The first big decision that pushes you when you have to evaluate a pair of premium headphones is the music playlist. Yamaha’s YH-L700A is pitched against the likes of Apple’s AirPods Pro Max. It’s targeted at consumers who take their audio experience very seriously and are willing to pay top dollar for immersive sound. When you pay a premium, you expect top-notch build quality, and it’s an area where the Yamaha YH-L700A scores.
The first thing you will notice on the Yamaha YH-L700A is the forward-tilted headband. It’s a clever, intentional design decision to ensure that these headphones sit right at the centre of your head. Yamaha opts for a squarish oval design for the cans; it’s an interesting departure from the typical oval design that we’ve come to expect from premium over-the-ear headphones. Yamaha has used a blend of premium materials that include leather, an embossed aluminium logo and soft urethane. This blend doesn’t just add to the premium vibe but also makes the earcups and the band comfortable. Just like the AirPods Max, these cans are quite heavy.
I wore these headphones for more than 90 minutes at a stretch during my tests and I didn’t feel overburdened by their weight. However, I’m not sure if it would work a long-haul flight. Yamaha’s choice of materials also make these headphones rugged, while the inward folding design makes it convenient to pack into the carrying case.
Setting up these headphones is a breeze. I paired them with an iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra with no fuss. The Yamaha Headphones Controller companion app is uncluttered and fairly basic. You don’t really need the app to access all the controls. Yamaha opts for three physical buttons that work better than touch controls that can sometimes be difficult to find. There’s an ANC button on the left ear that offers three ANC modes. There’s a 3D button the right earcup with a choice of seven audio pre-sets that elevates the stereo sound unto three dimensional listening. You will also find a power on/off button on the right ear cup. The Companion App (I checked it out on Android and iOS) also allows you to activate ‘head tracking.’
Ultimately expensive pieces of kit like the Yamaha TH-L700A are judged on their audio experience. I tried multiple modes and songs to validate Yamaha’s claims and these headphones never disappointed. From Adele’s vocals in “Hello” to high volumes and bass in “Demons” by Imagine Dragons to the assortment of instruments in Bjork’s “Hunter”, these Yamaha headphones handled everything I threw at it with ease. I was equally impressed with cinema mode turned on as I watched The Batman trailer and some action sequences from Bourne Ultimatum, where I could hear background street sounds. The key differentiator is the 3D sound. However, I don’t think that there’s a huge difference in sound quality vis-à-vis headphones priced around Rs 30,000 that may not have some of these 3D modes.
The Yamaha YH-L700A is easily one of the best over-the-ear headphones in India right now. We dig the premium finish and audio tricks, including the 3D sound and head tracking. It’s a tad heavy for long hours of usage though, and the battery life (11 hours with 3D mode on) is not the best out there. The Yamaha is certainly a great alternative to the pricier Apple AirPods Max and will certainly satisfy serious audiophiles. But there are other cheaper alternatives from Bose and Sony that also need to be in your consideration set.
The Yamaha YH-L700A costs Rs 43,300.