Yamaha VS6 Speaker
Dec 28, 2011 5:38 PM, by John McJunkin
A water-resistant and aesthetically designed loudspeaker for commercial audio.
There are installs that require virtually no consideration of aesthetics; cases in which loudspeakers are virtually concealed from view by architectural features or décor, or even obscured by virtue of a lack of lighting. In these scenarios, contractors’ options are much broader since the appearance of the speaker is virtually irrelevant. Most likely, the primary criteria informing the decision will be things like required audio quality and SPL quantity. And then there are installs in which loudspeakers are front and center—clearly in view for whatever architectural or ornamentation-oriented reason. In these such applications, the contractor must put some thought into the physical appearance of the speaker and arrive at a choice that at minimum doesn’t detract aesthetically, and at most, is not only visually reasonable but may even contribute to the appeal of the space. At InfoComm in May, Yamaha introduced its VS series surface-mount speakers intended for commercial audio, and in particular, for installs that require a visually pleasing loudspeaker. As an audio professional, I personally have more experience with Yamaha’s club, theater, and sound reinforcement speakers, so I was excited to take a look at the company’s latest commercial offering.
There are two models in the Yamaha VS series: the VS4 and the VS6. They feature 4in. and 6.5in. LF drivers, respectively, and both offer a 1in. HF driver. I was sent a pair of the larger VS6 for evaluation. The lightweight shipping carton portended light speakers—an advantage for install applications. Upon removing the speakers from the box, I did indeed find them to be pleasantly lacking in heft. A substantial contributor to this light weight is the VS6’s plastic enclosure, which also contributes to the speaker’s usefulness in outdoor applications. The enclosure is just more than 12in. tall, 7 1/2 in. wide, and just more than 8 1/2 in. deep. Small speakers like this are relatively new to Yamaha, with most of its prior offerings—both in pro audio and commercial domains—being substantially larger. For that matter, the VS4 is roughly 9 1/2”x6”x6 3/4”, which facilitates tucking it strategically into spaces that couldn’t accommodate a larger speaker.
The enclosures are made of high-impact polystyrene sheet (HIPS), type 94-HB. This high impact plastic is lightweight, and the shape of the enclosure strengthens it even further. I typically have concerns over plastic speaker enclosures, but only in cases with large LF drivers moving substantial amounts of air. Deformation of the cabinet can occur at high SPLs, degrading the fidelity. The 6 1/2 in. LF driver in the VS6 simply does not move enough air to make this issue a concern. A major advantage of these enclosures is resistance to water. Wood enclosures would be nearly out of the question, and even metal enclosures can be problematic. This type of plastic is perfect for the job. Brackets are included, and easily attached with large knobs intended to facilitate adjustment; the speaker can be moved 81 degrees to either side of center for a total range of motion of 162 degrees. The bracket mechanism creates detents to keep the speaker precisely where it’s directed, and the brackets themselves have a bore for attachment of a safety cable. The speakers’ grilles are powder-coated perforated steel, with 0.6mm apertures.
In addition to the choice of material, the form of the enclosures’ plastic is clearly intended to contribute to water resistance. In outdoor applications, the presumption is made that the majority of water will strike the enclosure from above, in the form of rain. We deliberately mount these speakers above the areas they’re expected to serve, directing their output downward, hence exposing the rear of the speaker to falling precipitation. The VS speakers’ enclosures are rounded in the rear and have v-shaped grooves of just more than 1/4in. in width wrapping around the rear of the cabinet. These are clearly intended to channel water around the speaker, leveraging gravity to direct it away. Near the front of the enclosure, the grooves come to an end, forcing the water they channel out and away from the front of the cabinet, which is the part of the system most vulnerable to liquids. A square cap is screwed into position protecting the barrier strip speaker connection and transformer tap rotary switch. The speakers are IEC-rated IEC60529 IPX, which is defined as “an ingress protected apparatus that offers protection against spraying water”. Despite the various water-resistant mechanisms in place, Yamaha still recommends placing these speakers under eaves in outdoor applications.
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