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Yamaha YH-E700A Wireless ANC Headphones: Review

The $299.95 Yamaha YH-E700A Wireless Headphones deliver better battery life and passive isolation than rivals but does it compare sonically?

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones

Yamaha are one of the oldest Japanese manufacturers of hi-fi and sound equipment and after 130 years of doing business, they’ve carved out a healthy niche in a number of categories on a global level. They have also purchased some big names along the way including Steinberg, Nexo, L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH, and Ampeg.

Started by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887 who made his living repairing reed organs, the brand has grown to include complete lines of mixers, interfaces, switches, processors, amplifiers, PA systems, speakers, AVRs, DAW systems, active field control systems, headphones, and  software. Products like the Yamaha YH-E700A fit nicely into their lineup and it shouldn’t surprise you that these offer a lot of performance for a reasonable price.

Why Consider Yamaha?

Yamaha was a pioneer in making orthodynamic headphones and to this day offers a complete line of studio headphones that have a solid reputation and a dedicated following among audio professionals. 

The HPH-MT8 is Yamaha’s current studio headphone ($199 at Adorama) and is billed as an over-ear version of the classic NS-10M studio monitors. The NS-10M has been a studio favorite for nearly 3 decades now. So why don’t you hear more about the NS-10M and HPH-MT8 outside of recording studios?

Primarily because they expose every fault in recordings and it is generally thought that if you can master a track to sound good on the NS-10, it will sound good on anything. That’s not always the case but pro audio industry people swear by them.

The issue is that the HPH-MT8 are not the kind of headphones that most people would want to listen to; they are far too unforgiving to the source material and the sound would become fatiguing rather rapidly.

The Yamaha YH-E700 is their flagship over-ear model from the “True Sound” lineup and offers both wired and wireless connectivity as well as ANC support.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Skinny

The Yamaha YH-E700A is constructed from black anodized aluminum with stainless steel in high stress areas like the hinges and headband adjustment. The controls on the cups rest in plastic inserts rather than making the cup walls out of plastic which shows a dedication to making a solid product despite the additional machining costs associated with that approach.   

The earcups are of average size and my ears felt fairly snug inside the pads. The clamping force is also fairly high which is expected for an ANC model but it does mean the leather pads do maintain some heat during longer listening sessions.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Controls Left
Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Jack

The control buttons are fairly intuitive with power, forward/volume up, back/volume down, play/pause/answer buttons on the right cup and ANC on the left.  

The USB Type-C charging port is on the right cup along with an LED indicator for charging and pairing. The right cup has a 3.5mm jack if you wish to use them in a wired configuration.

The drivers are a 40mm dynamic design with an impedance of roughly 18 ohms and a sensitivity of approximately 98dB/mW (these are my measurements so some degree of error is not only possible but likely). Yamaha does not provide these measurements in their literature but I’m certainly in the ballpark.  

I found the measurements to be consistent when using both a Dongle DAC with my smart phone and when using an iPad directly in wired mode. It does not take a lot of power (in wired mode) to drive these headphones.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones with Cables and Adapter

General Info and Specs

  • Built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 35 hours of music listening with noise cancellation
  • USB-C charging cable included
  • Large ear pads and cushioned headband
    • folding design for easy storage
  • Includes 3.5mm miniplug cable for optional wired listening
  • Hard protective carrying case and flight adapter included
  • Frequency response: 8-40,000 Hz
  • Weight: 11.46 ounces

Bluetooth mode supports both AAC and aptX Adaptive and I found both worked quite well with no issues with dropouts as long as the distance was kept to 10-15 meters between source and headphones. 

A single interior wall did little to defeat the signal so moving around the house doesn’t cause dropouts until multiple walls separate source and headphone either.

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Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Inside Earcups

A Day in the Life

Yamaha claims battery life at 35 hours with a 3.5 hour charging time when it’s time to fully recharge the headphones.

I found the battery life to be roughly 32 hours with ANC on and it exceeded the rated 35 hours by nearly 120 minutes with ANC turned off at normal listening volume for me (about 72 dB). This puts the YH-E700A near the top of the class for battery life. Very impressive to say the least.

I did compare the sound with the wired connection versus the Bluetooth and found the two very close in their sonic signature. Introducing ANC or ambient sound alters that but I found both to be very balanced sounding.  

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Model

While the ANC and ambient modes are popular right now which will come as a surprise to nobody, a couple of other options are unique to these Yamaha headphones.

To use the “Listening Optimizer” and “Listening Care” features you will need to install the Yamaha Headphones Controller app on your Android or iPhone. The app is minimalistic and doesn’t have an EQ or a lot of other features but serves as the jumping off point to install firmware updates to the headphones and to enable ANC/Ambient mode, listening Care, and listening Optimizer modes.

The most interesting of these to me was the “Listening Care” mode. When listening at low volume, music often sounds veiled and somewhat recessed because we lose the ability to hear some frequencies at higher volumes than others so we end up hearing only part of the music.  

The Yamaha Listening Care feature is designed to equalize the sound so that when listening at low volume levels those frequencies that sometimes get lost are pushed forward just enough to sound like they are on an even footing with the rest of the sound.

This does color the signature somewhat but it is a much safer option than just increasing the volume a bit more which can lead to hearing damage over time.

The Listening Optimizer is also designed to tune the sound but in this case it is more a matter of adjusting to environmental variables rather than listening levels.    The optimizer uses the built-in mics and samples sound every 20 seconds and makes adjustments to correct for ambient noise.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Flat

The Art of Noise

The YH-E700A has excellent passive noise reduction which made me question whether they even needed active noise cancelling. ANC has become one of the buzz words of 2021 with most manufacturers rushing to add at least one model with the feature to their lineup; Yamaha seems to have taken the time to get it right.    

I usually find ANC great for travel and quite average the rest of the time because it generally degrades the sound enough that if you don’t have to use it — you’re probably better off turning it off.

In this regard the Yamaha is way out in front. Engaging the ANC setting changes  the sonic signature very little and the ANC does a good job of removing the last traces of droning ambient noise.

Sharp short noises and voices are not removed as effectively but the passive isolation does a great job of reducing these to acceptable levels as long as you aren’t sitting on the firing line or behind a fighter jet during takeoff.  

The “Ambient” mode is well designed; it does a good a job of limiting outside noises, while having a conversation and listening to music in the background.

The “ambient” mode on other wireless headphones is not often very effective; it either overemphasizes certain noises that scare the living hell out of you or it doesn’t lift the ones you need to hear enough.

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Thankfully, the Yamaha achieves a solid middle ground. This was a concern because the level is not adjustable currently. Yamaha might find a way to adjust this with another firmware update for the app but we’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Hinge Expand

Sound

The Yamaha YH-E700A delivers a mild “V” shape in terms of its sonic signature and while it does deviate slightly from reference quality sound, it does deliver a rather energetic performance that became more and more engaging with each listen.

The bass response has decent extension and slam but could be a little tighter. It will definitely appeal to those who like quantity over quality in the low end, and for those of us who prefer a quicker and leaner sounding bottom end — there is a bit of EQ to help brings things to a more manageable and balanced place.

The midrange has above average resolution and is well rendered with good energy and vocals cut through the mix well. Female vocals do stand a step or two in front of their male counterparts due to an upper midrange tilt. I wouldn’t call male vocals “chesty” but there is a definite edge to Adele, Sarah Vaughan, or Joni Mitchell that many might find quite appealing.  

The treble is smooth and polite with some air but top end detail is definitely curtailed. The Yamaha trade detail retrieval for a smoother, more balanced sound across the entire spectrum. Nobody will ever call these headphones etched or thin sounding on top.

One of the biggest surprises in regard to the YH-E700A was the size of the soundstage. In the context of a closed-back headphone, the depth and width was well above average; they don’t compare to the Kennerton Rognir or Sennheiser HD800 but compared to the other wireless ANC headphones in the category, they are a clear step above. Yamaha put a lot of engineering thought into these wireless headphones and I’m still impressed by that characteristic.

Yamaha YH-E700 Wireless Headphones Kit with Travel Case

Conclusion

The Yamaha YH-E700A proved to be a welcome surprise. If you’re looking for a well-made wireless headphone with excellent battery life and better than average isolation and ANC, these are definitely worth a look. They are not dead neutral and certainly not the most detailed sounding on the market.

It will surprise some to hear that I find them slightly superior to the Bose and Sony in a few areas; especially when it comes to battery life and its implementation of both passive and active noise cancellation. It would be my choice over the Bose QuietComfort model for sure.

If you’re looking for a quality wireless headphone for the plane or your office desk, the Yamaha YH-E700A are a sleeper in a growing category of headphones that are struggling to differentiate themselves.

For more information: YH-E700A (yamaha.com)

Where to buy: $299 at Amazon | Crutchfield

   

 

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