Fostex TH808 Review

Fostex TH808 from the side with logo

Fostex is an audio brand that wears many hats. They’re an OEM supplier to some of audio’s biggest brands (Sennheiser, Denon, and Apple just to name a few). But they also produce their own speakers, components, and of course, headphones. Today, we have a new headphone from the Japanese company: the TH808. Using tech from some of its higher end headphones, the TH909, Fostex looks to add a model to the middle of their line. This one comes in at about $1,299. So with some advanced driver tech and flashy looks, let’s dig in to see what the TH808 has to offer. 

What’s in the Box?

  • TH808 Premium Open-Back Dynamic Headphones
  • 1/4 inch/ 6.3mm gold-plated stereo standard plug
  • Leather pouch
  • Owner’s Manual

Fostex TH808 ear cups and head band


The TH808 is a beautifully built headphone. With trickle down design elements from the top of the line TH909, it looks to mix form and function with the materials used. Using a high-grade solid wood housing, the headphone is definitely a looker. But the black walnut housing does more than just look pretty, it’s also meant to acoustically enhance the sound coming from the driver. 

It also uses aluminum etched parts for things like the rotating yokes. The ear cups swivel and rotate nicely, although a little bit more resistance would be nice to keep the ear cups from flopping around too much. 

The TH808 also sports a 7N grade cable that is detachable. Notably, the connectors are rhodium-plated, which makes for more durability. It’s more resistant to wear and protects from corrosion over time. It weighs in at a relatively light 370 grams, and its leather pads make for a very comfortable wearing experience. I was able to wear these for hours without feeling any fatigue. 


The focal point of the TH808 is its 50mm neodymium magnet driver, AKA Fostex’s BIODYNA diaphragm. You might recognize that driver from the higher end TH909. So yes, you are getting a similar design of the higher end TH909. That said, there are some tuning differences, so keep reading for more on that below. 

This driver has an impedance of 25 ohms, but a sensitivity of 96 dB/mW. I found these moderately easy to drive, but they definitely benefited from extra juice to give them a better sense of dynamics. 

Fostex TH808 connectors

Sound Impressions

Low End:

The first word that comes to mind when describing the bass on the TH808 is nimble. It’s an agile sound that offers speed and precision. The bottom end extends quite well but I do sense that the headphone misses some heft in its bass presentation. While it is a quick response, I do wish I got a little more impact from the bass. That said there is a nice midbass bloom as we move up the frequency range that keeps things from getting too dull. On a song like “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, I picked up on a nice bit of rhythm from the low end, with dynamics from the bass guitar packing a nice punch. 

And what the more lean bass response lacks in slam, it makes up for in detail. Separation in the low end is superb, in fact it’s one of the best separated low ends I’ve heard in quite some time. 


The midrange feels pretty neutral here. Like the bass, it prioritizes separation and detail retrieval over presenting a warm, rich tone. In fact, the mid range is where I noticed the quick and cool timbral qualities of the headphone. Perhaps you could say there’s a slight U shape to the headphone, but overall I’d consider it pretty balanced when putting it in perspective with the bass response. 

Vocals are clear and instrument separation is really good. Jackson Browne’s cover of “These Days” offered a great reproduction of the rustic sounds that make up the track. Pedal steel guitar blends with vocals and creates a great ambiance. 

There is a bit of an upper mids spike which can cause things to get a little bit shouty at times but I never found it to be too much of a problem. This came up mostly on female vocals that were mixed rather coldly. An example of a place where this was present is on Joni Mitchell’s “Carey.” That said, I believe this upper mid spike is what allows for such great detail and separation. So it ultimately comes down to taste. 

Top End:

The treble delivery of the TH808 is my favorite part of the headphone. It manages to be detailed and slightly analytical without being too fatiguing. I especially liked how cymbal hits resolved and how the top end melded with vocals. With that elevated upper midrange, it creates the feeling that the treble just floats above it exacting detail from up top. 


Soundstage on the TH808 is solid. It’s not the most engulfing soundstage I’ve heard, but it does a good enough job at lateral presentation and an admiral job going north/south. These headphones do, however, sound very open. This creates a feeling of instruments resolving outwards which helps to make the soundstage appear wider than it is. This creates a very natural soundstage that goes for accuracy rather than artificial expansion and overly processed imaging. 

Fostex TH808 grills

Final Thoughts

Overall, the TH808 from Fostex is a solid addition to their headphone line. With a price that looks to take a step up from mid-fi, Fostex looks to create a bridge to their high end headphones. These are a natural set of headphones with accurate soundstage and a pleasing sound signature, with my one knock being the slight emphasis on the upper midrange. I think if you’re looking for a headphone in the $1,000 – $1,500 price range, the TH808 is an excellent option to consider. 

The Fostex TH808 are available at Audio46.

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