The high-end headphone market has been dominated over the past decade by Audeze, HiFiMAN, Dan Clark Audio, Focal, Sennheiser, and ZMF — with some older brands like Sony, Fostex, and Beyerdynamic hanging tough. The market has also seen its fair share of one hit wonders that either vanished or migrated rather quickly into the mainstream cauldron.
At one point, Yamaha was a significant player in the category with the development of its Orthodynamic driver; which can almost be considered to be one of the first planar designs. The brand made the decision to focus their attention elsewhere in the market and eventually released their first lineup of wireless headphones to not feel left out.
All of that changed this week with the new Yamaha YH-5000SE flagship headphones.
The YH-5000SE features a new version of their Orthodynamic driver which has been integrated into a new headphone chassis that seemingly can’t decide if it is pat of the Star Wars galaxy or the latest iteration of Steampunk.
Every design element has been reimagined using state-of-the-art materials and acoustic testing. The Yamaha YH-5000SE have been in the works for a few years and they were not being released until they were satisfied that the final product could compete with anything available.
The new driver utilizes an ultra-lightweight diaphragm to improve driver speed and agility; the result is far superior extension and transparency than ever before. The chassis isn’t just designed to hold the driver, but to provide the perfect airflow over the driver and remove any resonance at the back of the diaphragm.
Yamaha went so far as to design and build a rolled Plain Dutch Weave stainless steel filter that is integrated into the housing because none of the existing grates provided the exact airflow characteristics needed.
The YH-5000SE also offer a rather interesting solution to improve comfort levels; the headband is a multi-layer design that is optimized to more evenly spread out weight and lateral pressure on your head creating the right amount of clamping force for the listener.
Adjustments are friction based for infinite stops and help create the perfect position of the cups over the ears; the gimbals feature an inclined swivel mechanism to ensure that the ear pads fit flush with the ear.
Weight is a major factor in the high-end headphone category and Yamaha have managed to control that through the use of magnesium in the main chassis. The Yamaha YH-5000SE only weigh 11.3 ounces (320 grams) which is considerably less than the Audeze LCD-5 and Monoprice 1570 Headphones that we just reviewed.
The YH-5000SE wont begin shipping until the end of Q1 2023 and when made available will come only as a kit with an included stand, two cables, and two sets of ear pads made from different materials.
According to Yamaha, the YH-5000SE headphones are being built at the same factory in Kakegawa, Japan, that forges Yamaha flagship grand pianos and other premium audio products.
The headphone itself will go on sale later in 2023. The kit is due to retail at $5000 USD with the headphone price not set at press time; some materials suggest that the kit will be discounted initially. We will update this article when Yamaha confirms everything.
It’s great to see Yamaha back in the high-end headphone market and we’ve already reached out to Yamaha for our review pair which we hope to see by March of 2023.
For more information: Yamaha YH-5000SE Headphones