Andy Jones discovers that everything in headphones can actually be black and white…
Yamaha is well known for its accurate speakers, and its new HPH headphone range has been designed for the same sonic detail, as well as offering a lively listening experience. There are three models in the range: the 8s, which retail for £170; the 7s, which cost £135; and these, the 5s, which, at a retail price of just £89, certainly sit at the other end of the price extreme compared to the AKGs also on test this issue. However, in comparison, they stack up surprisingly well…
At just 250g, the MT5s are as light as headphones can be – any lighter and you’d be pulling them back down to you with the supplied three-metre cable (while common, I find the length of these cables a little excessive – but then, I am prone to cable entanglement issues).
After testing the AKGs, these far cheaper ’phones were always bound to fall down in some areas in such close proximity. The first stumble is the fairly plasticky finish, which is accentuated by the white version of the headphones we had in for testing – the MT5s come in black, too, which does look a little more ‘pro’. The earpieces also tend to move around a little too much when you’re not wearing them, as they are designed to slip easily into that one-ear mode preferred by DJs.
This is not a problem once you put them on, though. The headband takes only a little adjusting and keeps the headphones very secure once you’ve chosen your optimum size setting.
On wearing them, you’re struck immediately by the isolation. As closed-back headphones, they offer a great amount of noise cancelling without the need for the electronic jiggery pokery that comes with headphones from the likes of Bose – these do it by just putting a big earpiece and piece of plastic between your ears and the outside world, and it works. That (lack of) weight also means the MT5s can be worn for long periods without discomfort – ideal for lying down and enjoying the music, and enjoy it you will.
Feel the heat
Sound-wise, the MT5s deliver one or two surprises. The ’phones have a pretty average frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, but have a big sound, and one that certainly doesn’t sound like £89. It’s bold and brash, in your face and very deep, but it’s fair to say that it’s also a coloured sound – you certainly don’t get a vibe like this from reference ’phones that have a completely flat response. These MT5s have been enhanced, but not necessarily in a bad way – it’s a response that seems to heighten some of the best bits of your source material. Mids and highs are as clear and crisp as you like, so vocals, guitars and percussion shine through on our more band-based reference material (The The, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree).
On dance music, though, the bass accentuation delivers a little too much clout. With a genre that perhaps relies a little too much on bass frequencies, the slight colouring the MT5s offer in the low end creates a little too much throb on more electronic music. It’s a shame, because the general enjoyment you get from them makes you want to listen to more and more music, but on vinyl and with dance music, there’s almost too much warmth – or should I say ‘heat’? It’s nothing that a judicious EQ tweak or two won’t remedy, though.
Overall, these are headphones with a fantastic soundstage, great immersion and isolation, and they have a vibe that puts a smile on your face. If you like your deep dance and heavy bass, you may want to audition before buying, but for music other than electronica, they’re a steal.