Fostex TH-616 Review

Fostex TH-616 Review by MajorHiFI

It’s been a while since the last new Fostex launch, so the TH-616 has me very excited. These are a new pair of wooden open-back headphones for $899, occupying the edge of premium. Its main competition are headphones like the Meze 109, Audeze LCD 2 Classic, and HiFiMAN Ananda, so It’ll be interesting to see how these new Fostex headphones hold up.

What You Get

  • TH-616 open-back headphones
  • Detachable 2-pin cable with quarter-inch jack
  • Leather pouch
  • Owners manual

Fostex TH-616 headband

Look & Feel

Fostex headphones always have very sturdy builds with quality parts and competent craftsmanship. The TH-616 features wooden earcups that are very aesthetically pleasing, thanks to inspiration taken from traditional Japanese woodworking. These wooden cups are made from solid black walnut and is carefully milled for the most ideal housing. Everything is held together by an aluminum frame that still feels lightweight when worn. The earpads are made from premium vegan leather that makes the 616 feel comfortable around your ears. They offer a good seal even when not being the thickest material, and should never cause any uncomfortable pressure.

Fostex TH-616 above


The TH-616 uses a 50mm Neodymium Magnet driver that has a magnetic flux density of 1 Tesla. This driver configuration is meant to offer a strong magnetic circuit with low distortion and wide dynamic range. Its diaphragm is a BIODYNA diaphragm that uses bio-cellulose fibers meant to convey delicate sound reproduction.

Fostex TH-616 side


Right off the bat, I was immediately greeted with an immaculate soundstage. With the TH-616, all the sounds come across with precise locations, placing your head right in the middle. From the left to right channels, the instruments float around your ears with grace. Nothing ever feels too floaty or thin, as spatial imaging makes sure that the instruments and effects are granted their intended scale within the mix. This makes the soundstage and imaging appear both immersive and realistic, presenting a natural sound environment to absorb yourself in.

While this is a very open headspace, the sound elements still have a close feeling. The 616 can peel back so many different layers in its stereo field for great dimension, but the soundstage won’t extend too far outward. It gives off the impression that the tracks are being performed for you, and all around you. This doesn’t portray the greatest sense of distance but offers a more intimate space for the tracks to operate in. It’s able to communicate this sensation while also showcasing a fully holographic soundstage with fantastic separation and scope.

Low End

This bass has a very prominent foundation, acting as a bed for the sound elements to be lifted by. It doesn’t always supply the most rumble, but the presence is always there to entice you. The sub-bass and mid-bass work in tandem to present a satisfying display of low-frequency detail that feels dynamic. Sometimes the tone can be quite thick with a hint of warmth in its timbre, but it’s not a consistent sensation. It never reserves itself though, as the bass of the 616 always plays an integral part in the structure of the sound signature.


Everything about the midrange on the 616 is incredibly transparent. These frequencies come through with great accuracy and clarity, with details that supply instruments and vocals with great realism. You never get the sense that anything gets lost in translation, as the 616 only looks to enhance the midrange and put it under a microscope. Nothing about it feels cold though, as the sound signature has tons of emotional musicality.

Each note hit feels specific, providing the fullest expression of the instrument’s harmonic content. The range of frequency in the midrange is given great balance and equal power, with each performance coming through the 616 with a proper snap. Vocals are also especially breathy and crisp, as the 616 can reveal intricate harmonies and layered performances with liveliness.


Like the mids, the high frequencies feature a ton of realistic detail and energy. You get even more snappiness from the highs, resulting in a brighter timbre. It should not be too harsh for those who are sensitive to those frequencies, but still could come off that way. I prefer a bit of color to my highs, but even then I still find the 616 to be easy to digest.

You get a full range of frequency detail here, with instruments and vocals displaying a crisp tail that makes them feel complete. The 616 gains a ton of height here too, adding to some of the immersive qualities helped by the soundstage. While some elements glisten, the timbre doesn’t add too much sparkle, as the 616 tries to put forth a sound that is equally believable as it is fun.


The sound of the TH-616 is one of the best you can hear for the price. You might not like the brightness or the lack of vibration in its bass, but everything about the sound signature here is completely refined and expressive. Its soundstage is immaculate and intimate at the same time, with tons of separation and spacious imaging. It’s exceptionally crafted and has a very comfortable fit. Everything about the TH-616 fits with a pair of headphones beyond the thousand-dollar range, which makes this one of the best values on the market.

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The Fostex TH-616 is available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.