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Soavo-1 Introduction and Build Quality

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Yamaha isn't necessarily known for their amazing home theater speakers. This is a shame, since they have such a good reputation with making fine instruments and some of the most popular near-field speakers ever to hit the recording industry. Just try to find a studio without some flavor of Yamaha NS-10s - everyone uses them as the gold reference standard for midrange evaluation. When I unpacked the Soavo-1 speakers into my living room – I honestly had no idea what to expect, so I began at the beginning: with a clean slate, an open mind, and lots of good music.

Build Quality & Setup

Unpack the Soavo-1 speakers and you'll instantly realize that Yamaha didn't skimp on the aesthetics or the build quality. The finish on these speakers was flawless, with tight corners and manicured lines. The front face has a beautiful bevel that sets apart the tweeter and gives the speaker an imposing look. I also loved the cast outriggers - which came pre-attached to each speaker and gave them an unshakable stance. The biampable binding posts are conveniently located on the back of the speaker at the bottom and are of the high-quality gold-plated variety. Each speaker weighs in at an impressive 59.5 lbs. I instantly wanted to disassemble these speakers - I almost couldn't help myself. As it turned out, a lot of this weight is due to the almost ridiculously thick front baffle and the large magnets present on the twin bass drivers. Let's back up a bit, however and take a look at the components piece by piece.

soavo-1-tweeter.jpgThe tweeters are mounted to an 1/8-inch thick metal plate that is both as decorative as it is damped. The 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter is secured against this cast metal frame through the use of four machined screws. The cast frame itself is damped and is secured to the 1-inch thick front baffle of the Soavo-1 via four course thread screws. I couldn't believe the heft of this tweeter assembly when I held it in my hand. If you look at the pic, you'll quickly see the overbuilt front baffle thickness which almost certainly allows no resonance from the drivers. Having removed all the drivers, I can tell you that it continues all the way down the speaker in the same thickness.

soavo-1-midrange.jpgThe 5-inch poly cone midrange driver showed off an indestructible-looking cast basket – there is no allowance for the use of stamped aluminum in this system. While I would have expected to see a somewhat larger magnet structure on this driver, it is at least shielded so people with legacy CRT-based systems can place these speakers closer to the screen before they experience any negative effects. Given that most people buying speakers in this price range are likely to have flat panel displays, this is one area I would have love to see some cost-savings on the part of Yamaha. This could either have lowered the price of entry, or allowed for a more capable midrange driver.

soavo-1-bass.jpgIn my next adventure in disassembly, I pulled out the two bass drivers. These were monstrous things, which explained a lot of the capable low-end I heard later. The magnets on these drivers almost dwarf the cones, though half of the mass is simply video shielding. Hold them in your hands and you'll realize you're holding a serious driver, not the wimpy drivers and stamped baskets found in lower cost products. The Soavo-1 speakers have ample depth, which is crucial for ensuring that these drivers have enough room to be installed correctly and provide enough box volume for the necessary frequency response.

soavo-1-crossover.jpgI was able to sneak a peek at the crossover network which is mounted to the back of the cabinet towards the bottom. Yamaha chose to go with electrolytic caps - not the best choice in our opinion, but a budget consideration to be sure and one shared by many speaker manufacturers (both online and traditional). The issue is that typically these types of capacitors don't exhibit linear frequency response at high frequencies due to variations in impedance and a potential for higher distortion. We'd almost wish they'd upgrade the caps and dump the video shielding in future models. By placing the crossover near the bottom of the speakers and positioning them at the rear of the cabinet, Yamaha has kept the inductors away from the drivers. Some companies don't provide enough separation and thus negatively affect performance due to the interference of these systems.

soavo-1-posts.jpgAbout the only thing you'll need to concern yourself with during setup is removing the binding posts to get access to the plastic caps which cover the banana jack holes. If you're using banana plug terminations on your cables then this will affect you. These plastic covers are put on because the spacing of the banana jacks actually matches the Schuko-style power plugs in some European countries. As a result, they don't want people using that connection type lest they accidentally plug a banana speaker cable into the wall outlet (certainly there is a Darwin Award for someone who's done this, no?).

soavo-1-grill2.jpg The speaker grills for the Soavo-1 speakers are magnetically attached. This makes them very easy to remove and ensures that you’re not going to break off any little plastic protrusions - the likes of which can be found (most likely broken) on most loudspeakers these days. I never felt the grills interfered with the sound reproduction, though I did all my eventual listening tests with them off just to be sure. I actually preferred the grills on, simply because they offer some level of protection against dust build-up and they deter little inquisitive hands from pushing on things they shouldn't. The grill covers removed easily and seemed to "lock" in place once positioned correctly. It never felt as though they would damage the finish at any time, especially since the fastening point were the same screws that anchored the drivers into the cabinet.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

Seemoss posts on August 01, 2008 06:40
Yes, according to Yamaha's Soavo-1 brochure (PDF) Solen metalized polypropylene capsitors are used. But your pictures shows the tweeter net-work, I think, as Yamaha's photo of the Woofer crossover features several capacitors and resistors, not just two.
Could the subdued mid-range be due to the loss of the “Wave-Guide-Horn” in the Soavo-1, rather than the driver design? But why has Yamaha stopped using its White Spruce (WSD) cones. It was claimed, at the time, to the “world's lightest cone material.”
Clint DeBoer posts on June 24, 2008 16:19
That is certainly possible. We couldn't really take apart the speakers further. What's odd is that Yamaha peer reviewed the article for technical accuracy and said nothing…
mardelgo posts on June 24, 2008 13:09
“Uses electrolytic caps in series with tweeter”

I Think this is wrong. What you show in the picture is the crossover for the bass drivers and not for the tweeter. (In many speakers that are bi-ampable they put the crossover for the bass drivers in front of the crossover for the mid and tweeter) I think they (Yamaha) use a high quality Solen capacitors for the mid and Tweeter. Here is a picture of the crossover components:
junchoon posts on February 23, 2008 09:41
Pheaton, post: 379643
Hi,
Glad I could help. I purchased my Macross Plus soundtrack back when it was released in the US. Now I would try ebay.

If you are a fan of Macross Plus music you might also like the music from Cowboy Bebop. It was written by the same person, Yoko Kanno. The opening song from Cowboy Bebop is called “Tank”, and I think it just rocks!

Good luck with your speaker search and your CD search.

Pheaton

i already have the best of cowboy bebop, and also escaflowne: lovers only. they are very good. if u think cowboy is good, then u most definitely seek out escaflowne if u like orchestral work ( for example carmina burana or conan the brabarian soundtrack). no ebay for me, too many fake ones. so i will get them from hmv japan.

cheers,
wps
Pheaton posts on February 22, 2008 20:08
mike c, post: 379185
thanks for sharing

Hi,
Your welcome.

By the way, those are some of the cutest baby pictures I have ever seen. They make me smile everytime I see them.

Pheaton
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