Yamaha is one of the most prominent manufacturers of speakers, and they distinguish themselves by producing outdoor/all-weather speakers with solidly decent specs at very affordable prices.
The NS-AW190/390 series is the slicker looking newer version (circa ~2008) of their flagship 150/350 series (~circa 2001). Interestingly though is that the older and admittedly dated-looking NS-AW150s (reviewed here) are still one the best selling outdoor speaker sets on Amazon to this day, mostly because they are so cheap considering what you get with them.
In stark contrast to most other currently prominent technology, speakers haven’t fundamentally changed much – you can definitely get a speaker that’s 10-20 years old that still sounds great, and, well… good luck getting a 10 year old laptop that can suffice.
The 390s are the slighly larger, more powerful older brother of the 190s, but other than that they have the same design, seen below:
So how do the 190s and 390s compete? Lets get into it.
Yamaha NS-AW190 / NS-AW390 Specs
|Type||passive, wired, wall-mount||(<-- same)|
|Frequency Response Range||65 - 40,000 Hz||55 - 40,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||85 dB/W/m||87 dB/W/m|
|Impedance||6 Ohms||6 Ohms|
(depth x width x height)
|5.6 x 5.75 x 8.85 inches||14.25 x 18.75 x 11.07 inches|
|Warranty *||2 years||2 years|
|Product Manual||click here||click here|
* warranty might not apply to Amazon.com purchase, as they appear to only be available now through 3rd party sellers
Review and Discussion
At 35 and 40 Watts of nominal/continuous operating power respectively, these speakers will be plenty to fill most non-large backyards. That said, these metrics are not an improvement over the 150/350 predecessors. In fact, the 190’s frequency response floor is 10 Hz higher than the older generation 150. It’s particularly important that outdoor speakers have low response range floor as to produce a full bass, which doesn’t carry as well in the open-air outdoors. Otherwise a consumer might opt for adding a subwoofer to their set up, but, at that point it might make more sense to just spend the money on better speakers all together. Also, placing a single subwoofer outdoors is considerably more challenging than in a conventional home theater set up, where you can basically predict where people will listen.
Really the only obvious improvement of the 190/390 series is that they look slightly slicker with the thinner bezel and the convex grill – other than that they come in the same (quazi) box shape in black/white variants, which is fairly boilerplate for outdoor speaker pairs.
Also worth mention is that, despite being relatively light, both of these speaker sets are quite large. The 390s are nearly 19 inches across. This might make placement an issue, not to mention they might stick out quite noticeably. Most people don’t care that much about how their speakers look, but most people would prefer they look decent enough in their yard.
The units come with standard swiveling C brackets, but one thing we notice is that the pivot point is along the long side. It’s not exactly clear if these are intended to be positioned “vertically” and swivel up/down, or “horizontally” and swivel left/right. It probably doesn’t actually matter, but, at over a foot across, one thing you ought to think about is if you’ll be able to point them in the right direction either way.
Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
The 190s get considerably lower reviews than other competitors, and the frequency response range is worse than it’s older generation 150. That said, we don’t see any reason to get it as long as you can get the 150s for cheaper, and indeed the 150s are still one of our favorite outdoor speaker sets. You can check out our review of those here.
The 390s on the other hand reportedly sound much better, which is somewhat surprising since you’d think the two members of this same series would perform similarly.
Though Amazon is an authorized Yamaha dealer, it looks as though they’ve discontinued the 190/390 series line. We mention this because you have to be careful to ensure that the warranty (2 years with Yamaha) is still valid. You might be able to find the 390s for quite cheap, but you might run the risk of being out of luck if you get a lemon.
But, even all that said, there are apparently better choices out there currently. The Dayton IO655s for example are excellent, and are available for under $100, whereas the 390s MSRP is ~$150.