Yamaha recently released their new flagship open-back headphone, the YH-5000SE, which has made huge waves within the audiophile community. In fact, it very quickly sold out at this year’s NYC Canjam. What’s all the fuss about? Let’s talk about the performance of these cans and find out whether they are actually worth the significantly high price tag.
In the Box
- Yamaha YH-5000SE Headphones
- 2m cable with 4.4mm balanced 4.4mm termination
- 2m cable with 3.5mm unbalanced termination
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
- Headphone stand
- Suede and leather ear pads
Look and Feel
I’m a sucker for a light-weight headphone. To be honest, after spending $5K, you have enough weighing on your shoulders. Why add to the stress with a heavy headphone? At the same time, the YH-500SE feels and looks very well built, though maybe not as sturdy as a Focal or a headphone with more enclosed ear cups. Just don’t throw these in your backpack. I especially love the Batman meets Back To The Future aesthetic. And the design actually has some acoustic benefits, which I’ll mention below.
The clamping force feels just right. Never too firm or lazy on the ears. Both, the leather and suede ear pads are super soft and comfy against the ears. I used leather in this review for the added touch of low end, which I appreciate. But those with an aversion to bass, should opt for the suede.
The YH-5000SE boasts an orthodynamic driver. Before you look up “orthoynamic,” let me save you the hassle; after a few jazzy yadi yadas, “orthodynamic” basically means planar magnetic. (That’s 30 seconds of your life you’ll never get back). For this model, Yamaha has implemented a number of enhancements and upgrades to maximize driver sensitivity.
One important thing to note is that these cans are quite easy to drive, at 34 Ohms and a sensitivity of 98dB. A small amp would ample power. In fact, for this review, I used the Astell & Kern HC2, which is basically a powerful DAC/amp dongle with a 4.4mm balanced connection. And it gave me more than enough headroom.
As mentioned above, the style of the housing actually serves a function; the roomy shape maximizes acoustic volume, while the stainless steel filter controls internal pressure and acts as a reflector. The intention behind this design is to create an ultra realistic sound with a maximum level of control.
The soundstage is on the more intimate side, but it still blew me away. Although, the stage area is not particularly expansive, the imaging is insanely accurate and nuanced, making instruments pop out into “spaces between the spaces.” It’s just that precise. Furthermore, because the resolution is so top-notch and the layering so incredibly clean, every track feels like you’re sitting in the dead center of a 3D live performance. In fact, in all my years of reviewing headphone, this is one of the more realistic listening experiences I’ve had. And at the end of the day, I’ll take a super life-like experience over an artificially large soundscape any day.
The lower half of this range reveals the most presence. You’ll get some fun vibration listening to hip-hop, as well those as rich low-bass tones that bring a warmth to the overall mix. At the same time, the upper-bass feels more moderate, allowing the low-end to stay in it’s lane, while still satiating those who appreciate decent punch and weight. And although you’ll hear tons of detail and texture, there’s a fluidity to note progressions, lending a smooth and steady, yet powerful energy to pop and acoustic tracks alike.
Scrumptious midrange here. Though the balance between the lower-mids and upper-mids feels quite even, the upper midrange has a bit of added slap, bringing kick to percussion, guitar plucks and keyboards that groove in that range. At the same time, there’s never a lack of equilibrium. So, all at once, the YH-5000SE will give you a full-bodied feel supported by a driving vibrancy that just won’t quit. And because the separation is so top notch, you won’t miss a single element even in the heaviest of mixes. While there’s an analytical flair to the sound, that undeniable planar magnetic richness and resolution gives it the charisma it needs to avoid feeling clinical.
No lack of coverage in this range. But still a forgiving listen even at the highest treble. Again, because of the realism of the sound, vocals in this range have “up-close and personal” feel, which creates a highly emotive musicality to every ballad you play. You’ll hear every breath and crackle. But at the same time, there’s a cohesiveness and effortless flow to note progressions in this range that makes the highs a smooth and thoroughly pleasurable listening experience.
Yes, the YH-5000SE certainly deserves to be up there with the Utopias and D8000’s. In fact, personally, I like them more than any other headphone in this echelon. These cans just sound so damn realistic, it’s impossible not to appreciate the skill that they deliver. The understated, yet remarkably true to life soundstage, combined with the immersive, lively mids, smooth highs and super-controlled profile throughout make for an orgasmic listening experience. The YH-5000SE is also a thoroughly versatile headphone, which will lend magic and absolute fidelity to any track you choose to play. So, if you’re about to mortgage your house for a headphone, I would make it this one.
You can but the YH-5000SE at Audio 46.
|5 Hz – 70 kHz