Yamaha EPH-100 Review

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Reviewed June 2012

Details: Yamaha’s flagship in-ear, built around a dynamic microdriver
MSRP: $199.95 / manufacturer’s page
Current Price: $130 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 104 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Bi-flange silicone tips (5 sizes), ¼” adapter, 6.5’ (2m) extension cable, and soft zippered carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The EPH-100 boasts a nozzle-mounted microdriver and sturdy machined-aluminum housings. The cable is average in thickness but well-relieved on housing entry and at the L-plug. Driver flex is nonexistent
Isolation (4/5) – Some of the best among all dynamic-driver earphones with the stock bi-flange tips
Microphonics (4/5) – Reasonable when worn cord-down; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (4.5/5) – Those with narrow ear canals may want to give these a pass due to the nozzle diameter but for everyone else the small, lightweight shells should be ergonomic and extremely unobtrusive. Stock eartips are surprisingly comfortable

Sound (8.9/10) – Taking Yamaha’s flagship spot away from the EPH-50, the EPH-100 utilizes a dynamic microdriver in a form factor much like that of Monster’s Miles Davis Trumpets. Like the Trumpets, the EPH-100 is an excellent all-rounder, but it is tuned differently from the mildly v-shaped Monsters. The bass is strong – deep and punchy, with a mild mid-bass lift giving it significantly more impact compared to most BA-based earphones and leaner dynamics such as the VSonic GR07 and Sony EX600. At the same time, the EPH-100 is far from overly bassy in the conventional sense – while not the most detailed or textured, its bass always remains clean and controlled. Like the Miles Davis Trumpet, which is a touch heavier on mid- and sub-bass in comparison, the EPH-100 is noticeably less boomy than Sennheiser’s IE7 and the older Miles Davis Tribute.

The mids of the EPH-100 are balanced very well with the low end – not recessed, but not quite forward. They are smooth, veil-free, dynamic, and more prominent compared to those of the slightly v-shaped Monster Trumpet. Clarity and detail are good and the note presentation is excellent – the EPH-100 is not overly thick or full-bodied but definitely cannot be called lean, either. The sound is very liquid but lacks a touch of crispness compared to the GR07 and many armature-based sets. The EPH-100 is what many would consider ‘musical’ – it sounds warmer, fuller, and more dynamic compared to sets such as the GR07 but is occasionally less adept at portraying fine details and texturing.

At the top the EPH-100 sounds somewhat smoothed-over compared to the more energetic Monster Miles Davis Trumpet, VSonic GR07, and JVC HA-FXT90, but also has the least potential for treble fatigue. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine the treble of the Yamahas being overbearing for any listener. The downside is that it is not the most resolving – the highs are more refined than those of the Sennheiser IE7 but not as crisp and clean as those of the GR07. Top end extension is good, however, and the EPH-100 doesn’t lack air.

The presentation of the EPH-100 is befittingly well-rounded – soundstage size is above average, though it doesn’t quite keep up with the GR07 or Ultimate Ears TF10 in absolute width and out-of-the-head feel. Depth is good, as are the instrument separation and dynamics, which allow for better layering compared, for example, to the more flat- and distant-sounding GR07. At the same time, the EPH-100 is not as forward and intimate as the FXT90 and yet sounds open and uncongested, avoiding the more closed-in feel of many lower-end monitors.

Value (9.5/10) – Yamaha’s latest flagship makes a clean break from the company’s unremarkable lower-end models, offering up a comfortable, well-built, highly-isolating earphone in a compact, microdriver-based package. The sound quality is far above average as well, with strong bass, lush mids, and smooth – albeit slightly docile – treble. The Yamaha EPH-100 is easily one of the best-sounding earphones – and one of the best overall packages – in its price class.

Pros: Great isolation; small and comfortable; smooth and dynamic sound
Cons: Nozzle-mounted driver not great for those with narrow ear canals


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

222 Comments

  1. Maarten on

    The future looks bright :-), a successor of the EPH-100 will be arriving late Nov 2017. Its called the EPH-200, and has same build/shape. Comes with a MMCX connector; should have reduced cable microphonics. Expected price 27.000 yen or 205 Euro. I hope they also start selling their silicone ear tips separately.

    https://www.yamaha.com/ja/news_release/2017/17100402/

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  3. Dooberknob on

    Given that the IE80 is going for around $179 on Amazon and the EPH-100 around $133, price being no object, which would you recommend for a high quality warm/smooth sound?

    • ljokerl on

      Both, really – that’s a good price for the IE80, but still more $$ than the EPH-100 and I don’t think it delivers a superior listening experience.

      The extra durability with the detachable cable, over-the-ear form factor, and (I’m pretty sure) 2 year warranty would probably worth the extra $40-$50 for me, if I didn’t care about the superior isolation of the EPH-100.

  4. Thomas on

    Hey Joker,

    I have some 1More Triples and really like them but am looking for something with a bit more noise isolation. I went through several pairs of VSonic GR02s prior and the Triples don’t seem quite as good on the isolation front.

    I’m tossing up between the EPH-100 and the Etymotic Research ER7-MC3. I was curious as to how these compare against the 1More Triples, which of the two (EPH or MC3) would be better, and if it would be worth getting one to replace the Triples?

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      1MORE isolation is quite mediocre, most IEMs will do better. I would go with the EPH-100 over the MC3, but neither sounds like the Triples. Triples have a v-shaped sound to them, with some boosted bass and treble. EPH-100 is bassier and warmer than the Triple, while the MC3 is the opposite – it has less bass and a leaner sound. EPH-100 is typically the “safe” choice as it has a very likable sound, but the warmth and extra bass do come at a slight clarity cost compared to the 1MOREs, as you would expect.

      Isolation is fantastic, though, even compared to the GR02.

  5. John Doe on

    Hello, I was wondering what would be best, the Yamaha EPH-100’s Vs. The RHA MA750. They are similar prices and scores so if you could recommend one I’d greatly appreciate it

    • ljokerl on

      Similar scores because they’re quite evenly matched in performance. The best one to get will depend on your needs rather than the earphones.

      • Sk on

        Hi joker
        In your several comments you praised eph-100 more than ma750, but on your iem review list, RHAs are ranked very high even above sennheiser ie8,80s. I’m confused, what to buy, when coming from gr07B, which i think has Flat bass,which i think boring.

        • ljokerl on

          None of these (EPH-100, MA750, IE8) have flat bass or sound boring so you should be okay with any of them. MA750 is pretty lively thanks to having a bit more upper midrange than the EPH-100, so it wouldn’t be a bad choice by any means.

  6. Vic on

    Hey joker, i’m on my second pair of eph-100 and the cable on this second pair is falling apart after about 1 1/2 years. I’m looking another iem with better build quality. I really like the sound signature and isolation of the eph-100. Is there anything you can recommend that is similar? I’m looking at the m6 pro but am not sure. A detachable cable would be great but not a deal breaker. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • ljokerl on

      M6 PRO has a very different sound signature from what I understand… haven’t tried it myself.

      Unfortunately EPH-100 is very unique in both sound tuning and how much it isolates. You can try something like the RHA MA750… slightly different sound tuning but similar quality, tougher build, a little less isolation but still acceptable.

  7. dpa on

    Recently bought a Xuelin player (model Ihifi 770c) coupled with the Eph-100s sounds really good. This player have two earphone plugs each with different sound signature: one “dark” for vocal music and one “bright” more suitable for instrumental tunes. Oh, don’t work together so cannot plug two earphones!
    One switch off the other. With this new player I can hear so many details that never hear before neither with the previous player (Creative) nor with any smart phone. So to enjoy full the great properties of those iem a decent player is a must! In my case, I found a great Chinese-Japanese synergy!

    • ljokerl on

      That’s a very interesting sound adjustment method, providing two separate jacks.

      Great feedback for anyone looking for a DAP to go with their EPH-100 – thanks!

  8. canali on

    just might check this out, jokerl, as a compliment to my flc 8s…i now better understand what you’d said earlier about how it’s sound sig differs from the sony mdr7550….it lacks a bit of warmth and musicality…but i do like the details…wish it had more bass muscle, too, howerver….still seeking the best compromise with balance, details, resolution and also musicality/warmth….so might be earsonics velvet…but $$$
    …the new audeze isines, rha cl1 (?) and flc celeste also all look promising…hope you’ll get a chance to review them.

  9. Roen on

    Hi Joker,

    What would be a good IEM to buy <$300 and <$1000 that is warm and smooth (enhanced bass and slightly enhanced mids), but has the detail of and is revealing like an analytical multi-BA IEM?

  10. JX on

    Hi Joker, how do the yamaha eph-100 compares to cheaper iems like xiaomi pistons? I’ve got a Hifiman RE-400 but have issues with its build quality as the plastic housing for it came out. Looking to replace it with a similar iem(need not be the same sound signature but I do prefer a cleaner sounding 1 much like it, as I mostly and really like hearing vocal tracks). What other alternatives might I have? The RHA MA750, AAW Nebula One, T-peos H100?

    • ljokerl on

      EPH-100 will be tons more bass-heavy than something like the RE-400. It stacks up very well in sound quality to the other best-under-$150 IEMs, but the sound tuning is just not at all similar to the HiFiMan. Not sure about the AAW but the MA750 and H-100 wouldn’t be similar either. If you’re looking for clarity and a solid built, it might be worth to jump up to an ATH-IM02 from Audio-Technica. These are very well-made and have detachable cables. Sound signature is much more similar to RE-400 also. They run about $170.

      If you’re aiming to stay around $100, the Philips Fidelio S2 would be the closest match to the HiFiMan sound, but I’d also consider the DUNU Titan 1 if you don’t mind a brighter tone. These have excellent bass quantity, more forward mids (especially upper mids), and a brighter overall tone, but in terms of clarity and detail they are a better match for the RE-400 than something like the MA750 or EPH-100.

  11. Shashank on

    Hi ljokerl

    After trying out a couple of Chinese IEM in the 10-30$ price range I am looking for an upgrade in 60-120$ price range. I am looking for a pair iem with tight punchy bass, clear mids with great texture and not so bright highs. Would love that has great separation between vocals and instruments.

    I listen to lots of indie/alternative rock,singer songwriter, indie/alternative r&b and electronica, classic rock.

    Lastly ,I am also a rough user so would prefer something that has strong cable strains.

    • ljokerl on

      Philips Fidelio S2 could be viable. I don’t know if it has the best long-term durability for rough use (probably not) but besides that it fits your requirements quite well – it has a bit of enhanced bass (more than, say, a HiFiMan or Etymotic earphone), very good midrange clarity and quality, and the treble is not as harsh as a VSonic GR07 and not as bright as a DUNU Titan 1.

      Another alternative is the 1MORE Triple Driver Hybrid, which has a little more bass and a little less clarity. Again, not sure about long-term durability with rough use but otherwise they’re a very good fit for what you want.

      • Shashank on

        I wasn’t notified of your reply so i just read it. In the meanwhile I bought the Yamaha EPH-100. I had my eye on IT ever since I came across your site a couple of years ago. And I was finally able to get them through a friend returning from UK.

        I have to say that and it sound absolutely great. You review is spot on! It sounds word for word just as you’ve described them in your review. The isolation is good and the stock eartips were very comfortable.I am very much in love with their sound signature.

        Since you recommended the 1more triple driver earphones how do they compare to EPH-100. Also are other earphones that sound more less like the EPH-100 but differ slightly in say either a little more forward mids or clearer highs or have a wider sound signature.

        • ljokerl on

          Awesome, glad you’re enjoying the EPH-100s!

          The 1MORE Triples are overall more balanced than the EPH-100 and have a mildly v-shaped sound signature, but they don’t really have an advantage in clarity or detail. Not the best option if you specifically want to try something with more forward mids, clearer highs, or a wider soundstage.

          I’d rather add a DUNU Titan 1 to my collection at the same price to get all of those things in one shot. It’ll sound very different from the EPH-100, to the point where you might need a few days to get accustomed to the sound every time you switch between them, but it will be a fun contrast.

          Or, if you want something that’s only a slight contrast to the EPH-100, the inexpensive Sony MH1C would be a good way to go. It’s a similar signature with a slightly different balance, and is extremely inexpensive for the sound quality you get.

  12. Nathan on

    Hey |joker|–wasn’t sure if you preferred an email or a comment here. I’m looking for something with similar sound to the Fischer Audio Eterna v2, i.e. powerful bass and lush/immersive mids. I actually bought them because of your original review! Would I enjoy the EPH-100 as much as the Eterna’s, or would something else be a better pick?

    Thanks for any help and for your fantastic reviews.

    • ljokerl on

      The bass enhancement of the EPH-100 is not as extreme but the overall sound quality is better. As long as you’re not concerned solely with bass impact you’ll enjoy the EPH-100. If you are focused on having as much (or more) bass than the Eterna, your options would be rather limited.

      • Rob on

        Hi ljokerl and Nathan. I just got a pair of the EPH-100 from Amazon about 10 days ago. Not broken in yet but I can already tell these are awesome. much better fit than my Philips S2 and I think a better tonal balance. Regarding the bass, I agree not that much impact but they have really good definition. They benefit nicely from the Dragonfly dac if you want to upgrade them at some point, Not as good as my Oppo P3’s but surprisingly a lot closer than I expected.

        These is a really good iem. .

        • ljokerl on

          Great feedback – appreciate you sharing it here!

          Glad you’re enjoying these!

  13. Matt C on

    Hi again, I love my Dunu Dn 1000s, they are my favourite all rounder and were the first set that showed me that i enjoyed a more bassier sound signature. Before it was more about mids for me and details. I am now looking for a budget set (under £100) that is more bass focused. I am in between Wooduo 2 and these eph-100s.

    From what I’ve read the Woodous are more about sub bass and less mid bass, but the Yamaha’s have a better balance between the two even though they don’t go so low.

    Currently I’m favouring the Yamaha’s but want to know if they’d give me significantly deeper bass than my Dunu’s? I want fun, but i’d still like a bit of detail in mids.

    • ljokerl on

      The EPH-100 is a higher-tier IEM than the Wooduo 2 in terms of overall sound quality but I don’t really think of it as a basshead IEM – it’s more of a halfway compromise between the bass quantity of something like a DN-1000, which already has pretty good bass, and a true basshead earphone such as Wooduo (sub-bass only, as you said), Beats Tour 2.0, NHT SuperBuds, Pump Audio IEMs, etc. Ultimately it depends on how far down that path you want to go.

      • Matt C on

        Hi, i got the RHA750 and after initially quite liking it i got a bit bored with the mids which seemed a bit veiled. How do the mids compare with eph 100 in terms of over all detail and clarity and how do they sit in the mix?

        I love my dn 1000s but every now and then I find them a bit fatiguing. Sometimes it just takes one song to remind me how hot the treble can be and then i can’t help but notice it in other songs… which after a while passes lol.

        I also tried the RHA T20 which I had very mixed feelings with. It was different to what i expected coming from the 750, ultimately it didn’t WOW me enough to justify it’s £190 price tag… so I’m returning it. The dunu dn 1000 is certainly a better all-rounder imo

        • ljokerl on

          EPH-100 is marginally better in terms of midrange positioning, but overall still on the same tier as the MA750, especially with clarity/detail. Midrange positioning gives it some advantage but the MA750 is helped its brighter upper mids, so it’s pretty much balanced out.

          EPH-100 is not as clear as the DN-1000 by any measure, though of course it’s also very smooth in comparison.

          • Matt C on

            Just got the EPH 100s. Out of the box they were surprisingly bright and not as smooth as reviewers have claimed, but this has changed with burn in, a bit of sibilance. As it seems a common question, here is my comparison to the 750s if it helps.

            Bass is far tighter on the 100s but not as big or boomy as the RHAs. Some may prefer the more lush bass of the 750, but those looking for tighter more accurate sub bass, with more resolution and with added mid bass punch will like the 100s. Bass on 100 could be the best bass I’ve heard on a IEM. It’s got a little similarity to a good punchy over ear, like my Soundmagic HP 100s actually. It’s better than my Dunu 1000s, which are also great.

            Mids on 100 are more forward than the V shaped 750s. Mids are a bit clearer and not as veiled on the 100s. Clarity and detail better on the 100s. i much prefer the mids on the 100s. 750 much more coloured and smoother. Bass bleed non existent with 100, but slightly less so with the 750 due to the boominess of it.

            Treble. More similar than different. good detail on both and a similar level of clarity and crispness.

            Soundstage – 750 has a larger and more 3D soundstage, helped by it’s V shape. 100s is more intimate, less wide but good depth. Separation much better on the 100s, positioning better too.

            • ljokerl on

              Excellent comparison – great addition to this page!

              • Matt C on

                Thank you. It may seem like I’m saying the Yamahas are way better, but they both offer something unique and at their price range offer great value, good detail retrieval and as you said a “fun” sound. There are more accurate and detailed sets out there, but not with the type of fun quality bass they both provide. Both super comfy too. M750s are beautifully made.

                EPH 100 – More intimate, bit more detail, clearer, better separation. Tighter bass which goes a tiny bit lower to my ears.

                RHA M750 – Bigger sounding, fantastic soundstage, smooth but still with decent details although a bit veiled. Very V shaped.

                UPGRADE WISE

                I think a natural upgrade to them both IMO is the RHA T20 but strictly with bass filter. Bass wise it takes the best of both sets, the deep boominess of the RHA T20 and the accuracy of the EPH 100. It has the big soundstage (although not as holographic as the M750 as the mids are ever so slightly pushed forward a wee bit, without losing it’s V shape). It has much better resolution and detail, crispier highs.

  14. Don on

    The eph100s were discontinued in 2014 so should they still be included on your list?. I know there are a few stores with old stock but it looks like there are also several selling fakes. As you mentioned, the m100s which are current do not have the same positive reviews and seem to be considered a down grade. Too bad yamaha is such a huge company and probably clueless about this.

    I loved my eph100s but they were stolen so now I am hunting for a replacement and notice that there are no recommended replacements with a similar sound signature without spending tons.

    The aurisonics bravo at 250 seems to be getting good reviews at headfi. Have you tried them?

    • ljokerl on

      There seems to be plenty of stock in some parts of the world so I’ll keep them on for now. Keeping an eye on availability, though. It’s definitely too bad, they are excellent earphones and there isn’t really a perfect upgrade to these that I’m aware of (as discussed in the comment thread right below this one). Fingers crossed that I’ll come across one before these are impossible to buy new.

      Admittedly I haven’t tried the Bravo, maybe that’s the one. The only Aurisonics I currently have is the Rockets and it’s great (but doesn’t sound like the EPH-100).

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