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Yamaha HPH-MT7 Studio Monitor Headphones

Are these NS-10's that you can wear - or better?
 

By Phil O'Keefe





Yamaha has long been a major player in the world of recording studio monitoring. Their NS-10M near field studio monitors may have started life as bookshelf consumer speakers, but they became nearly ubiquitous in studios around the world (while they are now long discontinued, they remain a very popular reference tool for many engineers). Yamaha says their design philosophy focuses on delivering the sonic accuracy that provides professionals with the ideal platform on which to develop their own signature sound. Let's see how well their HPH-MT7 headphones stay true to that ideal.






What You Need To Know

  • The Yamaha HPH-MT7 is a closed-back circumaural headphone designed for studio use. It would also be an excellent choice for content creators, live sound techs, and DJs.

  • The HPH-MT7 is available in two colors - black, or as the HPH-MT7w in white, which is the version I tested for this review. Outside of the color difference, the two versions are identical. Both are simple yet stylish looking, with the Yamaha three-tuning fork logo in silver in the center of the ear cups, and indented L / R indicators so you'll know how to orient them at the junction of the headband and ear cup yokes.




  • Frequency response is rated at 15Hz-25kHz.

  • Sound pressure level is rated at 99dB/mW, so they're fairly efficient headphones. Maximum input power (and volume) is also fairly high at 1,600 mW, so you'll definitely want to watch your levels and/or maximum listening time to reduce the chance of hearing damage.

  • Yamaha uses CCAW voice coils and neodymium magnets in the MT7's 40mm drivers. CCAW is "copper clad aluminum wire," with the lightweight aluminum core clad in highly conductive copper. This results in considerable weight and cost savings over pure copper, with better conductivity and strength than pure aluminum.  


 

  • The generously-sized round ear cups and adjustable head band are both well-padded, with soft "synthetic leather" surrounding low-resistance cushions that seal well against your head to help improve isolation. Comfort is excellent, even over longer listening sessions.

  • Speaking of which, isolation is quite good - you could very easily use these headphones for tracking purposes without any fear that unreasonable levels of headphone bleed will ruin your takes. That same great isolation will also be appreciated by DJs and live sound engineers.

  • The housings, headband and ear cups have all be designed to minimize resonance. While the ear cup housings are plastic, the head band is metal and the ear cup support arm yokes are die-cast aluminum. When you pick up the MT7 the impression you get is that they're very solid, sturdy and well-made but surprisingly light, weighing in at only about 12.7 ounces, including the cable and connectors.  

  • The permanently connected 3 meter straight cable attaches to the left ear cup only, which I prefer over headphones with Y-type cables that attach to both ear cups. There's plenty of length for most studio and live sound uses, but probably too much for mobile users. The cable terminates at a gold-plated 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS Stereo plug, complete with metal spring-style strain relief.

  • The cable itself is fairly light, although the plug and adapter are solid and beefy, and despite the fact that the cable is far from thin or flimsy. Cable noise is light to modest at worst, and will not be an issue for most users.  

  • The ear cups can be rotated to facilitate single-ear monitoring, which some singers prefer. I appreciate the thought, and it could come in handy for string players, but who wants the other ear cup pumping audio out where it can be easily picked up by the microphone? I typically ask singers to put the unused ear cup against their head directly behind their "open" ear to reduce the bleed. Still, it's good that Yamaha gives you options.

  • While the HPH-MT7 box is not crammed heavy with extras, Yamaha does include a pair of essential accessories: a twist-on 1/4" (6.3mm) stereo adapter for the cable, and a faux leather vinyl drawstring storage and carrying bag. Outside of a decent headphone amp to power them (and I was able to use a Rupert Neve Designs RNHP along with the MT7's for the listening tests for this review), what else do you really need?   



Limitations

  • The voicing of the HPH-MT7 is a bit bass-forward; not nearly so much so as some "style" driven consumer headphone brands, but the bass response is noticeably fuller and more prominent than any of the half-dozen or so headphones with which I compared them directly.

  • The cable is permanently attached, which means you can't easily swap a shorter one for mobile use. It's also inconvenient from a long-term maintenance and repair standpoint. Studio headphones get used - and even abused - a lot, and cables tend to go bad faster than anything else on them. Field-replaceable cables help insure a longer useful service life for headphones, and one would be a welcome addition to the HPH-MT7.

  • While the ear cups can pivot slightly to accommodate different sized and shaped heads, they can't be rotated a full 90 degrees so that the headphones can be laid flat, and the MT7 doesn't collapse or fold like some headphones for more compact storage and travel.  



Conclusions

The Yamaha HPH-MT7 headphones are very "fun" for listening. I also appreciated their comfort. They adjust easily to different sized heads, and their large round ear cups have plenty of room - your ears never feel crammed into them. For tracking purposes they're a superb choice due to their light weight and excellent isolation. DJs and live sound engineers will probably appreciate them for the same reason. Their sturdy construction also inspires confidence, although I'd feel even better about their longevity potential if they had a field-replaceable cable. Still, that's a relatively minor quibble - I've certainly had to open plenty of headphones from different companies and solder in a new cable after a few years of hard studio use; soldered cables are hardly exclusive to Yamaha.

While Yamaha is rightfully proud of the popular legacy of their NS-10M studio monitors, using them to help market the HPH-MT7's seems a bit out of place. Sure, the design philosophy behind the two products may come from a similar place, but the actual sound of these headphones bears little resemblance to those well-known monitors. I'm very familiar with NS-10Ms and have used them on numerous recording projects over the years. The two biggest complaints I have with them are the way the highs can be fatiguing after a long session, and the missing lowest two octaves of the audible frequency spectrum. Neither is a concern with the HPH-MT7 headphones. Their highs are not at all harsh or fatiguing, but smooth and detailed. The mids are also well represented.

The detailed bass is not only not missing, it's a bit more forward than strict accuracy calls for, although not excessively so by the standards of modern consumer preferences. I prefer headphones that aren't bass-forward, so these wouldn't necessarily be my first choice as a primary mixing monitor. However, I'm sure plenty of folks will disagree with that opinion, especially if you have a tendency to mix bass-heavy or frequently work with dance music and other bass-heavy genres, because they will help prevent mixing with excessive bass - which given the popularity (for better or worse) of the super-bass-heavy Beats headphones, can mean your music will sound more as intended.

As tracking headphones, the HPH-MT7 is a very strong contenders due to the light weight, great isolation, and comfort. If you have to wear headphones for hours at a time, you don't want something that makes your head feel like the headphones are clamps. Nor do you want to sacrifice comfort for fragility, and fortunately, the HPH-MT7 doesn't make that tradeoff. Overall, it's easy to see why Yamaha included "studio" in the product name.

 


Resources

 

Join the discussion on Phil O'Keefe's: In The Studio Trenches

 

Yamaha HPH-MT7 Studio Monitor Headphones ($299.99 MSRP, $169.99 "street")

Yamaha's product web pages     

Page #1 (world wide site)  

Page #2 (USA site)    

Downloadable HPH-MT7 User Manual (PDF file)


You can purchase the Yamaha HPH-MT7 Monitor Headphones from:

B&H Photo Video    





HPH-MT7 General Specifications

Type: Closed-back, Circumaural (Over Ear)
Frequency Response: 15 Hz - 25 kHz
Sound Pressure Level: 99 dB/mW
Maximum Input Power: 1600 mW (at 1kHz)
Impedance: 49 Ω (at 1kHz)
Driver Unit: 40 mm, Dynamic, CCAW Voice Coil
Cable: 3.0 m (9.8 ft), straight
Connector: 3.5 mm (1/8”) stereo with 6.3 mm (1/4”) stereo adaptor
Dimensions (W x H x D): 170 x 195 x 98 mm (6.7" x 7.7" x 3.9") (Without cable&plug)
Weight: 360 g (0.8 lbs) (With cable&plug)
Accessories: Threaded 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated adaptor, Padded carrying bag



 



__________________________________________________

 



Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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