It’s summer here in New York, with the weather pretty much laying down the law: get in the shade or die. So here I am, stuck indoors all day with the Fostex T40RP and an endless supply of music. At $159, the T40RP isn’t going to break anyone’s bank, but is it up to snuff?
Fostex T40RP Review
Thick and sturdy, this chubby closed-back headphone isn’t the most inconspicuous. There’s a short 4 ft (1.2 m) bright orange headphone cable that ends in a 3.5 mm plug, and a longer 6.5 ft (2 m) stereo cable with a 1/4” plug. The relatively thick pleather padding on the earcups and the headband impart a real feeling of comfort and isolation.
Two rugged metal extenders engender an impression of quality, while also making these headphones nowhere near as portable as their competition.
Driver: Regular Phase (or Orthodynamic)
Impedance: 50 ohm
Sensitivity: 91dB (at 1kHz, 1mW)
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 35kHz
Maximum Input Power: 3000mW
Cable: Detachable 1/4” Stereo Phone (3m) and Stereo Mini (1.2m)
As we can see from these specs, there’s a pretty standard frequency range, a nominal impedance that’s a little high for the price point but still fairly low overall, and a pretty low volume (for a closed back, at least).
While this will work okay with a portable device like your phone or my FiiO X5 II, I preferred pairing it with an amp for my listening session – overcoming the impedance to take full advantage of the T40RP’s sound, and also giving me a little more volume.
Lows are full and rich with a level of detail I wasn’t expecting to see in this price range. The bass is slightly punchy – there’s not a lot of impact to it, but it’s sharp and contrasting where it counts.
Somewhat compressed, the mids sound like they’re being squeezed just a little too much. It’s not the kind of horrible sound that will cause you to rip the headphones off and curse in anguish, but it’s something you’re bound to notice – especially when it comes to vocals.
The T40RP has some okay high-end fidelity. There’s a certain thinness to the upper end of the frequency range that seems a little off – the headphones have a hard time resolving all the detail, and I’m left with that feeling that my ears are trying to fill in the blanks.
The soundstage isn’t bad – a bit compressed as with most closed-back headphones, but there is a little sense of space and placement to tracks with lots of instruments.
Fostex T40RP vs Audio Technica M50x
From a price-conscious perspective, the closest competitor to the T40RP would be the M50x – a gold standard for beginner audiophiles. Profile-wise, our Fostex might actually be more similar to the M40x, but it still blows that headphone out of the water. So let’s say, for the sake of this argument, that you had about $160 to blow on a pair of headphones. How do they stack up? The M50x has a brighter high end with some intense treble. It’s a little edgy, but it also has better volume and overall comfort. The T40RP, in contrast, has less-powerful bass, but more low-end detail, as well as better separation and clarity. Where nuanced recordings can sometimes come across as squished and cramped when played through the M50x, the T40RP handles them much easier. The M50x is probably a better-suited headphone for rock, hip-hop, and EDM, but the Fostex kills it when it comes to classical and acoustic music, or songs where more detail is preferred.
The Fostex T40RP isn’t the best headphone I’ve ever heard. But as far as headphones under $200 go, they sound fantastic. The only real catch to this headphone is volume: due to the higher-than-normal impedance, and the low sensitivity, I found myself constantly pushing my player’s volume higher, zapping my battery in no time. An amp will quickly solve this issue, but does cut down further on portability.
If you’re in the market for a headphone that has booming bass and looks $WAGGED OUT BRO, skip this headphone. If you’re like me, though, and you like hearing a good amount of detail, as well as getting clarity and separation at a fair price, these headphones will not disappoint. They’re especially well suited to classical, acoustic, and instrumental music, but I didn’t mind them at all when paired with some Social Distortion, Action Bronson, or Daft Punk. If you are of the rock/rap/dance persuasion, these cans will more than suffice, but there may still be other headphones out there offering a more fine-tuned experience.
You can find these headphones for the best price at:
Audio 46 (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get 10% off)