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