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Golden Gear: Yamaha NS-1000 Monitors

Passive Speakers By Phil Ward
Published July 2021

Golden Gear

Almost half a century after its initial release, Yamaha’s classic three‑way monitor remains an impressive speaker, and it pioneered the use of diaphragm materials that are still considered cutting‑edge today.

Thanks to the application of new diaphragm materials, we’re fortunate to be around at a time of significant advances in the development of monitor drivers. Back in the March 2021 issue, for example, we reviewed the Ex Machina Soundworks Pulsar: the first monitor to incorporate graphene in a driver diaphragm. Graphene is so light and strong that only a couple of decades ago it would have been considered the stuff of science fiction. Along with Ex Machina Soundworks and graphene, there’s also quite a few monitor and OEM driver manufacturers working on diaphragms incorporating high‑tech composites, industrial diamonds and exotic metals. Focal’s beryllium tweeter domes are an example of the latter, but they weren’t first with the use of beryllium for a driver diaphragm. That honour falls to Yamaha, with the NS‑1000 series launched in the mid‑1970s. Yes, you read that right, Yamaha made a beryllium diaphragm tweeter over 25 years before Focal. But there’s more: the NS‑1000 series didn’t only boast a beryllium tweeter diaphragm; its 3.5‑inch dome midrange driver diaphragm was beryllium too.

Material World

The less common hi‑fi version of the NS‑1000 was slightly larger, and featured a hardwood cabinet rather than the NS‑1000M’s chipboard panels.The less common hi‑fi version of the NS‑1000 was slightly larger, and featured a hardwood cabinet rather than the NS‑1000M’s chipboard panels.

The motivation behind the NS‑1000’s beryllium drivers was of course the material’s extraordinary combination of light weight and strength. In comparison with aluminium, also used very widely in driver diaphragms, beryllium is around two thirds as heavy but around three times as rigid. You can see why it might appeal to a speaker designer. The snags are that beryllium is rare, extremely difficult to work with, and, er, poisonous. Inhalation of its dust can result in life‑threatening health issues. Yamaha’s manufacturing process for the NS‑1000’s midrange and tweeter domes was vapour deposition of beryllium particles on a copper mould. When the required thickness of beryllium was achieved, the deposition process would be stopped and the copper mould removed. For the tweeter, the required thickness was 0.03mm (printer paper, in comparison, is typically about 0.1mm thick) and it resulted in a 30mm diaphragm that weighed around 0.03g. The midrange diaphragm was a little thicker and a little...

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