A Brief History of Yamaha Headphones
The evolution of personal listening.
For more than 45 years, Yamaha has been manufacturing headphones, bringing quality sound and the latest technology to personal listening.
Here are some of the most memorable product releases through the decades.
HP-1 ORTHODYNAMIC® HEADPHONES
First introduced in 1976, the HP-1 represented our first entry into the headphone market. It was a product that had many unique features. Yamaha engineers had developed a manufacturing method to sandwich a very thin polyester “orthodynamic” diaphragm embedded with a thin copper conductor in-between two specially designed magnet structures. Similar in concept to the electrostatic speakers being experimented with at the time, the sound was open, full range and very musical. In addition, the skills of renowned Italian industrial designer Mario Bellini were tapped to create the look and feel of these headphones. Their open headband and fabric head strap made them extremely light and comfortable, good for hours of non-stop listening. Versions of the HP-1 (including the YH-1000, YH-100 and HP-1A) were released all the way into the mid-1980s.
EPH-20, EPH-30 AND EPH-50 WIRED EARBUDS
The EPH Series wired earbuds released in 2010 were designed to be used with the MP3 players and iPods of the era, as well as with home stereos. There were three models: the EPH-20, EPH-30 and EPH-50, all of which featured a dynamic driver and delivered an impressive frequency range of 20 Hz to 21 kHz. Driver size and maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL) differed from model to model, with the EPH-50 having the largest driver (.53″) and the EPH-30 delivering the highest SPL (110 dB). The EPH-30 and EPH-50 came in both black and white, while the EPH-20 was available in five different colors, including “Hot Pants” Pink.
The wired PRO Series consumer headphones introduced in 2012 delivered high quality sound in a low-profile style. All three models — the on-ear PRO300 and over-ear PRO400 and PRO500 — incorporated a newly-developed Yamaha-proprietary driver design with neodymium magnets for maximum efficiency when used with mobile devices. In addition, they had an adjustable reinforced headband with textured padding, allowing for long listening sessions, and their detachable tangle-resistant cable was made from a material that was designed to reduce “touch noise” transfer effects. The cable included an in-line microphone optimized for use with iPod, iPhone and iPad devices, and provided a “+/-“ volume control as well as a dedicated button that allowed the user to play/pause music, skip to the next/previous song, or answer/end phone calls. All control buttons had a tactile click-response for intuitive operation without need for visual reference.
WIRELESS EARBUDS AND HEADPHONES
In 2020, Yamaha headphones and earbuds transitioned from wired to wireless technology with the release of a wide range of products that currently includes these models:
- TW-E7B True Wireless noise-cancelling earbuds
- TW-E5B True Wireless earbuds
- TW-ES5A True Wireless sports earbuds
- TW-E3C True Wireless earbuds
- YH-L700A wireless noise-cancelling headphones with 3D sound
- YH-E700B wireless noise-cancelling headphones
- YH-E700A wireless noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones
- YH-E500A wireless noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones
All incorporate the very latest innovations in personal listening, such as Qualcomm® cVc (Clear Voice Capture) technology and Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring for stable wireless connectivity, and all deliver Yamaha True Sound that vividly depicts the texture and tonal balance of the sound of each musical instrument. Various models also provide an array of Yamaha-exclusive features, including Advanced ANC (Active Noise-Cancelling) technology that leaves your music pure and untouched; a Listening Optimizer that corrects the sound in real time, adapting to you and your environment; Ambient Sound that lets you choose when you need to be aware of your surroundings; Listening Care intelligent equalization for full-range sound at low listening volumes; and 3D Sound Field, which enables you to enjoy an immersive theater-like listening experience wherever you go.
YH-5000SE AUDIOPHILE-GRADE HEADPHONES
In a great example of things coming full circle, the recently released audiophile-grade YH-5000SE headphone rekindles the Orthodynamic legacy of the HP-1 with 21st century advancements in materials and technologies. Central to the YH-5000SE is a Yamaha Orthodynamic driver with an ultra-lightweight thin-film diaphragm that faithfully recreates every nuance of musical dynamics for sonic accuracy and extremely responsive performance. Other features include a Japanese-made, rolled plain Dutch weave stainless steel filter and an arch-shaped protrusion, housed within a large yet lightweight magnesium body that has outstanding rigidity. The two-layer headband and smooth stepless slider provide maximum comfort, and two types of earpads are included (leather and suede), as well as two types of silver-coated cables and a dedicated aluminum headphone stand.
Yes, it may be difficult to predict the future of headphone design, but the legacy of these great Yamaha products has clearly made a lasting impact, with the YH-5000SE truly representing the state of the art in personal listening today.