Review: Yamaha HPH-MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones

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Yamaha’s MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones deliver plenty of isolation and an immediate sound with clean highs and no boom or bloom in the lows. The official promo material calls out the NS-10s and although the MT8s have all the advantages of the industry standard monitors, they have an extended sonic range that is much more pleasing to the ear.

 

One of the highlights at NAMM this year was checking out the shiny new gear from Steinberg and Yamaha. Among the dozens of new pro-audio toys the company was showing off were the MT8 Headphones.

I was really intrigued as these were labeled “Studio Monitor Headphones” right on the signage at the Yamaha Headphone booth area. So when I got a UPS package a couple weeks ago, I was eager to test these out with some listening and get an idea of exactly what these headphones were all about.

The Yamaha HPH-MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones list for $199 and are available at most music merchandising retailers.

 

Review: Yamaha HPH-MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones

The first thing you notice with any pair of headphones is the build quality. The MT8’s feel strong and sturdy. The frame of the headphones are made from a black thermoplastic polymer with aluminum support rigging which allow for size adjustments. The parts that make contact with the skin are made from a soft “protein-skin leather”. I couldn’t find details of origin for the”protein-skin leather” in the promotional material but they are soft and comfortable on the skin.

Weighing in at just 0.8 lbs they are light, but not lightest headphones you can find in the price range. With the stronger build, the MT8s feel like they could take much more abuse than their contemporaries.

The closed-back construction blocks out the sound at a level I expected from my tracking headphones. The sound from the outside world is minimized and from just holding the cups it appears that little sound leaks into the outside world offering a high degree of isolation in both directions.

Yamaha HTH-MT8s Folded

The cup arms swivel a bit with a three-dimension pivot as well as flip back which is handy for those who like to flip one ear open (while tracking vocals) or for a natural adjustment to different sized heads.

The package includes two insert-and-twist detachable straight cables with connectors for 1/8″ and 1/4″ (adapter included) as well as a black “faux leather” bag.

But what about the sound?

Reviewing headphones is tricky business. To evaluate the sound I listened back to several of my own master tracks that I have spent a great deal of time with and know very well. I also wanted to take into account what Yamaha was going for with the headphones. It is clearly stated these are professional “Studio Monitor Headphones” and the top of the MT series from the manufacturer.

The marketing material promises precision sound reproduction and calls back to the NS-10 studio monitors twice in the copy, and this is no coincidence.

At first listening, the immediacy of the experience was the “loudness” factor. The MT8s have larger drivers (45mm vs 40mm) than that of their little siblings (the MT7 & MT5s). With an impedance of only 37 Ω these headphones are fairly low on the scale and that just might be the proper spot to get the desired clarity without risking “blow outs”. If you are a stickler for specs then be sure to download the manual and brochure to get all the details.

At low-level listening, the sound is very present and forward. With the sound isolation I mentioned previously, the experience is that the sound reproduction is very upfront and focused.

The highs are clean without being bright, the lows present with no boom or blooming, but the mids are where the MT8 really shine. They aren’t harsh, but instead are a very nice reproduction with clarity in the mid range you don’t normally hear. Now to be fair that could be because so many other headphones are boomy or brilliant and take the focus off the mid range. I started to understand just what Yamaha meant with the mention of the NS-10s in their promo material.

Yamaha HTH-MT8s Three Quarter View

I have NS-10s in my studio and rely on them to get my mixes to translate across a number of systems. The NS10’s highs are clean and the mid bass is present with no booming or bloom. Sound familiar?

Now, this isn’t to say the NS10s and MT8s have the same sonic signature. The MT8s have a frequency response of 15Hz – 28kHz, whereas the NS10s have a frequency range quoted from 60 Hz to 20 kH. I would go so far to say that listening on the MT8s is more pleasant with crisper high end and noticeable lows (of which the NS10s always seem to be lacking).

The way I am seeing myself use the MT8s is similar to the way I think I would use my NS10s. If I can get a mix to sound great in these headphone, I am betting the mix is going to translate really well across most systems.

Although the headphones are called out as Studio Headphone monitors, I also see these being extremely useful tracking headphones for those musicians performing at high volumes. Drummers playing to a click or guitarists with it turned up to 11 for just the right tone should be able to clearly get details of playback and the isolation needed.

As a composer on the go, I am often working on projects in hotels, visiting family or at an Airbnb on the beach. I think the MT8s could be of great use when working on my mobile rig with no monitors and am eager for a chance to utilize them in a real-life working environment.

The Yamaha HPH-MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones list for $199 and are available at most music merchandising retailers.