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Yamaha PRO 500 Headphones Review

Friday, May 3, 2013
As motorcycle journalist I am intimately familiar with the Yamaha’s two-wheeled offerings, but with no musical talent whatsoever it’s not often I come in contact with other offerings from the Tuning Fork Company. Riders may not be aware that Yamaha is the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the world. Not only do Yamaha products create music, but there are also scores of high-fidelity goods to enjoy that music with. Recently, I got my hands on the newest offering in that segment – the Yamaha PRO 500 headphones.

Yamaha says these headphones are designed to deliver natural sound that is vivid and balanced with exceptional soundstage that envelops the listener. I’m no audiophile, but these bad boys sound like a serious piece of kit.

“Most headphones currently available fall into one of two camps,” stated Yamaha senior vice president Tom Sumner. “They either have unexciting conventional design aesthetics or they are tuned for specific music tastes with exaggerated bass that can warp the overall sound quality. There’s a market for headphones that fuse progressive style with true natural sound.”

A proprietary driver design with neodymium magnets are engineered to provide maximum efficiency when used with smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The 500 is the flagship of the PRO line of Yamaha headphones and adds an ultra-premium driver and rigid aluminum alloy ear cups. Two cords are included with the PRO 500: a four-foot length that includes an in-line microphone and remote optimized for Apple devices and a 10-foot length for use with home audio. Everything is wrapped up for travel in a padded hard case with a carabineer for attachment to backpacks or travel bags.

While unboxing the PRO 500 it was obvious these are some high-end bangers for those that love to get the most out of their music. The blue paint and smooth lines reflect the power of Yamaha’s sportbikes, especially the YZF-R1. A huge tuning fork logo is emblazoned on both ear cups and overall the fit and finish is exceptional.

The padded headband has a nice amount of squish with a grippy texture. Overall the sizing is comfortable. The large earcups cover your ears completely and seal out outside distractions. Noise isolating is a fair description from Yamaha as the ‘phones are very quiet but some sound can leak in when the tunes aren’t pumped in from your preferred audio device. The upside, in comparison to ultra quiet noise canceling units, is there is no need for a battery to power them. I’d rather not have to worry about yet another battery when I’m traveling or working.

Sound quality from the PRO 500 is the best I’ve heard. It’s really amazing the details that can be lost through cheaper headphones. I picked up more highs and sharpness with the 500 that I didn’t think would be possible from my iPad and iPhone. Plugging into my iMac I turned the amp up to 11 and the power increased radically without losing quality on everything I listened to except for the bass-iest rap songs. These units are not designed for an overly heavy bass output like some of the more popular units. Everything sounds more clear and real, if you want the ‘phones that go thump-thump-thump, save your cash and get some Beats by Dr. Dre. I prefer the sound from the PRO 500 over anything I’ve listened to so far. (Just for reference there are no less than four sets of headphones on my desk at any time.)

Overall, the Yamaha PRO 500 Headphones are excellent and are at the outer limits of what I need for audio reproduction. And with a $399.95 MSRP that’s the limit of my wallet as well. If you are a hardcore audiophile, then give the PRO 500 headphones a long hard look. Not only do they sound incredible, but also they look as sexy as an R1 in its racing livery. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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