Yamaha is one of the biggest and most recognized companies in the world, making everything from motorcycles and boats to musical instruments and audio gear. Somehow Yamaha has managed, despite the extreme range of their consumer products, to make virtually each and every one of them to a very high standard, and they remain one of the most respected companies as well – in countless different industries and consumer sectors!
And the Yamaha NS-6490 Natural Sound speaker is, by all accounts, another excellent Yamaha product, a great sounding speaker that is also built to very high standards. The NS-6490 is also a very highly praised speaker, with great review from the press and customers alike.
But is it really as good as all that? Is the Yamaha NS-6490 really a good speaker? Let’s find out, with this in-depth buyer’s guide and review of the Yamaha NS-6490 three-way acoustic suspension loudspeaker, newly revised and rewritten for 2021.
Yamaha NS-6490 Loudspeaker Review
Features and Specifications of the Yamaha NS-6490 Loudspeaker
- 3-Way Speaker Design
- 7/8 Inch Balanced Dome Tweeter
- 4 Inch Ferro-Fluid Cooled Cone Midrange
- 8 Inch Ferro-Fluid Cooled Long-Throw Cone Woofer
- Frequency Response: 45 Hz to 23 KHz
- Sensitivity: 90 dB
- Power Handling: 70 Watts RMS :: 140 Watts Peak
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Acoustic Suspension Cabinet
- Magnetically Sealed for ease of placement and home theater applications
- Gold Plated 5-Way Binding Posts for speaker wire
- 2 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
Pros & Cons of the Yamaha NS-6490 Loudspeaker
Extremely lively and dynamic sound
Clear and detailed
Great deep bass
Warm, realistic midrange
Play loud with even smaller amplifiers or stereo systems
Good power handling – will play very loud with big amps
Overall very accurate high-fidelity sound
Excellent imaging and excellent performance in a surround-sound system
Maybe a tad too bright for some people
Overview of the Yamaha NS-6490 3-Way Acoustic Suspension Loudspeaker
The Yamaha NS-6490 is a 3-way acoustic suspension loudspeaker system with a 7/8 inch dome tweeter, a 4-inch cone midrange, and an 8-inch cone woofer. It is designed for bookshelves, speaker stands or to be placed on the furniture, and can be used either as a high-fidelity loudspeaker for a stereo system or as part of a home theater system – especially when matched with compatible Yamaha center channel and subwoofer units.
The NS-6490 has a beautiful high-gloss black finish and a removable black cloth front speaker grill, and the light front panel and bright speaker drivers look very nice in contrast to the black. The speaker also has an extremely high quality feeling overall, with its solid construction and substantial weight, the density and lack of resonance of the cabinet, and the gold plated binding posts on the back for speaker wire.
Setting up the Yamaha NS-6490 speakers
I placed the NS-6490s in a couple of different locations in my listening room – on speaker stands and on a long, low piece of furniture – and with both placements I had excellent results. In each case the tweeter was at, or slightly above, ear-level when I was sitting in my favorite listening chair, and I angled the speakers in very slightly toward where I was sitting.
I found that these substantial speakers were too big, and anyway put out too much bass, to be placed on my stereo equipment stand, and I suspect they may be too big and heavy for most inexpensive speaker stands, but anywhere you can put them that’s not directly on the floor shout be fine.
The gold plated binder posts were extremely easy to use and attaching even heavier audiophile wire was a snap. They also have a very solid, high-quality look and feel, as does the speaker overall, and they fit good Banana Plugs – like the excellent AudioQuest Silver-Plated Audiophile Banana Plugs – perfectly.
I also used the AudioQuest G-2 16 Gauge Audiophile Speaker Cable for listening, as well as a great standard speaker wire, the MaxBrite 16 Gauge Oxygen-Free for listening. The more expensive Audioqust speaker cable did provide a slightly more musical sound, more detail and more dynamic energy, and the Yamahas are certainly good enough to hear the difference, but I was fully satisfied with each of these excellent high-fidelity wires.
First Impressions of the Yamaha NS-6490
The design of the Yamaha NS-6490 Natural Sound loudspeakers is acoustic suspension, which means that the speaker boxes are totally sealed. This often leads to very tight, fast bass response that is very accurate compared to some other speakers, woofers and cabinet designs that have thumpy, muddy or slow sounding deep bass.
And in fact this is one of the very first things I noticed – but not just that the bass response was quick and accurate, and as a result very exciting to listen to, but that there was plenty of bass and it went quite deep. Surprising for a speaker of this size and at this price.
I also noticed, right away, that there was an extremely clear, bright and open quality to the whole range of frequencies. Bass did sound appropriately dark, and midrange frequencies were nicely warm, but everything had a sharp, strong presence, and there was tons and tons of detail.
Sound Quality of the Yamaha NS-6490 – An In-Depth Review
And while my first impressions of the Yamaha NS-6490 loudspeaker was that it was almost too bright or clear, I started thinking differently the more I listened.
Again, while I’m not sure if I can explain this correctly, the bass reproduction of the Yamaha SN-6490 is dark and rich, but it is nonetheless extremely present and clear, and with extended listening I kept thinking that deep bass instruments, and the lower registers of bass and baritone singers’ voices, had a remarkably accurate and natural quality.
Same with the midrange, where the mid and upper ranges of voices, and most other instruments, can be found. The Yamaha NS-6490 speakers are warm and musical in this range, but almost startlingly clear and palpable. Again, while a little overwhelming at first, I soon found how much I loved this sound – a truly high-definition, low distortion sound quality from a quite moderately priced speaker. Everything sounded just like it would sound if I actually had the person singing in front of me, or the clarinet or piano playing, or (watching movies) if that Aston Martin DBS was tearing through my room. And, with the deep bass these speakers produce, there was no doubt that it was a V12!
The high frequencies on the Yamaha NS-6490s are also warm, sweet and musical, and extend quite high, offering not only lots of detail but a nice air around high notes. With recordings that are a little too bright in the first place, or distorted, or with lower quality MP3 music files, the tweeters might sound a bit too bright, but with good gear and good recordings they approach the level of much more expensive tweeters.
I kept thinking about how NS stands for “Natural Sound,” and the more I listened the more I realized that the sound coming from the 6490s is, in fact, remarkably natural, and remarkably musical and satisfying.
For me, one of the most important aspects of quality stereo sound is imaging. With rock and roll, jazz, classical, country or folk music or acoustic singer-songwriter recordings, I like to hear the musicians spread out correctly and precisely in a three dimensional space, with proper width, depth and height, and to hear the acoustic sounds of the room itself where they were playing. And with electronica, even though that space is engineered rather than natural, imaging is sometimes even more important to get the whole effect and impact of the music.
The Yamaha NS-6490 speakers have absolutely remarkable imaging with all types of music, and really cast a solid, open and accurate soundstage with every track I played. This leads me to believe they would also be superb home theater speakers – I didn’t try them this way in my home, but have heard them briefly in a store’s home theater listening room, with matching Yamaha subs and center channel, and the effect was almost spookily holographic.
If you are interested in setting up a whole home theater surround-sound speaker system, you should use two pairs of NS-6490 loudspeakers, for the front and the back channels, and the Yamaha center channel speaker and subwoofer designed to match and work best with the NS-6490s.
The Yamaha 6490 loudspeakers also have great dynamic range and musical energy. They play loudly with very little power, and can handle even bigger amps, so they can play quite loud if you want. And even at very low volumes the same exciting dynamic energy was evident, allowing music to really present its whole expressive range.
If I wanted to list things I didn’t like as much about the Yamaha NS-6490 speakers, it would have to be in comparison with much more expensive speakers, which may be a tiny bit more sweet and musical – although often not more detailed or accurate. High end speakers (some of them, at least) will have that next degree of micro-detail and micro-dynamics, slightly more tonal accuracy, and a clarity and openness which the Yamahas – though they are probably the most open speaker anywhere near their price range – can’t quite match.
But those audiophile darlings may cost 3 or 4 times as much as the NS-6490, or even more, and for the money these Yamahas are stunning. A great value, then, and an actual audiophile speaker at a moderate price, the Yamaha NS-6490 3-Way loudspeakers get my top recommendation!
User Reviews of the Yamaha NS-6490
Loud and Clear!
Lots of verified purchasers of the Yamaha NS-6490 speakers posted reviews talking about how much they loved the sound of their new speakers, mentioning especially the dynamic range and energy, the ability to play loud but still sound clear and clean, the clarity and detail even at lower volumes and the beautifully sweet and accurate tonal quality overall.
A few customers mentioned stereo imaging, but more talked about the way the NS-6490 speakers worked in a home theater surround-sound set-up, talking about how razor sharp and believable the imaging was, and how much impact the speakers have.
“Yamaha quality” is a phrase seen several times in user reviews, and loads of people raved about the overall look and feel of the Yamaha NS-6490 loudspeakers, and how they felt these speakers would last, and sound great, for many years.
Press Reviews of the Yamaha NS-6490
Strangely, the audio press seems to point out quite often that this is not an “audiophile speaker,” and then spend most of their reviews talking about the spectacular imaging, accurate tone and superb details, dynamics and frequency response. But then, even the best stereo publications, online or print, have always had a slight feeling that Japanese loudspeakers don’t quite match up to their European or American counterparts.
Nonetheless, I was struck by how many of these same reviewers gave the Yamaha NS-6490 speakers anywhere from 4.5 to 5 star reviews. Go figure, huh?
Final Verdict – Is the Yamaha NS-6490 3-Way Speaker System Worth the Money?
There are three different types of people to whom I would recommend the Yamaha NS-6490 loudspeakers without reservation:
- The budding audiophile, who wants to enter that thrilling and exclusive realm of high-resolution, uncannily precise musical reproduction but can’t spend a grand or more on speakers.
- The budding videophile, who wants the very best starter speaker they can afford and fully intends to eventually add rear channel, center and subs.
- Anybody who simply loves music, and wants an engaging and exciting listening experience and a remarkably high quality product for comparatively very little money.
As to whether the Yamaha NS-6490 loudspeakers are worth the money, there’s absolutely no doubt. If they were twice the price, I would still think of them as a value.