Yamaha is unique among headphone manufacturers in that it also makes world-class pianos, keyboards, drums, and saxophones, so the company has a deep appreciation of what real music sounds like. It's not surprising then that the flagship model in its new Pro line, the Pro 500 -- designed in the U.S., engineered in Japan, and made in China -- offers crisp, clear sound that's tuned to please the audiophile ear.
Ah, but the rub is that these guys list for $400, which is a lot of dough. And while their level of design, build quality, and comfort is quite good, it's not exceptional. That translates into a very good-sounding pair of headphones that's a bit overpriced.
Design and features
With its slick-looking, full-size, closed-back design, the Pro 500 model shares many traits with the Beats Studio headphones, but gives off a slightly more polished vibe, with the large Yamaha crossed-tuning-forks logo on the earcups providing the primary visual interest.
The high-gloss plastic headband is steel-reinforced, and the real aluminum earcups have a quality feel, but their limited vertical and horizontal pivoting ranges don't allow the earcups to perfectly conform to every head shape. Said another way, these headphones are pretty comfortable, just not supercomfortable.
The Pro 500 headphones have larger-than-average 50mm drivers, and impedance is rated at 23 ohms. The hinged headband allows the headphones to be folded up into a more compact bundle, though the metal hinges don't look or feel as sturdy as the ones on the V-Moda M-100 headphones, for example. Long-term durability of the mostly plastic Pro 500 design may be a concern for people who don't baby their headphones.
The headphones weigh a hefty 13 ounces, so they're considerably heavier than the under-10-ounce M-100. The extra weight, the headband's pressure on the top of my head, and the earpads' moderately firm head-clamping pressure caused me to deduct a point from my design rating. As I said, I didn't find them uncomfortable, but most of the full-size headphones we've tested are more enjoyable to wear for hours at a time. On the upside, the ear cushions provide a fairly tight, noise-blocking seal.
The headphones come with two cables, a 4-foot flat (tangle-resistant) cable with a remote/mic optimized for Apple devices, and a plain 10-foot flat cable. Both cords connect to either the left or right earcup via 3.5mm plugs and, as with a lot of the newer full-size headphones (the Monster Inspiration, for example), you can plug another set of headphones into the open earcup jack and have a second listener tune in to what you're listening to.