Yamaha HS8 Review


Function:  Studio Monitors
Price:  $349.99 (Each)
What’s NewWhen talking about Yamaha studio monitors, the classic NS10M is probably the first thing that comes to conversation.  Since the late 70s, the NS10M has been the workhorse of countless studios and producers because of its pronounced midrange and for being brutally revealing.  The HS8 is the latest studio monitor from Yamaha, and in the tradition of its forefather, offers outstanding sound quality for an extremely accurate mix: a worthy successor of the NS10M for today’s world.
Features:  The HS8 is a two-way, bass-reflex, nearfield monitor featuring an 8” woofer and 1” dome tweeter.  Controls include one XLR and one TRS input jack, level control, a high trim switch, and a room control switch that cuts frequencies under 500Hz by 2 or 4 dB when engaged.  With a frequency response of 38Hz to 30kHz, the HS8 provides an extremely wide range of audio. 
Sound:  Set up in my small (but well treated) 11×10 room, the HS8s sounded great.  The frequency response was flat and balanced, (even flatter than the older HS80M in my opinion) and stereo imaging was amazing!  The highs were smooth and clear and the lows powerful and present.  Onto the midrange: the mids of the HS8 make them some of the most revealing speakers I’ve ever heard.  Not hyped or accentuated, the midrange reminded me instantly of the classic NS10M sound, laying the vocal bare and letting you hear the true nature of your mix.  I’ve always struggled with ear fatigue using NS-10Ms all day, and the more balanced HS8s helps my ears tremendously.  I found the low end to be tight and present and more than enough for most genres, although if you mix dance or hip-hop, you may want to look at the HS8S subwoofer, made to work perfectly with the HS8 line. 
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for monitors that will provide the truest, most accurate mix to help your mixes translate on any system, the HS8 is the perfect speaker for you.  The HS8s offer tremendous quality for the price and sounds great in any environment.  Its balanced sound and even bass distribution makes the HS8 a worthy successor of the NS10M, and in many regards a better speaker to mix music on in today’s world. 
Fore more information about the HS8s visit yamaha.com.  

-Andy Toy

M-Audio M3-8 Review

M Audio M38

Function: Studio Monitors

Price: $349.99 (Each)

What’s New: The M3-8s are the newest studio monitors from M-Audio.  A three-way design, The M3-8 sports a low, mid, and high driver and enough power for any studio application. 


Features:  Housed in an attractive wood cabinet, the M3-8 features an 8” woofer, 5” mid driver and a 1” tweeter.  The midrange and high drivers are set inline to aid with stereo imaging and provides a unique look to the monitors.  Controls are all placed on the rear panel and include volume, low, mid, and high EQ controls, EQ on/bypass switch, and a low cut switch that filters out frequencies at either 80Hz or 100Hz.  Inputs include balanced XLR and TRS and unbalanced RCA in. 


Sound:  Right away I could tell the M3-8s were going to be a lot of fun.  At 220 Watts, the M3-8s provide plenty of volume and sound great at loud volumes.   After playing with the EQ controls, I found a setting that sounded good and flat in my room, and started playing music to get a sense of how the monitors responded.  The first thing I noticed was the bass.  In my small (but well treated) room, I was hearing low end like I never did before!  You don’t just hear low end with the M3-8s, you experience it.  Dance, hip-hop, and rock and roll sounded phenomenal!  In addition to deep, punchy bass, the midrange was smooth and worked nicely with the top end, which was clear and not harsh at all.  Working all day, I had very little ear fatigue with the M3-8s, which came as a relief after years of working NS10s (which fatigue my ears on a daily basis!).  A note of caution, be sure not to lay the monitors on their side, it messes with the stereo imaging quite a bit, and gives a false sense of the width of your mix. 


Bottom Line:  The M3-8s are a producer’s dream.  Powerful and loud enough for any situation, huge frequency response, deep bass balanced with smooth midrange and top end M3-8s are a great pair of monitors and a ton of fun, especially when programming or working up tracks.  The added midrange driver sets the M3-8 apart from most studio monitors in its price range and makes a huge difference in the sound and stereo imaging. Depending on your room, you’ll probably need to EQ the speakers to your taste, but once set, the M3-8 delivers a pure, smooth sound that will stand with any other monitor in its class.


For more information about the M3-8s and other products by Maudio, visit maudio.com

-Andy Toy
Tech Editor, WL mag


PreSonus Eris E8 Review

Function: Studio Monitors
Price: $249.95 (each)
What’s NewThe Eris E8s are brand new two-way speakers from PreSonus.  Joined by their little brother the E5s, the Eris line is PreSonus’ first foray into the world of studio monitors, with outstanding results. 
Features:  The E8s come in a sleek, all black enclosure with a little blue logo that lights up when they power on.  All inputs are in the rear, including XLR, balanced TRS, and unbalanced RCA line ins.  In addition to standard input gain, the E8s have an “Acoustic Tuning” section of low, midrange, and high frequency controls.  The E8s also feature an “Acoustic Space” control that cuts the low frequencies at 800 Hz by 2 or 4 dB, for control over bass buildup when monitors are placed close against a wall.  The frequency response is an incredible 35 Hz – 22kHz, quite impressive for 8-inch woofers and perfect for mixing without a sub.  At 130 watts, the E8s provide plenty of volume for any listening environment.
Sound:  The Eris E8s sounded great the minute I plugged them into my Apogee Quartet.  I work in a small, well-treated room and have my desk about two thirds of the way into the room, so I didn’t need to utilize the “Acoustic Space” feature on the E8s.  The switch works quite well though, and can be quite useful in small rooms where space is tight and monitors need to be placed near the wall.  I tend to be a “set flat and forget” type of engineer, so I set all the EQs flat and the gains to unity and fired them up.  Right away I was blown away by the depth and three-dimensional nature of the speakers.  They had great stereo imaging, deep bass, clear highs, and the midrange was not overemphasized at all.  After listening to some of my favorite records I decided to try some tracking.  I was particularly impressed with the high-mids and top end, the E8s offer a lot of detail but don’t hype the high mids at all, so listening and working for long periods don’t fatigue my ears (something that has plagued me for years using NS-10s).  The low end is quite nice on the E8s and provides detail and focus for making bass and kick tight and punchy.  I did a quick mix of a demo I was working on and it translated wonderfully in my car, iPhone, and laptop without any tweaks (to my relief).  Overall the Eris E8s are quite balanced and let me listen for hours without any ear fatigue. 
Bottom Line:  This is the best pair of monitors under $500 that we’ve heard.  The fact that my ears didn’t get tired after 8 hours of using the E8s is a huge deal. I engineered a session all day long and never felt uncomfortable in the least.  If you have enough space for 8” woofers, there’s nothing not to like about these monitors.  At just $499 for the pair, they easily outpace other contenders in their price range in sound quality and features, and the added EQs make them a great option in less than ideal listening conditions.
For more information about the Eris E8s and other products by PreSonus, visit PreSonus.com.

Novation Launchpad S Review

Function: MIDI Controller for Ableton Live
Price: $169.99
What’s New: It’s safe to say that when Novation released the original Launchpad in 2009, it completely revolutionized the way electronic musicians used Ableton Live.  Now in 2013, the Launchpad S is a fresh, revamped MIDI controller that includes all the features of the old design plus some brand new goodies.  Designed in conjunction with the folk at Ableton, the Launchpad S is an 64 button, pad-based MIDI controller designed specifically to work perfectly with Live
The beauty of the device is its simplicity.  Completely bus-powered, Launchpad S sports big, bright, multi-colored pads (upgraded brightness from the original) that let you control your entire session without ever looking at the computer.  The updated plug-and-play drivers work perfectly with Mac OS X and Windows 7 and 8, plus the Launchpad S is now MIDI class-compliant, which allows the Launchpad S to work seamlessly with any MIDI application.  Just plug in the hardware via an extremely thick, heavy-duty USB cable, (we were quite impressed with this cable!) open up Live and the Automap software does the work for you. 
Upon opening a Live session, the controller displays the first 8 scenes and clips as lights on the grid.  Just touch a pad that you want to play or trigger the whole scene with the button on the right.  Up, down, left, and right arrows make easy navigation for big sessions, and a dedicated mixer mode lets you control volume, pan, FX sends, solo, and track arming without even looking at the computer.  Two user modes allows for customization and can turn the Launchpad S into a drum machine or synthesizer at the touch of a button. 
As a controller, the Launchpad S is sturdy and well built; the pads feel great, the lights are even brighter than before, and the exterior is a hard plastic with non-slip bottom feet.  Included with the hardware is a free download of Ableton Live Launchpad edition, a loop library from Loopmasters, and a software plugin version of Novation’s Bass Station.  One note: the included software is only available via free download, there are no CD’s included in the Launchpad S packaging, so if you’re counting on using these when you open the box, be sure you have an internet connection. The Launchpad S has a dedicated iPad app that hosts its own sounds and effects and works with the hardware through a simple adapter sold separately.
If you’ve ever been intimidated by Ableton Live, the Launchpad S is the answer.  There’s no assigning, MIDI mapping, or trouble-shooting, just plug in the controller and press play.  Launchpad S is a perfect compliment to Live to trigger loops and click seamlessly between songs and throughout the entire set.  Launchpad S’s ease of use, great price, and flawless integration with Ableton makes it our number one pick as a MIDI controller for Live. 
Visit novationmusic.com for more information about the Launchpad S and other products by Novation. 
-Andy Toy
Tech Editor
Worship Leader Magazine

Praise and Worship Drumming Videos Review

pwd_largeFunction: Drum Instructional Videos
Price: $24.99
What’s New: New to drums but eager to learn?  Praise and Worship Drumming: An Inspirational Guide to Drum Instruction may be just right for you.  A two-volume set, Volume 1 of Praise and Worship Drumming covers all the basics of drumming, including stick grip, rudiments, time signatures, dynamics and fills.  Volume 2 focuses primarily on playing the basics of different musical styles, such as rock, jazz, country, and shuffles.  Both volumes provide clear examples of drumming technique specific to a worship context, providing original worship songs as examples on the DVD (available with and without drum tracks as a free download with purchase of the DVD).  Drum artist and instructor Jeffrey Jones gives great examples of drumming technique and form and tastefully demonstrates how to play drums in a worship context.  Where Praise and Worship Drumming really shines is in teaching the basics.  Many drum instructional videos spend a lot of time on fills, double bass patterns, and speed techniques, and the attention to rudimentary detail in Praise and Worship Drumming is refreshing and essential.  Praise and Worship Drumming is a great resource and perfect for beginners and aspiring drummers.  Visit drumsandstuff.com for more information about Praise and Worship Drumming and other products.