Quick review: Yamaha EPH-RS01 earphones

Yamaha’s EPH-RS01 in-ear earphones are lightweight, portable and sporty. They also come with an in-line level and call answer controller, and are both iOS and Android compatible. But what do they sound like?

 

By Deon Schoeman

Yamaha’s EPH-RS01 in-ear earphones are designed to offer a lightweight, convenient solution for mobile phone users – and especially those users likely to use them while jogging or working out.

They qualify as so-called ‘sport’ earphones by virtue of being moisture resistant, and offering a mounting system that should keep them secure and comfortable, even when exercising outdoors or in a gym

They’re also mean to work seamlessly with Android an iOS mobile phones (except the latest iPhones that do without minijack connections). A in-line volume control and pause/play button makes the Yamaha perfect for use as a hands-free solution, too.

AT FACE VALUE

As earphones go, the Yamahas are attractive in an understated, unobtrusive kind of way. The test unit came with beige-coloured earpieces and a blue cable, which is a welcome departure from the usual white or black norm. There’s also a blue/green option.

The cable has a simple but effective organiser to prevent tangling, and the earpieces are elongated, which makes them inserting in your ears a little easier.

Yamaha have also devised a clever ‘ear cuff’ system to keep the earpieces in place while working out. The ear cuff clips to the top of your ear, and the cable is then run through the cuff and behind the wearer’s ear, keeping the earpiece securely inserted in the ear.

It sounds like a strange and slightly awkward arrangement, but it works quite well in practice, although it takes a bit of experimentation to find just the right position for the ear cuff. That also goes for the earpiece itself.

The earphones come with a choice of four, different-sized silicone earpiece tips, ranging from extra small to large. It’s worth spending a bit of time trying out the different tips until you find ones that fit snugly.

The latter is important, because loose earpieces tend to work their way out of the ear canal, while a good fit is also important to achieve decent bass response.

The cable is tangle resistant and less to friction-based noise than some other in-ears I’ve tried, while the overall execution speaks of quality, which is vital, given the level of wear and tear earphones are typically subjected to.

UNDER THE COVERS

There’s more to these Yamaha in-ears than meets the eye, however. As so-called sport earphones, they are splash and moisture resistant – great for users keen on using them while jogging or working out.

For that reason, the earpieces feature a special coating that repels liquids like sweat or water, preventing moisture from damaging the drive units. Clever.

The in-line volume control not only has a slider-type level controller, but also an integrated microphone, and a single button that allows for pause/play, fast forward/ reverse and call answer/end functions. With an iOS device, you can even summon Siri …

The 8mm drivers feature powerful Neodymium drivers, while the diaphragm has a tangential edge to optimise dome excursion for the sake of accuracy and low distortion, as well as improved low-frequency performance.

SETTING UP

I primarily used the Yamaha earphones in conjunction with my iPhone 5SE to be able to use the phone-specific functions. However, to evaluate sound quality, I linked the EPJ-RS01s to my Astell & Kern AK Jnr digital audio player, which is loaded with a selection of high-res FLAC-encoded music.

It took a bit of time to determine a comfortable position for the earpieces, and I settled for the largest eartips, which provided a solid seal without having to push the earpieces uncomfortably deep into my ear canals.

I tried the ear cuff system, and it worked well enough, but as I’m not exactly the world’s most active sports person, it wasn’t necessary to use the ear cuffs to keep the earpieces in securely.

SOUNDS LIKE

As I’ve mentioned, getting the earpieces to fit properly is the key to good sound – and that’s true of the Yamahas, too. But once the earpieces were snugly ensconced in my ears, the sonic representation was smooth and clear, with good midrange representation and excellent detail rendition.

Initially, I felt that the bass response could have been a little weightier, but as the earphones settled in, the low frequency presence improved, suggesting that they benefit from some running in.

The trebles never sounded biting or aggressive, but the Yamaha’s didn’t have to resort to attenuating them either, allowing for a nicely balanced, smoothly rendered tonal signature. Detail retrieval and presentation was excellent, adding to the wide-open appeal of the delivery.

Stereo imaging was nicely focused, accompanied by the strong sense of lateral dimension typical of earphones. The sound picture featured decent height too, and the earphones also allowed for plenty of air and space, encouraging close listener involvement.

The live performance of Roger Waters’ The Wall sounded powerful and energetic, with the Yamahas accurately capturing the ambience of the venue and the enthusiasm of the crowd, as well as the sheer size and dimension of the performance.

Veteran South African singer Roger Lucey’s ever-stirring vocals, and the delicately lucid arrangements on Now Is The Time sounded vivid and engaging in a way that allowed me to rediscover this underrated set all over again.

The Yamahas sounded accurate without becoming clinical, and real without resorting to artifice. Instead, the acoustic guitars had just the right burnish and simmer, while the percussion was rendered with punch and impact.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Yamaha EPH-RS01 earphones match a well thought out design and the reassurance of rugged, quality build quality to a satisfying and entertaining sonic performance.

It’s lucid and capable enough to reward a good quality signal from a dedicated digital audio player like the AK Jnr, but still user-friendly enough to make the most of lesser MP3s and streamed content.

It interfaces well with mobile devices, and does a decent job as a hands-free interface for phone calls, even if the in-line volume control can be a little fiddly and the calibration not quite fine enough.

As is always the case with in-ears, how well the Yamahas fit individual ears will be a vital in determining ultimate performance.

• To stand a chance of winning one of 20 Yamaha EPH-RS01 earphones, visit our Yamaha Competition page now!