Yamaha aren’t particularly known for their headphones, but the YH-E700A will go a long way in changing this perception, should they happen to wrap around the right ears.
Sonically, these headphones are bass-heavy, handling the sub-bass in recordings by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre (both known for bass-heavy mixes) without compromising the brighter high-end sounds. This is an incredible pair of headphones for the cost, easily equalling some of the more high-end professional studio headphones that retail for five times the cost.
They have a chunkier build than most of the models in the same price range, but the padding is soft and the headphones sit comfortably, without any of that dreaded ear-pain that comes with a lot of similar models – even high-end studio headphones have this problem.
Stylistically, the YH-E700A won’t win any design awards, being big, functional black headphones with a plain padded strap, but simplicity is key here; the control buttons on the bottom of the ear-pieces are awkwardly placed and will mostly go unused. Not a big issue, but unless you master sight-free controlling, you’ll have to remove the phones to ensure you press the right button. You’ll end up just avoiding these buttons, I predict.
While the term ‘interactive’ is tossed around to describe anything with a button, these headphones truly respond to the environment, with Yamaha’s ‘Listening Optimiser’ technology using an in-ear microphone to measure the sound output, and compensate for seal and air leakage every 20 seconds, adapting the sound in real time so it is adequately funnelled into your ears. I’ll admit, I didn’t notice this feature in play, but perhaps this is the point of it: to seamlessly shift the sound based on how your ears are positioned (and sized).
The in-ear microphones are also in play with the noise cancellation feature, separating the background noise signals and the music (or your ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’ audiobook) to give a pure sound source signal, rather than merely blocking various pre-set frequencies, like a lot of noise-cancelling headphones do. The difference is night and day, to the point where there should really be a warning when you are out in the wild, lest a car clean you and your premium audio experience clean off the road.
Battery-wise, these headphones are good for 35 hours of playback, and can be controlled via Siri and Google Assistant.
All in all, this is a remarkable pair of headphones for the price (RRP $499), and sturdy enough to take a bit of battering without falling apart. Perfect for the studio, or for blissing out in front of the stereo.