YAMAHA EPH-100 REVIEW AND COMPARISONS
(Panasonic HJE900, Audeo PFE112, Ultimate Ears TF10, Vsonic GR06, Vsonic GR07, Etymotic ER4S)
What are the Yamaha EPH-100?
In all honesty I purchased the Yamaha's with the feeling i would be selling them within weeks, I went in to this believing they are FOTM (Flavour of the month) and there are better options which i already own or have owned, really it was all about stopping this confusion around these phones.
Yamaha EPH-100 Review - Packaging
Its fine, the eph-100 packaging is not super high end but not to shabby nicely put together and packaged, the only gripe I had was the theft proof packaging being a pain in the ass to open and once open a pain to put back together for resale etc.
Yamaha EPH-100 Review - Accessories
Again perfectly acceptable, with the EPH you get extra tips, a hi-fi jack, a 2m extension cord and a nice case. Actually i really like the case, its the perfect size to carry my portable rigs and the buds themselves with some mesh pockets on the inside and good padding. the only thing that would have made it a bit nicer would be some Yamaha branding on it.
Yamaha EPH-100 Review - Looks and Build Quality
I really like the looks of the Yamaha's, they are tiny and almost look like the should be housing a balanced armature instead of a dynamic. The use of the micro-driver here the has made something that looks quite different from whats inside. The EPH housing are very solidly constructed and i expect them to last a long long time through general use. Strain relief is good, no complaints here and the same goes for the jack end. The Jack itself is good, nothing fancy but very slim and sleek like the phones themselves, it is gold plated and 90 degrees which are both pluses for me.
Cable is not the greatest but then again it is far above average, it is a soft rubber feel and is thick enough to feel durable without to much worry of wear, it is slightly springy though and, all things considered it is fairly similar to that of the PFE-112 cord. There is a soft rubber y split with a slider. The EPH slider has a thing on it to help then the phones are not in use by attaching the plug and wrapping them up, a nice touch by Yamaha. Micro phonics are minimal but present when worn down, non existent when over ear.
Yamaha EPH-100 - Earphone Isolation
Incredible, on a par with the er4s for me. Have not found any other dynamic that isolates as well as the EPH.
Fit (For me 9/10 because i wear over ear, found it hard to get a good sounding fit when worn down)
First up i found to get good sound out of the Yamaha's i had to go deep, on first listen i had them down and not deep enough due to my tragus and anti-tragus stopping a deep insert. I just about flipped out sitting there, the were on a par with the jvc marshmallows in sound quality at this stage, i listened for 10 mins threw them onto burn in and came back a few days later hoping they would sound better. They didn't. I went on Yamaha's website and low yat forums to see what people were saying and found they need to be in very deep so as to have the driver effectively in the ear. The only way i could do this was over ear. I buried those bad boys deep and at first i felt the pain, however i know from using triple flange on the er4s that this pain goes after a few days. When inserted deep the dual flange on the EPH grips and the are up there as my most sturdiest and comfortable non customs, the pfe are my comfiest but do move about a bit, these on the other hand are in there and staying there.
Yamaha EPH-100 - Sound Quality
First impressions with the bad fit out of the way and 80hrs of burn on the phones out the way i sat down to listen to the EPH. Sound still wasn't there for me, at first it sounded like things were out of place and it was a very different sound from what i had heard before. I was expecting something similar to the HJE900 due to reviews here, it wasn't the legendary timbre of the HJE wasn't as prevalent and it just sounded different. I decided against reviewing them straight of and just go about my daily stuff getting some brain burn on them. That brings me to here, I have just spent the past 4 hours listening to them, a/b with other phones and sources over and over with the same tracks and feel i can now put into words what i am getting from them.
The lows - Bass here is very very nice it hits with a nice clean pop and sounds clean and effortless, you feel it can handle bassy genres very well and it shined beautifully on Infected Mushrooms Becoming Insane it thumps hard and clear but does not at all impact in the other areas, rather it compliments them. It is tame when it needs to be as well giving the feeling you getting the right amount for the song that was intended. Using the Cube c30 with BBE on sounded excellent, with the bass helping to make the sort of earphone that makes music sound and feel good. It doesn't hit up there with the JVC fx101 (i don't think anything does) but it puts out that feeling of just amount and is certainly not a muddy mess. Using these with a Digizoid Zo turns them in to great sounding cannons and the work well together with a few notches into the green right up to the orange setting.
The mids - Very good, great clarity and separation, vocals and guitars sound the way that you feel they are intended to be presented. Its not a analytical sound, there is definitely more colour than that, they produce a sound that is right in the middle not to forward and not to reaccessed. Acoustic guitars on Rodrigo y Gabriela's Tamacun are outstanding from the pick of the string right through to the replication of the note being played. This is one song that i have always used to compare my phones and i can honestly say it has not sounded better with any other non custom phone that i have owned (previous record holder for this one being GR07), the EPH-100 just sounds so musical, clear defined and correct. It makes it fun to listen too and you will find your head bobbing away in no time.
The highs - Being that i was looking for a change from my much loved HJE900 the treble on the EPH at first left something to be desired. The HJE900 have excellent treble but the Yamaha's the do not sound as far forward. This is easily fixed by a touch of simple eq which the phones respond well to. Flat your not going to find a moment which you get on some phones where you want to rip them out your ears from overbearing sibilance which i guess is a good thing but at the same time in certain songs the do seem to sit a little too far back. Just a little mind you and as mentioned nothing that cant be eq'd out and when done so it sparkles well.
Sound-stage, Separation, Clarity, Analytical?. - Sound-stage is up there, some have mentioned the 3d sound-stage and while not massive or mid-blowing in this regard it is there. It has good width and depth and with not sounding as out of head as the HJE it can be considered large. Separation is excellent, every instrument can be isolated with your brain and in electronic tracks with lots of layering its fun to listen to imagining the computer software bar running over as a new dimension is entered into a song. Clarity due to the previous point is excellent coming across with no hints of muddled sound bashing into each other fighting for sound off the driver. The phone doesn't lend its self as a critical listening device, while it has the possibility to do so it is by design not overly analytical, this is not a bad thing it is not designed to be a stage monitor the sound is more fun, if you want that the kind of device that throws every insane detail at you then you should be looking at the er4s or pfe112. With that said however you do find yourself picking up on a lot of things you wont here on most things, breathing, picks of stings on guitar and sliding of the hand across strings.
Yamaha EPH-100 - Direct Comparisons
HJE900 vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the HJE900? - Better more sparkly forward treble and incredible timbre make it a truly unique phone.
Why the EPH-100? - Equally fun sound but with more separation and clarity, everything feels a bit cleaner
Audeo PFE 112 vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the PFE? - Much more analytical, more precise and balanced. Better treble when using the black filter.
Why the EPH? - More bass and a more fun sound, sound-stage is larger and more engaging.
Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the TF10? Good bass for a BA. Changeable cable. (I'm not the biggest fan of these anyway so I'm struggling here)
Why the EPH? Great mids, not so sibilant treble, better fit and don't look ridiculous when worn in public.
VSONIC GR06 vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the GR06? Great cable, price.
Why the EPH? Everything else
VSONIC GR07 vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the GR07? Better highs, great cable and accessories,
Why the EPH? Better bass, better isolation and a more fun sound.
Etymotic ER4S vs YAMAHA EPH-100
Why the ER4S? Ruthlessly analytical and detailed, extremely accurate and fast.
Why the EPH? Extremely more fun, much more bass quantity, sound-stage.
Yamaha EPH-100 Earphone Review - CONCLUSION
I really for the first time ever came into a purchase with the attitude that I'm buying these just to dispel the bull**** hype that i believed the EPH, it seemed like the old cycle repeating itself here again where someone catches onto something and for a short while people go nuts for it and it then fades to nothing. After putting in some time with the EPH I got to admit I was wrong these are great sounding phones and worthy of consideration against any of the above. They are extremely capable and very enjoyable i hope that they gain a following that they deserve. The do everything really well and with a presence that makes you want to keep listening and listening.
I picked mine up for £75 and think they could be priced a lot higher, all things considered if they were around £150 i could pick these up and be perfectly content with my purchase. They are not into sm3 territory for me but i can see this becoming my daily driver of sorts.
I always recommend people have at least 2 types of in ear monitors in there setup (for me usually the Audeo PFE112 and Panasonic HJE900) one to take care of the analytical and one for the fun. With my incoming B2's i will be switching out the PFE and fully expect the Yamaha's to take the place of the HJE900 not because they are better but because in this game we all like a change, i have roughly stuck to the same main setup (while still buying way too many IEM's) for the past 2 years and after much research and listening this is the route I'm going down. In the category for choosing the Yamaha's i allowed a budget of $300 and i will be sticking with them they hit the spot for me and may not for you but they should at least be considered.
It amazes me that i have came into this conclusion when i bought them purely expecting garbage and calling folk out based off biased reviews and new-bloods.................. what i found was the EPH is a highly capable I.E.M., it hits outside its weight and gives great satisfaction.