Provides: Closed back, over ear audio with inline remote and microphone
Colors: Ivory White or Piano Black
Minimum Requirements: Any audio source with a 1/8″ headphone jack. Remote functionality should work on most recent model Apple products.
Availability: Out Now
Yamaha’s design direction with the recently launched Pro series of headphones melds fashionable design and reference-quality sound (the line also includes the 300 and 500; the 400 is the middle of the line). Since the original Beats headphones came out, most headphones that feature well-balanced, finely tuned sound just look…well…ugly. If you want something fashion forward, you have to sacrifice in the audio department with unnaturally tuned sound that usually overemphasizes thumping bass. No longer, as Yamaha has taken their approach to building reference-quality headphones and wrapped it in a slick design that manages to stand out and sound great.
The Yamaha Pro 400 headphones are designed primarily for mobile users who want to take great sound on the go and look good doing it. Available in trendy Ivory White or Piano Black colors, these headphones are a concoction of postmodern Scandinavian styling with larger-than-life American branding. Yamaha’s triple tuning fork logo is blown up and splashed on each earcup in shining chrome, while the glossy plastic stands in contrast to the matte grey headband padding and brushed metal hinge accents.
Two detachable cables are included, both of which are the flattened linguine style that resists tangles. The 4′ cable includes the three-button remote and inline mic, while the 10′ remoteless cable is targeted primarily at home theater or desktop computer users, where a longer cable lets you sit farther from your music source. The hinged earcups fold up, and the included hard-sided zipper case makes transportation easy with a handle and carabiner.
Although the design of the Pro 400 headphones is what strikes you initially, the sound is what will keep you captivated. Yamaha has tuned these for accurate reproduction, so you hear music that sounds realistic. Find yourself grimacing at the overuse of AutoTune, but not quite ready to accept that you’re an unfashionable curmudgeon? Yamaha’s style is perfectly suited to you. The headphone’s over-ear design provides a decent amount of sound isolation, and the extremely well padded earcups help keep the drivers a comfortable distance from your ears. This has the benefit of increasing the perceived soundstage, and the Pro 400’s come pretty close to the natural sound offered by open-back headphones without the unwanted intrusion of background noise.
Overall sound quality on the 400s is superlative. Bass heavy tracks sound excellent and don’t lose their vocals, so if your musical tastes lean to hip-hop, dance, or rap, these headphones will uncover new dimensions of your music (there’s more than just bass in there). Rock fans will appreciate the clean delivery of vocals and backing instrumentation, as bass guitar lines and cymbal hits are all equally well presented with excellent clarity. The Yamaha Pro 400 headphones’ immersive stereo field provides excellent listening for jazz and classical music; sparse jazz pieces consisting of a vocal with backing instruments and massive orchestral pieces each sound realistic, with soaring trebles that are bright but never harsh, mids that are crisp, and bass that rolls underneath but maintains clarity. Any muddiness you hear when listening with these cans is a result of badly encoded music, not the headphones.
With over-ear headphones, one of the most important design considerations (and easily the hardest one to get right) is the the fit. Because fit is so personal, I mention it here merely as buying advice, and did not factor it into my overall rating.
In general, I find that I have to loosen the headband of on-ear or over-ear headphones at least a couple of clicks, but the Pro 400s were a little loose on my head with no extension whatsoever. Although the inward pressure from the earcups was perfect, the downward pressure of gravity left the headband digging in and the earcups squashing the tops of my ears after listening for just a couple hours. If you generally find headphones too tight and adjust them all the way to their maximum setting, the Pro 400s will probably be a great fit for you. If, on the other hand, you have a smaller head, there’s a good chance these cans will be too big for extended use. If possible, find a retailer where you can try these out, or buy them from an online retailer with a good return policy just in case.