Yamaha is one of our favorite outdoor speaker manufacturers, in particular because they make great budget-tier speakers that have solid power specs while not being all that expensive. The NS-AW194/294 series is their newer, sleeker looking lineup that was released in 2012. The 294s are the slightly larger and more powerful older brother of the 194s, and otherwise have the same design.
speaker type: passive, wired, traditional mounted
nominal power: 30 watts (194s) ; 50 watts (294s)
peak power: 80 watts (194s) ; 100 watts (294s)
impedance: 8 ohms
sensitivity: 85 dB/W/m (194s) ; 87 dB/W/m (294s)
frequency response range: 100 – 20,000 Hz (194s) ; 80- 20,000 Hz ; (294s)
unit weight: 2.9 lbs (194s) ; 4.4 lbs (294s)
unit dimensions (depth x width x height): 6.75 x 6 x 9.66 inches (194s) ; 8.5 x 7.5 x 12.15 inches (294s)
warranty: 2 years (does apply to purchase from Amazon.com)
Amazon average user rating: 4.4/5 – You can read the Amazon.com reviews here.
Review and Discussion
At 30 and 50 watts of operating power, respectively, these speakers are a good deal at a budget-tier price, which is what Yamaha does best in our opinion. That said, the frequency response floor of the 194s is quite high at 100 Hz, and 80Hz isn’t much better for the 294s. We like to see a floor at or lower than 60Hz, as being able to produce full bass is particularly important for outdoor speakers, because bass doesn’t carry as well in the open air outdoors.
All in all, either of these should be plenty loud enough for small to medium area coverage, but adding a subwoofer into an integrated 2.1 system might be in order to produce bass sufficiently.
These speakers have a fairly standard box design and come in either black or white – pretty boilerplate basic speaker design. There are certainly slicker looking products out there – if you care – but we will say these look noticeably nicer than their previous generation NS-AW150s. The bezel is smaller, the grill is sleeker, and all in all the 194-294’s have a more modern look. Which, again, if even care.
These speakers are quite large as compared to same-tier competitors, but neither is particularly heavy. They should be easy enough to set up and mount – just make sure each unit has sufficient space. These speakers come with standard swivel C-brackets.
Yamaha outdoor speakers all come with a standard 2 year warranty, which is about as good as it gets for lower price-tier speakers. These speakers are designed to permanently reside outdoors, and have waterproofed cones. Some users have reported that the grille is rust prone, which is something we see is actually a common complaint for lower budget speakers. Opting for the black colored unit is a quazi-solution.
Are these decent speakers for the money? Yes, they definitely are.
BUT… there’s one major criticism that we’d now like to point out. Well, it’s not so much a criticism as much as an observation, which is this:
The older generation Yamaha NS-AW150s (released circa ~2004) have better specs, and they’re cheaper! As far as we can tell, there’s no good reason to get either the 194s or the 294s if you can get the 150s for a fraction of the price. The only arguable downside is that the 150s look somewhat dated and perhaps ugly, but, most people would happily trade aesthetics for better sound and more money saved.
In fact, the older 150s are still one of our favorite overall outdoor speakers, primarily because they still appear to be the best you can get at under $100. You can check out our review of those here, by the way. Or check them out on amazon here. But who knows? They might get discontinued sooner than later.
Relevant Links and Resources
Curious as to what our favorite overall outdoor speakers are? Check out our evergreen article here
Curious as to what our favorite budget/inexpensive outdoor speakers are? Check out our evergreen article here
The NS-AW194/294s require separately sold speaker wire. Need some? Check out our outdoor speaker wire guide here.