A quick intro about myself... Hi, my name is Sam and I've been running the website/digital space for Todds HiFi for the past few years. I should start this story by saying that I don't have a technical background in music or sound like the other team members. I do absolutely love music though and eventually transitioned from my little Bose bluetooth speaker to a B&W 600 Series + Yamaha 3.1ch sound system. Which, just above my snowboard and golf clubs, is my favourite thing in the world.
I've been into the Todds Showroom many times. Side note - they've made a series of major upgrades in the past few months which are very cool. More details to come so stay tuned to this blog or head in for a visit so they can wow you! Anyway, I've listened to pretty much all of the premium sound systems, which are simply in another realm of music listening experience to my home system. Genuinely amazing. However, I've never felt the urge to fork out the money to upgrade.
Until yesterday! Yesterday I was in the Showroom taking photos of the new layout and Bradd showed me Yamaha's new top shelf headphones - the YH-5000SE. These look pretty cool, I said and naturally asked if I could try them. They were plugged into their own little amp and were sitting on a nice stand. However, I wasn't fully aware of their quality at the time. To be honest I was unaware music reproduction was capable of what came next.
I don't have a trained ear and don't really understand the detailed engineering that's within these headphones, so I'm just going to describe my experience and how I felt. The first track I listened to was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac straight from the vinyl record. The first thing I felt was the 3D spacing of instruments, something I hadn't felt like this before. It was very distinct. Not just left and right of me but low, high, behind and varying distances. It was like I could feel the space in between the different sounds. It's hard to explain in words but the wow factor was through the roof. The next thing that stuck out was the detailed clarity of the instruments. In particular the twang vibrations from the guitar strings down around my left hip. It was so detailed it was like I could feel the pick plucking each string.
Listen to the wind blowwww. The vocals begin and I'm still catching up to the first 30 seconds of intro thinking what have I been missing out on my whole adult life. A pretty famous set of lyrics, most of us know, but I'd never heard them like this. The clarity, realism and 3D space made it seem like I was there in studio with them as they were laying down the track. Honestly I closed my eyes and pretended I was a rockstar in the 70s. I was buzzed.
After that tune played out, we put on Money For Nothing - Dire Straits. Bradd didn't know it at the time but this is one of my favourite songs to play in the car or after a couple beers at home. So naturally now I was pretty excited as the slow building intro rolled for the first 90s. I love the drum build up to that first famous guitar riff. But once again I'd never heard those drums like this. They were all around me. I was up on my feet air drumming (very inaccurately) along until the guitar dropped me into full boogie mode. When Mark started singing I thought to myself these headphones are probably the closest way for a 33 year old in 2024 to truly experience what rock music was in the 70s. The pinnacle of modern engineering matched with the raw genuineness of real rock 'n' roll.
So at this point I'm truly tempted. I'm thinking I need these in my life every day. I asked Bradd how much and not that surprisingly, the price tag is pretty high. About double what my sound system at home costs, but the quality is well well over double. For the first time at Todds, the price tag didn't really phase me because I was so shocked by listening experience. I hadn't heard those two tunes like that before and I was curious to listen to all my other favourites. What have I been missing out on?
Anyway I left the store FULL of energy. I'd had a big day and to be honest was a bit flat when I arrived. But on the drive home I was buzzed. I was happy. I was a bit taken back. Today as I write this I'm seriously considering selling some of my other toys to fund these headphones. Knowing Yamaha they will probably last my lifetime, so the investment makes sense. Regardless of my decision, I suggest to everyone that they should at least go in for a demo and listen to some tracks on the Yamaha YH-5000SE headphones. You won't regret it.
PS. I did some research last night and found this article from What Hi-Fi about the headphones - www.whathifi.com/news/temptation-award-2023-yamaha-yh-5000se-over-ears-delivers-head-fi-heaven. It's not surprising they had the same feelings as me.