If you’re just entering the audiophile world, this is a good place to start. Both, the Fostex TH909 and the HD800 S are relatively versatile headphones with spacious soundstages. They are also only separated by 100 bucks. At the same time, they have different characteristics that make them unique. Which sound signature will suit your ears? Let’s find out in this Fostex TH909 vs Sennhesier HD800 S Review.
Fostex TH909 vs Sennhesier HD800 S Review
IN the BOX
Those who like the classic round fit should opt for the TH909. The earpads are thick and sit snugly around the ear without feeling tight. The HD800 S is slightly lighter and feels different on the ears. There’s little cushioning and it sits looser on the head than the TH909. Personally, I preferred the more secure fit of the TH909, but if you tire easily from wearing headphones, then the HD800 S might be ideal.
The HD800 S boasts a 56mm dynamic driver, while the TH909 has a smaller 50mm dynamic driver. The HD 800 S has a slightly wider frequency response, but the biggest difference is the impedance. The TH909 requires less amplification at 25 Ohms, while the more power-hungry, HD800 S is 300 Ohms. The HD800 S also comes with a balanced XLR cable. The TH909 does not. So, if you want to upgrade your sound, you would have to invest another couple hundred bucks on a cable.
Overall Impressions: The TH909 is a red Porsche, and the HD800 S is a navy Volvo. Nothing wrong with navy. It’s just darker with fewer surprises.
The bass on the TH909 is punchier and more pronounced than it is on the HD800 S. On the other hand, the HD800 S displays slightly more texture in the lows. Listening to this frequency range, it already becomes clear that the TH909 is the more dynamic headphone. And if you’re listening to any pop, or you like hard hitting lows in your rock tracks, then the TH909 is the preferable headphone. Both headphones offer some warmth, but overall, the HD800 S is a darker and more muted sound.
One factor that makes the TH909 sound more dynamic is the jump from the lows to the high mids. The HD800 S offers a more even sounding midrange, giving greater attention to the low mids. So, listening to big ballads, you’ll get a fuller spectrum of sound with the HD800 S. But if you like more forward leaning vocals, you’ll prefer the TH909. In terms of transparency, both headphones show an equal amount of skill. But the TH909 conveys greater separation and cleanliness. Listening to folk music, I enjoyed the more articulate, crystal sound of the TH909. And although the HD800 S is just as detailed, it handles acoustic guitars with a bit less edge.
Much like its lows, the TH909 has greater presence in the high frequencies than the HD800 S. Indeed, the TH909 is a brighter, more sparkly headphone. Listening to pop, percussion in the high registers had more snap and sharpness. Again, in terms of detail, they are almost neck and neck. But listening to strings in this range, you’ll get a livelier performance from the TH909. And though the HD800 S is more forgiving on the ear in the highest registers, the TH909 offers quite a bit more color.
The HD800 S displays a more spacious soundstage than the TH909. But because the lows and highs on the TH909 have more definition and separation, placement of instruments feels more precise on the TH909.
If you listen to a lot of rock, the HD800 S is the safer choice. But if you dabble in pop or like a more colored and vibrant sound profile, then the TH909 is your headphone.
You can find these cans for the best price at:
Audio 46: (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount off your first order)
Fostex TH-909 Premium Open-Back 1.5 Tesla Stereo Headphones
Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System
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Sennheiser HD800 S
|Transducer||50 mm Dynamic Open||56 mm Dynamic Open|
|Impedance||25 Ohms||300 Ohms|
|Frequency Response||5 – 45,000 Hz||4 – 51,000 Hz|
|Weight||390 g||330 g|
|Cable Length||3 m||3 m|
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