Yamaha seems to have looked at the budget speaker market and thrown an absolute bargain into the mix with the NSBP182s.
Born as part of Yamaha’s MCR-N560 (£500) micro-component system, they are available separately for a fifth of the system’s price.
And we’re impressed at how they fare compared to the build and look of more expensive rivals.
We like the neat trim and stark contrast of the white 12cm-cone woofer and black 3cm soft-dome tweeter on this black pair (white and brown are also available).
And the glossy plastic cabinets with sleek edges on the baffle make them stylish shelf-sitters.
They are lightweight, and have three attached feet so should stand firm on a surface whether it be stand or shelf.
More after the break
As if cut from the same cloth as the Roth OLi RA2’s, their raring-to-go eagerness manifests itself from the first track we listen to – Joss Stone’s Super Duper Love.
The track moves along at a rate of knots and doesn’t come up for air until the very last snare hit. The Yamahas certainly make a big impression, with vocals focused centre-stage.
Detail isn't in short supply and the bass is prominent, if a little thick – it allies with the rest of the frequency spectrum to make a rhythmically coherent sound.
There's enough bass when the speakers sit 20cm or so from a wall, but if you’re inclined towards lots of bass and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of vocal clarity and projection, putting them up against a wall or on a shelf isn’t too harmful.
Ultimately, a brash treble is what lets things down. It’s an itch you can’t scratch: distracting. Heavier tracks seem jumbled and hard to listen to, especially at high volumes.
We ran the Yamahas in for ages after a 72-hour pre-run and first listen, but things didn’t improve much.
The combination of that hard treble and fiery temperament doesn’t leave much room for smoothness or warmth to the sound.
Instead, music feels a little scratchy and thin, and we would like more civility with softer tracks.
Despite vocals emerging clearly, by and large transparency is lacking. Instruments in Feast of Starlight from The Hobbit soundtrack sound muddy and poorly defined.
For the affordable price, though, it’s hard to be too disappointed. If you have a £100 budget, you’ll get a nice looker and reap the benefits of vocal clarity, good detail, cohesion and great enthusiasm.
But, although they are cheaper than all direct rivals at this price point, on their own terms the Yamaha NSBP182s encounter too many stumbling blocks to be fully vouched for.
Their bright treble and thin sound defy easy listening and make them too choosy with musical genres.
If you can stretch your budget by £30 you will do better in terms of clarity, refinement and balance.