Yamaha EPH-50 Review

5

Yamaha EPH-50
Reviewed Sep 2010

Details: Top-of-the-line IEM from electronics giant Yamaha, boasting large 14mm drivers in an half in-ear form factor
MSRP: $99.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $55 from amazon.com 
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 104 dB | Freq: 20-21k Hz | Cable: 4’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Generic bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down

Accessories (1.5/5) – Single flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and ¼” adapter
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The housings are made completely out of plastic and, except for the nozzles, look like conventional earbuds. The rubberized cabling is fairly sturdy and well-relieved but prone to tangling
Isolation (2.5/5) – Like the cheaper EPH-20, the EPH-50 is a shallow-insertion earphone and is also vented. However, the EPH-50 is larger and seems to isolate slightly better, especially with aftermarket dual-flange tips
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Cable noise is present and the EPH-50 cannot be worn over-the-ear, exacerbating the problem
Comfort (4.5/5) – Unlike the miniscule EPH-20, the EPH-50, built around gigantic 14mm drivers, is a large but equally ergonomic earphone. Due to its greater size it doesn’t have a tendency to disappear when donned but remains very comfortable for those with ears large enough to accommodate the 15mm housings

Sound (5.9/10) – The first question I usually ask myself when faced with two differently-priced IEMs from the same model line is whether the higher-end set is worth the price premium over the cheaper offering. With the two Yamaha IEMs, it’s a no-contest “yes” for the EPH-50. While the EPH-20 is a decent earphone for what it costs, it is by no means hi-fi and loses both clarity and detail to the out-of-control bass. The EPH-50 is by no means bass shy, but it manages to impress in other areas as well. A familial resemblance between the two phones is most notable in the way the low end is presented – it is deep and full, boasting plentiful impact and a pleasant warmth. The EP-50 are still bass monsters but the 14-mm drivers seem to be more precise than the tiny transducers used by the EPH-20 and the bass is generally cleaner and better-controlled on the larger earphones.

Midrange bleed is also reduced, though not eliminated completely. The big bass can still make detail harder to hear but the midrange itself is more forward, more neutral, and far more clear than it is on the EPH-20. The clarity is actually quite impressive, especially on bass-light tracks, beating out the Apple dual-drivers and Sleek SA1. The earphones also lack the upper midrange dip of the EPH-20s, giving them slightly more pronounced treble at the expense of slight harshness and a bit of graininess. Treble extension is quite reasonable and the high end sounds surprisingly realistic. Though sparkle is still nearly nonexistent, the EPH-50s generally sound more crisp and energetic than the EPH-20s do. The presentation of the earphones is surprisingly wide and airy. Compared to the similarly-priced Sleek SA1 and TDK EB900, the EPH-50s sound well-separated and quite spacious, though they don’t have particular accuracy in imaging or positioning. Overall, the sound is well-layered and avoids congestion, which is a must for the bottom-skewed balance of these earphones.

Value (7.5/10) – Sound-wise, the EPH-50 is a competitive mid-range entry. Like the lower-end EPH-20, it boasts a large amount of very visceral bass but adds to it a fairly clear midrange and crisp, natural-sounding treble. Yes, the bass is excessive at times, but as a general rule it manages to be fun yet controlled – a tough order as far as budget-oriented in-ears go. The earphone is also quite pleasing aesthetically and very comfortable to wear for those with large enough ears. Sadly, the build quality, isolation, and microphonics are merely average for the price, but the sound should be enough to justify a purchase for those in search of moderately-isolating in-ears with hugely impactful bass. Of note, a set of bi-flange silicone tips off of eBay may be worth picking up along with these.

Pros: Very lightweight and comfortable, fun and dynamic sound
Cons: Bass can be excessive and negatively affects the rest of the spectrum


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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.

5 Comments

  1. Thor Jane on

    Would you think that would be good entry headphones? I found them somewhere new for 30 $. My source is anything from laptop to smartphone. I like bass a lot but I need something that wouldn’t break easily . I liked sound from koss ksc75 but not enough bass. I listen everything from metal to rap and country.

    • ljokerl on

      If you like this form factor (shallow earbud-like fit) they are among the better ones you can get for $30.

      However, from a sound quality standpoint nowadays you can do better for less – the Xiaomi Piston, for example: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/xiaomi-piston-2/ . The Piston has a little less bass but it sounds a lot better overall.

      If you want really heavy bass, the NarMoo S1 is pretty good at about $40: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/narmoo-s1/

      • Thor Jane on

        I read your review about Narmoo’s before and I’m actually thinking about getting those now. I’m just scared that they would break easily. Hope they will not. Thank you for your answers and great reviews. Very helpful.

  2. Thor James on

    Are these same as Yamaha EPH-C500?

    • ljokerl on

      Good question. I would say yes based on the fact that the product pages for the EPH-50 and EPH-C500 on Yamaha’s site are duplicates of each other.

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