Yamaha YH-L700A headphone review: 3D sound for everyone, but not at any cost

Production and accessories

With its rectangular ear pads and atypical design, the YH-L700A frankly stand out from the competition. The helmet is almost entirely made of high quality plastic, some parts are covered with fabric or synthetic leather. This gives it a sober and very pleasing look to the eye, but it nevertheless remains massive and therefore not particularly restrained.

The headband is completely covered in mesh fabric and consists of a metal frame and padding on the underside. It offers a lot of travel but isn’t particularly flexible, especially when deployed. The ear cups fold down and rotate 90°, allowing you to store your headphones in the included hard case.

USB-A to USB-C cable, mini-jack cable and airplane adapter are included with the headset.

USB-A to USB-C cable, mini-jack cable and airplane adapter are included with the headset.

The overall build quality of the YH-L700A is very good; traces of assembly are visible, but remain invisible. Let’s make a reservation, however, about a small reservation on the hinge of the ear cups, which makes a creak when they are turned. Also, despite our best efforts, we were unable to detach the ear cups from the earcups. Yamaha, however, guarantees that they are available for purchase as replacement parts in its aftermarket.

YH-L700A provides good comfort, however it depends on certain conditions. Firstly, even the headband folded to a minimum is too big for all heads: the headphones sit too much on small or even medium-sized ears. In these cases, the significant weight of the helmet (330g) is especially felt at the top of the head, which slides off easily as soon as you tilt your head too far. On the other hand, the earbuds heat up quickly in the ears, which can be annoying for long listening sessions.

If the wearer has a large head and is not too bothered by the heat generated by the pads, the helmet is especially nice and comfortable. The ear pads are deep enough, the weight is distributed evenly across the headband and ear pads, and the ear pads are soft and cuddly – ​​even if they deserve to be a little softer on skin contact.

But even in this particular case, the helmet is difficult to tame. The eccentric position of the headband and the square shape of the ear cups take time to adapt to properly position the headphones around the ears without causing leakage, which can affect sound reproduction and effective noise cancellation.

User Experience

The YH-L700A offers a simple user interface with controls that are very easy to understand, but it runs into some very annoying bugs when used. The first concerns Bluetooth pairing. This only works when the headphones are turned on (the headphones must be turned off and then back on to pair with a new source). And to switch from one source to another, you need to deactivate Bluetooth on the first source in order to be able to pair the headphones with the second, which is far from practical. The YH-L700A also does not have a multi-point function and therefore can only connect to one source at a time.

The headset does not have a presence sensor, so it does not automatically stop when removed.

The headset does not have a presence sensor, so it does not automatically stop when removed.

On the edge of the ear pads is a row of three mechanical buttons (power on, 3D audio mode activation, and active noise cancellation activation). At the bottom of the right atrium, at the level of the leather strap, is another series of three buttons dedicated to other controls (reading, volume, navigation, etc.). However, these three buttons are difficult to distinguish by touch, and pressing them creates a rather unpleasant “suction cup” effect.

The headphones can be used with the Yamaha Headphones Controller app (available on iOS and Android). Unfortunately, it offers only a few settings, other than activating/deactivating certain functions (which is already possible thanks to the buttons) and setting the automatic timeout. Therefore, it is quite possible to do without it.

Most of the actions are accompanied by voice prompts (only in English) of excellent quality.

Most of the actions are accompanied by voice prompts (only in English) of excellent quality.

In terms of connectivity, the YH-L700A obviously offers Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive) but also offers a mini-jack input. In the latter case, the headset can be used both on and off, but it loses the use of buttons, hands-free kit and access to the application (active noise reduction and 3D modes remain available when the headset is on).

Like its atypical appearance, the YH-L700A offers a unique sonic signature that sets it apart from the competition. So the Yamaha helmet puts a lot of emphasis on the bass, but doesn’t forget the mids and highs, and has very good accuracy at all frequencies.

Bluetooth frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  No noise reduction in black, no noise reduction and with

Bluetooth frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). Without noise reduction – black, without noise reduction and with activated “Listening Care” – orange, with noise reduction – purple.

The emphasis on bass is undoubtedly the first thing that catches your eye when listening to headphones. Landing is almost excessive, bordering on buzz; strikes are played with power and vivacity. This excess of bass could be compared to a defect, but the helmet handles this feature surprisingly well. Indeed, the bass is relatively accurate and shimmers only on the rare occasions when the mix becomes very muddy in the bass register. This flattering sound is also great for movies, as it lets you play certain sounds (explosions, gunshots, etc.) almost as if you were in a movie theater. However, we would really like to see Yamaha provide an EQ in their app to be able to tone down the bass as you see fit.

Bluetooth harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  Without noise reduction in red, with noise reduction in purple.

Bluetooth harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). Without noise reduction in red, with noise reduction in purple.

The highs also benefit from a rather unusual accent. The very high harmonics of some instruments (cymbals) and some room effects are flattering, but do not interfere with the overall transmission in any way and even allow you to partially balance the overbalance of the bass. Here, too, the accuracy is very correct: the tops lack neither detail nor finesse. In particular, this allows the headphones to offer extended width and depth of the stereo sound stage. The various effects of the coins are final and do not fall into the dummy.

The helmet’s signature W is also characterized by the absence of bass and treble mids. This is defined by a puff of about 1kHz, causing a slight “telephone effect”: some instruments, such as overdriven guitars or brass instruments, may lack body and edge. The vocals also suffer a little from these problems, but remain quite legible and detached from the rest of the instruments.

Membrane reactivity measurement: square waves at 50 Hz.

Membrane reactivity measurement: square waves at 50 Hz.

Membrane reactivity measurement: square waves at 500 Hz.

Membrane reactivity measurement: square waves at 500 Hz.

When wired with the headphones turned on, the YH-L700A retains an audio signature similar to that obtained with Bluetooth, as the sound processing remains in operation. After the headphones are turned off, the sound signature changes somewhat: the bass is slightly reduced, the lower mids are boosted, and the high-mids/highs lose their presence. As a result, rendering becomes much more hermetic, even muffled, and even less clear than with various sound processing in motion.

Mini-jack frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  Without noise reduction and with headphones in black, with headphones turned off in green.

Mini-jack frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). Without noise reduction and with headphones in black, with headphones turned off in green.

The headset has various audio rendering optimization technologies built in, such as the Listening Optimizer, which, like the AirPods’ adaptive equalization, adjusts the EQ on the fly to suit each morphology and counters the effects of any acoustic leakage. In fact, we did not notice any noticeable effect of this technology on sound reproduction. The YH-L700A also includes Listening Care technology, which is actually a simple physiological equalization that adapts to your listening volume. As you can see from the frequency response, this mode greatly increases the level of bass, slightly lowers the high mids, and subtly boosts the highs. We advise you to turn it off so as not to create additional emphasis on the bass, which is already too noticeable.

Strengths

  • Accurate and homogeneous sound reproduction.

  • Beautiful reproduction of the stereo scene.

  • A very realistic way to listen to ambient sounds.

  • The quality of the materials used.

  • Good comfort (under certain conditions)

Vulnerable points

  • Excessive bass, a slight lack of sharpness due to the departure of high mids.

  • 3D listening modes are not always convincing.

  • Many conditions for good comfort (warmth, too wide headband, tedious positioning…).

  • Active noise cancellation is below the competition.

  • Impressive design.

Conclusion

we tested we liked it

How does assessment work?

With the YH-L700A, Yamaha has created a beautiful nomadic helmet that can do a lot of things, but has too many patented technologies to help you forget the essentials. Some of its shortcomings could be partly forgiven, but given the price of the YH-L700A, the replica had to be perfect.

Additional Notes

  • Production and accessories

  • Comfort and Support

  • User Experience

  • Autonomy

  • Free hands

  • Delay

  • Audio

  • Active noise cancellation

Leave a Comment