Yamaha Pro 500 Headphones
For the musically inclined, an excellent pair of headphones is a must
- Fantastic sound
- Good functionality for iOS devices
- Sleek design
- Weight can contribute to discomfort from prolonged use
- Travel case too large to use on a daily basis
Its rare to find a product that reinvigorates your love for music. With the Yamaha Pro 500 headphones that’s exactly what we found. Overall the Pro 500s give a sweet, balanced sound with depth and no undue emphasis anywhere on the sound spectrum. We were transported to the ultimate headstage, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the experience.
Price$ 449.95 (AUD)
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Headphones are a truly personal thing. Along with phones, wallets/purses and keys, they are often on the mental checklist you make before leaving the house. Weight, comfort, aesthetics and overall feel are just a few things people take into consideration when buying a new pair of headphones. Some want a product that will enhance the listening experience, while others are looking for a fashion accessory.
In the headphone market, just like many others, cheap is almost never cheerful. The Yamaha Pro 500 series headphones are certainly not cheap, but they certainly did provide us with a lot of cheer. When we first tried these headphones we were a bit sceptical; just another manufacturer providing over-ear, smartphone-compatible headphones. Many companies try to do too much with their product and miss getting the simple and most important things right, like sound quality and comfort. Yamaha does have a long history of producing excellent quality musical and stereo equipment, so we were intrigued to see how the Pro 500 headphones would perform.
The sound quality is at a level not many competitor products can reach. However, they are not without drawbacks. They are quite heavy, weighing in at 369g, and prolonged use can cause considerable discomfort. This is due mainly to the weight of the drivers. Now we must say at this point that a heavy driver is generally preferable to a lighter one as it usually denotes better sound quality. Anyone well versed in speaker design will say that a heavy cone/magnet is superior to a light one.
The design is simple and sleek, and two colours are available: blue, and the black that our review pair came in. They have a foldable design that will reduce the footprint marginally when packed. They also come with a smart and durable travel case that would be extremely useful on long trips, but which is cumbersome for day-to-day use. We found — as with many headphones — it was preferable to simply sling the headphones around the strap of a bag or wear them around the neck when not in use. It is nice that the option is there to protect the headphones, and at the price Yamaha is asking, we expected a case of this quality.
There are some other features that set the Pro 500 headphones apart from competitors. They come with two cords: a 1.2m cord with a remote that allows iOS users to answer calls or use Siri and play music, and a longer 3m cord that does not include a remote. A 6.3mm stereo plug is also provided. One great feature of the Pro 500 headphones is that they allow the cord to be attached to either of the drivers, giving the headphones added versatility.
The Pro 500s are an over-ear closed back design. They feature a rigid alluminium alloy earcup, and a 50 mm, dynamic neodymium driver. The cup size seems a little small to us, and we worry about those potential users with larger ears. Those with smaller heads may also find the Pro 500’s a little large for comfortable use. We strongly recommend trying a pair on before purchase.
If you find yourself in the physiological position to make use of them, the Pro 500s would be a fantastic companion for the iOS user who wants great sound to accompany them on their travels.
Android users will still be able to make use of the remote, albeit in a diminished capacity. It can still be used to play, pause and skip tracks, but the volume control will not work. You will still be able to answer and hang up your phone, but for full functionality we suggest you look at a model designed for Android devices.
Most, if not all, music aficionados dismiss MP3 (and even CD) as a subpar musical format. In order to test the sound quality of these high-end headphones, we used vinyl. The analogue signal gives a much warmer and fuller overall sound (for more information on the digital divide between Masters and CD/MP3 see Neil Young’s article on the Pono Web site.
We found the Pro 500s provided very balanced sound across a number of musical genres. Neil Young’s Heart of Gold was a sublime experience, the balance between the stripped drums and high pitch of the great man’s harp was near perfect. Meanwhile, the baseline, which can sometimes be lost, especially in MP3 format, was a constant but not overwhelming undercurrent.
Bad Religion’s True North gave us the opportunity to see how the Pro 500s would respond to a busier musical track. We were impressed at how there was clear definition between all instruments and vocals. Often the sound can become blurred on tracks such as this. It was comforting to know that clarity was not compromised when confronted with the fury and precision of such tracks.
The hip-hop genre allowed us to see how the Pro 500s would represent an often heftier low-end and the sometimes tinny sound you get from samples run through a low pass filter. Gangstarr’s Code of the Streets had a warm low end with crisp hi-hats. Vocals came through clearly with the right amount of emphasis.
Jay-Z’ Holy Grail represents a different type of rap music. We were impressed with the Pro 500s performance on tracks such as this that emphasise bass over mids and highs. Vocals from Mickey Mouse club graduate, Justin Timberlake, had a distinctive tone and there was balance between this and the punchy low end. The mid range came through exceptionally well which is the real tell when listening to such music.
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