Yamaha Pro 500 review: Flashy headphones for audiophiles

The headphones come with two cables, a 4-foot flat (tangle-resistant) cable with a remote/mic optimized for Apple devices, and a plain 10-foot flat cable. Both cords connect to either the left or right earcup via 3.5mm plugs and, as with a lot of the newer full-size headphones (the Monster Inspiration , for example), you can plug another set of headphones into the open earcup jack and have a second listener tune in to what you're listening to.

You get two cables, the longer of which is designed for home use. Sarah Tew/CNET

You can use the microphone for making calls with non-Apple phones, but the remote features most likely won't be fully functional.

For accessories, you get a 6.3mm gold-plated adapter jack and a handsomely appointed black travel case. The case's zippered, "semihard" design will protect the headphones, even if you need to jam the case into a tightly packed bag.

The Pro 500 comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty; proof of purchase is required to make a service claim.

Performance
This is an audiophile headphone, designed, first and foremost, with accuracy in mind. Yamaha is well aware that some buyers listen to a lot of dance and bass-heavy music and crave exaggerated bass fullness, but it made the decision to take a more audiophile direction with the Pro 500. So each pluck of the string bass that opens Jack White's "Blunderbuss" album was cleanly delineated to my ear; the bass was unusually precise, without boom or bloat.

The headphones fold up to fit in this nice carrying case. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Black Keys' bluesy take on "Ten Cent Pistol" sounded very immediate over the Pro 500 headphones. In contrast, the V Moda M-100s, with their fuller, warmer bass, made the same track sound darker. The Pro 500s' bass is plentiful, but not emphasized. On the other hand, moving up to the midrange and treble, the Pro 500s' clarity revealed details in the vocals and drums that the M-100s missed. Listening to Radiohead's "In Rainbows" the treble was clear, with lots of texture and detail.

The Pro 500s' naturally balanced sound pulled further ahead with acoustic jazz and classical music. These are the sort of headphones that respect a wide range of genres equally, and that's a big part of their charm.

This is a closed-back design, so I was pleased to hear the stereo imaging was just as big and spacious-sounding as with the open-back HiFiMan HE-400 headphones. I watched a few episodes from a DVD of "Lost: Season 2" on my desktop PC, and the Pro 500 projected the sound of the beach and forest scenes well outside of the earcups, so I could almost forget I was listening to headphones. This is a great pair for movies and TV shows.

Conclusion
The Yamaha Pro 500 headphones' neutral sound tells it like it is; there's nothing added, nothing taken away. The pumped-up bass common to most competitors' models is absent, so this sound won't please every taste. Comfort level may be a concern, so I recommend trying these headphones on before you buy them.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Yamaha Pro 500 (Black)

Part Number: HPH-PRO500BL Released: Sep. 21, 2012
Low Price: $239.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 21, 2012
  • Color black
  • Weight 13 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features L-shaped plug
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor ear-cup
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 4-pole