Hands-On Review:Yamaha Club V Series

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Yamaha Club V Series

The speakers that never die. NOW Upgraded!

By John Jessel

Here I am again, writing about some Yamaha gear that I find thoroughly impressive. It seems to happen over and over. My Yamaha appreciation comes from real-life experience. I have used a number of Yamaha products over the years and all have served me well. Yamaha gear seems to consistently be well-made, reliable, long-lasting, and thoroughly capable of musician-friendly and audience-friendly sound.


I jointly own a pair of Club 15"

boxes our band bought about 10 years ago and we use to this day. They're a little scuffed up now but have never failed us. They reliably deliver a well-balanced sound that nicely fills the room. Big without being blasty. When the place packs and we dial up the juice, they handle the higher volume with ease. We never have to think about them. Just set them up and aim them in the right direction. No problem.


The new Clubs
When I told the band that I had been asked to review the newest generation of Club speakers and wanted to use them on a gig, they were stoked. We don't often get to play through new gear, and Yamaha's new mod-els were very likely to sound great. Using them would also give us a measure of how well our 10-year-old Clubs were holding up.


I decided to use just a pair of S115Vs the first night, leaving everything else unchanged. Since they were updated versions of what we already use, they would fit right in and we could easily compare them to our regular speakers, which sound pretty darn good. Then, if all went well, for Saturday night we would add two SW118V subs and have some fun being big!


The improvements
When I got a first look at them, the S115Vs looked very much like the old Clubs with a few differences. The new ones have carpet coverings and look better. The cabs are slightly larger, the grille slightly curved and beefier. On each back I found two Speakons plus two ¼" jacks. Ours only have the latter. The Speakons are cool, and having two of each connection multiplies wiring options. Metal corners. Bigger recessed handles - sound, basic improvements.


But the real improvements were supposed to be inside the box. Upgraded drivers for higher power handling and improved response. The 15" and 18" speakers have cast-aluminum frames, oversized ferrite magnets, Kaptan coils, and high-strength cones that won't waffle under pressure. The high end has a 2" titanium diaphragm and a custom-design horn. The crossovers have also been redesigned to handle higher power. We wouldn't see these things, but we would hear them.


Test drive (the first night)
We plugged everything in, set the knobs to our standard template for the room, said howdy to the patrons, and launched into our first tune without a sound check. It wasn't as daring as it sounds. We've played the room so many times with the same system that we have it totally dialed. Of course, we were trusting a set of untested speakers.


It went well. The S115V pair worked great. They weren't radically different from our usual set but definitely better. They were clearer and more defined, fuller, and perhaps just a click louder. The larger cabs gave extended low response for a fuller sound. The upgraded speakers gave them greater clarity, and the horn gave us the wide dispersion needed for the room (one of those nook-and-cranny places). We could hear better, so we listened better, and as happens when you do, we sang and played better. We had a great night.


Living large
If Friday was a fun gig, on Saturday night we really blew the room away. We mounted another amp and plugged in two SW118V subs and used the polemounts to put the S115Vs on top of them. This put the two-ways up where they wouldn't be muffled by the mass of bodies packing the dance floor. This time we did do an extensive sound check to make sure we had the subs balanced with the two-ways and to EQ the new monitors.


When we began playing, the bigness of our sound was startling to us, and we could see the impact that full-range sound has on an audience. The dance floor filled immediately and stayed full, even between songs. That night we became a little intoxicated on the feeling of power, but in the light of day we realized that we hadn't suddenly been transformed. The power was in the speakers. The SW118V subs worked beautifully and made the band sound a lot more impressive.


The verdict
I've always considered speakers the most important pieces in any system. Really good ones make even marginal mics, mixers, and amps sound decent. Mediocre speakers will make an otherwise great system sound lousy. The Club Vs are really good speakers - road tough, great sounding, and perfect for club bands that don't have extensive funds. If you want a good system, spend your money on Club V speakers first.


After trying them out, we decided that though we really liked the S115Vs, we would stick with our old two-ways just awhile longer. They're good speakers, still going strong, and will sound fantastic paired with the set of SW118V subs that will soon be ours.


Features & Specs:



S115V Club Series V SpeakerSW118V Club Series V Subwoofer
  • 5" cast-aluminum frame woofer
  • 2" pure titanium diaphragm
  • 90° x 45° CD horn
  • Re-sized (larger) cabinet
  • Heavy-duty recessed handles
  • Steel jack plate
  • Steel corner protectors
  • Heavy-gauge arced steel grille
  • Roadworthy carpet covering
  • 2 Speakon and 2 - ¼" connections
  • Power handling: 500W program, 1000W peak
  • Maximum SPL: 129dB
  • Sensitivity: 99dB
  • Frequency response: 55Hz-16kHz
  • Dimensions: 19"W x 28"H x 15"D
  • Weight: 61 lbs.
  • Same hardware and construction as the S115V
  • 18" cast-aluminum frame woofer
  • Efficient bass reflex design
  • Frequency response down to 30Hz-2kHz
  • Power handling: 600W program, 1200W peak
  • Maximum SPL: 127dB
  • Dimensions: 22"W x 32"H x 25"D
  • Weight: 71 lbs.