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Yamaha YST-MS50 Powered Multimedia Speakers
Possibly the last set of computer speakers you'll ever own​

It’s always a tough situation looking for a decent set of PC speakers on a tight budget. That’s the circumstances I found myself in a few years ago – the proverbial champagne taste with a beer budget. Someday I hoped to get a “real” audiophile system with some Paradigm Atoms and a vintage Marantz stereo receiver. But in the meantime, the $10 no-name junk I was using just wasn’t getting it.

I smuggled a portable CD player into Best Buy with my favorite demo disc and hooked it up to quite a few PC speakers they had on display, including the highly regarded Klipsch Pro Media. I wasn’t impressed with anything I heard. Due to their tiny drivers, most so-called computer speakers are sorely lacking in midrange reproduction, and if they have it at all it’s very colored.

Trolling the web looking for something suitable I came across Yamaha’s 3-piece YST-MS50. A Google search on “YST-MS50 review” gets no shortage of opinions on these speakers, with most of them being overwhelmingly positive. Of course, as an audiophile you can only take so much stock in the recommendations of “computer nerds,” but I was intrigued by the fact that the satellites are two-way. The little woof is a 3-incher, and the cabinet is larger than usual for computer speakers – both of which should help in the midrange. So, I ended up taking a chance and ordered the YST-MS50 without hearing them.


I must say I was really amazed with the sound of these speakers! The YST-MS50 sats sound very smooth and natural, with very nice highs – clear and clean. They could be a little better in the lower midrange, but I guess you can’t have everything. The sub is only a smidge boomy, but it does get down fairly low – Yamaha claims 32Hz, which both my ears and subsequent measurements showed to be optimistic. I ended up putting the sub in a corner near my desk with the speaker and port facing the wall, and about 3-inches back from the wall. That seemed to smooth out the little bit of “boom” that was present.

Nice touches include an extra rear input on the control (right) speaker for a second audio source, as well as a headphone jack on the front. And as you can tell from the stock picture, the satellites angle up at the listener for improved imaging and perhaps even for time-alignment of the two drivers. Available colors are white or black.

After some listening I fired up my AudioControl R-130 real time analyzer to see what kind of response the Yamahas were delivering. I set up the calibrated mike at a distance equal to my normal seating position at ear level, and disconnected the left speaker to eliminate any phase issues that would come into play if the mic was less-than-perfectly centered (practically a given at such a close distance). With a broadband pink noise signal, the RTA showed why the MS50’s sound so good.

YAMAHA-YST-MS50 FR Response.jpg

Keep in mind that this is reading is from a 1/3-octave stand-alone RTA, and such doesn't have the resolution of RTA software packages like Room EQ Wizard or TrueRTA. Nevertheless, response of the lone satellite was very flat, within a 4-dB window from 20 kHz down to 250 Hz, where the little 3-inch woofer started to roll out at a rate of about 12 dB/octave.

The only deviation from flat response between 250 Hz – 20 kHz was a broad, smooth depression between 3.15 kHz and 12.5 kHz that bottomed –4 dB at 5 kHz. High frequency response didn’t begin to drop until 16 kHz, and was down only 4 dB at 20 kHz. Suffice it to say, this is very impressive response from any speaker, much less one with plastic cabinets and selling for under $150.

Rolling in the 6-1/2” ported subwoofer extended response smoothly to 50 Hz, where the display showed a sharp 4-dB peak – probably the port’s tuned frequency. Below 50 Hz response fell off at about 12 dB/octave. About 2/3-octave shy of Yamaha’s 32Hz spec, but still low enough to nicely round out the bottom end of most music.

Well, it didn’t take long before everyone in my family was hounding me for a YST-MS50 set of their own! A year or so later I opted for the Swans M200 multimedia speakers (another “can’t beat ’em for the price” system) over my cumbersome Atom/vintage receiver dream system. My wife was tickled pink to see me get the Swans. Okay, not really – she just wanted the discarded Yamahas. :) She snagged them in nothing flat. Even now, being used to the superb Swans, anytime I go to her office and hear the Yamahas playing I’m still impressed with how nice they sound.

Yamaha YST-MS50 white.JPG

The only bad news is Yamaha doesn't make these speakers anymore. From what I can find, list price was about $150, with the on-line vendors selling them in the neighborhood of $100-130. The good news is that used YST-MS50’s come up pretty regularly on eBay selling for well under $100, including shipping. In fact, I picked up a like-new set for my son for $70 delivered a couple of years ago.

New or used, for the price you can’t go wrong with the Yamaha YST-MS50 multimedia speakers. They’d be a good deal even if you had to pay list. So if you’re looking for some great sounding speakers for your computer and can’t spring for the Swans, take a chance on this Yamaha set. It won’t be hard to re-sell them on eBay if you’re disappointed.

Other Information from the Web
Here are some other user reviews:
Yamaha YST-MS50 User Reviews at Amazon.com
AudioReview.com - Yamaha YST-MS50 Reviews

Thanks to:
brucek for his excellent Excel program, from which we created our chart.
Donna Pflughaupt, for creating the Excel chart.
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