By all accounts these headphones are fairly comfortable—but only if you can get them to fit on your head correctly. If I was to name one likely deal-breaker for customers, it would be the huge band. Many will appreciate that these headphones can fit the biggest of brain cages, but even large-headed folk may find that these won't fit at all—that's how plus-sized they are.
Beyond that, there's not much else to find at fault with the Pro 500s—they're durable, pretty, and can fold down for easy storage. From a design standpoint, they're well-engineered, but their size makes them a bit of a risk to buy for some.
By all metrics, the sound on the Pro 500 is actually pretty good—as far as your typical consumer is concerned. The frequency response is fairly close to a partial equal-loudness contour, meaning that most sounds in whatever you listen to will be as loud as they should be. Still, these should satisfy bass lovers, as there's a sizable bump of the lower notes.
If you're looking at buying the Pro 500, know that it has its place—outside of the studio. While most wouldn't dream of mixing with these cans, Yamaha designed these headphones to show off: The Pro 500 is better suited out on the town than cloistered in a soundproof room.
There really isn't much to talk about in the way of sound performance flaws. As with most headphones, there's a little bit of mostly inaudible distortion, and you're never really going to get rid of that. However, you may notice that some sounds at the upper end of the vocal/woodwind range comes in ever-so-slightly louder in your left ear than you right, but I think that's worthy of a pass if that's the worst you have to worry about.
I mentioned before that this set of cans is only for the superlative-skulled, but maybe I undersold the Pro 500s a bit—I can't wear them, our testing robot couldn't wear them (without some enhancements), and many of my coworkers couldn't plunk them on their heads without having the ear cups slip below their pinna. So I sought out bigger brainpans.
All test subjects reported low clamping force and a huge range of adjustability, making for a fairly comfortable experience. I was given no reports of slipping, and the leather ear pads are soft on the skull.
Assuming these do fit you, you'll be able to take 'em just about anywhere—being able to stow them in a bag is a big plus, and you would have to try to break these. There's very little worry involved—a huge relief if you're going to spend close to $400 on a pair of headphones.
Great cans... if they fit
If you have a rather copious cranium, these might be the headphones you're after. However, if you have a merely average-sized head, keep looking—these are unlikely to fit you well. While it may sound like a minor issue, keep in mind that the fit of the headphones dictates the comfort of the wear, and that's absolutely essential to your overall experience.
They may not be ideal for audiophiles—or anyone looking for a set of studio monitors—but their sound quality is very desirable for music aficionados who don't like to tinker and fuss with equalizer apps. If you have a chance, give them a shot.
Coming in at a price point of $399, the Pro 500 will set you back a pretty penny, but if you fit the profile of its ideal user—go bananas. It's not often that a pair of headphones works well for bounteous-brained individuals in terms of comfort, so it's a big deal that these do.
So we painted you a word picture of the Yamaha Pro 500, but what about the vast quantity of numbers we recorded in the lab? Let's take a closer look to flesh out how these headphones perform, and what you can expect when you buy them.
Well, that looks familiar—outside of the bass notes, that is. From the frequency response chart, it's very obvious that Yamaha wants the Pro 500 cans to have broad consumer appeal—definitely not for the studio.
That's really okay though, because from 1kHz up, the response looks like an equal-loudness contour should, meaning that most sounds will appear to be at the same volume to a human. Bass notes will sound heavily emphasized, but many people like this sort of response, and it's quite popular among the emerging consumer market.
High-end headphones don't typically have a ton of distortion, and if they do, it's generally inaudible. The same is true with the Pro 500: Wherever you look, the Total Harmonic Distortion is below the threashold of audibility with very few exceptions.
Those exceptions show up on our Perceptual Harmonic Distortion chart—that huge blip in the lowest end is added noise that breaks past the masking threshold. Honestly though? It's not even 1phon, meaning you're not going to hear it. It takes about 15-20phon of added distortion before issues become audible, and the measure that shows up on the chart is nowhere near that level.
Despite the theoretical ability to crank the volume up past 120dB without hitting 3% THD, I would be underselling the severity of my warning if I didn't say in all-caps: DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. Seriously, nobody wants to lose their hearing (or replace it with permanent tinnitus), so be sure to control your volume. Practice safe listening.
The chart may look good, but honestly, the isolation with the Pro 500 could be better. Despite blocking out almost 30dB of very high-frequency sound, you're still liable to hear a lot of garbage as you walk down a noisy street; sure, the chart shows great-looking cancellation, but most outside noises don't land on the impressive end of this diagram.
However, these cans don't advertise to the world around you that you're listening to embarrassingly tasteless things, so feel free to catch up on a foul-mouthed comedy show on the subway. None will be the wiser.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.See all of Chris Thomas's reviews
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