Yamaha unveils flagship high-end planar magnetic headphones

Yamaha high-end planar magnetic headphones for nearly £5k
(Image credit: Yamaha)

Yamaha has unveiled its first planar magnetic headphones in over three decades. The Yamaha YH-5000SE combine the Japanese giant's legendary "orthodynamic" drivers with new tech and a slew of luxurious materials.

At £4799 / AU$7499 (around $5700), the flagship over-ears aren't exactly cheap. But then, they are built by Japanese craftsmen. And they boast a magnesium body that makes them "one of the lightest, high-end headphones in the world" at 320g.

The orthodynamic drivers (Yamaha's version of planar magnetic drivers) promise exceptionally accurate sonics "without the slightest bit of distortion". A bold claim, but one that Yamaha stands by thanks to the superior responsiveness of the driver's diaphragm, which is claimed to be "significantly lighter" than that of dynamic drivers.

Yamaha YH-5000SE

(Image credit: Yamaha)

The company told What Hi-Fi? that development of the YH-5000SE started way back in 2016. Only after trialling 1000 different diaphragms over the course of six years did Yamaha's engineers find what they were looking for.

A similar amount of effort was put into comfort. The two-layer headband distributes the load on the head evenly and uses a smooth, stepless slider for fine adjustments, while the natty-looking housings are made from a newly developed, Japanese-made stainless steel and feature an open-back design to minimise sound reflections.

The YH-5000SE come with two types of ear pads (synthetic leather and suede), a stand, and two types of silver-coated cables (3.5 mm and 4.4 mm). The company will also offer an optional XLR cable, the HXC-SC020, priced at £749 (around $900 / AU$1350).

The SE in the name denotes "Special Edition", but we're hoping a standard, less steeply-priced version of the headphones will be available down the line. In Australia this has already been confirmed at AU$5999 – the same headphone but coming without the additional accessories of the SE edition, which include a dedicated headphone stand as part of the SE package.

How will the YH-5000SE compare to the iconic Yamaha HP-1, which introduced the world to the orthodynamic driver in 1976? There's not long to wait now – the new YH-5000SE headphones are due on sale in January 2023.


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Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.