    141.8 KB · Views: 57
  • Avantone CLA-10 APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    392 bytes · Views: 43
  • Avantone CLA-10 APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    485 bytes · Views: 49
  • Avantone CLA-10 LW data.png
    Avantone CLA-10 LW data.png
    152.8 KB · Views: 59
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If you want NS10 these days, just look for used ATC SCM20s. Far as I'm aware, ATC specifically designed them to go in the same place NS10s live(d) - on the meter bridge of a large format console. With, of course, better drivers than the original NS10, with a much more robust tweeter.
ATC vs. Yamaha NS10 is just a night and day comparison. ATC is a top-tier studio monitor company, and their entry-level SCM20 is flat from about 70 out to 20K. I think if you could find a pair of the used passives they would be about $3K. The powered version runs about $9K. I think they were really made to replace the BBC LS 3/5
 
The whole idea of a mix that "translates well" is a problematic thing. Yeh, in the 1970s and 1980s we listened to a lot of music in cars with stock sound systems and clock radios and such at home. Those systems were likely to have had midrange/lower treble emphasis. That all changed with advent of iPods and people listening to headphones/IEMs that have deep bass response. So likely what translated to old casual audio systems of the past, will not work in this era. Why there is still interest in buying such a speaker is beyond me.

Absolutely on point.

Great review, sound reasoning of arguments, shit speaker though.
 
The Yammy NS-10A really stinks, always has and I have always been amazed they were such popular studio monitors—so I’m not surprised a NS-10A clone stinks too.
 
The Yammy NS-10A really stinks, always has and I have always been amazed they were such popular studio monitors—so I’m not surprised a NS-10A clone stinks too.

I mean who would really notice a crappy clone if there's next to no chance to hear the original?
 
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