Yamaha has, for years now, been focused on premium, professional-grade consumer audio products, with a particular focus on AV receivers and speaker systems. However, with consumer preferences moving towards wireless audio, many audio-purist brands have been shifting their product strategies to keep up with the times. The Japanese conglomerate is no different in this regard, with the company now venturing into the true wireless earphones segment. However, its products do still retain a certain old-world charm that sets Yamaha apart from the mainstream competition, to some extent.
The product I'm reviewing here is the most expensive true wireless headset in Yamaha's lineup, the Rs. 24,200 TW-E7B earphones. With active noise cancellation, advanced Bluetooth codec support, and a promise of Yamaha's dedication to sound quality, the TW-E7B promises a lot. However, does it have enough to compete against established competition from Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Sennheiser in the premium segment? Find out in this review.
The Yamaha TW-E7B charging case has a USB Type-C port, but no support for wireless charging
Yamaha TW-E7B design and features
While most brands are designing true wireless earphones to be compact, sleek, and generally as small and minimalist as possible, Yamaha has gone with a ‘bigger is better' approach. The TW-E7B earpieces are large and somewhat unwieldy because of the size, although they don't weigh as much as you might imagine, coming in at 7.3g each. Despite the size, the earphones are fairly comfortable to wear, thanks to the relatively light weight.
The outer side has a ‘spotted' texture that looked a bit odd at first, but I quickly grew to like the look of the earphones. There are bright indicator lights on each earpieces to show the connectivity and power status of the Yamaha TW-E7B headset, and the ear pieces have a proper in-canal fit and proximity sensors on each of them.
In India, Yamaha has two colour variants on sale — black and white. I quite liked the black review unit sent to me, although the white is arguably a bit more eye-catching and brings out the textured design a bit better. The earphones are IPX5 rated for water resistance, and should be able to handle light splashes of water and sweat without significant risk of damage.
Unlike most options in the premium true wireless segment available today, the Yamaha TW-E7B has physical buttons for controls, fitting in quite conveniently because of the large size of the earpieces. This might seem a bit old-fashioned, but I quite like the idea of physical controls because of the better precision and reduced tendency of mis-fires that tends to come with it.
The controls aren't customisable but that's alright since all functions are covered by the three physical buttons. Controls for volume, skipping tracks, and invoking the default voice assistant are on the right earpiece, while play-pause and switching between ANC and transparency modes are on the left earpiece.
The charging case of the Yamaha TW-E7B is large and not particularly easy to store in a pocket; you'll need to keep it in a backpack or handbag because of its size and shape. The case has USB Type-C charging with the port placed at the back, and indicator lights for the case battery level at the front just below the lid. There's no wireless charging here, which is disappointing considering how headsets half this price have this option. The old-school design itself isn't very attractive, and feels a bit basic for the price. The sales package contains a charging cable, and a total of four pairs of silicone ear tips.
Yamaha TW-E7B app and specifications
The Yamaha TW-E7B true wireless earphones work with the Yamaha Headphone Control app, available for iOS and Android. The app itself is fairly basic, given the straightforward nature of the headset including the fixed, non-customisable controls on the earpieces. What you do get is battery level indicators for the earpieces, detailed equaliser settings, switches for ANC and transparency modes, and toggles for Yamaha's Listening Care, Listening Optimiser, and Gaming Mode.
Unlike much of the competition, the Yamaha TW-E7B has physical buttons for on-device controls
Active noise cancellation on the Yamaha TW-E7B is not customisable, and the voice assistant is triggered on your smartphone using the default or selected option, rather than natively on the earphones. I did quite like the level of detail and customisability in the equaliser, and the live tweaks to the sonic signature did seem to make a difference in making certain tracks and genres sound a bit better.
In terms of specifications, the Yamaha TW-E7B uses Bluetooth 5.2 for connectivity, with support for the SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs. The headset has a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz and 10mm dynamic drivers. The Bluetooth codec support means that sound quality and performance should have an edge when the headset is paired with aptX compatible devices, such as Android smartphones.
Yamaha TW-E7B performance and battery life
Most TWS earphones in the premium space are from mainstream brands with an established track record in developing wireless products, and Yamaha has a bit of a task ahead of it to make an impact with its flagship TW-E7B headset. That said, the brand does build on some of its learnings with the YH-L700A headphones, particularly when it comes to sound quality, which is where the TW-E7B stands out.
Support for the Qualcomm aptX Adaptive codec means that the Yamaha TW-E7B sounds considerably better when used with the right source device, and I had the headset paired to a OnePlus 9 Pro (Review) for much of this review to utilise it. Although the sound initially felt a bit too warm and aggressive at first, I grew to enjoy it over time, and quite liked the punchy and immersive sonic signature.
Listening to the catchy Paris (Aeroplane Remix) by Friendly Fires, the Yamaha TW-E7B definitely favours the lows; the gentle, mid-tempo beat of this lounge track was punchy and tight, striking hard but fast. The lows played rather well with the capable mid-range and upper mid-range as well, accompanying the beautiful rhythm and melody of the track without drawing too much attention towards the beat.
Detailed tracks didn't hassle the Yamaha TW-E7B either, with the earphones doing a decent job of drawing out the faint elements in most of the tracks I listened to. Obsessed by Calvin Harris showcased impressive handling of the frequency range, particularly the smooth vocals of Charlie Puth, and the soothing rhythm and beat. It also demonstrated the immersive and engaging soundstage and attention to detail that the earphones provide.
Sound quality is good thanks to support for the Qualcomm aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec, but ANC performance is underwhelming
While the sound on the Yamaha TW-E7B doesn't feel as sharp and refined as on the Sony WF-1000XM4 or as flexible as on the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), it does have a certain sense of likability, warmth, and character, that I had similarly experienced with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earphones. What's common between the Sennheiser and Yamaha headsets is aptX Adaptive, which strikes a good balance between detail and character in the sound. The Yamaha headset isn't quite made for neutrality or tonality, but rather aims to deliver a sound that is enjoyable, and this is what I liked the most about these earphones.
Sound quality might be impressive on the Yamaha TW-E7B earphones, but active noise cancellation unfortunately falls a bit short. The cancellation effect was underwhelming considering the price, sounding similar to what I've experience of a budget true wireless headset. In fact, I also felt a hint of dullness in the sound with ANC on, and preferred to keep it turned off when listening indoors.
Transparency mode was decent, but not quite as natural-sounding as competing options. Call quality was acceptable indoors, but not particularly good outdoors. While I could hear voices on the other end fairly clearly even with ANC switched off, my voice couldn't be heard as clearly when there was a lot of background noise.
Battery life on the Yamaha TW-E7B is acceptable, but far from exceptional. With ANC on, the earpieces ran for around five hours, and the charging case added close to three additional charges, for a total run time of around 18 hours per charge cycle. With active noise cancellation switched off, I was able to get around six hours of run time from the earpieces. Fast charging is present, with a 10-minute charge said to provide an hour of playback, and a full charge said to take around three hours.
Yamaha isn't a brand you'd typically associate with true wireless earphones, but it is one with a rich heritage in the audio field. It's this experience and knowledge that helps the Japanese company get its new true wireless earphones on point, and the TW-E7B is a capable flagship in the line-up — assuming you're looking mainly at sound quality and core performance. It's a good-looking pair of earphones that sounds warm and enjoyable.
However, the Yamaha TW-E7B does fall short when it comes to active noise cancellation, the app doesn't offer much beyond detailed equaliser settings, and it feels a bit expensive for what's on offer. Support for the Qualcomm aptX codec suite also means that it's best used with an Android smartphone, and iOS users will likely be better served by the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen). That said, if good sound is your priority, the Yamaha TW-E7B will not disappoint, and may be worth considering alongside the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.
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