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Yamaha DXR12mkII Powered Speakers

John McJunkin • November 2019Road Tests • November 13, 2019

The Yamaha DXR12mkII is a 2-way design with 1,100 watts of onboard power.

Speakers come in all shapes, sizes, topologies … and weights. The general rule of thumb is that the larger (and heavier) the speakers are, the more SPL they can produce. It’s not always the case, but it usually is. It would be very cool if we could develop football-sized speakers that weigh as much as a tuna sandwich and produce 140 dB SPL, flat as a pancake from 20 Hz to 20k Hz and with zero distortion of any kind. But physics won’t allow it. So we do our best to wrest as much SPL as possible from the smallest, lightest boxes we can swing. I don’t know about you, but if speakers must be carried into a venue, this old sound guy prefers them to be lightweight.

Speaker manufacturers like Yamaha get my attention when their brochure features terms like “loud” and “lightweight.” Indeed, those are the claims made in the materials marketing the Mark II version of the popular Yamaha DXR self-powered loudspeaker series. It seems that all the manufacturers have been upping their speaker-on-a-stick game, and Yamaha is no exception. I evaluated a pair of DXR12mkII speakers ($799/each, street) and found that they have indeed struck an impressive balance between the physical weight of the speaker enclosure and the quantity (and quality) of the sound they produce.

Optional UB-DXR12 U-brackets install either horizontally or vertically

‡‡         The Enclosure

Wood enclosures are comparatively heavy, so speaker manufacturers have replaced it with high-quality molded plastics, arriving at lighter speakers that still sound good. The DXR12mkII speakers are formed of ABS plastic, and they look good and feel sturdy. The matte black enclosure measures (WxHxD) 14.25 x 23.6 x 13.75” and is just large enough to contain the components inside — in other words, it is compact and not unnecessarily bulky. At the bottom of the cabinet are two standard 35mm pole sockets — one that directs the speaker straight ahead; a second one offers a 7° downward tilt.

The DXR12mkIIs are primarily intended for use atop a pole, so there are only three rigging points — two top and one rear — accommodating M10 x 18mm eyebolts. Yamaha makes an optional UB-DXR12 U-bracket available for mounting as well. Recessed aluminum carry handles integrated into the sides of the enclosure are located in such a way as to make the speaker easy for one person to carry and handle. The enclosure puts the speaker at a 50° angle when it is used as a floor wedge. The great news is that Yamaha has shaved a bit off the weight of the original Mk I version of the speaker — the newer version weighs 41 pounds. It can easily be moved around by one person. In consideration of the fact that the newer version delivers more SPL than its predecessor, this is impressive.

‡‡         Drivers, Amps and Crossovers

The DXR12mkII features a 12-inch LF driver with a 2.5-in voice coil and a ferrite magnet. The HF driver is newly developed specifically for the Mk II series. It features a neodymium magnet and a 1.75-in diaphragm (vs. the 1.4-in diaphragm of its predecessor) delivered through a 1-inch throat. High frequencies are dispersed via a constant directivity horn delivering 90-degree by 60-degree (HxV) coverage.

In 2008, Yamaha acquired Nexo — a manufacturer of high-end live sound loudspeakers — and has since collaborated with Nexo’s development team to improve the quality of its own line of speakers. The result of that collaboration in the case of this specific product is Yamaha’s proprietary “FIR-X” processing, which employs linear phase FIR filters to smoothly cross over between the LF and HF drivers and to “optimize frequency and phase response,” according to Yamaha. The internal DSP that shapes and determines the output of the speaker is very important — the quality of the output can be strongly influenced at this stage. They deployed a 48-bit internal DSP in these speakers — not to be conflated with a 48k Hz sample rate. This is very high resolution and truly delivers a well-sculpted output with a very smooth response around the crossover point.

The processing also features Yamaha’s proprietary “D-Contour” — a multi-band compressor that serves to smooth out the frequency response across all output levels, accounting, for instance, for the fact that low frequencies are perceived as quieter at lower SPLs. The D-Contour processing offers two output options: “FOH/MAIN” and “MONITOR” — delivering bandwidth and power dispersion appropriate to each of those two applications. The internal processing also offers a limiter as well as thermal, DC and overcurrent protection circuitry — which is a pretty sophisticated inclusion, considering the price and market for such products. The speaker’s internal amplifier is a Class-D topology, which is lightweight, but does deliver 1,100W of power to the two driver components, providing the substantial SPL for which these speakers are known.

The rear panel offers easy access to mix controls and DSP preset selection.

‡‡         Connectors & Controls

The speaker’s rear I/O panel offers three types of inputs — a mono XLR mic/line input, stereo ¼” TRS jacks and stereo RCA inputs. Each has its own level knob, which facilitates the mixing of up to three inputs simultaneously. This is a useful feature for simple applications for which bringing a mixer would be overkill, such as a single-mic setup for a corporate speech, or use by a solo singer/songwriter in a coffee shop with a guitar and single vocal mic. A “thru” XLR output passes along the speaker’s XLR input so multiple speakers can be daisy-chained. A more sophisticated “link out” XLR output and mode switch facilitate sending either left or right inputs along to a daisy-chained speaker, delivering stereo output. Other rear-panel controls switch between the two D-Contour modes, determine HPF cutoff frequency and toggle the speaker’s front-panel “power on” LED on and off. Rear-panel LEDs indicate limiting, signal presence, protection status and power. Finally, a mic/line switch determines the input level of the speaker’s inputs.

‡‡         The Sound

These speakers delivered what I would expect from a 12-inch speaker-on-a-stick… a much heavier 12-inch speaker-on-a-stick. They deliver a LOT of SPL. I did not measure it scientifically, but Yamaha’s claim of 134 dB SPL is not outlandish. They are loud! More importantly, they deliver great fidelity, even at those high output levels. The FIR-X processing clearly does the trick and keeps the response consistent across all levels of output. My only annoyance with the speaker is an annoyance that I have with all bass-reflex speakers… in the lowest reaches of the speaker’s frequency response, the bass starts to sound somewhat unnatural and doesn’t quite get as low as would otherwise satisfy my ear. I’m led to conclude that the 15-inch version of the speaker would resolve much of this for me, but in the case of the 12-inch version, a subwoofer — such as Yamaha’s DXS15 or DXS18 — would add the deep, satisfying bass that my ear wants to hear.

Otherwise, these speakers sound great, and again — they are loud! These speakers represent a great value, offering sophisticated features like a four-speed cooling fan and advanced protection circuitry. If you’re comparison shopping in the market of lightweight, molded-enclosure, pole-mounted speakers, the Yamaha DXR12mkII is a very attractive option.


At a Glance

Compact, Lightweight Powerhouses

Yamaha updates its popular DXR12 with a higher output, lighter weight, next-generation entry. The company has struck an impressive balance between physical weight and sound quality, encapsulating all that’s needed to achieve that result in a compact package.

Yamaha DXR12mkII Powered Speakers


  • Great sounding
  • Substantial SPL
  • Second pole mount for 7° down tilt


  • Lack of deep low-end


  • 12” ferrite LF; 1” exit neodymium HF driver
  • Matte black ABS enclosure
  • 950W + 150W peak amplifier power
  • 52 Hz to 20k Hz (-10 dB) frequency response:
  • Mounting design includes two 35mm pole sockets and M10 threaded inserts


  • Dispersion: 90° x 60° (HxV)
  • Max SPL: 134 dB
  • Size: 23.7 x 14.3 x 13.8” (HxWxD)
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Street Price: $799 each

Manufacturer: Yamaha

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