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