Fostex TH7BK Review

Fostex TH7BK Review

There’s a new headphone on the block, threatening to shake things up something fierce.  As a studio monitor, the Fostex TH7BK won’t be wooing many casual listeners.  But stacked up against the likes of Audio Technica and AKG, this $99 headphone crushes its competition.

Fostex TH7BK Review

Fostex TH7BK Review

 

With a user manual in tow, the TH7BK isn’t accompanied by a ton of superfluous accessories.  Packaged in a modest cardboard box, it’s plain to see that this Fostex headphone means business.

Utilizing a mostly-plastic build with aluminum extenders, the headphone remains light while still feeling solid.  Ample pleather padding on the headband and earcups provide comfort for hours, too.

The whole setup rounds out with a 4 ft (1.2 m) audio cable – a bit short for a studio monitor, but the thick build holds up to some fairly heavy abuse.

Specs

Frequency Range: 10-35,000 Hz
Impedance:  70 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  118 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  NA

Sporting a fairly wide frequency range, the TH7BK starts out strong in the Specs Department.  Unfortunately, the nominal impedance of 70 ohms does not lend this headphone to portable use.  I still drove my review sample with a small FiiO X5 II player, but this headphone would definitely benefit from an amplifier.  Sound pressure is a decent 118 dB, and you should have no problems regarding volume.  Last but not least, Total Harmonic Distortion isn’t supplied by Fostex.  However, it probably lands around <0.5%, even though to me it sounds as low as <0.3%.

Low End

Heavy on detail but almost completely lacking in terms of bass, the TH7BK offers a breath of fresh air to critical listeners.  There’s also no bleeding, or any real compression or distortion.  As such, the low end stays remarkably clean and crisp, no matter what you throw at it.

Mids

As with the lows, the mids offer plenty of detail.  The overall impression here is one of clarity and fidelity, without a whisper of blemish:  no compression, no distortion.  Ultimately, this midrange strikes me as nothing short of awesome.

High End

Slightly bright but still detailed, the high end never verges on piercing or uncomfortable.  Still, it doesn’t skimp on the finer points, offering a revealing high end that easily compliments the inclusive lows and mids.

Soundstage

Every headphone is bound to have at least one downside, and the TH7BK is no exception.  While there’s plenty of depth here, the closed-back design leads to a poor sense of placement.  The soundstage, as a result, sounds jumbled and confused.

Other Observations

Detail, detail, detail.  For the low price of $99, this level of clarity and articulation is a downright steal.

While not particularly large, the pleather-covered earcups still accommodate my giant Dumbo Ears.  Even after an hour and a half of listening, I still don’t feel any fatigue.

The TH7BK offers the perfect sound for extended critical listening.  All of that detail strips tracks bare to their fundamental components.  Professional use aside, these headphones will still round out any audiophile’s collection as a balanced, bare-bones bastion of sonic simplicity.

Recommendations

If you need more bass, skip this model and pick up the bumping AKG K181 DJ UE for $119.  For those seeking a more dynamic sound with more bass and treble, the $99 Sennheiser HD 559 offers the most bang for your buck.

Where monitoring and critical listening are concerned, though, the TH7BK has no competition.  Neither Audio Technica nor AKG offer headphones at this price that sound THIS GOOD.  A bold claim, I know, but I think I can take the M40x fanboys.  Of course, if they actually audition the Fostex TH7BK, they may find themselves agreeing with me.

Final Analysis

Simple in presentation, but sporting quality build and performance, the Fostex TH7BK offers an impressive listening experience for a bargain-bin price.  While skimping on bass, treble, and soundstage, the sheer level of detail and general sense of clarity make this headphone ideal for critical listening and studio applications.  If you’re in the market for a studio headphone and you aren’t auditioning the Fostex TH7BK, you’re doing it wrong. You can get the Fostex TH7BK at Audio 46 Fostex Shop and Amazon for $99.99.