Yamaha YH-E700B Review: Awkward Flagship Headphones

In the continued cage match of premium travel headphones, Sony is the reigning champ. The firm’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 seemed 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 method, forcing Bose, Sennheiser, and even Apple to boost their sport.

Within 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 superb sound high quality, however their options and general execution are outmatched by others at their worth–particularly relating to their so-so noise cancellation.

The YH-E700B are nonetheless stable sufficient workplace or journey headphones, and at $200 to $250, they’d be price contemplating. But at their present $350 retail worth, it’s arduous to seek out good motive to decide on these over rivals which can be on the prime of their sport.

Flagship Style, Budget Execution

Photograph: Yamaha

The YH-E700B arrive in a package deal befitting their premium worth 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 function 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 baggage.

The hefty ear cups modify 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 emblem 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 practically each main rival lately.

On the inside of every cup, you’ll discover heaping reminiscence foam pads coated in tender leatherette with lengthy, slim openings on the middle for the 40-mm drivers beneath. My first expertise with the match was one in all confusion; my ears aren’t big, however they’re too giant to suit throughout the pads’ elliptical holes. Instead, the earphones sit in a type 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: fully 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 hardly ever labored as marketed.

I had some listening classes 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. Wondering if it was simply my ears, I requested my spouse to have a go, and he or she had the identical outcomes. After per week or so, I noticed if I jammed my ear into the best pad, the sensor would choose it up constantly, however that was extra awkward than merely clicking the bodily multi-button to pause.

Is this a giant deal within the grand scheme? Not actually. But the inconsistency made me more and more pissed off when it failed. It’s not a problem with any of the opposite fashions I’ve tried, whereas Sony’s XM4 and XM5 go additional, including conveniences like Speak-to-Chat to pause sound together with your voice and Quick Attention, which activates transparency mode while you maintain your hand over the best cup.

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