Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Won­der­ful per­for­mance, ex­cep­tional value, and you can go wired for qual­ity or wire­less for con­ve­nience.

Yamaha may not be the first brand to spring to mind when con­sid­er­ing the pur­chase of a pair of head­phones, but if you do even a lit­tle re­search you’ll find the com­pany’s head­phones have gar­nered a goodly share of ex­cel­lent re­views and won quite a few awards.


I have lis­tened to a good many of Yamaha’s ear-warm­ers over the years and still hold a flame for the Yamaha HPH-200 ‘phones from ‘way back in 2011 and, in more re­cent years, for the quirky yet rock-solid Yamaha HPH-M82. Th­ese new Yamaha HPH-W300 ‘phones are rather su­pe­rior to ei­ther of those—a Blue­tooth-equipped fully cir­cum­au­ral de­sign with a stu­dio-level feel of build, es­pe­cially the solid steel ad­justers that slide into the well-padded and com­fort­able head­band. The black ear-cups them­selves are pre­dom­i­nantly plastic, yet con­ceal a care­fully con­ceived dual-cham­ber de­sign, the cir­cuitry all in an outer cham­ber and the 40mm driver isolated within, which presents a 32 load when ca­bled. I was pleased to see the main con­trols are kept on hard but­tons—for pow­er­ing up and for Blue­tooth pair­ing, re­mem­ber­ing that they can be also be used un­pow­ered with the pro­vided ca­ble. In­deed the ‘Hi Res Au­dio’ logo on the box refers to their ca­bled abil­ity to de­liver a fre­quency re­sponse quoted to ex­tend to 40kHz, whereas of course via Blue­tooth you’re lim­ited to be­low CD qual­ity, al­though you’ll get the best pos­si­ble re­sult here given the in­clu­sion of both the AAC codec for iPhone users and aptX for An­droid phones which sup­port it.


Charg­ing for Blue­tooth use takes a nifty three hours (a USB charg­ing ca­ble but not a wall adap­tor is pro­vided) and prom­ises a healthy 24-hour bat­tery life be­fore a recharge or con­sign­ing you to the ca­ble. Not that you should avoid the ca­ble—I could barely be­lieve how fine they sounded at a price that can, in to­day’s mar­ket, be con­sid­ered a huge bar­gain. I was de­lighted to find tracks as well-em­bed­ded as ELO’s Roll Over Beethoven and Harry Nils­son’s Space­man given spruce and space, and even low bit-rate files gained from solid sound-stag­ing and a punch be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions.

So punchy, in­deed, and with enough level from the ca­bled con­nec­tion that while there’s no ac­tive noise-can­celling here, the firm fit of the syn­thetic leatherette cush­ions seals well enough for earth-bound travel noise to be min­imised, while their midrange strength cuts eas­ily through any back­ground noise. Or, in re­verse, used in a quiet zone they can de­liver a shed­load of high-qual­ity sound with­out emit­ting a peep to dis­turb any­one nearby. The dy­nam­ics and res­o­lu­tion well served Adele An­thony’s per­for­mance of Philip Glass’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo, re­veal­ing the hall acous­tic around the back-row of per­cus­sion be­hind the cut­through of her bow­ing and the ris­ing horns of the fre­netic third move­ment.

With the Blue­tooth con­nec­tion there’s a lit­tle less level and not quite the dy­nam­ics and edge to the pre­sen­ta­tion, though it’s still an im­pres­sive re­sult for the price. In the wire­less mode the right ear-cup of­fers touch sen­si­tiv­ity for pause/play (tap), vol­ume con­trol (a clock­wise or an­ti­clock­wise fin­ger move­ment) and last/next track (a slightly dif­fi­cult-to-achieve swipe). You can also ac­cept or reject calls with a short or long tap; there’s a mi­cro­phone built in. With that hard on/off switch for pow­ered Blue­tooth use (the pow­ered cir­cuits don’t ap­pear to as­sist ca­bled use) you do need to re­mem­ber to turn them off;

They’re a won­der­ful per­former of ex­cep­tional value

it was hard to es­tab­lish whether they auto power down af­ter a while, be­cause they have no light to in­di­cate their on/off sta­tus. I con­sider it a sign of the qual­ity from th­ese head­phones that they reveal the lower qual­ity of Blue­tooth so clearly.

Led Zep­pelin’s The Bat­tle of Ever­more, say, cer­tainly sounded good wire­lessly—smooth and well spread. But insert the ca­ble and it lifted to some­thing spe­cial—bright, alive, de­fined, sparkling.

I am fully aware that the mar­ket wants Blue­tooth, and with head­phone sock­ets dis­ap­pear­ing it seems we have lit­tle choice, in­deed. I just wish Blue­tooth was better than it is.


With th­ese Yama­has you could go wire­less for con­ve­nience on a noisy com­mute, where the dif­fer­ences in qual­ity be­tween Blue­tooth and wired op­er­a­tion are less ap­par­ent, then plug ’em in when you can, to en­joy what the HPH-W300 head­phones can do at their best. They’re a won­der­ful per­former of ex­cep­tional value. Jez Ford

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