Yamaha RH5MA Semi Open Headphones - Reviews
Pros: Cheap, amazing sound quality, light, comfortable, easy to drive
Cons: No detachable cord, included cord may be too long for some people's likes.
I'm a bit of an audiophile and stereo junky. The day I bought the RH5MA I was looking for a cheap, *but good sounding* headphones that could be easily driven by my iphone and were more easily transportable than the over the ears cans that I use at home (ATH-M50s, AKG K701, AKG712, etc.) Like any good audiophile would, I read lots of reviews first and then went out into the world to try as many similar headphones in this size and price range as I could lay my hands on. I tried several different well known brands and headphones costing up to several times as much as these. At the end of the day (yeah, I spent a whole day shopping for sub $100 headphones!) I took these home with the retailer's promise that if I didn't like them I could bring them back in a few days for a full refund. That was a few years ago... and I still have them. :wink:

What I didn't want:

IEM ("In Ear Monitors"), or "ear buds". My ears are very sensitive to stuff being put in them. I often have to wear ear plugs at work and have to be very careful to find ones that won't irritate the skin of my inner ear. Most IEM's I've tried don't offer a selection of compatible foam/gels and my ears literally break out in a sort of itchy "hives" and further cause my ears to try and push them out by producing copious amounts of fresh ear wax. I'm sure there are some very good $200+ IEMs out there but I gave up on ear buds years ago.

Full size over the ear "cans": I generally prefer open backed headphones so they are mostly out due to sound leakage both in and out. Hence my attempts at portability with the excellent Audio Technica ATH-M50, which is "closed back" and doesn't have that problem. But then, you have to carry around MUCH larger headphones to get the desired sound with "over the ear" headphones. And most of them (the goods ones) are more expensive than most people would want to expose to the weather, accidental damage on the move, and possibly theft...

So I set my goal at $100 max, not "in ear" and not "over the ear", but rather an "on the ear" like the RHM5A. Light, comfortable, relatively inexpensive, smallish enough to stuff into a coat pocket or glove box, and most importantly... they must sound GOOD!

I bet I auditioned a dozen different headphones that day. Some were marginally better with sound quality but cost several times more... diminishing returns in full effect! Some (many more than I had realized at the start, with dismay) cost much more than the RHM5A and sounded no where near as good! Shop and compare, I always say.

I wanted headphones that I could put on to go out after spending a couple of hours listening to much more expensive goodies I have at home. These do not disappoint. Deeeeep bass, full bodied mid range to sparkling highs. These may not be "flat" or "neutral" but they are also not "fatiguing" or overly "bright" or "boomy" either. And these have a surprisingly detailed "sound stage" as well! This isn't just music being blasted into your ears, from the left and right... If you pay attention to what you are listening to, you will hear instruments take up certain positions around your head (your brain processing well made sound into where it thinks they are coming from). Acoustic instruments sound great as does classical , folk, etc. But flip through my collection of 3000+ FLACs on my phone (now a Galaxy S5 with card), and you'll find electronica like Muse and Sphongle and metal like Tool and Rammstein too. The RHM5A, unlike my more discriminating AKGs I use at home, never make me want to skip a song because it doesn't sound good on them. They are very kind and polite to "so so" recordings as much as they will soar with high fidelity FLAC of the best studio masters.

VERY comfortable too, even for hours at a time. The pads are soft enough to conform to the shape of your ears a bit without getting sloppy. The headband seems to adjust fairly well, fitting my decidedly large head with room to spare. They clamp securely on your ears but not to the point of discomfort. I don't think I'd try to wear them jogging or anything highly active though. The cord is well made but also fairly long. At first I thought they were too long but I guess if I had to choose between too long or too short I'd rather have the former.

I did a bunch of A/Bing between these, plugged into my Galaxy S5, and my Audio Technica ATH-M50 powered by a Creek OBH-11 desktop amp, with the same lossless FLAC files being played through both. While there is a difference in sound between ON ear and OVER the ear headphones, the sound quality in general was more similar between these two than it was different, no matter if I was listening to electronica (Shpongle), small acoustic ensembles, or full blown symphony orchestra. If you love the ATH-M50, like I do, and would like a cheaper, on-ear phone with a very similar sound for on the go, these Yamaha RHM5A should make you happy.

If you listen to music through a phone or ipod, etc. and you care about music quality over how they might look, and want a compromise between sticking something IN your ear and totally engulfing them inside something, these are possibly the best $60 you could spend.