Yamaha YH-E700B Review: Awkward Flagship Headphones

Within the ongoing cage match of premium travel headphones, Sony is the reigning champ. The corporate’s WH-1000XM3 splashed onto the scene in 2018 with incredible noise canceling, plush consolation, tons of options, and nice sound, and the corporate by no means appeared again. The newest fashions, together with the WH-1000XM4 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) and the newer XM5 (9/10, WIRED Recommends), have every improved on the system, forcing Bose, Sennheiser, and even Apple to lift their sport.

Inside this fierce market, Yamaha’s new YH-E700B wi-fi headphones arrive feeling underpowered. A revamp of 2020’s YH-E700A, the YH-E700B look the half and supply excellent sound high quality, however their options and general execution are outmatched by others at their value–particularly in terms of their so-so noise cancellation.

The YH-E700B are nonetheless strong sufficient workplace or journey headphones, and at $200 to $250, they’d be price contemplating. However at their present $350 retail value, it’s onerous to search out good purpose to decide on these over rivals which can be on the high of their sport.

Flagship Model, Price range Execution

{Photograph}: Yamaha

The YH-E700B arrive in a bundle befitting their premium value level. A stout journey case unzips to disclose speckled ear cups in black or tan, folded in on adjustable hinges within the headphone fetal place. Like Sony’s WH-1000XM5, Yamaha’s new cans characteristic longer, extra oval-shaped cups than their predecessor. That makes their journey case bulkier than my favorites, however it’s nonetheless compact sufficient to slot in most luggage.

The hefty ear cups regulate to suit on twin hinges, together with wand-like arms that stretch down from the padded band to the center of every cup for a particular contact of fashion. Spray-on speckles alongside the matte end and a shiny Yamaha brand are the one different actual aesthetic markers in what are in any other case pretty nondescript headphones. Then once more, that may be mentioned for almost each main rival today.

On the inside of every cup, you’ll discover heaping reminiscence foam pads coated in tender leatherette with lengthy, slim openings on the heart for the 40-mm drivers beneath. My first expertise with the match was considered one of confusion; my ears aren’t large, however they’re too giant to suit throughout the pads’ elliptical holes. As an alternative, the earphones sit in a form of hybrid place between on-ear and over-ear that feels fairly awkward at first.

It’s this odd design that apparently causes one of many E700B’s most notable efficiency points: utterly erratic auto-pause. Like others in its class, Yamaha’s pair have built-in sensors to pause and unpause audio as you take away them, however it not often labored as marketed.

I had some listening periods the place auto-pause labored pretty recurrently, others when sound would pause however fail to unpause, and nonetheless others when it flat-out didn’t work in any respect. Questioning if it was simply my ears, I requested my spouse to have a go, and she or he had the identical outcomes. After per week or so, I spotted if I jammed my ear into the correct pad, the sensor would decide it up persistently, however that was extra awkward than merely clicking the bodily multi-button to pause.

Is that this a giant deal within the grand scheme? Not likely. However the inconsistency made me more and more annoyed when it failed. It’s not a difficulty with any of the opposite fashions I’ve tried, whereas Sony’s XM4 and XM5 go additional, including conveniences like Converse-to-Chat to pause sound together with your voice and Fast Consideration, which activates transparency mode while you maintain your hand over the correct cup.

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