Here are my observations, gripes and jubilations about this strange and quirky pair of monitors.
Starting on the low end I can see a bass roll off starting at 100hz. Similar to the original NS10
The low filter is at 56hz, 80hz and 100hz. Again, minimal differences as the woofer starts to cut off at about 100hz by design.
The +/-2db low and high shelves do exactly as stated. Nothing too special here, useful for adjusting to most listening conditions but barely, 2db is 2db after all.
Now the MF (mid frequency control) sparks interest. It sits firmly at the crossover between the woofer and the tweeter, at 2khz. It’s range is -13db to +6db (indented at the 0db) mark. Cutting too deep here, in my honest opinion, is counter productive to the intended purpose of these speakers. Their magic is in the midrange as are the original from Yamaha.
At 3khz I can see and hear a bump in the frequency response. This is where the tweeter lives in all it’s painful style
I’ve also tested the pair with and without the included cloth covers. As far as my ears and REW tell me they have impart no change on the sound.
The tweeter and its 3000 hz bump.
Love it or hate it, that’s all I can say in a nut shell. I love it for what it does to the mixing experience. I’ve owned, tested and tried a bunch of other monitors. Mixing with those other monitors has always been a hassle for me. I often found myself pushing +/-6db on an EQ and barely hearing any change in that 1000khz to 4000khz range. Not with these NT10a, I can just move the EQ 1db in any direction and the change is imediate and conclusive. I love them for that. On the other hand, mixing with 3khz bump for a prolonged period of time is exhausting. God forbid you accidentally boost something at 3khz… ice picks right in the eardrum.
No the -2db high shelve does not help here. No the MF adjustment does not help here either.
They both affect just above and bellow the 3khz bump.
Nonetheless I’ve tried to increase the MF control to +3db and more in an attempt to mask the 3khz bump but I wasn’t satisfied, this changes the character too much.
They are covered in a satin black veneer with tasteful wood texture. Cabinet edges are perfect, no sharp corners, no signs of glue, just perfect.
The tweeter is a faithful reproduction of the original Yamaha design. Silk dome, slightly larger than any similar dome tweeter, exposed lead wires that come out of its front. It’s protected by a robust metal mesh grille, solid, doesn’t bend
The woofer is also a close reproduction of the original. Paper pulp cone, glued dustcap, aged white aesthetic with a rubberised cloth suspension. I love it. The woofer is also mounted solidly in the cabinet with 4 screws, perfectly centred, no tilt, no nothing, just right.
Other users have mentioned that the paper woofer cone is “dirty” I can assure you it’s not. Any particles visible upon close inspection of the cone are actually paper fibres embedded in the cone. Of course they do not impact the sound in any way. Please do not attempt to clean or remove them, damage to the cone is sure to come if such zealous ideas arise. There may be some stray black glue residue from when they glued the dust cap on the woofer, just be gentle when trying to clean that.
The included cloth covers are top quality as well, soft black fabric, they easily let air move through.
The fabric is tightly glued onto a plywood frame with cutouts for the tweeter and woofer. The plywood frame is painted black and it’s robust, does not bend in any way.
They are held on with friction. Four rubber grommets in the cabinet hold firmly the 4 plastic legs of the covers.
Unfortunately this price-point comes with a really bad consequence. The integrated class D amps are noisy. Really, really noisy. Too noisy for near field monitoring. I’m not even going to mention the spl level of the noise, that bad.
At least the noise is more akin to tape hiss than anything else, no 60 cycle hum, no crackling, just a constant tape hiss from the amps. Which makes it tolerable.
Worth mentioning here is that I’ve never heard nor owned an original NS10 pair.
These Swissonic NT10a’s do exactly what everybody and their mother claim the originals do. Mid focused sound, present, concise, excellent transient response (even with the low quality integrated amps). Really puts a magnifying glass on your mix, on what subjectively might be the most important part of any mix, the magic in the midrange. Even with the limited bass response I’ve found that the mixes I did through these actually turned out to have the most balanced and deep bass I’ve ever heard out of my productions.
Can I recommend these? Yes, absolutely yes. If these ever break for whatever reason I’m just going to order another pair. I really, really like them even with the bad noise. The price-point implies that they can be on the radar of beginners. I don’t feel that’s the case. As a second pair of monitors to check your mixes on? Yes please get a pair.
Also I would like to ask, beg and implore Thomann and Swissonic to make a pair of these without any integrated amplification. Just make a passive pair with either bi-amping possibilities so that we can power the tweeter and the woofer separately or just a passive pair with a passive crossover. The woofer and the tweeter are just too good to be bogged down by cheap and noisy class D amps.