The day before the recent October 2022 Tokyo FUJIYAAVIC Headphone Festival, I made my way to the FUJIYAAVIC headphone store to have a word with the company owner, Makoto Ishizone and check out the store redesign, as well as showing him the new DCA Expanse headphones. He tipped me off that I should come to the show early, as Yamaha were going to make a surprise announcement of the YH-5000 headphones. To put this announcement in context, Yamaha, back in the 1970s, designed various ground-breaking headphones, including the HP-1. Using technology usually reserved for microphones, they created what we know today as planar magnetic, or more accurately, orthodynamic headphones.
This technology became dormant for some decades, until enthusiasts discovered this old models, and waxed lyrical about their sonic performance. That, in turn, lead Audeze, and subsequently HiFiMan, to revive the technology, the result of which is the almost sheer domination of this type of headphone in the enthusiast market.
The new YH-5000 isn’t the first new orthodynamic headphone to designed by Yamaha engineers. Final’s D8000 and D8000 Pro were designed by an engineer from Yamaha, and have many of the same qualities of the original Yamaha headphones, albeit with much better performance. However, this will be the first dedicated model from Yamaha themselves.
One might ask, given that CanJam SoCal was held on the same weekend as the Tokyo festival, why the YH-5000 wasn’t announced there as well. The headphones, a Yamaha rep explained, were hand assembled by the engineers, and they aren’t even in production yet. Initially, they will be sold in Japan, until they are able to ramp up production to a suitable level and organise world-wide distribution.
The YH-5000 will come with two sets of ear pads, one hybrid, and one cloth. They will also be available with either of two cables, a 4.4mm Pentaconn terminated one, or another with a 6.3mm TRS plug. Each uses a slightly different metal for the cable, giving a slightly different tuning. No doubt this will appeal to enthusiasts.
The headphones use a 50mm, 30 Ohm driver, based upon the same technology as the vintage HP-1. A quick listen of the pair with hybrid pads from a Hugo 2/2go that I brought with me revealed a spacious, detailed sound with a significant amount of bass. Enquiring about the sensitivity, an engineer said that he believes it to be north of 96 dB (per mW? I forgot to check) so the headphones will be easy to drive. As well, the headphones are quite light and very comfortable.
I put my hand up for a review set, so look out for a review in the next few months.