Yamaha has been actively proclaiming that it wants to protect our hearing health with volume-aware technology built into the headphones since 2020. Now the successors to the company’s October 2021 TW-E3B headphones are here, and it’s the same story: Listening Care promises to future-proof our hearing via a “4-band Parametric EQ (PEQ) to apply precise settings at each level to produce the best tonal balance at each volume” – which basically means you shouldn’t turn up the volume to hear those bass drops or cymbal crashes. Even if you want to.
And it comes in a premium guise too! The company’s next-gen YH-E700A and EP-E70A wireless headphones went a step further by taking the volume of the music you’re listening to in addition to background noise into account. In these models, Listening Care was apparently able to analyze the average volume of content every 0.7 milliseconds and slowly make adjustments over time for a natural effect. Using the headphones’ built-in microphones, he also calculated the signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio of the content to ambient noise to “subtly adjust the volume accordingly for an optimized listening experience.”
Now Listening Care is no longer the highlight on the new and, it must be said, on the well-finished Yamaha TW-E5B headphones. The top of the spec sheet may now be Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring support for a robust connection designed to provide a quick and seamless changeover in a variety of use cases. Or it could be the full 30 hours battery life, or the advanced microphone design and Qualcomm cVc (Clear Voice Capture) for hassle-free call handling and ambient sound profile. But Listening Care, aka “smart equalization for full-range sound at lower listening volumes” is still there – and we wonder just how popular (or even necessary) it really is.
Opinion: music is pure escapism. Listening Care applies restrictions
In a world where music serves as a break from life’s often cold and harsh reality, Listening Care feels a lot like being told what to do again. That doesn’t detract from the admirable specs found on these true wireless headphones – I’ll gladly accept the Yamaha TW-E5B’s IPX5 rating as permission to take them to the gym and thank you for that – but Yamaha seems committed to sticking with it. homemade technology that, let’s face it, changes the balance of recordings and messes with what the artist (and whoever was on the mixing board at the time) wanted you to hear, all under the guise of taking care of your ears.
The company would certainly argue that Listening Care adds value at the level; an additional optional feature and one that no one is forcing you to deploy – but maybe you could, if you were lending those headphones to a kid, say. Music lovers can argue that the consumer always pays – sometimes for something they didn’t order and will likely never use.
It could also be argued that if we simply listen at sensible levels to protect our hearing (or find a really good set of noise-canceling headphones to avoid turning up the volume to drown out external noise), we shouldn’t have to tamper with the sound. EQ balance of music recordings. The new TW-E5B headphones do not support active noise cancellation despite the Ambient Aware feature listed.
Then again, at just $150 / £129 (about AU$209) and available in your choice of four striking colors (dark brown is particularly eye-catching, above), these Yamaha headphones still look more than worthy. take a second look.