Yamaha Pro 500 Review
Huge and heavy, these are a good fit for larger heads.
The Pro 500 over-ears are Yamaha's latest stab at the high-end consumer audio market. Despite their bulk, those of you with bigger noggins will find that the Pro 500 is designed for a more cranial user.
Design & Features
For the most part, the Pro 500 exemplifies familiar over-ear design—with some exceptions. For starters, there are two female 1/8th inch jacks on each ear cup, so the removable/replaceable cable can go on either side. Not only is this convenient, but it's also a huge durability plus, as the cable is typically the first point of failure with heavily-used headphones.
By all accounts these headphones are fairly comfortable—but only if you can get them to fit on your head correctly. If I was to name one likely deal-breaker for customers, it would be the huge band. Many will appreciate that these headphones can fit the biggest of brain cages, but even large-headed folk may find that these won't fit at all—that's how plus-sized they are.
Beyond that, there's not much else to find at fault with the Pro 500s—they're durable, pretty, and can fold down for easy storage. From a design standpoint, they're well-engineered, but their size makes them a bit of a risk to buy for some.
By all metrics, the sound on the Pro 500 is actually pretty good—as far as your typical consumer is concerned. The frequency response is fairly close to a partial equal-loudness contour, meaning that most sounds in whatever you listen to will be as loud as they should be. Still, these should satisfy bass lovers, as there's a sizable bump of the lower notes.
If you're looking at buying the Pro 500, know that it has its place—outside of the studio. While most wouldn't dream of mixing with these cans, Yamaha designed these headphones to show off: The Pro 500 is better suited out on the town than cloistered in a soundproof room.
There really isn't much to talk about in the way of sound performance flaws. As with most headphones, there's a little bit of mostly inaudible distortion, and you're never really going to get rid of that. However, you may notice that some sounds at the upper end of the vocal/woodwind range comes in ever-so-slightly louder in your left ear than you right, but I think that's worthy of a pass if that's the worst you have to worry about.
I mentioned before that this set of cans is only for the superlative-skulled, but maybe I undersold the Pro 500s a bit—I can't wear them, our testing robot couldn't wear them (without some enhancements), and many of my coworkers couldn't plunk them on their heads without having the ear cups slip below their pinna. So I sought out bigger brainpans.
All test subjects reported low clamping force and a huge range of adjustability, making for a fairly comfortable experience. I was given no reports of slipping, and the leather ear pads are soft on the skull.
Assuming these do fit you, you'll be able to take 'em just about anywhere—being able to stow them in a bag is a big plus, and you would have to try to break these. There's very little worry involved—a huge relief if you're going to spend close to $400 on a pair of headphones.
Great cans... if they fit
If you have a rather copious cranium, these might be the headphones you're after. However, if you have a merely average-sized head, keep looking—these are unlikely to fit you well. While it may sound like a minor issue, keep in mind that the fit of the headphones dictates the comfort of the wear, and that's absolutely essential to your overall experience.
They may not be ideal for audiophiles—or anyone looking for a set of studio monitors—but their sound quality is very desirable for music aficionados who don't like to tinker and fuss with equalizer apps. If you have a chance, give them a shot.
Coming in at a price point of $399, the Pro 500 will set you back a pretty penny, but if you fit the profile of its ideal user—go bananas. It's not often that a pair of headphones works well for bounteous-brained individuals in terms of comfort, so it's a big deal that these do.
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