Light and spacious sounding, but a little rough on the ears, the Yamaha HPH-M82s aren’t the most exciting headphones we’ve wrapped around our heads.
Despite having a good deal of openness for a closed-back design at this price (rivals SoundMagic P21S and AKG Y40 sound comparatively closed in), the HPH-M82s fail to engage fully with songs being played.
They don’t seem able to summon up a great deal of enthusiasm, and a lacklustre approach to timing – which is less than precise – means the M82s add a sluggish quality to otherwise upbeat songs.
The punchy, dynamic tones of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Mellowship Slinky in B Major sound a bit too laid-back for a funk rock song. Drums lack bite and attack, and guitar strings seem to be plucked with minimal energy and agility.
We’d like a deeper plunge into the lower frequencies, too – the bass in this track can be so much punchier and textured than it sounds through the Yamaha headphones.
Regina Spektor’s Fidelity has an upbeat, nimble rhythm that demands effortless yet taut control from a pair of headphones, but these Yamaha cans struggle to convey the light tone and staccato rhythm with any real fluency.
The nuances in the delicate voice aren’t fully expressed by the M82s, either. The treble, at least, benefits from the advantages of the airy presentation. There’s space for the top end of notes to soar without sounding sharp, but they could do with a touch of refinement to prevent a coarse edge creeping in.
We like the spacious quality of the HPH-M82s. Stone Sour’s alt-rock ballad Bother is delivered with a decent amount of detail and clarity. You can easily place the guitar strums and the faint violin strains, while Corey Taylor’s gravelly voice is given centre stage. The issues with dynamics and punch still linger, though.
Design and build
The M82s’ lightweight build bodes well for long listening sessions. The headphones have a light but firm grip that feels secure on your head without exerting too much pressure.
The ear cushions, though, bother us. Made of flimsy material that feels as if it could tear easily, they also don’t provide much in the way of cushioning. We can feel the hard outline of the ear cups through the foam – it’s uncomfortable, and makes our ears hot and itchy over time.
A thicker, plusher padding would do the Yamahas a world of good. The headband itself is sturdy and flexible, with no sign of creaking.
And we can’t help but think that the plastic finish looks and feels a little on the cheap side.
Rival headphones (such as the AKG Y40 and JBL Synchros E30) offer a higher quality of build for similar price. Apple and Android users can use the in-line mic and remote to take calls and control playback. The controls are responsive, although we wouldn’t say no to better volume buttons.
You can get the HPH-M82s in a variety of colours, including black, white, red, blue, brown and gold.
If only their lightweight build and spacious presentation were enough to win us over.
But until the M82s tighten up their sense of rhythm and regain some excitement (and a pair of comfier ear cushions), there’s little to sing about.