in progress Matching a cage of premium travel headphones, Sony is the reigning champ. The company’s WH-1000XM3 burst onto the scene in 2018 with great noise cancellation, plush comfort, tons of features, and great sound, and the company has never looked back. The latest models, including the WH-1000XM4 (9/10, WIRED Recommend) and the later XM5 (9/10, WIRED Recommend), have each improved the formula, forcing Bose, Sennheiser, and even Apple to up their game.
In this fierce market, Yamaha’s new YH-E700B wireless headphones arrive feeling underpowered. Renewed for 2020, the YH-E700B looks the part and delivers very good sound quality, but its features and overall execution are outdone by the others at its price – especially when it comes to great noise cancellation.
The YH-E700B is still powerful enough for an office or travel speaker, and at $200-$250 it’s worth considering. But at its current $350 retail price, it’s hard to find a good reason to choose these over competitors who are at the top of their game.
Pioneering style and budget execution
The YH-E700B arrives in a package that matches its premium price. The sturdy travel case opens to reveal ear cups speckled in black or brown, folded on adjustable hinges into the headset’s fetal position. Like Sony’s WH-1000XM5, Yamaha’s new canisters feature longer, more oval-shaped cups than their predecessor. This makes their suitcase bulkier than my favorite, but still compact enough to fit in most bags.
Oversized ear cushions adjust to fit dual hinges, including stick-like arms that extend down from the padded strap to the center of each cup for a distinct touch of style. Splashes sprinkled along the matte finish and shiny Yamaha logo are the only other real aesthetic marks on a somewhat nondescript headset. And again, that can be said of almost every major competitor these days.
On the inside of each cup, you’ll find soft leather-covered memory foam pads with long, narrow slots in the center for the 40mm drivers underneath. My first experience with Nubia was one of confusion. My ears aren’t huge, but they are just too big to fit through the pads’ elliptical holes. Instead, the earphones sit in a kind of hybrid position between over-the-ear and over-the-ear that feels awkward at first.
It seems to be this odd design that causes one of the E700B’s most notable performance issues: the completely erratic automatic shutdown. Like others in its class, the Yamaha pair has built-in sensors to pause and unpause the sound as you remove it, but they rarely work as advertised.
I’ve had some listening sessions where the auto-off worked fairly regularly, others when the sound stops but doesn’t stop, and still others when it doesn’t work consistently at all. Wondering if it was just my ears, I asked my wife to run an experiment, and got the same results. After a week or so, I realized that if I jammed my ear into the right pad, the sensor would pick it up constantly, but that was more of a hassle than simply clicking the multiple physical button to pause.
Is this a big deal in the grand scheme? Not real. But the inconsistency made me increasingly frustrated when he failed. It’s not an issue with any of the other models I’ve tried, and Sony’s XM4 and XM5 go further, adding conveniences like Speak-to-Chat to pause the audio with your voice and Quick Attention, which triggers transparency mode when you’re holding a hand. right cup.