Wearables

Yamaha's flagship wireless headphones boast 3D audio, headtracking and ANC

Yamaha's flagship wireless hea...
The feature-packed YH-L700A wireless headphones with 360-degree directional audio are pricey, but cheaper than Apple's AirPods Max
The feature-packed YH-L700A wireless headphones with 360-degree directional audio are pricey, but cheaper than Apple's AirPods Max
View 4 Images
The feature-packed YH-L700A wireless headphones with 360-degree directional audio are pricey, but cheaper than Apple's AirPods Max
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The feature-packed YH-L700A wireless headphones with 360-degree directional audio are pricey, but cheaper than Apple's AirPods Max
Soft fabric on the headband and earcups offers a welcome change from hard plastic or metal
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Soft fabric on the headband and earcups offers a welcome change from hard plastic or metal
The headphones swivel and fold for between-session transport
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The headphones swivel and fold for between-session transport
The headphones can track the orientation of a user's head and tweak sound delivery accordingly, come with active noise cancellation, and offer up to 34 hours of continuous use between charges
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The headphones can track the orientation of a user's head and tweak sound delivery accordingly, come with active noise cancellation, and offer up to 34 hours of continuous use between charges
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Yamaha is looking to invade Apple AirPods Max territory with a new pair of flagship wireless headphones called the YH-L700A that headline with spatial audio and head-tracking, active noise cancellation, and a 34-hour battery life.

Yamaha is calling its take on directional audio technology 3D Sound Field, and it's activated by the push of a button on the outer housing. After that, listeners are immersed in 360-degree audio, which means that music isn't merely thrown down a user's ear canal as with a standard two-channel setup, but is "pulled out of your head" so that it appears to surround the user in an expansive sound bubble.

Where Apple's spatial audio only works with iOS devices, Yamaha's effort is reported to work with any stereo content "from virtually any source, including iOS and Android devices." The original source content doesn't need to have undergone Dolby Atmos mastering for the tech to work either, as the headphones handle all the audio processing.

Yamaha is making seven 3D sound modes available, each with a sound profile honed for different kinds of listening – Cinema mode for watching movies, for example, the Audio Room and Background Music setting for tunes on the move, or Outdoor Live for concert videos.

Thanks to a gyro embedded in the headphones, the orientation of the user's head will be tracked and the audio tweaked accordingly, with the effect getting supercharged when combined with the 3D Sound Field mode, "making listeners feel as if they are actually 'there' – such as the best seat in a movie theater or front row of a live concert."

The headphones can track the orientation of a user's head and tweak sound delivery accordingly, come with active noise cancellation, and offer up to 34 hours of continuous use between charges
The headphones can track the orientation of a user's head and tweak sound delivery accordingly, come with active noise cancellation, and offer up to 34 hours of continuous use between charges

Though the memory foam earpads should help with some isolation from external sounds, the new headphones also feature active noise cancellation that's been designed not to color the sound. As you might expect, an ambient setting has been included as well, to let the outside world through when needed.

There's a Listening Optimizer function too, which uses microphones to monitor such things as the seal over the ears and air leakage, and optimizes playback for best performance. And intelligent equalization tech delivers a full-range sonic experience even at lower volumes.

The headphones rock 40-mm dynamic drivers for a wide frequency range of 8 Hz to 40 kHz, they wirelessly connect to an audio source over Bluetooth 5.0 – with support for Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive, AAC and SBC codecs – and settings and controls are also available for adjustment via a companion mobile app for iOS/Android. Listeners looking for an audio quality bump can cable the YH-L700A over-ears to a suitably capable source for Hi-Res playback.

Mobile media consumers can look forward to up to 34 hours of per-charge battery life with ANC on but 3D Sound Field off, or about 11 hours with both ANC and 3D Sound Field switched on.

Elsewhere, Yamaha has opted for physical controls rather than touch, gone with soft fabric elements instead of all-out plastic and metal, the earcups swivel and fold for ease of between-session transport, and users can tap into Siri and Google Assistant for hands-free help.

The YH-L700A headphones are available now for a suggested retail price of US$499.95, so they're a bit cheaper than the AirPods Max cans too.

Product page: YH-L700A

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1 comment
1 comment
sunfly
The major drawback to Apple's pro headset is the weight. How do these compare?