||Covered/ Over Ear
||Dynamic / 40 mm
||8 Hz — 40 kHz
||3.5 mm stereo mini (Power On: ANC / Ambient Sound Enabled) (Power Off: Driver Direct)
||SBC, AAC, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive
SUPPLIED BY Balanced Audio 011-259-7850
Noise cancelling headphones.
It implies sound processing.
Which implies artificiality.
Which means less pure.
Which is not what headphones are supposed to be, right?
But in other news since 1948, technology has marched on. And if headphones are already cordless the argument to be made around absolute unmitigated purest signal is somewhat compromised already right?
For the purists you can cable the 700s into source direct mode if you like and they are good enough that this remains an option for purists. Box ticked.
So whilst you can, would you? I unashamedly used these for my lifestyle and what sold me totally and utterly on them was on a flight. Plop them on, and you can select the listening mode that allows you to ‘feed’ though ambient background noise – i.e. the incessant announcements and plane noise, or, you can just turn it off.
It’s eerie how well it works. With the headphones turned off, vs them turned on, the advanced active noise cancelling is something else. It’s advanced to the point where when you select your music to listen to, you might as well be in an isolation chamber vs on a plane at 33,000 feet. OK, that is a slight exaggeration but in all honesty, its not far off.
Musically the 700s kick it. I found them to be detailed and imaged with good levels of low end bass that doesn’t over reach. They certainly can play loud enough to drown out any noise within reach of your eardrums from SPL, but they do so without becoming harsh. As is usual for really good headphones, if you feed them rubbish you will get rubbish amplified back out and the 700s are no exception to the rule. This is especially true when it is vocals that exist in your head as opposed to outside of it. They simply have to be on point, or watch out.
The rest of the sonic picture is well completed. I found music to be well balanced on the whole and it is hard to pin-point any areas of concern that might put one off. They are Yamaha after all, and the brand has inherent musicality at its core. The 700s continue in this tradition.
Of course there are differences between noise cancelling mode vs pure line — and equally obviously pure line in does have obvious benefits over a wireless DSP processed signal. BUT I would far rather have my music with me on the plane over not having it on the plane, or having it with a lesser set of headphones. The compromises are really small potatoes in other words and with the 700s you have to actively seek them out.
In reference mode, as my colleagues have pointed out, the headphones of this generation do surprisingly well with a Bluetooth wireless connection. What the wizardry behind this is remains to be discovered, but my sense is that tech trickle down is making its presence felt in that DSP of just a few years ago is now to be found in the headphones on your head.
And this makes a difference. It really is surprising as to how much. I felt that I had exactly what I want from my headphones — a surprising level of detail, transparency and little fatigue. Did I mention comfort? Whilst the 700s are not small, come in their own clam shell carry case, and feature over 30 hours’ playback time on a single charge, they still remain soft and comfortable as all hell and my only, possible gripe, is that I would opt for them in black as opposed to white.
Ease of use is another thing — the 700s once paired simply pick up every time from where they left off. The app that comes with them is a good first start and I think the apps are going to start to become increasingly sophisticated soon. Whilst the current app didn’t offer much for me to use, yet, the time is coming fast when the app is going to be able to do more and more interactively with your headphones. Watch this space — you read it first here.
But for now manual buttons on the phones allow you to adjust volume and input mode. You no longer have to take your headphones off to talk to someone, just push the button and voila! There they are and you can tell them in a normal speaking voice that they no longer have to shout at you to grab your attention.
The 700s are an excellent product. For the money they are built to last, and they get the job done in terms of delivering a solid musical performance under almost any conditions. They’re consequently hard to fault and I would be more than happy to have these in my carry on anytime — I’m already a little jealous of the lucky sod that is going to win a pair in our competition.