Today we will compare two popular studio monitors with 5 inch woofers - Mackie MR524 and Yamaha HS5 - and try to pick a winner worthy of your money.
Yamaha is the champion in terms of build quality and fit & finish in this segment, so there should be no suprise that it also wins with Mackie MR524. Mackie has a plastic front that is a let down in comparison with Yamaha, but the rest of the cabinet is solid and well finished.
Yamaha HS5 also looks more classy than Mackie MR524 but that is also up to personal opinion. Mackie is not ugly but looks more utilitarian to me, while Yamaha is more stylish
(especially in white) and will fit well even in modern salon. Both have matching features in terms of inputs and tone controls.
Mackie MR524 has less intrusive hiss than Yamaha HS5, but both are audible from up close when idilng, both have rather subdued hiss level in this class of monitors.
The roles reverse when we focus on sound and Mackie pulls ahead of Yamaha significantly. MR524 sound fuller, more detailed and linear than HS5 across the frequency range. Bass response of HS5 feels lifeless and flat, with not enough of extension compared to MR524. MR524 has a bit of boost in midbass and can esily be used without subwoofer in smaller rooms, while HS5 begs for help of subwoofer most of the time. Climbing up in the frequency range and around 1kHz we encounter the biggest flaw of HS5, honky colourations resulting from the lift in this area. Mackie is much more linear here as well with a small dip around 750Hz that is pretty much incosequential. There is another small lift abetween 1.5kHz and 2.5kHz in MR524 that results in more presence in elecric guitars and human voices for example. Overall impression of midrange in both is that Mackie sounds more natural, more neutral and more detailed with greater sense of openness and spaciousness, while Yamaha is more honky, flatter with less fine details. Also treble is more present and airy in Mackie compared to Yamaha. Yamaha has is more tiring on longer listening sessions compared to Mackie. Soundstage of Yamaha feels less spacious and detailed than one in Mackie, Mackie creates more convincing and more 3D soundstage IMO. Mackie also has greater headroom and can play louder without distortion.
Here is a frequency response graph of Mackie MR524 vs Yamaha HS5:
Here is sound comparison video of both on my YouTube channel:
Mackie is a clean winner of this comparison in my opinion. MR524 sound more natural, puchy, open detailed across the range and will be a great companion for music production and well as music listening. The only reson why you should pick Yamaha HS5 is if you really love the looks of it and are not so keen on sound quality.