Yamaha YH-E700A & YH-L700A Headphones Review
So here we are, back again to explore the world of audio gear. Although my time has been limited due to the demands of family and work, my passion for high-quality audio remains strong. In fact, I’ve been fortunate enough to play with many different audio toys in recent years, and I’m considering creating a YouTube shorts series to share my impressions with others.
My interest in the new YH-5000SE headphones recently led me to a friend who works at the Yamaha dealer in Bucharest. He mentioned that he might be able to lend me a pair of these headphones for review once they’re available, but in the meantime, he introduced me to a couple of other headphones from Yamaha that I had never heard of. Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take a closer look.
Before I dive into the YH-5000SE, I’ll be reviewing the YH-700A and YG-L700A closed back / noise cancelling headphones from Yamaha. Let’s start with the YH-700A.
YH-700A Technical Details and Specs
I will let you read the details on this section directly from Yamaha.
Few things to note below.
First of all one of the things I have noticed is that the headphones don’t support aptX HD or LDAC, so the transfer rate will be limited at a max of 420kbps, which as you can suspect does not support flacs.
After experimenting with the settings on the Yamaha Headphones app installed on my phone, I found that the auto adjuster brought the sound forward and reduced the need for volume adjustments. However, enabling these settings also resulted in an increase in bass most of the time, so I ended up disabling them for a more natural sound.
Moving on to the physical aspects, my white YH-700A headphones had a plasticky appearance and lacked a luxurious feel, but the materials and plastic feels better than Sony WH-1000XM5 for example.
They were comfortable to wear for extended periods, without causing any discomfort or pressure. One downside was the absence of touch controls on the headphone surface, unlike the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Noise Cancelling & Other sound processing effects
Regarding noise cancelling, it did a decent job, but nothing extraordinary. Without noise cancelling, the headphone provided good isolation, and in a noisy environment with loud children, it worked pretty well. However, in a less noisy environment with a constant fan noise, the headphones induced a constant hiss, which was audible. The noise cancelling worked as expected, but it didn’t match up to the standards set by Sony, Bose, or even Focal Bathys. The passive isolation is actually doing most of the lifting here.
Interestingly, when I tested the headphones with and without noise cancelling, I found that with NC on, the sound quality improved significantly, with fewer distortions, less noise, and less bass bloat, even though it produced more sub-bass. It was a noticeable improvement that I would recommend not bypassing the NC setting. I even have measurements that demonstrate this.
I also tried out some additional settings on the Yamaha app, but they didn’t make a significant difference. To test the headphones, I used them directly with my phone and later switched to my PC, connecting them via a FIIO BTA 30 PRO Bluetooth transmitter.
Now let’s dive into the listening impressions.
Listening Impressions and tests
The tests have been done using my Oneplus 9 Pro phone, but also with the Ifi BTA 30 PRO Bluetooth transmitter. With Ifi I was able to use the mini dsp ears to measure the headphones. Don’t forget that the mini dsp ears is not a professional tool, so don’t take the measurements as a final decision factor.
I also tested the headphones directly amplified through my system : Rockna Wavelight, Topping A90 Discrete hp amp. You get better control and more details, but the distortion on bass/sub bass is still there and not as good as when you enable ANC. However, it is still better than on bluetooth with ANC off. This is happening with both E700A and L700A.
The YH-700A’s bass is undoubtedly the star of the show, but it comes with both pros and cons. The bass has a monster-like quality to it, with an almost merciless attack that can overwhelm you at times. This headphone is definitely geared towards bass lovers who enjoy a deep, powerful low-end. While it may not be the most detailed or controlled bass out there, the punch and depth are impressive and can bring a new level of energy to a variety of songs and genres.
However, it’s worth noting that the YH-700A’s bass is mostly focused on the sub-bass region and has a dip in the mid-bass section, which may not be to everyone’s taste. The sub-bass can sometimes be overwhelming, drowning out other frequencies and leading to a loss of detail. Nevertheless, I found that the bass added an exciting dimension to songs that featured drums or percussion instruments with a lower body presence and punch. Overall, the YH-700A’s bass is a mixed bag, but it certainly makes a statement and bass heads will probably love it.
The midrange of these headphones is quite enjoyable and rich in the lower midrange. The lower midrange has a good amount of presence, but the upper midrange is slightly recessed. Despite this, there is still a decent level of detail in instruments like guitars, strings, and percussion instruments. The textures are quite natural and detailed, which makes listening to these instruments a pleasurable experience. In particular, I found that the percussion instruments and vocals stood out and were enjoyable to listen to.
The overall tonality of this headphone is dark. Personally, I don’t mind this as I am not a big fan of overly bright headphones. However, some listeners may prefer a little more treble presence or airiness in their sound. That being said, I can’t complain too much as I prefer this type of sound over piercing treble. I found the treble to be detailed enough to enjoy classical music on these headphones. Despite the darker sound signature, the treble still manages to come through in a natural way.
The YH-E700A headphones offer a pleasing vocal performance, with a clear and textured sound that emphasizes the lower midrange. The male vocals are particularly well-presented, with good presence and detail. While the female vocals don’t quite match the presence of the male vocals, they still offer a good timbre and are easy to listen to. Overall, the YH-E700A headphones provide an enjoyable vocal experience.
With the noise cancelling on and a good seal, these headphones have a transparent, distortion-free sound across most of the frequency range, resulting in a enjoyable listening experience.
While classical music may not be the YH-700A’s strongest area, it still manages to impress with a good level of detail and natural textures on instruments. The headphone’s good detail can be heard on a variety of genres, providing an enjoyable listening experience.
The dynamics of these headphones are quite enjoyable, especially on the macro level, and I think the bass punch helps in that regard. While the strong attack and punch can be a bit much at times, it certainly adds a fun factor depending on the circumstances. Overall, these headphones offer a strong attack with a powerful punch, making them explosive and providing a good sense of prat. The transients have a good attack and the decay is natural.
Due to the elevated sub bass, the headphone’s sound signature may sound closed and confined. However, after some time, the listener’s brain may adapt to this signature and find it more acceptable. The soundstage is not particularly spacious, but despite the intimacy, each instrument has its own defined location and space within the mix. Overall, it presents an intimate soundstage with good instrument separation and placement.
Not the fastest or the most precise headphones, but they are not bad in this department.
The tonality of these headphones is warm and natural, with a strong emphasis on the lower part of the frequency range, particularly in the sub bass. Despite this emphasis, the headphones still manage to deliver natural-sounding vocals and instruments.
I am not sure if I can say this is an audiophile headphone, but they can be quite fun depending on the circumstances. They are tuned for bass heads to have fun. They have huge bass slam/impact. The slam and depth are ludicrous and they can be really fun on electronic music, rock and other similar music. Actually, I enjoyed them on instrumental music, country or most music that had vocals & percussion instruments
They do have impressive and unforgiving slam on the bass region, a good amount of details & good vocals. Depending on the music you listen to, other headphones might sound boring after listening to these for a while.
I actually ended up enjoying a variety of music on it from electronic, rock, instrumental, jazz, country, and even classical because of the good textures and natural sound tonality.
These headphones grew on me after I got used to the frequency response. If you manage to get a good fit and you enable noise cancelling, you will get a clean, dark, fun, detailed and engaging sound.
A few areas that I would have liked more would be:
- The noise cancelling is mostly relying on the passive isolation. I think this area can be improved
- They already have some mods that change the response frequency. I would have liked an option where you can reduce a bit from the bass
- No APTX HD, only up to 420 kbps
Let’s first look at how the headphone measures with noise cancelling off:
Check out the distortion on the bass with the noise cancelling turned off:
Now let’s turn on the noise cancelling:
As you can see the lower midrange is also elevated a bit with noise cancelling.
Now let’s see how distortions look:
They actually look very good, as the sub bass distortion has gone down from the 5% area to the 0.5 area. That is a 10x difference and the distortion actually looks great on all of the frequency response.
Measurements using the 3.5 input and my system as source/amp:
YH-L700A Technical Details and Specs
I will let you read the details on this section directly from Yamaha.
As you can suspect, these headphones do have similarities in terms of technology and you can see that above. The Bluetooth rate is still limited to aptX adaptive, it has similar features, similar battery life, but it does add something, the 3d sound field.
Even the sound has similarities, even though from a frequency response perspective the headphones differ from each other.
In terms of build quality, these headphones have a better feel than the YH-E700A and the materials seem a bit more luxurious. When I have first looked at them, I had the impression the cups will be small and my ears won’t fit easily. A friend of mine had exactly the first false impression. When you put them on the head, you will notice the cups are not that small and they are proper over the ears headphones. Also the headband and the cups are a bit weird in terms of fitting, but very comfortable. The most important part here is to make sure you get a good fit. I have an impression that people with smaller heads won’t appreciate these headphones. The sound quality changes dramatically with a good seal and I noticed that on the measurements as well. I had to do a lot of fidgeting around to manage to put them correctly on the measurement “head” to get a proper seal. Without a proper seal, the distortions were going through the roof.
The noise cancelling functionality and performance is quite similar for both headphones.
Listening Impressions and comparison to the YH-E700A
Let’s start with the 3d sound field. This feature with head tracking is quite cool. I used it a bit to play around with it. It was interesting in movies as well. However, if you are a purist like me, you will enjoy the sound better with all the features turned off and measurements show why this was the case, at least in my experience.
I guess, this is a feature that it is quite cool to have and play around and it depends on everyone’s taste. If you like the sound to be untampered with, like I do, you mind be ending up disabling them.
Oh, the noise cancelling has the same effect as with E700A as it greatly reduces the distortion within the bass section. I recommend leaving it on.
Now let’s get to how the sound compares to the YH-E700A
There are a lot of similitudes in the sound, when it comes to the backbone of the signature itself, but overall the frequency response is quite different. It keeps the punch, fun aspect of the E700A with good dynamics and even clean/low distortion sound signature, but it has some differences.
The bass keeps a strong punch and very strong presence. I still think these headphones will be very enjoyable to bass heads as well. There is a better/flatter transition from the sub bass to the mid bass, as the sub bass was taking the stage with E700A. The presentation here is a bit more balanced from this perspective. However, the sub bass is cleaner on E700A. The punch is strong with both headphones and can be very enjoyable, especially for bass heads. Purists will find both headphones to have too much bass if you ask me. I like to head bang from time to time, so I enjoyed the sound. One thing to note here is that the distortions are sometimes apparent on the sub bass region compared to E700A, as it comes out to sound a bit bloated in comparison.
The lower midrange had a little bump on E700A and had better presence in that region. Instruments/voices were fuller. On L700A, the midrange is a bit flatter and has better presence and details in the upper midrange. It’s still nicely detailed, present and quite enjoyable.
The treble is considerably more present than E700A. Still not piercing by any means, but it does offer more air and detail in this region. I am not sure why. I am sure some people would enjoy this sound signature more. In terms of tonality, I still found that E700A somehow managed to present the details here in a more natural way.
The details are quite similar on both headphones, but I would say that L700A can take the lead here as the upper midrange and treble get more points here.
Overall, the frequency range is similarly clean of distortions as E700A with the exception of the sub bass region which is not as clear and can be heard in the music as well. However, overall, the sound is free of distortion on most of the frequency response. It actually looks very good after 90hz.
The vocals are very nice on both headphones. On L700A, the voices are not as intimate, but they receive better presence in the upper midrange. They keep the pure/clean type of presentation of the voices, even if with a different flavor .
The dynamics are not too dissimilar here with E700A. Let’s say that the attack of the L700A is stronger in the upper midrange, but the E700A wins in the bass region. Because it lacks distortion, the control, punch seem to be better on E700A. The decay is however faster for sounds on the upper midrange on L700A.
The soundstage is bigger on L700A and considerably more intimate on E700A.
The seems better on L700A when we don’t have too much sub bass that brings distortion into the sound. If that happens, the sound gets a bit bloated and E700A wins from this perspective.
These headphones are a very interesting alternative to E700A as it does present a different flavor of the same sound. You get a bigger soundstage, better presence in the treble and upper midrange and some other features to play with. I would have liked for L700A to keep the clean sub bass as well, but it brings sufficient changes for me to have enjoyed this different type of sound.
Both headphones are more into the bass head section if you ask me. One thing that you need to remember with L700A is that you need to get a very good seal to get a clean, no distortion sound. If you have a smaller head, you might not be able to do that.
Playing around with the 3D effects was a fun experience, but in the end, I found that I preferred to disable them. Not only did the 3D effects have a negative impact on the distortion measurements, but I also found that they did not add much to the overall listening experience. While some users may enjoy experimenting with these effects, I personally preferred to stick with the standard sound signature for the most accurate and natural listening experience.
Maybe I don’t know too much about this subject, and if for example you are in a concert hall, of course you will get a lot of distortions, but I like my sound SQUEAKY clean.
If you like the bass, a punchy/engaging sound and you are not necessarily interested in fidelity/correct sound, both headphones are quite fun to listen to and are worth a try if you have a chance to try them out.
After these headphones, it’s a good chance you will perceive other headphones as flat or boring until your brain adjusts to the new sound.
Few areas I would want to see improvements
- The headphones are quite comfortable, but I feel you need to fidget with them to get a good seal. I have a feeling that people with smaller heads won’t get a good seal and that makes a big difference in sound quality
- No APTX HD, only up to 420 kbps
- The 3d effects can be quite fun, but I would like to see less distortions…much less distortions when they are applied.
Let’s see how the E700A compares to L700A
Here is the distortion graph. As you can see, the E700 is cleaner on the sub bass region but overall they are quite similar.
Now let’s see if we enable the 3d sound….
These are the measurements amplified directly through my system with the 3.5 jack input.