Yamaha mixes Sony’s and Bose’s high-end headphones with the YH-E700Bs. The question is whether it can keep up with those established names.
Yamaha remained aloof from the (over-ear) headphone market for years. Not entirely surprising: the target audience of the British audio manufacturer is categorized as ‘audiophiles.’ Wireless and audio enthusiasts are two words that you can’t quickly connect. In recent years, it seems to be slowly coming back. First, with a series of in-ear headphones, and gradually more and more on- and over-ear models. This also applies to the YH-E700B that we received for this test.
It is certainly not the most expensive pair that Yamaha has ever released. That award belongs to the YH-E700A, released two years ago with a price tag of 399 euros. You now pay about 349 euros for the YH-E700B. That price is expected to drop over time, just like competitors from Sony ( WH-1000XM5 ) and Bose ( 700 ).
Special over-ear design
Yamaha’s YH-E700B is aimed at users who desire a discreet design. You can get the headphones in black and gold, where the materials are always made of matte plastic. Only the hinge – which should imitate a kind of brushed aluminum – and the adjustment mechanism are made of metal. Furthermore, the headband is made of faux leather.
As mentioned, the design does not stand out. The Yamaha logo is also not immediately of the ‘eye-catching’ kind. We can taste that. What we did notice negatively when we first took the headphones out of the box was the weight. At 335 grams, it is one of the heaviest over-ear headphones. For comparison: the WH-1000XM5 weighs 250 grams.
Also striking is the oval design of the earcups. Sony also opted for a more oval design with the XM5, although much less prevalent than with Yamaha’s headphones. As a result, there is also considerably less space in practice than with regular over-ear headphones. My ears are on the large side, and there is no room for them, while at Sony (or Bose/Sennheiser), I ‘fit’ with ease in the headphones.
Wearing comfort is not ideal
These points also immediately mark the biggest disadvantages. Although Yamaha put enough padding on the YH-E700B, both at the earcups and headband, the weight started to bother me after 2 to 3 hours. Over time, it even started to hurt. Our heads are not made to carry such weights, especially if the weight is mainly on your skull.
What made wearing the headphones even less comfortable was the narrow over-ear part. Or, well, actually, we don’t have to call that over-ear. The earpads fell over my ears every time I wore the YH-E700B. Sometimes it happened that one side of my ears fell into the earcaps. However, that is not ideal, given that the headphones press behind your ears.
Pauses your music (…too often)
The temperature also rises considerably when you wear the headphones like this, and they sometimes seem to decide that you no longer wear them. He then suddenly stops playing music while still standing on my head. Like many other high-end headphones, this YH-E700B contains a wearing sensor. It can stop music when you take off the headphones. However, due to the strange over-ear design, that does not work much of the time or very sporadically.
Operation with buttons
We are also not immediately pleased with the operation of the Yamaha headphones. There are four buttons in total, two for the volume, one for ANC, and the power button. If you only need to change the volume, it is simple (one click on one of the two buttons). Fast-forwarding a song is already more difficult. You then have to press the + button for volume for one second – countless times. However, that failed, and the volume only went to the ‘deafening’ position.
It feels less intuitive compared to Sony’s, Bose’s, and Sennheiser’s touch controls. Once I fiddle with my headphones, I’ll control them from my phone. This also applies to the operation of ANC, for which there is also a button. However, when you press that button, you never know which mode you will switch to; unlike other over-ear headphones, this is not indicated with textual sound signals.
Unbalanced sound reproduction
Since Yamaha primarily makes equipment for audio enthusiasts, expectations were high. In practice, however, the noise production was quite disappointing. I could safely describe the audio as ‘dull’ and ‘unbalanced’. When listening to my favorite tracks, I felt like all the dynamics had disappeared. Instruments, in particular, sound crushed.
Voices, on the other hand, have been boosted considerably to the point of being unnatural. At the same time, the necessary bass is missing to reinforce pop, rap, jazz, and other music genres. Yamaha says the True Sound function helps with more natural sound reproduction. The sound must sound like the artists intended the sounds to be. However, it does not seem that musicians want to hear such a non-dynamic – say boring – sound.
Compared to headphones like the WH-1000XM5 from Sony, I also miss spaciousness. The mid-range boost seems to take up too much space for that. With an EQ, the sound can be flavored more. However, we cannot call it perfect, especially if you prefer not to tinker with the EQ.
ANC performs adequately
As befits a high-end headphone, the YH-E700B is equipped with noise reduction. The ANC performs adequately, in our opinion. Ambient sounds are much less present, and softer sounds, including the air conditioning or engines of a bus, are almost impossible to hear. You can still hear voice sounds well. If ANC is extremely important to you, you’ll be better served by Sony’s WF headphones or Bose’s Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The Ambient Sound function is also fine but not ‘surprising.’ You shouldn’t want to have conversations when you wear these headphones. Vehicles around you, on the other hand, are easy to understand. So you can safely wear them if you go for a walk but want to know exactly what is happening in your area.
Where the headphones do surprise is the battery life. You should last up to 32 hours on one charge. We didn’t get that far on ANC. Nevertheless, you can easily get about 25 to 28 hours. Before that, we were mainly indoors or in the office, with only a few hours in busy places on public transport. Nevertheless, it’s a battery life that will suffice. Sennheiser still takes the lead here, with battery life hitting 50 hours on its Momentum 4 Wireless.
What is a loss is the lack of multipoint connections. So he can maintain one connection at a time. We regularly switch between two devices, which then irritates somewhere. We then always have to disconnect and start up manually. We also see that better on other high-end over-ear headphones: both Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and the Momentum 4 does support multipoint.
Yamaha joins the battle between Bose, Sennheiser, and Sony with the YH-E700B. In that battle, the brand still lacks the refinement that the competition does offer. The audio experience also feels a bit dull; the whole lacks the dynamics that other over-ear headphones offer.
The operation is also not always intuitive, and the noise reduction is disappointing if you compare it with other models in the same price range. It is precisely that price that means that we cannot directly recommend the headphones. Unless you’re dying to buy a pair of Yamaha headphones, we recommend the WH-1000XM5, Momentum Wireless 4, or Noise Canceling Headphones 700. Then you may even save some money – those models are often available at a lower price level than the 349 euros of the Yamaha.
Design looks different
Battery life is fine
ANC is disappointing
Sound lacks dynamics
No multipoint connection