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Review: Yamaha EPH-50

  1. xaf
    It's been a while since Yamaha has come and gone in the consumer headphone market, but with every man and dog now having their own in-ear range, Yamaha has followed suit and released its own 3 tiered line-up with the EPH-20/30 /50. The EPH-50 looked at here is considered to be the flagship model of the range although at a price range of $79-$99, they are quite reasonably priced. The following are my impressions of them:
    Packaging (2.5/5)
    I've never liked blister packaging and I never will, and while it is neatly presented and convenient to stock on shelves, it took me over 15 minutes to pry open the plastic to get to the contents most of the time spent thinking if I've accidentally cut the cables within or watching my own fingers. Not to mention very un-environmentally friendly...
    Overall, the  contents of the packaging is nothing surprising. You get the earphones, 3 different sized silicon eartips (medium ones fitted onto the earphones) and a 1/4" adapter for use with amplifiers which I'm sure Yamaha wants you to use with their amplifiers.
    Design and Build quality (4/5)
    Despite the plastic build, the earphones are quite well constructed, with matte black driver housing and nozzle, and silver outer housing where the strain relief and cabling connected to. The cable itself terminates at an insubstantial L-plug. The design isn't anything groundbreaking or left-field (in fact quite similar to the Sony MDR-EX85) but it is quite a classy looking IMHO.
    One notable feature it has is a cable cinch which is combined with a socket for the 3.5mm plug. Yamaha calls it the "smart cable holder" and the idea is to stop the cables from tangling. It might sound gimmicky but it does come in handy, if anything to protect the plug when travelling.
    Comfort and Isolation (3.5/5 and 3/5)
    The way the earphones is designed is such that the driver housing sits in the bowl of your ear (like an earbud-type 'phone) while the nozzle extends and delivers sound into your ear canal. While I don't have any issues with fit, others may not be so lucky. If they do fit though, they are quite comfortable to wear, being quite light and reasonably compact.
    Isolation is rather average as the nozzle doesn't do all the way into the ear-canal (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Also. the standard eartips are too soft to offer any form of good isolation so it might be worthwhile to swap them over.
    Soundstage (6/10)
    Average width with better depth. Layers are better represented than positioning. Sound doesn't extend very far beyond the headspace, but there is enough air to make it not sound like you're in a soundproof room.
    Sound Quality (Updated) (6.9/10)
    Overall: Other reviewers have found the EPH-50s to be suited mainly for bassheads. While I can see why they say that I personally don't quite agree. The bass is evident but listening to it for long enough you do appreciate the way it approaches "balance". Likewise both midrange and treble can hold its own without being overwhelmed. It has to be said though, the sound is somewhat artificial and cold most evident in the treble. Depending on the type of music, it can be somewhat fatiguing to listen to. The sound signature resembles that of its range of amplifiers which I have always felt lacked that natural sound.
    Treble: Good detail and clarity only marred by occasional harshness and over brightness. Lacks sparkle and extension (although that could just be my hearing slowly going XD). (6.75/10)
    Mid-range: Vocals are very very slightly forward but is well complimented by the rest of the range. Otherwise, good presence, clear most of the time and is quite detailed as well.  (7/10)
     Bass:  There is no doubt that there is a decent amount bass with good impact, control and extension, but at no point does it overwhelm the midrange and certainly not the treble. Speed and is average likewise is how tight it is. (7/10)
    It is neither the best in the price range, nor the worst. The sound it produces is competent though like I mentioned before not only to the bassheads. Classical music is one area which I think it does very well, where as the likes of jazz can suffer the harshness in the treble. At the end of the day, what the EPH-50 represents here IMO is a solid offering in the mid-range, nothing more, nothing less.
  2. TheMiddleSky
    Nice review xaf [​IMG]
    can you compare to other iems at this price range? just to make easier to know more how this IEM sound [​IMG]
  3. ljokerl Contributor
    Nice review. After owning them for just over a month this is a conclusion I can wholeheartedly agree with. Funny enough, it works for the EPH-20 as well - just replace "mid-range" with "budget". Good show from Yamaha but it won't shift any paradigms.
  4. a_tumiwa
  5. ASilva
    Thanks alot for the review, I have been looking forward for something about these for a while now
    I'm a HUGE fan of Yamaha in the music department, I have many many of their products and I couldn't be more happy with them. I'm really sad to see that their entry on the IEM market wasn't as great as I would expect. I will still try to get them anyways, they are not available anywhere in my country though. And i don't know of any site that ships to Portugal with fair postage and everything.
    They look great though, IMO they are one of the best looking IEMs i've seen but i haven't had them in my hands (and ears) so that could change
  6. xaf

    Thanks all for the kind words!

    Just to pick a few that I remember:
    Sennheiser CX300: The quantity of the bass is more than the EPH-50 but it is overpowering, quite a bit less well controlled (therefore lacks fine detail) and overall just feels quite bloated. Mid-range and treble-wise, there is again less detail, plus they sound quite recessed in comparison to the Yamahas. With music that doesn't have a lot of bass however, I feel the CXs sound a bit smoother and less artificial. Soundstage is about the same.
    FA Silver Bullet: The quantity of the bass is more in comparison, but unlike the CX300, it never feels bloated. Compared to the EPH-50s, the bass here also feels more relaxed and less aggessive, and because of the overall larger soundstage, it also has good air. Tightness of bass goes probably goes to the EPH-50, but it never feels as well controlled. Mid-range and treble are likewise, less aggressive and more detailed with the SBs and don't have that harshness. The SBs also has very slight advantage in extension and is a touch more "sparkly". Overall, these are more laid back and fun to listen to than the EPH-50s
    UE Metro-Fi 220: Overall, the EPH-50s sound less smooth but I feel there is a little bit more detail in each part of the sound spectrum. I think balance in sound, these are quite similar to what the EPH-50s have to offer.
    Klipsch Image S2: These have an even more forward presentation of sound, but less balanced compared to the Yamahas.  

    The problem here for Yamaha is that it has stepped into one of the busiest segments/price range of thr market with very little prior experience. And while some have proven that it isn't so much an issue, I never really thought Yamaha would make much of a splash sound-wise with these, and it hasn't. It is surprisingly difficult to hype about something that is solidly average ^.^
  7. idioot
    I just bought these but think I made a mistake. there'ms more hissing than with the Sony ones that came with my player..quite annoying. none of the reviews mentioned it...

  8. xaf
    These hiss no more than similar earphones I have, so I didn't think it important to make mention.
    I'm thinking you have yourself a walkman of some kind? They have been known to be quite noisy when nothing is playing through it (I know, I own one) so, easy to drive earphones may simply compound the issue.
  9. idioot
    yeah. nwz-a816. with default earphones I hear it only when Paused, with these it can be heard when there's a quiet part in songs, I normally don't turn the volume very high.
    tried them with my old ipod shuffle as well, and Sony ones are quieter with that too.
    not a big problem though, can live with it.. just thought it would be more of an upgrade than it is.
    PS: this was not a complaint about your review. :)
  10. tomscy2000
    There another model, the EPH-C500, listed as "NEW" on Yamaha's website... it looks identical to the EPH-50 and sports the same exact specs... but they didn't remove the EPH-50 from the website listing. Different tuning, perhaps?
  11. stuartfang
    thanks so much for this review! this and joker's review helped my friend and i to decide for her a pair of budget iems
    she listens mainly to classical and vocals, so the midrange and bass quality and quantity the eph-50 have is perfect for her, as we have concluded!
    we went through many different options including astrotec am-90, some vsonics, and a couple JVC, TDK, and Pioneer ones, but this one came across her as the best
    the aesthetics are very good too, it is comfortable and the gold and considering the white color model looks beautiful and suits a girl better
    keep up the good work with the elaborate and straight-forward reviews please!
  12. shch13
    Good review I bought these for 50AUD.
    Very good value, on tracks with little bass it almost reminds me of my XBA3.
    Bass is a bit overwhelming when bass is there.
    Soundstage and seperation is ok but it's not very good at an accurate portraying of positions.
    Mid-range sounds very good, forward-ish.
    I listen to alot of Jpop/Cpop songs with alot of male/female vocals (e.g. Exile/ J Soul Brothers/Kana Nishino)
    And thats the most dissappointing area for me, its not cold or artificial or sparkiing or details, it is absolutely rough. Male vocals seem to be highly rough.
    Not as rough as the S4 though (just to name an immediate example of IEM's with rough treble), EPH50 are better at treble than the S4/S3.

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