Speakers Guide

Yamaha TSX-80 Desktop Audio System review

Yamaha TSX-80 Desktop Audio - Dulcet Tones

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Overall rating 7.5/10
Understated, modern design with pastel colors
Pristine and clear audio
IntelliAlarm makes waking up more pleasant
Bass sounds boxy and cramped
No option for USB or 3.5mm line-in playback
Expensive when compared to competitors

Performance and Scores

Clarity in Music

As with all audio products, we tested the Yamaha TSX-80 thoroughly. However, before assessing the speaker’s qualities and flaws, it is important to remember what function a product was intended for by the manufacturers. The TSX-80 is not meant to replace your desktop speakers, nor your sound system. It is an ultra compact desktop iPod speaker meant to provide quality audio for a more personal listening experience at a close distance and we will be taking this into account when handing out performance scores.

MP3 Audio Track Testing

MP3 Testing is a good place to start due to the popularity of the format. Since most personal libraries will definitely comprise a wide selection of songs and music, we tried to go through a diverse playlist. Yamaha has always had a reputation for delivering pristine sound quality and the 40mm drivers in the TSX-80 generally lives up to the high standards for a compact speaker system.

The high and mid-range audio spectrum from the TSX-80 are clear and bright. On Adele’s Melt My Heart to Stone, the sound is warm and the unit performs great. The different components of the track such as the singer’s voice, the reverb laden guitars and the melody are all rendered with fidelity. Slow, smooth, jazz tracks seem to be this speaker’s forte and this complements its intended bedside or work desk usage perfectly. Hotel California by The Eagles also highlighted the positive aspects of the Yamaha TSX-80. The speaker’s capabilities rendered the guitar interplay well and also painted a good atmosphere for the live track.

However, the speakers are not without their limitations. Seeing that the woofer is situated on the bottom of the device, the bass tended to sound boxy especially on Tiesto’s trance number Elements of Life. Similarly the distortion seemed loose and undefined when listening to Sail on Soothsayer by Buckethead. This is not to suggest that bass performance was poor throughout, but when tackling bass intensive audio tracks, the TSX-80 was unable to impress.

CD Audio Track Testing

While the dock cannot play video materials, we did have have some CD quality tracks from different movies that we loaded in the iPod. A film soundtrack presents its own challenges and we tested the TSX-80 out to see how it would handle this task.

Sound from stringed instruments is especially difficult to recreate due to the fact they possess their own unique timbre and tone. These qualities were preserved by the speakers when testing them out with tracks such as Fanfare for Louis and Theme for Cutthroat Island. The flowing melodies of both were also beautifully rendered.

But the Sound Effects from Apollo 13 exposed the same shortcomings we encountered during MP3 testing. The TSX-80 was unable to shine and the bass sounded undefined and ragged. The T-Rex sound effects only provided more proof as the roar of the dinosaur was nowhere near imposing enough to impress.

Redeeming itself when playing the Pod Racing Scene from The Phantom Menace, the TSX-80 captured the tense mood of the sequence well. It also has a sufficiently wide soundscape to do justice to the pods as they zoomed across.

Overall, we felt that while the TSX-80 doesn't bode well to provide for movie audio tracks due to its small size and design properties. On the flip side, it does justice to more orchestral based soundtracks, something we've come to expect from Yamaha.

Time to Wake Up

We can attest from personal experience that waking up early is possibly one of the hardest things people have to do on a daily basis. The Yamaha TSX-80 boasts IntelliAlarm technology to make the process a little more palatable. As mentioned, according to Yamaha, this feature strips your selected audio alarm track of its harsh higher frequencies and starts it off at a low volume and then slowly brings it up to its full potential.

From our trials, this seems to have been applied well and is definitely a more pleasant way of rising out of bed. Although the feature is not revolutionary and has been around for a while, its implementation is slick and smooth in the TSX-80. However, in all honesty, when waking up you will not be able to distinguish the fact that the treble on the alarm track has been reduced for your comfort. During actual application we found that the IntelliAlarm was pretty much indistinguishable from a generic volume swell.

Yamaha TSX-80 - Audio Performance Report Card
CD Testing Score
Pod Race Scene from The Phantom Menace 7.5
T-Rex SFX 7.0
Theme from Jurassic Park 7.5
Apollo 13 SFX 6.5
Theme from Cutthroat Island 8.5
Fanfare for Louis 8.5
MP3 Testing Score
Hotel California - The Eagles 8.0
Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead 7.0
Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele 8.5
Elements of Life - Tiesto  7.5