Yamaha YH-L700 headphones Review: An aural bliss for cinema lovers
The Yamaha YH-L700 is a great option for those seeking 3D spatial audio along with solid bass and good audio, for both Android and iPhone users.
If you are looking for a wireless high-end headphone that does not do many compromises, the obvious choices come from Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, and even Apple's AirPods Max. Almost all of these excel in delivering an audiophile grade headphone experience and bring in a couple of "mobile-friendly" extras to justify the premium you pay over the regular ones. Yamaha has now stepped into the game with its brand-new YH-L700. And for the price it sells, it can make the AirPods Max seem uselessly expensive.
Costing Rs. 43,300, the Yamaha YH-L700 primarily focuses on delivering a cinematic audio experience with 3D audio; or Spatial audio, as has been advertised every since Apple hyped the term. Other that the 3D audio, the Yamaha YH-L700 also brings in strong ANC performance and several Yamaha optimisations to deliver an experience that is recognisable with Yamaha's high-standard aural experience.
However, this is primarily meant to be a luxurious option for those relying on music streaming, or watching a Blockbuster on Netflix. Does the Yamaha YH-L700 make sense for such people?
Yamaha YH-L700 Design
The Yamaha YH-L700 is a big and burly pair of on-ear headphones, despite its slender and exquisite design. At 330 grams, you are wearing a lot of weight on your head and that starts to become obvious after a while. The cushiony yet narrow headband does little to generate grip on hair, thereby letting the headphone slip as soon as your head tilts
If you get used to keep the cans intact on your head, the Yamaha YH-L700 is otherwise a very comfortable pair of headphones to wear. The earcups have a lot of cushion and the leather material keeps them on the ears. Note that the leather earcups could cause discomfort after a while, especially in hot weather.
Getting used to the odd button placements takes some time but they are easily accessible. The controls for 3D audio, ANC and power sit behind you, while the play/pause and volume/playback buttons sit on the right can. I wish Yamaha considered putting the other keys on the cans for easier reach. Note that the cans can be folded away for storage.
As part of the packaging, you get a USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, and a carrying pouch.
Yamaha YH-L700 Audio performance
The Yamaha YH-L700 shines with its audio performance. As is the norm with most high-end wireless headphones, the L700 lays a lot of emphasis on bass but not at the cost of squashing other frequencies. With a frequency range of 8 Hz - 40 kHz, the wide soundstage does justice to the low-end while keeping the mids and the highs equally clear and meaty. Even to the untrained ears, it is easy to make out the instrument separation. For example, Dariya by Arko (Baar Baar Dekho) shows this superb balance of the vocals, instruments, and the slight tinge of bass.
However, where the bass is required, the Yamaha YH-L700 delivers. I was impressed by the way this headphone handles various levels of bass – the heavy thumps of drumbeats and some intricate guitar work sound noticeably different,. This comes in handy while watching web shows, or action movies.
I observed the clarity to be slightly better on Android devices supporting the aptX codec. If you are on an iPhone, there's no need to worry, as Yamaha offers an app to tune the equaliser settings to your preferences. Those concerned about compromising with their lossless audio files can switch to the wired connection (I stuck to the wireless connectivity, considering I don't have access to lossless offline tracks).
The star feature on the Yamaha YH-L700 though is the 3D audio feature. Relying on professional grade CINEMA DSP processing used in home theatre systems, it produces astonishing levels of 3D audio with superb head tracking effect. When switched on, you can feel the audio source coming from the direction of the source device, i.e., your TV, or laptop. This truly adds on the immersive experience if you have paired it with your TV, or laptop for a movie session. While listening to music on the go, however, the head tracking seems disturbing; I recommend it only for movie sessions.
Joining the impressive 3D audio effect is the noise isolation performance. The combination of a superb passive isolation and a capable Active Noise Cancellation system means the Yamaha YH-L700 can effectively cut-out the ambient world. Whether its wind or “shehnaai-music” at a nearby marriage hall, it can effectively cut out everything
Helping the noise isolation system is something called Yamaha's Listening Optimiser system. It engages the in-ear microphone to check for audio leakage every 20 seconds and adjusts the parameters accordingly. Is it noticeable? Not to my ears, but the effective isolation from the ANC system suggests it indeed does its job.
Yamaha YH-L700 Smart features
For a pair of headphones focused solely on audio, the Yamaha YH-L700 has a few smarts baked into it. As with most wireless headphones, you can summon the voice assistant from your smartphone (works with both Google Assistant and Siri). Unlike the AirPods Max, Yamaha makes its headlining 3D Audio effect available on both Android and iOS devices instead of limiting to certain ecosystem, courtesy of the Yamaha Headphone Controller app.
Unlike Sony's app, Yamaha keeps it simple here. The interface lists out all the controls for the ANC, 3D audio, equaliser settings, and a few more. On Android, there are no quick widgets to control the ANC or 3D audio maybe Yamaha could add it in the future.
Yamaha YH-L700 Battery life
Yamaha claims some seriously impressive figures – 34 hours with just ANC ON, and 11 hours with both ANC and 3D audio. In the rear world scenario with a mixed usage of movie watching, streaming music, and occasionally taking calls for 1-2 hours daily, the Yamaha YH-L700 died on me after two weeks. Note that this mostly included ANC switched off and 3D audio for 2-hour movie duration. Charging takes a substantial time of over three hours via a standard affair 18W adapter. You can keep an eye on the battery levels via the Yamaha app.
The Yamaha YH-L700 has impressed us with its tremendous capability to offer a surreal audio experience. The basic audio performance is strong and will keep audiophiles happy, especially if wireless audio is the preference. The 3D Audio effect is a boon for cinema lovers who love to recreate the theatre experience on their mobile devices and TV even for those brief YouTube videos. The solid ANC performance seals the deal for anyone looking to spend top money on a pair of headphones.
At Rs. 43,300, the Yamaha YH-L700 is expensive by all means but when compared to the likes of the AirPods Max, this is a bargain. Check this out if you are planning to invest heavily on a pair of high-end luxury headphones.
- Great audio
- Superb 3D audio
- Stellar battery life
Frequency response8 Hz - 40 kHz
Supported CodecsSBC, AAC, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive
Battery lifeUp to 34 hours
App SupportAndroid, iOS