Back in 2012, Fostex released their flagship audiophile headphone, the Fostex TH900. Since then, Fostex has developed the second version and has been releasing special, limited edition colors. This year, they’re releasing the beautiful Sapphire Blue version, which reminds me of these awesome headphones. I heard them for the first time last year and I was blown away, so I’m excited to revisit them with this Fostex TH900mk2 headphones review.
Review of Fostex TH900mk2 Headphones
In the Box
-Fostex TH900mk2 headphones
-detachable cable (2-pin to 6.3 mm connector with OFC cable)
-Driver: dynamic, 50 mm
-Impedance: 25 ohms
-Sensitivity: 100 dB (@1 kHz, 1 mW)
-Frequency Response: 5 Hz- 45 kHz
-Maximum Power Input: 180 mW
The Fostex TH900mk2 is made with high quality materials to ensure both longevity and beauty. For example, the frame of the headphones seems to be made of aluminum so it is both strong and light. Additionally, it’s striking earcups and driver housings are made of Japanese Cherry Birch. This wood is coated with a special Japanese “Urushi” lacquer. Furthermore, both the headband and earcups are coated in eggshell membrane leather.
The audiophiles in the room will be happy to know the Fostex TH900mk2 has gold-plated 6.3 mm connectors. These are attached to a high quality OFC cable.
A Quick Tangent on OFC Cables
OFC, or oxygen free copper, cables are controversial in the science world. Some engineers claim their benefits are just a marketing scheme because they have the same conductivity and impedance measurements as common copper cables. On the other hand, other electrical engineers argue their benefits due to their ability to deliver phase linearity. In other words, they they deliver all the frequencies of the audio signal at the same time. In my humble opinion based on my experience with the headphones, the OFC cable is great and delivers a quick transient response and wide dynamic range. It helps bring the music to life and is really quite important to the quality of headphones.
The Fostex TH900mk2 has a dynamic driver with a Neodymium magnetic circuit. It has a magnetic repulsion system with 1.5 tesla of magnetic flux density. This, in addition to its bio-cellulose and inorganic fiber admixer of its diaphragm contributes to its wide dynamic range and reproduction of the full frequency spectrum.
I am mentioning the soundstage of the Fostex TH900mk2 first because it impressed me so much. They had a remarkably impressive sense of spatial depth and width, especially for a pair of closed-back cans. Their quick transient response and dynamic range really set instruments apart from each other top-to-bottom as well. Midrange heavy instruments in particular expand outwards toward the edge and leave lots of space in the upfront and center position for the vocal.
The low frequencies of the Fostex TH900mk2 are dynamically quick and expansive. They have a real sense of extension and subbiness which makes them extraordinary for electronic, pop, and hip-hop music
The low synth pads of Lorde’s The Louvre, creates this giant bed underneath the tune with lots of space between those subby synths and the rest of the low-midrange synth layers. Additionally, the all encompassing bass of Biggie’s Machine Gun Funk provides even more energy to the already dynamic track. The headphones’ quick transient response also makes that low low bass have great detail in the pitch of the bass so it has a sense of clarity and confidence that other headphones don’t quite offer.
The middle frequencies feel a bit scooped in the Fostex TH900mk2. However, they are clear and make room for details in the low mids and high mids alike. The emphasis and clarity in the low mids provide thickness and energy to otherwise midrange heavy instruments like guitars
For example, Weezer’s song, Getchoo, has good separation between the kick and bass but those big, wide electric guitars blend (in a good way) with the bass to make it feel huge. However, there is just about as much emotional energy in the high mids which is particularly emphasized for vocals and can sometimes feel a bit spikey depending on the mix.
For example, Amos Lee’s song, One Lonely Light, clearly demonstrates that vocals sit louder in the mix with these headphones than others. But it doesn’t feel harsh, it just feels more present.
This high-mid emphasis consequently sometimes takes away from jazz music like John Coltrane’s Expression. His sax doesn’t balance as well with the piano and cymbals as with headphones with a flatter response. Therefore, jazz, classical music, and other genres dependent on flat midranges aren’t the right tunes for these cans.
The high frequencies, like the lows, are nice and extended. For example, when listening to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun with the Fostex TH900mk2, the bright, wide synths had a real sense of air. Additionally, the gated reverbs also had a lot of detail and space; very tight, very precise. Likewise, Michael Jackson’s Human Nature had lively air on his vocal and the shakers with lots of brightness and detail smoothly and consistently from left to right. Additionally, the delays and reverb of the background vocals were loud and clear, adding energy to their sections of the song.
In conclusion, the Fostex TH900mk2 is a really awesome set of headphones. It has a wonder soundstage, impressive low end extension, and shimmering highs. This is a headphone that responds best to electronic and synthesized music with vocals, so pop, hip-hop, and EDM are the best for them.
The Fostex TH900mk2 is available for the best price here:
Fostex TH900mk2 Special Edition Sapphire Blue at Audio 46
Fostex TH-900 MK2 Limited Edition Pearl White
Fostex TH900mk2 Limited Edition Emerald Green on Amazon
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