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REVIEW: Yamaha RH5ma

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
First, I have to apologize for not getting this review out sooner. I've been way too busy with other work lately, and chose to just put this on the back burner until I have got some time freed up.

RH5ma was a hot topic of debate for a little while. There were very few experiences with them, and most of them were not long enough of an impression to really be conclusive about the capabilities of this headphone. At SilentService's urging (and partial contribution), I went ahead and got these headphones to try them out.


Keeping in mind that RH5ma is a $45~$50 headphone, my expectation on the build quality was not very high. First of all, this is not a closed headphone, it is actually semi-closed. There's a few small slits on the back of the headphone cups to allow some flowing of air, thus making if effective a semi-open/semi-closed design. There are some sound leaks that will occur, and obviously very little isolation. If you're getting these for a train commute, forget it, there's not enough isolation here to be used for that type of application.

The earpads are made from a thin layer of pleather with pretty good amount of cushioning. The RH5ma is also supra-aural as opposed to circumaural, so despite the usage of the pleather material, there's not much sweat build-up. The rest of the earcup is entirely plastic, as you can expect from most headphones in this price range. The headbands are very similar to the Sony V6, the same type of metal headband with the same type of cushioning in place. Overall, the headphone is very light and very comfortable on your head.

However, given its construction, there's no way to "fold" these headphones. The hinge between the earcup and the headband also allows very little horizontal rotation. This makes me worry about throwing them into a bag alongside other heavy objects (books, laptops). Of course, the durability of a headphone often can't be measured by its looks; I'm not one to test out that theory though.

Lastly, the cables come from each earcup into a Y-joint, some other headphones within this range uses a single cable design, which I personally would always prefer over the split cable. However, many other split cable design also allows for easy replacement of the headphone cable in case something goes wrong. RH5ma's cable is integrated as far as I can tell (and tug), so I would've much preferred it if they just created a one-side cable.


So exactly how do they sound? For comparison purposes, I'm going to use the Sennheiser HD280 and Sony V6 as reference data points. As with all headphones in this price range, it's always about making some type of sound characteristic trade-off. For example, HD280 has a good midrange through high presentation, but the bass is lacking without being driven out of some good powerful amp. V6 has very strong bass and highs, but the transition between high, midrange and bass is lacking and a bit hollow. On top of that, both headphone's highs can get pretty sibilant at times.

In comparison with both of these headphones, RH5ma is actually much smoother and milder. RH5ma's strength is decidedly the way it renders a rich and smooth midrange. The trebles are a little bit light, lacking a bit in extension, but very pleasant and not sibilant. The bass is unimpressive out of the box, but improves appreciably with about 20 to 40 hours of burn-in. The overall sound signature is not as offensive as the V6, not quite as articulate as the HD280 in its high and midrange detail, but warmer than either one of the other headphone.

Of course, headphone in this price range is all about trade-off, and RH5ma has its own wealth of it. Although RH5ma's clarity is very good during quiet passages, this clarity dissipates as the music composition becomes more complicated. This is partially due to its warmer sound signature (read: elongated decay), but basically there's a lack of ability to separate notes when too many of them are being played at the same time. During less complicated passages, RH5ma's midrange is rich and much more pleasant than either HD280 and V6, but when it got busy, RH5ma felt congested.

Furthermore, the bass on the headphone is very seal dependent, as with all closed headphones. Both HD280 and V6 has a circumaural design, which essentially creates a proper seal with your ear more times than not. RH5ma is entirely supra-aural, the positioning of the earpads against your ears is very important in creating a proper bass response. On the other side, since they're not really "closed" per sey, there's very little resonance that's often associated with closed headphones.

Soundstage is nothing to write home about on any of those three headphones, perhaps I've been way too spoiled by higher end rigs.


I guess what it comes down to.. is would I recommend RH5ma for anyone? This is a very, very hard question. I actually preferred RH5ma's sound signature over both HD280 and V6; even though it does get congested from time to time... I would trade that over the harsh grating highs of either HD280 or V6. Also, RH5ma is a little cheaper than the normal street price for V6 and HD280.

However, the build quality of V6 and HD280 is much better, they feel more solid, and they can be folded up for transport purposes. Both V6 and HD280 are completely closed, which gives it versatility to be used in a variety of portable situations, but RH5ma has none of that. RH5ma is fragile, semi-open, offers next to no isolation; so even though I liked its sound signature more, the practical application of using RH5ma is hard to justify. If I was looking for a home use headphone, I would look towards something a little more higher end than RH5ma anyway.

Lastly, despite the $45~$50 street price, I had a lot of issues locating a pair of them for review. I went to two different vendors and waited a total of 4 weeks before I was able to acquire a pair for review. I don't know if they were temporarily out of stock, or maybe just low production volume, but obviously they were not very easy to get for my purposes. Even though retail price isn't justifable for either HD280 and V6, at least those are two headphones that you can find on the shelves.

If I needed a $50 headphone that has a good warm tonality, rich midrange presentation and not offensive, I think RH5ma is a good choice. There's just a lot of other "if's" to go along with it: If I don't need to use them on a commute, if I don't throw them into my bag with all the other heavy things, if I feel comfortable with them to be used as more of a home headphone rather than a transportable one, if I really can't afford more than $50 on any headphone?

For sound quality alone, I think they're worth the price, and represents a good price/performance ratio for the sound alone. However, given other feature/benefits of other headphone in its approximate range, it becomes really hard to recommend them. In the end, I have to give them a half-hearted recommendation, because I did like the way they sounded for the price, but they're just not very practical given the lack of a target audience.
post #2 of 29
Rats I wish you had a pair of SR60s to compare as well. Thanks for the review!
post #3 of 29
I'm disappointed that you couldn't include a comparison between the Yams and the Grado SR60s/Koss Porta Pros/KSC35s.

I don't think particularly highly of the V6s or HD280s, either, so your review doesn't tell me as much as I would like .

It's also important to compare the Yams to a headphone in their class. The closed headphone (V6/HD280) vs. open headphone (Yams) does little for me, since I generally consider open headphones in this price range to be superior to their closed counterparts.

Currently listening to: "Warning" by The Peacocks on my Koss Porta Pros
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well well.. you give a little, and they just come back asking for more and more... I have to say, I feel that's a little disrepectful.

RH5ma isn't completely open either, so I don't think it should be compared with open headphones either. It is much closer to being closed than open, after all, only a few tiny little slits on the back to allow some reduction in resonance and a little airflow.

Edit: for clarification...

I was specifically referring to this passage:
I'm disappointed that you couldn't include a comparison between the Yams and the Grado SR60s/Koss Porta Pros/KSC35s.

I don't think particularly highly of the V6s or HD280s, either, so your review doesn't tell me as much as I would like .
If you were offering to send me those headphones for review, fine... but if you're not footing the bill, you shouldn't be saying things like that.

As opposed to what was said by Jahn, which was perfectly fine and much more polite.
post #5 of 29
Lol, sorry lindrone, I'm greedy!

Thanks for the review. I don't know if the Yams are worth my time, but at the very least, they're not completely craptacular (as some other members seemed to assert).

Currently Listening to: "Greed" (Yeah, REALLY!) by Pennywise on my Koss Porta Pros.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by crazyfrenchman27
Lol, sorry lindrone, I'm greedy!
Apology accepted
post #7 of 29
As said by someone I just made up - "Greed cures all ills!"
post #8 of 29
Just a thought, why do people with high(er) end phones care about what lies below $100? That always seemed odd to me..
post #9 of 29
Originally Posted by Geise
Just a thought, why do people with high(er) end phones care about what lies below $100? That always seemed odd to me..
Because elitism sucks!

But all kidding aside, nothing beats my $29 Koss KSC-35s for bang for the buck - they are my main cans for portable use, and I don't find them a let down at all from ipod to SR-71 to Ety P-to-S converter to KSC-35. They rule.

When I'm at home I can relax with some big honkin' cans. But for out and about clips are the way to go!
post #10 of 29
Nothing will beat them bang-for-buck as long as you keep them and don't decide to replace them just for the sake of upgrading Then that bang-for-buck is pointless
post #11 of 29
It's not all about price, as Jahn said.

Gsferrari likes his SR60 more than his SR225...which are nearly four times more expensive.

Jahn has a $400 source connected to a $400 amp through a $100 interconnect...and all of this is being funneled into a $30 headphone!

Even though the rest of his setup is 30 times more expensive than his KSC35, I can completely relate to his position; there really isn't anything that combines the portability, comfort, and sound quality of the KSC35s. I would certainly take them over the HD25-1 after factoring in all those important traits.

Question for Jahn:

Why are you using the Ety P-to-S converter with the KSC35s instead of the 75 ohm adapter from Xin? Just curious...

Currently listening to: "Fine Again" by Seether on my Koss Porta Pros
post #12 of 29
Originally Posted by geise
Nothing will beat them bang-for-buck as long as you keep them and don't decide to replace them just for the sake of upgrading Then that bang-for-buck is pointless
Except what else is he going to buy?!

There's nothing else out there.

He can't use the shures or etys because of his in-ear phobia (which is understandable).

Name an over-the-ear portable headphone that is as convenient to use as the KSC35 yet provides the same sound quality...I certainly can't think of any.

Currently listening to: "The Kids" by Strung Out on my Koss Porta Pros
post #13 of 29
Thanks lindrone, I've been waiting weeks for this This is a very good review and I appreciate the fact that you've used two most commonly accessable pairs of phones (it's debatable, but they are easily accessable phones under $80). Now I sort of know what Yams sound like!

BTW, can you tell us what source(s) and amps (if there was any) did you use? Thanks for the good review!
post #14 of 29
Good to see a review come out of this and how another person hears differently than other head-fiers.
post #15 of 29
Thanks Lindrone, your review is pretty accurate!

I just want to add that with my experience i find out that the Yams are more solid then they look, i use them everyday even during the harsh quebec winter (-40 celcius ) and they are still working A1, I put them in my bag with other things and they keep asking for more... ( really solid compare to my few koss cans that all brake after 1 year )But we never know maybe they will not resist this winter... lol
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