Yamaha is returning to its high-end headphone roots with the announcement of a new line of high-end headphones featuring planar magnetic technology.
The new YH-5000SE is the first set of cases from the Japanese brand to feature orthogonal drivers (Yamaha’s take on planar magnetic technology) in over 30 years.
The premium over-ear headphones also feature a magnesium body, with Yamaha claiming the YH-5000SE is “one of the lightest high-end headphones in the world” at just 320 grams.
As the SE’s name suggests, the YH-5000SE is being released as a “Special Edition” and comes complete with an impressive asking price of $5,700 / £4,799 / AU$7,499,
It looks like a slightly cheaper version will follow, as Australian dealers are already stocking a non-special edition variant without some of the accessories that came with the Limited Edition YH-5000SE, which is still priced at a hefty AU$5,999.
Added extras in the box include both faux leather and suede earpads, two types of silver-plated cables (3.5mm and 4.4mm) as well as a stylish looking stand.
An optional XLR cable (HXC-SC020) that isn’t bundled will set you back $900 / £749 / AU$1,350 in the meantime.
Magnetic or planar magnetic headphones work in a similar way to the more popular dynamic headphones currently dominating the market by using the interaction of two magnetic fields to cause movement.
Where they put it off is that instead of having the drivers being “played” by a voice coil attached to a diaphragm-shaped, the diaphragm is moved over its entire area. This reduces the effect of momentum and vibrations on the diaphragm, giving headphones tighter control over the final sound.
This setup means that the case size is usually larger and heavier than you’d find in a normal set of headphones, but the bonus is that distortion is reduced to almost nothing, as planar magnetic cans typically provide a crisper, more controlled sound.
Analysis: A welcome return to distortion-free headphone technology
Music lovers rejoice! While brands like Audeze and HiFiMAN have kept the flames burning for their Planar magnetic drive headphones, there has been growing clamor from Yamaha to return to making orthogonal cans.
The Japanese manufacturer used this technology very briefly between 1975 and 1990, but over time it has developed a growing reputation in hi-fi forums for its superior, distortion-free sound compared to most dynamic headphones.
Where you once could get a vintage pair of HP-1 headphones for under $20, the past decade has seen prices skyrocket with good condition sometimes changing hands by hundreds of dollars.
The YH-5000SE’s worrisome bank price means your average audiophile on a budget will still be reaching out to eBay for more examples of vintage column headphones — but its release nonetheless gives hope that we’ll start to see Yamaha employ the technology. Its new, more affordable models, which could be serious competition for the slate The best headphones.
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