Headphones of the Year under $500
“Yamaha’s $249 headphones deliver cabled sound and quality of build that far exceeds their price, and there’s Bluetooth as well for convenience.”
This award seemed to take even Yamaha by surprise — we don’t know why, as we regularly find high-value headgear from the company, and we still hold a particular flame for the HPH-200 in 2011, and the quirky yet rock solid HPH-M82 back in 2014. Though these are similarly priced at $249, the new HPH-W300 are rather superior to either of those — Bluetooth-equipped fully overear designs with impressively black packaging and a studio-level feel of build, especially the solid steel adjusters that slide into the well-padded and comfortable headband. The black headshells themselves are predominantly plastic, yet conceal a careful two-chamber design, the circuitry all in an outer chamber and the 40mm driver isolated within.
We’re 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 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 the aptX codec for Android phones which support it. We certainly preferred the cabled sound to Bluetooth, but the latter was fine enough for music on the go, while via cable they were punchy, powerful and musical far beyond their price. While there’s no active noisecancelling, the firm fit of the cushioning seals you well enough for earth-bound travel noise to be minimised, while their midrange strength cuts easily through any background noise. Big bargain, right here.
More info: au.yamaha.com