Yamaha is going back to its high-end headphone roots after announcing a new set of high-end headphones with Planar Magnetic technology.

The new YH-5000SE is the first set of cans from the Japanese brand to feature orthodynamic speakers (Yamaha's planar magnetic technology) in over 30 years.

The premium headphones also feature a magnesium body, with Yamaha claiming the YH-5000SE to be "one of the lightest premium headphones in the world" at just 320g.

As the SE suggests in its name, the YH-5000SE launches as a "special edition" and starts at $5,700 / £4,799 / AU$7,499.

A slightly cheaper version is expected to follow, with Australian dealers already stocking a non-special edition variant without some of the accessories that came with the limited edition YH-5000SE, which is still priced at a prohibitively high $5999. Australians.

Those added extras in the box include leatherette and suede ear cushions, two types of silver cables (3,5mm and 4,4mm), as well as a nifty stand.

Meanwhile, an optional XLR cable (the HXC-SC020) that's not included will set you back $900 / £749 / AU$1350.

Orthodynamic or planar magnetic headphones work similarly to the more common dynamic driver headphones that currently dominate the market by using the interaction of two magnetic fields to generate movement.

Where they differ is that instead of having drivers that are "driven" by a voice coil attached to a shaped diaphragm, the diaphragm is driven over its entire surface. This reduces the effect of impulse and vibration on the diaphragm, giving the headphones more precise control over the final sound.

This setup means that the cabinet size is generally larger and heavier than you'd find in regular headphones, but the payoff is that distortion is reduced to next to nothing, with flat magnetic cabinets generally delivering a cleaner sound and more more controlled.

(Image credit: Yamaha)

Analysis: A welcome return to distortion-free headphone technology

Audiophiles rejoice! While brands like Audeze and HiFiMAN have kept the flame burning for Planar magnetic driver headphones, there's been a growing clamor for Yamaha to get their orthodynamic cabinets back in the making.

The Japanese manufacturer used the technology for too short a period between 1975 and 1990, but over time it has earned a growing reputation in hi-fi forums for its distortion-free sound superior to most dynamic headphones.

Where once you could buy a pair of vintage HP-1 headphones for under $20, the last decade has seen prices skyrocket with a mint example sometimes changing hands for hundreds of dollars.

The worrying bench price of the YH-5000SE means your average audiophile on a budget will still have to search eBay for more examples of vintage orthodynamic headphones, but its release nonetheless gives hope that we'll start to see Yamaha using the technology. on newer, more affordable models, which could be serious contenders for our list of the best headphones.

Looking for new, more affordable cans? Check out our guide to Black Friday headphone deals, which we'll continually update throughout the period.

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