Finally, something to go with that Yamaha R1 we’ve always been so scared will catapult us into the nearest wall. Visually, at least. There’s no way we’re ever replacing a brain-bucket with Yamaha’s over-ear Pro 500 headphones, no matter how well the Racing Blue finish matches the Japanese company’s motorcycles. But if they ever manage to put the sound quality delivered by the Pro 500s into a motorcycle helmet, we’d be all over that like a starving man at a buffet.
In short, and if you read nothing else in this review, Yamaha’s Pro 500 cans are one of the few pairs that pass through Stuff‘s offices that we were loath to take off and having to give them back is even more of a wrench. Endorsements don’t get a whole lot better than that.
Yamaha’s design choices are no accident, they’ve intentionally made the Pro 500 headphones reminiscent of their motorcycle range. The large Yamaha emblem over each ear-cup, the showroom-like finish and the curved design are supposed to evoke a feeling of excitement. It takes more than just some good looks to get Stuff pulses up though, we’re more excited by how functional something actually is – which is why a USB cable can cause a bigger stir than a smartphone at times.
Sticking with the Pro 500 however, these cans are comfortable enough under their superbike stylings. They can come across as a bit weighty though, weighing close on half a kilo completely dry. The headband is flexible and padded in the right places, the cups offer enough cushioning for extended wear but it’s the overall weight that can be a factor in the discomfort stakes. But we’ll gladly put up with a heavier head if it means we get to experience the Pro 500 sound at all times.
Sound Pressure Level: 106 dB ±3 dB (1 kHz, 1 mW)
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Weight: 369 g
Clarity of thought
We gave Yamaha’s cans a thorough test drive, at suitably impressive volumes, and the performance was actually a little better that we were expecting. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which should be everybody’s first test-track, was brilliantly clear throughout, each note ringing out as though it was being played for the first time. Expect for a slight problem with a bass note in the lower left corner, which led us to a slightly different audio test.
Infected Mushroom’s Nevermind and Drum ‘n Bassa were the next stops on our sound-test journey. No matter how those psychedelic magicians contorted the bass or how far it dropped while in play, we were unable to see any replication of the faulty bass note. The Pro 500 stands up to bass in general with nary a distortion to be seen but without drowning out everything else in a track. That’s something we can appreciate.
Bundles of extras
Shipping with these well-designed, sturdy and impressive-sounding cans is a selection of extras that should please the audio-freak in you. There are two ribbon cables, one 1.2 metres in length and the other measuring 3 metres, which both feature gold-plated 3.5mm connectors and an in-line control for Play/Pause as well as volume. A mic is also included in the in-line controller, for taking calls without having to adjust the ‘phones.
There’s a gold-plated adaptor for connecting the Pro 500s to something a bit larger than your standard media player, if you’re hoping to all audiophile in a comfortable chair, and the included carrying case will hold everything that Yamaha have packed in, protecting all of it from the elements, crush and scratch damage.
We’ve seen better headphones than Yamaha’s Pro 500 set but these are a balance of build quality, comfort and sound engineering. Long story short, you’re not going to be unhappy that you got yourself a pair – unless you’re a massive audiophile, in which case you’d probably be spending far more than the R3.5k that these headphones will set you back. For their price, you’re getting a lot more than you bargained for and that’s always a win.