Review by: Matthew Marcil
Product: Yambeka 7.0 speaker system
Experience: Audio Engineer (Tweek Sound and Mastering, WKXL1450 Concord NH Radio), audio engineering instructor (Audio Tools and Concord NH Music School digital audio engineering course), acoustic consultant (Marcil Acoustic Consulting and design)
Gear used: Sherwood 7.1 Receiver, Akai DPS 24 – 2.0, - 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound digital console.
Room: acoustically treated and balanced 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 production studio control room.
Price: 7.0 System=$359.00 Shipped
Price: 5.0 System=$299.00 Shipped
The first impression that a set of speakers makes is often in their appearance.
One can’t help but judge (at least a little) a speaker’s ability to produce lush and big sound, by how lush and big they look.
However, a real home theater and audio enthusiast will always prefer sound quality over aesthetics. Have no fear; the new 5.0 and 7.0 line of speakers from Yambeka Audio has both in abundance. We’ll get into both sound and appearance shortly, but first thing’s first. Company Background yambekaaudio.com
Yambeka, means, “Blessed” in the language of Oshiwambo, spoken in the home country of company co-owner, Helvi Itenge, Namibia.
Itenge and her husband, Brian Wheeler of Cleveland Ohio, started Yambeka Audio in 2004 have since made budget home theater speakers that are a upgrade from home audio speakers, receive great user reviews, and rival system costing many times their price range. Shipment and specs
When the 3 boxes containing the 7 speakers arrived at my door, I first noticed the condition the boxes were in. You could tell they had been thru somewhat of an ordeal.
There were a few holes here and there and the tops and bottoms of the boxes were rather worn. It’s was the Holiday Season so I didn’t expect the boxes to look like they just left the factory but I was a bit concerned about the condition of the speakers.
As I opened the first Main Speaker, broken pieces and crumbs of Styrofoam fell out onto the floor, but to my delight, the speaker was completely unscathed, at least in terms of appearance. It was the same story, second verse, with the second main speaker. But I was still a bit worried that whatever caused the damage to the box may have caused internal damage to the speaker cones or crossovers.
The box containing the center speaker and the 4 surround speakers was in better overall condition and the speakers were also in perfect visible condition. Here are the specs
Main: H = 41.5”, W = 7 1/16”, D = 12.5”
Surround: H = 9.5”, W = 5 7/8”, D = 7.5”
Center: H = 5 15/16”, W = 17 11/16”, D = 7.5” Max Power handling
Surround: 40W Craftsmanship
Upon setting them up I observed that all 7 speakers showed great craftsmanship and build quality. There wasn’t a single flaw on any of them. I took the grills off and preferred the look without them, (it’s the audio engineer in me) but the grills as well exhibited great quality in build and assembly and the speakers looked great with or without them.
The Yambeka Audio emblem is on each grill (except the woofer grill) and looks very stylish. Very consistent and accurate placement and cool brush steel look. …Which brings me to looks!
The mains have a fantastic piano finish that I must say looks smoother and more mirror-like than my $1,500 pair of Event ASP8 studio monitors.
The beveled fronts of the center and surrounds really make them look sharp. As well, both the tweeters and mid frequency drivers on the center and surrounds are screwed in place by shiny chrome hex head bolts. The grill pegs (rather than peg holes) are also chrome and equally shiny. The tweeter and drivers on the mains are nicely inset behind the smooth piano front. I love the white concave dome driver cones. The no dust cap design makes them look very streamlined and right at home in any modern or vintage décor. What about the sound?
The what? Oh ya, the sound! After all, what is a 7 speaker set if it ain’t got good sound, but a matching set of doorstops and end tables?
The first thing I did with them (after snapping a few pics) was watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”.
I was pleasantly surprised by balanced and movie theater like sound. Even without the sub woofer, the two towers (um… the main L&R speakers) put out a very full spectrum of frequency that rivals others full range speakers even above it's price range. The woofers really do their share of heavy lifting. They don’t go down as low as the sub but they certainly get down there and produce noticable bass. This confirmed they fully survived the shipping!
As you’ve probably experienced, a lot of lower to mid priced speakers lack presence and can sound like a blanket is draped over the speaker. Since the whole point of surround sound it to enhance the presence of the sound, this dulling effect can really take away from the enjoyment of the medium. The Yambekas proved to be bright and clear enough to get into the sound. They have a decent but lacking transient response that is to be expected by a speaker in this range.
The next test was some surround sound music I had personally recorded and thus was very familiar with. I chose a Shaw Brothers concert I had done in 7.1.
All in all they held up quite well. Not nearly as 3 dimensional, lifelike, or present as when I mixed it, but better than what you might expect from a budget system in this price range.
It was very respectful to the original. A bit of a boxy character and mid and high frequency smearing is certainly to be expected and it really could have been worse for 7 speakers under $400!
I decided they were worthy to put to the ultimate test, so I set them up in the studio as my monitors and did some mixing of music and post production film audio.
I found it a bit hard to hear the differences when EQ'ing and adding reverbs and effects, but they did stand up to the task rather well, again for their price range. Final Thoughts
Over the course of 2 weeks I watched all genres of movies and listened to all genres of music on the Yambekas and have found them to be a great value for the money. I however have not attempted to mix on them since!